Welcoming back exhibitions at DSEI 2021

DSEI 2021 – our thoughts

DSEI 2021 has finished for another year. It has been great to be back doing what we enjoy best, meeting new prospects and showcasing the innovation of our range of products and capabilities. As the week began drawing to a close, we begin to reflect on how good it was to be back in a setting that has been dearly missed for the last 18 months.

DSEI 2021 has been the 1st exhibition back for a lot of businesses in the Defence sector and after some light reflection – it was interesting to see what the general themes and takeaways of the event have been this year. 

Hybrid Exhibitions are here to stay

After the last 18 months, there has been a heightened reliance on all things digital/ online. With the introduction of online ‘digital experiences’ in place of face-to-face last year – there needed to be a happy medium for those people more comfortable attending from their office or living room. Hybrid exhibitions will become the norm, allowing more flexibility when thinking about attending events (especially for international’s). 

The DSEI Connect platform provided this option to book time with attendees whether you were physically at the exhibition or just attending online. This really helped attendees and exhibitors, international and UK bases alike with the flexibility of still being able to reach out to everyone.

We are moving to a more digital business environment but it is still hard to replicate the experience and opportunities that face-to-face event models bring.

Technology innovation

As with every industry, the change in technology is constant and now at an alarming rate. Innovation is key to surviving and keeping one step ahead. The innovation in technology within the defence sector continues to plan for the next generation of military tech – always steps in front with an increased focus on how we can solve tomorrow’s problems. 

To keep ahead of the curve, you need to keep questioning the non-traditional methods. Disruption is inevitable, but with that brings new opportunities. DSEI was a perfect way to absorb the different strains of innovation within Land, Air, Naval, Future Tech, Manufacturing etc…

UK vs International

With the lasting effects of the pandemic, there was always going to be a reduced footfall for this years exhibition. This was a general worry of the unknown – would there still be a good generation of leads? Would the right type of prospects still be attending? So many unanswered questions clouded the preparation for DSEI 2021.

The absence of international visitors and exhibitors was the most hard-hit but still wasn’t as absent as we’d assumed. The attendance figures were estimated to be 50% down but were surprisingly a nice 70% up on what was originally predicted. 

Whilst footfall was down, the general consensus was quantity down, quality up. High footfall does not always equal high quality and this year showed that with the number of in-depth leads and more qualified enquiries.

Location Location Location

We have to say that it can be hard to keep to the same stand location year on year as the hall layouts are constantly changing. The best way to guarantee a good amount of traffic is to locate yourself near or opposite the prime contractors. It is always a good idea to go to the exhibition with plans for the future event in mind. Scope out the layout, look where your competitors are, what locations seem to generate the best footfall. Be bold with your choices and always makes sure you are in the relevant zone to your industry. 

All in all, we had a great time at the show. Catching up with other exhibitors, reaching out to new prospects and enjoyed being back in the exhibition environment. Looking forward to what 2023 will bring – see you there!