South West Business Expo Just Around The Corner

South West Business Expo Just Around The Corner

With the South West Business Expo just over a month away, the organisers at South West Business Connections have announced record numbers of advanced ticket bookings and exhibitors. 215 exhibitors are getting their stands prepped for the big day, with more expected to book in, and over 1,500 people have registered to attend which is 20% up on last November. It is expected that there will be over 280+ exhibitors and nearly 4,000 people attending in 2019.

Also announced this week were details of the keynote speakers for the UK’s second largest business show, which include Rachel Elnaugh, the British entrepreneur, author and international speaker who created the multi-million pound market-leading ‘Red Letter Days’ experience brand.

Rachel’s keynote address at the South West Business Expo is entitled “The Game of Business and How to Play It”. It will share insights on how to get into ‘flow’ around your business. She says,

“Millions have been inspired to go into business as a result of TV shows like Dragons’ Den yet the truth is most aspiring entrepreneurs end up struggling and frequently give up on their business dream.”

Dave Barr, Managing Director of South West Business Connections said,

“We’re really excited to be hosting such fantastic businesses and speakers at the Expo. That’s as well as also holding 25 seminars and masterclasses that are free to attend. From well-known industry figureheads to passionate people in the incredibly varied industries that the south west is home to, it’s important that we continue to champion their growth, with significant opportunities to expand industry across the region as well as the UK. These are challenging times for those in business (and in politics!) and the power of coming to an event to meet other people face to face, network and collaborate cannot be underestimated.”

Last year the Expo saw 21% of attendees come from outside the South West and this year that percentage is expected to be even greater.

Urban Planters is a Partner at this year’s event. Lisa Bailey-Brown said,

“The South West Business Expo appeals to us because of the size of it; more opportunities, partnerships, the publicity, additional promo and pre-event networking opportunities. This is our fifth year and second year as décor partner. Every year we walk away with fantastic contacts, new opportunities and proven growth.”

Paul Siely is the Centre Manager at Land Rover Experience West Country. He commented,

“We have exhibited for the last four years with 2019 being the fifth. In year one, which was my first year working at Land Rover Experience (LRE), I ‘walked’ the show to get a feel for it and to see if it was worth exhibiting. This was a valuable exercise as it was very clear that we needed to be there both from a footfall of visitors and also the quality of fellow exhibitors. The one thing that makes the show different is the accessibility of Dave Barr and the team and the support they offer to help exhibitors get the most from the event; little things make a big difference – stand management and advice on how to use the space you have is invaluable. We are very much looking forward to another good year.”

Bracken Jelier, PR and Social Media Manager at Marvellous PR added,

“Exhibiting at the Expo is a fantastic way to raise your profile and generate brand awareness. As well as taking a stand at an event we are also this year’s PR Partner and Lucy Matthews, founder of Marvellous PR, is one of the keynote speakers. Businesses cannot undervalue meeting face-to-face with potential customers; it’s a great way to start building relationships. It’s also a good way to learn more about your competitors, launch a new product and build your database. With so many local and national businesses showcasing at this vibrant event, it should be a valuable use of time for anyone.”



The South West Business Expo will provide inspiration in many forms; headline speakers that have set up multi-million-pound companies, to motivational speakers that will help you to leave Westpoint Arena buzzing with fresh ideas.


Build your confidence and your contacts. When so much is done on social media, how refreshing to put names to the faces! We may live in a digital world, however face-to-face networking is still considered to be more powerful than virtual. In fact, a recent study carried out in partnership with LinkedIn showed that 85% of jobs are actually filled through networking.


If you’re working on your own, then it can sometimes be lonely. Think of this as one big business community and a chance to really get to know them better. Use the free seminars and workshops to get all the advice you need to help you on your business journey.


Life can be exhausting – and the turbulent economic climate can add to the stress. The South West Business Expo could be the motivation you need to get ahead of the competition, put yourself into a new phase of business and incentivise your ambitions.

Personal Development

Blocking out a whole day to attend the event gives you a break from the every-day work. Take a notebook and as you walk around the exhibition you’ll be inspired with new ideas of what to do – and what not to do. You may even want to come along as an exhibitor next year!


Order your merchandise, posters, pop ups well in advance. I’ve seen so many companies waiting on courier deliveries on the day of the expo. You can even set up the afternoon beforehand which means if you’ve forgotten something – you still have time!

Data Capture is key. Find some way of collecting data from those you engage with. Run a competition, do a business card draw etc. Don’t forget to follow up afterwards too!

Think about your stand carefully. Don’t create barriers and hide behind a table or a banner – and whatever you do, don’t sit down!

Make sure the pop-up you order will actually fit your stand. A square peg does not fit into a round hole and yet every year, someone gives it a go!

Business Cards, Business Cards, Business cards! Being without them is like walking down the street without any trousers on.

If you can, take a colleague. Someone needs to be on your stand all the time and you need at least a toilet break! Some of the best connections I’ve made at Expo are from fellow exhibitors so you need to be able to “work the room”.

Get to the show in good time! There is nothing worse than arriving as the exhibition opens. An empty stand is not a good look!  If you can, set up the day before and take away the stress on the day.

Attend the support events that Dave and Annabelle put on. They can be a big help if you are not used to events like this – and they give you a chance to get to know people in advance, so that there are some friendly faces on the big day.

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