Making a SplashEditor - 14th November 2016
This year’s Digital Splash, organised by Wilkinson Cameras, stepped up a gear, occupying Liverpool’s new Exhibition Centre for two days of October.
Digital Splash 2016 was billed by the team at Wilkinson Cameras as the place to be for professional photographers, enthusiast photographers, aspiring videographers, astronomers and even bird watchers.
With a heavy emphasis on visitor engagement, visitors were encouraged along to the event by a healthy number of attractions, including getting hands-on with the latest kit, picking up expert advice, a packed programme of professional presentations, workshops and of course, show deals.
Curious to find out more, and to talk about the importance of event planning for retailers in general, Pixel Editor Simon Skinner, caught up with David Parkinson from Wilkinson Cameras to see how it all went with what is now the biggest photography show in the north of England.
Simon Skinner: Hi David, first off and with this year being the first time you’ve organised your annual show in a considerably larger space, has Digital Splash 16′ been the success that you’d hoped with regards to visitor numbers?
David Parkinson: It went really well. We have a positive tsunami of people flooding through the doors on the Saturday and whilst Sunday was a little quieter, we still saw great numbers. There was a different pace on the Sunday this year with a different type of customer, but we are very happy with the numbers that we attracted.
SS: And what were the overall numbers in the end?
DP: Well, if you consider 2015, when we were in the university venue, we saw roughly 1500 people. At Digital Splash 2106, we welcomed more like 6200 people over the two days. Most of the presentations were sold out and the walks were really popular with all being sold out too.
SS: How has the early feedback been from the exhibitors?
DP: It’s been fantastic so far; it really did work and with the numbers showing up, everyone was happy and many have told me that their expectations were far exceeded so I’m confident that they will want to be involved again next year. Fujifilm are already talking about taking on a bigger stand; their talks were really well attended but they only had limited seating space, so they, for one, will need more space to accommodate the crowds.
“Don’t want a shop in every town, I just don’t think that the business justifies that nowadays. I would rather have 20 fantastic stores than 100 average ones”
SS: How important has Digital Splash become for Wilkinson Cameras in business terms?
DP: In the grand scheme of things, it’s still relatively small, but it’s a nice bonus to have in what is generally a quiet month. We’re now re-writing our business plan and that will have an emphasis on the growth of the show. Generally speaking and with the Liverpool store having been open for three years now, we are seeing the city centre stores doing the lion’s share of the business. It’s our intention to combine expansion into more city centre sites with a strong and growing show that’s supported by a strong website. That’s going to be the future of Wilkinson Cameras, I think. We can’t be everywhere and don’t want a shop in every town, I just don’t think that the business justifies that nowadays. I would rather have 20 fantastic stores than 100 average ones.
“These are things that any store can do, regardless of the size. They are valuable ways to gain data and to drive customers through the door”
SS: If any Pixel readers are considering organising (or already organise) events for their locality, camera clubs etc, what advice would you give them to maximise their potential returns?
DP: You have to be incredible organised! Also, if you want to bring something different to your business, then you have to look to bring engagement; people want more than just a store nowadays and the days of people ‘popping in’ to shop are long gone. You have to engage with people now and with Digital Splash, we took the angle of workshops, tutorials, photo-walks and other interesting activities. For example, anyone who booked onto a photo-walk could then come back into the show, pick his or her favourite shot and then have it printed off. That was a real hit. We also hosted our own ‘Digital Splash Awards’ and some of the entries were really incredible. We announced the winner on the Sunday and the girl that won was over the moon! These are things that any store can do, regardless of the size. They are valuable ways to gain data and to drive customers through the door.
SS: So have you re-booked the space for 2017 and if so, what are the dates?
DP: We have penciled dates for next year and they are the 21st 22nd October.
SS: That’s half term week, isn’t it?
DP: It is indeed and we are mindful of it and we’ll have to give it a little consideration before confirming. We will announce officially in due course.
SS: We’ll look forward to it. Thanks David.