Scaleforum Attendance and Location

Announcements, recommendations, visit reports etc. Discussion of the Society's own shows.
User avatar
John McAleely
Posts: 1163
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 5:08 pm

Scaleforum Attendance and Location

Postby John McAleely » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:23 am

This thread has been split off from 'Scaleforum 2015', to allow the substantive discussion about attendance and location, which follows, space and prominence of its own. I believe it draws on multi-year themes, and I wanted to allow a thread titled 'Scaleforum 2015' to focus on one year's show.

Aside from this opening post, no posts have been edited or deleted. Moving (incidentally via a copy) is all that occurred. The first handful of posts remain on the Scaleforum 2015 thread.
Last edited by John McAleely on Sun Jun 28, 2015 1:34 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Reason: Set up for new thread title

David Bigcheeseplant
Posts: 301
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:10 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby David Bigcheeseplant » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:34 pm

I have just been reading my Scalefour News and the lowest numbers Scalefourum got this year since 1991, I am not too sure if it has any relevance but the second Railex we had at the stadium was the lowest attendance we had in the ten show we have had at Stoke Mandeville stadium. it was around 200 less than the previous year the following year (show three) numbers increased, and the forth show in 2008 we had a massive increase by about 500 people , 2009 was a record year with an increase again, and since then numbers have been healthy staying around higher totals, except 2012 which numbers dropped slightly, but since then numbers have gone back to the high numbers with 2014 being the second best after 2009.

I am not too sure how to increase numbers other to build on the reputation, I know Expo EM took a hit when it first moved to Bracknell.

David

User avatar
David Thorpe
Posts: 875
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:13 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby David Thorpe » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:23 pm

Having read Scalefour News, I was left with the impression that while Scaleforum will indeed take place at Stoke Mandeville in 2015, "what happens after that may well be a different story".

DT

Terry Bendall
Posts: 1724
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:46 am

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Terry Bendall » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:26 am

David Bigcheeseplant wrote: I know Expo EM took a hit when it first moved to Bracknell.


Yes this is quite correct, and I gather that it took at least three years for the visitor numbers to return to the number that used to attend when ExpoEM was at Bletchley.

David Thorpe wrote:, "what happens after that may well be a different story".


It may well be so David. Nothing has been decided yet, but a sub group of the committee will be meeting early next year to discuss things but I don't think decisions will be taken in haste. There are two messages for all our members - come yourself and enjoy the show, and bring a friend as well.

Terry Bendall

DaveHarris
Posts: 143
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:08 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby DaveHarris » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:19 pm

I have been reading this thread with interest. Whilst a change in location / date will always result in changes to the attendance figures, could I respectfully suggest that more aggressive advertising is needed... along the lines of 'Railex' who also use this venue. Could there be earlier advertising in the monthly model railway mags, including large adverts as other regional/national shows use? Also, I see on tables at the entrance to shows the advertising 'handouts' for future exhibitions, but none for Scaleforum ? Do we need to take a leaf out of other exhibitions' books?

User avatar
Tim V
Posts: 2364
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:40 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Tim V » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:29 pm

I have said it before, but I'll say it again. The entry fee is ludicrously cheap for the weekend, member or non-member. As it's so cheap, it may even put visitors off - "pay that for a church hall show, can't be anything good there". And it's the whole weekend. One way to counteract poor attendance/income is put up the admission cost. Even if it was 50p more, it would make a difference.
Tim V
Scalefour News Editor

User avatar
Penrhos1920
Posts: 198
Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:00 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Penrhos1920 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:31 pm

Terry Bendall wrote:
David Bigcheeseplant wrote: I know Expo EM took a hit when it first moved to Bracknell.


Yes this is quite correct, and I gather that it took at least three years for the visitor numbers to return to the number that used to attend when ExpoEM was at Bletchley.
Terry Bendall



But Scalefour North attracted more visitors when it changed venue.

User avatar
LesGros
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:05 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby LesGros » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:36 pm

I think that Tim has a point, it is good value. Perhaps the entry fee should calculated based on the costs to the Society, and the attendance this year.
LesG

The man who never made a mistake
never made anything useful

Eastern
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:36 am

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Eastern » Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:11 pm

I don't usually jump into these things. However I thought this time I would make some observations.

I suspect there are a number of factors in this. However when I was looking at attending the show (both last year and this year), a factor that I looked long and hard at was the perceived lack of car parking at this venue. It is emphasised in the "how to get there" section of the show guide in Scalefour News 189 (and the one for the year before). At Leatherhead there never appeared to be an issue with this, even though we were at various times parked on the grass or in the area known as the tank. I have only ever driven to Stoke Mandeville once for Railex show, and I was shoehorned into a small gap by one of the stewards. I could equally have had to find somewhere else to park.

Looking at the alternative of public transport (the train), the service to Aylesbury is not of the same frequency as for leatherhead (2 direct trains per hour instead of around 6 (from various termini in London) for Leatherhead. There is then the need to get from the station to the venue. I never did the walk from Leatherhead, but I judge the distance to be fairly similar and at Stoke Mandeville there is a bus provided (at present).

Looking at those issues, I personally then chose to travel by train, although my preference would have been to travel by car if parking was more obviously going to be available. I suspect others may have been deterred, particularly if they didn't find it easy to get there in 2013.

As Tim V mentions, the cost of entry is quite low. However, I don't think anyone that is a member would use that to judge the quality of the show, and as I understand it, fewer members attended this year, with non-members being more or less the same. Looking again at Railex, that is aimed at a general audience albeit that it is a high class show. As such it is perhaps more likely to attract local attendance than a specialist show such as Scaleforum.

Anyway, just some views to throw in the mix. For the record I have been attending the shows since the days when they were at City University. I have also enjoyed both shows at Stoke Mandeville.

nigelcliffe
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:31 am

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby nigelcliffe » Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:32 pm

I've never had parking issues at RailEx or Scaleforum at Aylesbury. Its just a matter of either arriving promptly, when there is sufficient parking at the site, or using a map and spotting where there is perfectly adequate roadside parking nearby which isn't in front of a shop or someone's house; with tools like Google StreetView, you can preview your likely parking locations.

As for Scaleforum's future, I think one option might be combined events with other organisations. The traders will probably like it if there is massive trade overlap between both events.

Bulwell Hall
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:13 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Bulwell Hall » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:00 pm

As for Scaleforum's future, I think one option might be combined events with other organisations. The traders will probably like it if there is massive trade overlap between both events.[/quote]

This is almost inevitable I would think. As the age profile of the membership of all societies continues to increase it is certain that the attendance by members will continue to decrease. With Expo EM and Scalefourum both having problems with attendance - not to mention difficulties in attracting stewards - and making losses then a joint event makes a great deal of sense. As a member of both 4mm scale societies I look forward to such an event which could embrace all 4mm finescale disciplines. There could even be room for two events per year - one in the North and one in the South.

No doubt there will be those who are over protective of their territory who would need to be won over but the factors mentioned above will eventually ensure that separate events are simply not viable - and then we would all be the losers.

Gerry

User avatar
Simon Glidewell
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:08 am

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Simon Glidewell » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:57 pm

Personally I think that combining S4F with other 4mm interests would defeat the object of Scaleforum, i.e. to showcase the society's activities and the promotion of S4/P4. It may confuse potential new recruits and dilute what we do as a society. It could become just another finescale exhibition, and I've always thought that S4F was not so much an exhibition but an arena to share and showcase ideas and activities to a wider audience in a convivial environment. Would it not be possible to move the venue somewhere away from the home counties that would be cheaper but still easily accessible? What about adding more incentives to attend for newcomers, such as a competition to win a small ready to run P4 layout with converted stock; perhaps from the standard gauge workshop? Promotional videos are always a good idea too; if I still lived in the UK I would happily make such a film for this purpose.

Simon

User avatar
dcockling
Posts: 638
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:11 am

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby dcockling » Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:57 pm

Simon Glidewell wrote:Would it not be possible to move the venue somewhere away from the home counties that would be cheaper but still easily accessible? Simon


Not asked in any sense of antagonism whatsoever, but where might that be? And easily accesible by whom? (Question not just asked of Simon)

I have noticed any number of comments since it was first announced that Scaleforum would be moved, that Aylesbury is 'difficult to get to', and various people have also told me this at shows that I have attended representing the Society, but I'm afraid that I have never understood this, unless they are speaking only for themselves. The difficulty of getting somewhere depends on where one is travelling from and what mode of transport one is using to get there. I don't drive, so for me personally, Aylesbury is certainly more difficult to get to than say Birmingham for example, because I can get a train directly to Birmingham from Gloucester. I understand of course that for any particular individual travelling by public transport, getting to Aylesbury may be a difficult journey, but I have heard/read people assert that Aylesbury is difficult to get to as if this is a universal constant, unrelated to where one is starting from or how one is getting there, as if Aylesbury is at the top of a mountain or on an island with no ferry connection. It also occurs to me that some people simply don't like travelling to somewhere that they've never been to before and I've heard some people talk as if Aylesbury is impossible to find on a map :? I only exaggerate slightly.

One of the most pleasant and easy journeys I have ever made to a model railway exhibition was when I travelled to the Warley show when I was living in Amsterdam. 25 mins from my apartment to Schiphol, about 50 mins in the air to Birmingham International and down the corridor to the NEC. OK I wasn't memsec then, so hand luggage only, but Tim Venton said to me "It's alright for you, you walked here." And he was more or less right.

The worst journeys (for me and the person giving me a lift) have been, on several occasions, to Leatherhead - stuck for hours on the M25 :cry:

When I go to shows I have to take with me all the stuff that I need as Membership Secretary, the amount (no of boxes/weight) varies depending on the show and if I can arrange it I try to find someone that is also going that can give me a lift. This means planning and thinking ahead. Without a lift, almost everywhere: Aylesbury, Leatherhead, Wells, Wakefield and even the NEC are difficult to get to. I have managed though. The only one that I wouldn't attempt without a lift is Wells - no railway station.

To get back to Scaleforum attendance: in terms of income from people attending there is one simple fact to bear in mind and that is that in financial terms the fall in member attendance has made very little difference. It is the fall off in non-member attendance since the peak years at Leatherhead (2002-2005) that has made the real difference. What has to be decided is, is Scaleforum an event put on by the Society primarily for it's members, at which we are happy to see non-members; or is it an event for members and non-members alike?

All the Best
Danny

User avatar
Martin Wynne
Posts: 855
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 4:27 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Martin Wynne » Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:17 am

Those who think Aylesbury is difficult to get to should try getting to Leatherhead from here.

The parking problem is easily solved -- a free bus service is laid on from the railway station and there are lots of car parks in Aylesbury -- a multi-storey is right next to the station:

aylesbury_car_parks1.jpg
aylesbury_car_parks1.jpg (176.44 KiB) Viewed 6794 times


aylesbury_car_parks.png
aylesbury_car_parks.png (36.53 KiB) Viewed 6794 times


Better still -- go by train. :)

Martin.
40 years developing Templot. And counting ...

Eastern
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:36 am

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Eastern » Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:40 am

Away from the discussion on whether Aylesbury is more difficult to get to, there are several views on what is the purpose of Scaleforum.

I have always viewed it as an opportunity to talk to other members, to get new ideas, to see new products first hand that relate to S4, to see other people's efforts (layouts and models) and to get inspired for my next efforts. Personally that approach suits me. If that is the general view, then the economics of putting on such a show could be looked at. If the admission cost was increased, I can't see that deterring people from attending (members or non-members).

The idea of combining with other finescale societies may or may not change the attendance figures for non-members. Is the choice between RTR and finescale of one sort or another; in which case you are targeting a wider audience, or is it encourage people who would go along the finer scale root to adopt the S4 approach rather than one of the other finer scale options? I don't know the answer since I already made the choice a long time back. There are already several shows each year in the same general area (Railex, Watford, etc.) which exhibit and provide access to the wider finescale market. The society already sends a stand to some of those.

User avatar
David B
Posts: 1183
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:30 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby David B » Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:58 am

Accessibility has been flogged on this Forum before. Any location is more convenient for some and less so for others. Danny has summarised this: The difficulty of getting somewhere depends on where one is travelling from and what mode of transport one is using to get there. I am sure that if anyone can suggest a suitable, affordable location, the Committee would be grateful and look in to it.

Aylesbury supposedly being so difficult to get to does not deter the much larger number of people who come to Railex. This discussion needs to move on to find ways of increasing the number of people who come to Scaleforum.

Scaleforum is a showcase of P4 modelling so I am in favour of encouraging non-members to come. What surprises me is the number of members who live within a fairly easy distance of the show who do not come. The same happened at Leatherhead. Why is this?

David Bigcheeseplant
Posts: 301
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:10 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby David Bigcheeseplant » Fri Dec 19, 2014 10:37 am

With any change of venue you always have to look at the long term, with Railex we saw 3-4 years as the length of time required to see a pattern of attendance. I would see the same 3-4 year period to access Scaleforum before making any major decisions.
As for accessibility by train in a few years Chiltern Railways will have its Oxford link in via Bicester and also a link up with Milton Keynes. As visitors seem to get to Railex at the same venue I don’t really understand why it is harder for Scaleforum.
As someone who has attended all Scalefourums since the City University days, personally I quite liked the lounge carpet feel of that venue and also the area around the bar at Leatherhead, something that is missing at the stadium, but we can’t have it all.
Some differences between Railex and Scaleforum are the costings income and expenditure, I would think the trade income is similar for both shows as the trade is about the same. 10 layouts at Scaleforum, 16-20 layouts at Railex but I would think the number of operators requiring accommodation is similar for both. Which leaves demos we had 2-3 at Railex this year, at Scaleforum the number was many more all who possibly all needed accommodation which at around £60-70 per room cost does add up and at £s per foot cost demonstrators are quite expensive much more so than layouts.
There is also the income at Railex if you take out child and family which are a very small percentage of visitors there is one adult price, at Scaleforum there is members and non-members. The non-member price is the same as the adult price at Railex but at Railex there is around three times the attendance of Scaleforum.
In ten shows Railex has never made a loss, we know the maximum and minimum numbers of visitors to expect and ensure our break even figure is below the minimum number of visitors we have had.
To reduce any loss, tickets price can be increased as well as trade stand rent, although the best way to balance the books is to increase visitor numbers. As I said before if visitors can make it to Railex why do they not attend Scaleforum? It is a different type of show but I expect both are aimed at similar finescale modellers. Personally I thought Scaleforum 2013 was better than 2014.
What layouts and attractions made the best Scaleforum attendances? I am not sure if there is a magic formula, times and tastes change, but those who did attend enjoyed themselves maybe we should ask those who did not attend the reasons (other than other prior commitments and major distances) what did not inspire them to attend or even put them off.

User avatar
jim s-w
Posts: 1767
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:56 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby jim s-w » Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:11 am

I wonder if the problem is that we have a seeming lack of p4 megastar layouts. Layouts that will make people travel to see them. Isn't that what made the MRJ show, all these layouts people were clamouring to see. I admit I don really pay a lot of attention to layouts these days but what are the must see p4 layouts? Are there any?

Cheers

Jim

User avatar
Simon Glidewell
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:08 am

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Simon Glidewell » Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:43 am

jim s-w wrote:I wonder if the problem is that we have a seeming lack of p4 megastar layouts. Layouts that will make people travel to see them. Isn't that what made the MRJ show, all these layouts people were clamouring to see. I admit I don really pay a lot of attention to layouts these days but what are the must see p4 layouts? Are there any?

Cheers

Jim


The MRJ show, which I went to, had other layouts than just P4; Hursley being one. As far as I can recall, all had been featured in the MRJ at some stage, thus already being quite widely known and publisised. The novelty of a innovative publishing company putting on a show of their own also attracted people. It was in Central London so people could make a weekend of it in the capital also. It depends what you mean by "mega star layouts"? Don't you feel that by saying this that many of the people who have already exhibited at past Scaleforums will feel rather insulted by this remark, as you give the impression that you don't rate past/current efforts compared to your own unfinished layout? The majority of well built layouts offer something of interest to the public, however grand or small. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and if one thing will put off prospective P4 modellers it's comments like yours I'm afraid.

Simon

User avatar
John McAleely
Posts: 1163
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 5:08 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby John McAleely » Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:03 pm

Simon Glidewell wrote:It depends what you mean by "mega star layouts"? Don't you feel that by saying this that many of the people who have already exhibited at past Scaleforums will feel rather insulted by this remark, as you give the impression that you don't rate past/current efforts compared to your own unfinished layout?


I don't think this is Jim's point at all. I think the question he poses is rather, among the general modelling public, which P4 layouts are talked about in 'must see' terms? I think he's claiming to be to close to the problem to see the general public's view.

User avatar
David Thorpe
Posts: 875
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:13 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby David Thorpe » Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:06 pm

I have to confess to being not tremendously interested in layouts. It's nice to see them and its obviously essential to have a few, but for me, the most important factors (in no particular order) are traders, demonstrations, and chat with other P4 modellers. What I would hate to see is any of the Scalefour shows becoming more like a general model railway show and less like a Society Event and I fear that the bigger the show becomes, the more likely that is to happen.

DT
Last edited by David Thorpe on Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
jim s-w
Posts: 1767
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:56 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby jim s-w » Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:28 pm

John McAleely wrote:
Simon Glidewell wrote:It depends what you mean by "mega star layouts"? Don't you feel that by saying this that many of the people who have already exhibited at past Scaleforums will feel rather insulted by this remark, as you give the impression that you don't rate past/current efforts compared to your own unfinished layout?


I don't think this is Jim's point at all. I think the question he poses is rather, among the general modelling public, which P4 layouts are talked about in 'must see' terms? I think he's claiming to be to close to the problem to see the general public's view.


Exactly. There are loads of fabulous p4 layouts out there but are there any super star layouts that grab the more general modelling public. That's not to say that it has to be good. I'm sure we've all seen layouts in other gauges or scales that are raved about and come away thinking what is all the fuss about. To put it another way I'm talking about something like star wars in films. Let's face it, as a film it's pretty rubbish but look at the following it generates.

I dont know if there are or arent any p4 layouts like that or not, that's the question I'm asking.

I dunno why Simon mentions my own layout. I haven't said anything about it since mid August but if you do count that as a demo I've been to scalefourum with 4 different layouts in my time, none of those were Chee torr like in a capturing the publics attention.

Cheers

Jim
Last edited by jim s-w on Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Jol Wilkinson
Posts: 804
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:39 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:10 pm

Jim,

I think you have to define what makes a "must see "layout (irrespective of scale/gauge) before it would be possible to work out which fit the bill.

I do think that strong advance "public awareness" is important to get the attendance up. That includes one or more of layouts on display appearing in the modelling magazines in the months before the show. I don't know how you can engineer that with the general press, but perhaps featuring the the layouts due to attend in the Snooze more strongly might get more of the membership to the show.

Jol

User avatar
Will L
Posts: 1764
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby Will L » Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:20 pm

I can't help feeling that the answer to numbers attending Scaleforum is primarily down to publicity. As a show primarily aimed at members I understand why we haven't gone big on publicity in the past, and the main publicity we have at the moment is P4 member's arguing to toss over whether Aylesbury is more or less accessible than Leatherhead. I doubt that is very inviting to the uncertain attender. What we need is a concerted effort to make modellers believe that this really is the must see show, and then they will turn up in much larger numbers. If we sell it well to non members then we'll get more members along too and everybody will be happy.

So let build up a bit of anticipation and remind people why this is the premier 4mm scale show. It is not just the qaulity of the layouts, although a well known name or to will help, it's the lack of barriers letting you get close to the layouts, it the high quality trade support, everything a fine scale 4mm modeller could possibly want, its the wide comfortable isles, its the two day ticket and the wife gets in free, it the ability to talk over your modelling problem with a broad selection of well know modellers, it Scaleforum and everybody's welcome.

Edit - Didn't see Jol's post before submitting this. We clearly agree.

User avatar
David Thorpe
Posts: 875
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:13 pm

Re: Scaleforum 2015

Postby David Thorpe » Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:00 pm

There must be people reading this thread who could have got to Scaleforum without too much difficulty, but didn't go. It would be interesting to know why they didn't.

DT


Return to “Exhibitions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests