PALME Middle East draws fire

    Event organiser IIR Exhibitions hails PALME 2008 a success despite negative feedback from certain exhibitors.

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    Hailed as a success by some industry professionals and a disappointment by others, the question remains, is PALME Middle East really delivering the goods?

    Year-on-year, the event continues to attract a bevy of first-time visitors and exhibitors, all keen to gain a piece of the action in the lucrative regional pro audio, lighting and live event production industries.

    Yet, as is the case with most industry events that expand rapidly, PALME has come under intense scrutiny from sectors of the industry, particularly a certain number of seemingly disgruntled exhibitors who claim the event is failing to generate sufficient commercial leads for their businesses.

    They argue that PALME organiser IIR Exhibitions should work to attract a greater number of trade-based visitors to the show, particularly those who have the power to make key purchasing decisions.

    Despite these criticisms, PALME Middle East exhibition director Alex Heuff is standing by this year's event, arguing that the show had not only raised its international profile, but generated new business and satisfied exhibitor expectations.

    As evidence, Heuff confirmed 40% of next year's PALME exhibition space allocation had already been booked.

    He also claimed that several multi-million dollar deals had been signed during the course of this year's event, many of which involved regional project managers following the surge of new development work extending throughout the GCC.

    Yet, while PALME seemingly delivered financial rewards for some, others continued to voice concerns about the overall direction of the event.

    Some exhibitors suggested that PALME organisers should seek inspiration from rival international exhibitions, such as Frankfurt's Prolight + Sound event.

    Prolight + Sound has been running successfully for the past 14 years. It attracts a massive number of international delegates, whose overall decision-making authority has ensured Prolight + Sound's continued success.

    There are many UAE-based companies that have realised the valuable exposure gained from being part of the Frankfurt event as opposed to PALME.

    Additionally, many exhibitors argue the timing of Prolight + Sound, which is held the month prior to PALME, devalues the latter event.

    While PALME and Prolight + Sound may seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size and scope, Prolight + Sound is an event PALME should gauge itself against if it wants to cater to market demands and produce a holistic world-class event.

    As the region's pro audio, lighting and live event production industries continue to evolve, events such as PALME have a crucial role to play in showcasing the best the Middle East industry has to offer, both locally and globally.

    Ultimately, IIR would be wise to heed the feedback received from exhibitors this year, to ensure PALME's emergence as an event worthy of recognition from the industry on a global scale.

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