Oyster was approached by event organisers Swan Events to rebrand and relaunch The European Amusements & Gaming Expo (EAG), a business-to-business trade show Swan had organised for many years on behalf of BACTA (the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry in the UK).
EAG takes place at ExCeL London each January and traditionally attracts a range of exhibitors including manufacturers of coin-operated machines, such as kiddie rides, juke boxes and arcade games. However, with exhibitor numbers in decline, Swan was keen to cement the show’s importance within the ‘coin-op’ industry and also broaden the appeal of EAG to attract new exhibitors from complementary industry sectors including virtual reality games operators, e-Sports and other leisure industry equipment manufacturers.
Confusingly, a separate event called the Visitor Attraction Expo (VAE) had been created alongside EAG in recent years, but this event only had a handful of exhibitors and as it was held in the same hall as EAG it was indistinguishable from the bigger event.
Over a three-year period, the overriding objective of marketing EAG was to stop the diminishing number of exhibitors and visitors and then start growing engagement and attendance.
Oyster set about creating new branding for the event to combine EAG and VAE into one show and effectively position it within the amusement and leisure sector. As the EAG name was very well-known in the industry and there was very low awareness of VAE, it made sense to preserve the EAG acronym. EAG had traditionally stood for The European Amusements & Gaming Expo but as the show was actually a global affair, Oyster renamed the new combined show The Entertainment, Attractions & Gaming International Expo to stop it being pigeonholed as a European show and to add visitor attractions to the mix. We then gave the existing website a thorough overhaul, set up new social media pages on Instagram and LinkedIn, and refreshed EAG’s existing pages on Facebook and Twitter with the new branding in preparation for commencing marketing activities.
As part of the brief, we then developed separate marketing strategies to target exhibitors and visitors. These were executed via e-marketing, organic and paid social media campaigns, PR, press/internet advertising and telesales (the latter was undertaken by the client). After testing paid social media advertising campaigns on a number of platforms, we rolled out advertisements on LinkedIn, capitalising on its superior B2B targeting capabilities to reach a carefully defined group of people in the leisure industry to raise awareness of the event to both exhibitors and visitors, increase engagement and encourage signups.
In parallel, we ran a successful organic social media campaign for seven months, which comprised two posts a week across four social media channels in the early months, ramping up to daily or twice-daily posts as the event got closer.
Regular e-shots were also sent out to the existing exhibitor and visitor mailing lists using Campaign Monitor to encourage exhibitors to book stands at the show and help maximise visitor attendance.
A programme of press releases was also developed and sent out to the leisure industry trade press and key websites to keep readers updated on news about the show. In addition, we designed a suite of impactful advertisements and web banners which appeared in all the main trade press and on leisure websites to raise awareness of the event.
The objective in year one was to halt the year-on-year decline in exhibitor and visitor numbers and we successfully achieved this, despite a challenging economic climate prevailing. Bookings from a number of new virtual reality exhibitors were also secured. Going forward, we are expecting to build on this success by growing followers on social media platforms and increasing engagement before starting to actively promote the 2021 show.
“As we come to the end of the campaign I want to thank you for all your hard work and understanding this year. I believe the marketing campaign has improved 10-fold.”
Karen Cooke, Owner, Swan Events