I am not sure if my limited experiance of modelling and exhibitions qualifies me to take part in this discussion. I am a relative newcomer to railway modeling having only built one layout and no rolling stock, the layout being a 4'x4' one using a Bachman boxed set plus some scenic kits that I put together for my gt-grandsons. It was building that layout that prompted me to think about building something for myself and whilst my first thought was to build to EM standards (based on trying to build to that standard many years ago), I soon realised that if I was going to have to scratch-build track and other stuff I might as well go P4 so I joined the Society.
I have visited just 6 exhibitions in the last two years, 2 at Wells, 2 at Aylesbury and a 'local club' ones at Weymouth and Taunton plus one visit to Pecorama. I soon realised that I have little interest in looking at layouts so have no plans to visit any more club type exhibitions. Pecorama may get visited again as the gt-grandchildren enjoyed their first visit but we didn't have time to ride on the steam train.
My reasons for visiting the Wells and Aylesbury exhibitions were:
1. to meet society members I'd only had contact with here on the Forum
2. to visit trader stands to see products in the 'flesh' rather than only online
3. to watch as many demos as possible (I spent more time at demos in 2014 than doing anything else).
I will be going to Wells again as it is just a short drive away from home but I am not sure if we will go to Aylesbury again in 2015 even though I have enjoyed the experience each time I have been there. Whilst Aylesbury is only about a 3 hour drive from home I find I like driving that sort of distance less and less now that I am over 80. I haven't even considered getting there by train as I have combined a visit to the exhibition with visits to family members who live in Bedford, Royston and Watford which is done more conveniently by car.
I had no problems finding reasonable accommodation in Aylesbury, in 2013 at a B&B within walking distance of the Station and this year at a Motel a bit furthout and driving to the station car park. Using the bus link to get to/from the stadium each time means the limited car parking at the stadium is no problem.
RailWells is not as pleasant an experience as Aylesbury due to the limited space and layout of the rooms in Wells Town Hall which makes navigating between stands a bit tricky (especially when we took two young children there) but Wells does have the advantage of having shops etc within easy reach so my wife had plenty to occupy her whilst I was at that show, something I was concerned about at Aylesbury but she seemed happy enough this year with a book in the seats overlooking the hall once she had taken a look around the various layouts, which she actually finds more interesting than I do
The much more open layout that the stadium allows is a very big advantage over somewhere like Wells. My wife said it was useful to be able to see what I was up to from the her raised elevation.
Both our visits to the exhibition have been on a Saturday but I missed out on the evening socialising each time as we haven't been able to stay a second night due to foresaid family visiting. If I do attend in 2015 I will have to try to arrange things better as I suspect that Saturday evening get-together is as relevant as the exhibition itself especially for people tied down manning stalls during the day.