How to exhibit at London Olympia for less than £350 quid, including everything!
When we say everything, we mean everything! Travel, accommodation, stand hire, stand display, flyers, business cards, food and staff. At the UK’s largest vegan festival with 15,000+ people attending across the weekend in one of the most expensive cities in the world at one of London’s most expensive venues.
Yes – it’s possible and we have the receipts to prove it!
We’d like to share our insider secrets as to how we did it and help YOU take your vegan organisation or brand to London.
So lets get straight to it.
One of the potentially biggest costs, the stand was donated as part of our sponsorship package by our incredible partners VegFest UK. Without this, we wouldn’t have even been able to consider attending the event. While we appreciate sponsorship isn’t an option for everyone, for vegan start-ups it’s certainly possible to offer a product or service trade with the event organisers in exchange for your stand. Worst case scenario, they say no. So there’s nothing to lose.
The central London accommodation was a dorm bed in a YHA. Basic. Clean. And at just £20.75 per night – affordable.
Transport from Bristol to London was by Megabus coaches. 236 total miles for just £5 return travel! With a bit of advance prep, you can find these ridiculously cheap tickets. The stand was designed to pack into a suitcase. The bright red branded table cloth easily folded down. Another box ticked.
Food shopping was done in the supermarket rather than the venue which as you’d expect had much more expensive prices and often long queues. Fine if you’re a visitor, but leaving the stand for too long would have been problematic. A trip to the supermarket sorted package lunch food for the weekend along with an occasional cheeky venue coffee. A quick wander and sampling of taster snacks from food vendors added variety to the menu.
Flyers were kept small. Tiny in fact at just 8.5 cms. We’re not a fan of masses of printed materials as flyers tend to quickly find their way into the bin and landfill. So we opted to design our own mini-business card sized flyers with just the essential website details. Branded up to look the part and easy to retain in a wallet or purse.
The banner stand was ordered online and designed in-house by us. It packed down and could be slung over a shoulder while travelling. The table cloth was also an online purchase (cheaper prices than high-street firms).
Staff were all volunteers gifted with free entry tickets in exchange for 4-hour shifts. Everyone was recruited prior to the event and allocated a time and date then given their entry tickets at a meeting point at the venue entrance. The stand had a number of staff entry tickets included. Additional tickets were bought in advance to gain early bird prices.
Internet was avoided. It would have been ideal to demonstrate the website, however with stallholder WIFI at London Olympia ranging from £285-£2k (!) for one stand, let’s just say this wasn’t in budget. This also avoided the potential issue of laptop security. With 15,000 people at the venue, theft could have been a possibility.
So with no products to sell, how do you avoid an empty table?
This isn’t a problem if you can load your table up with products to sell. However, for everyone wanting to stand out from the stand crowd, we suggest you bend your mind and get creative. We designed a suitcase sized spinning Wheel Of Fortune game and traded marketing consultancy in exchange for its creation by a carpenter. £2 to spin the wheel, or 3 spins for fiver. The segments of the wheel had prize winner, raffle entry, hug or handshake and with so many prizes gifted to us, most people left with something. The game was a huge hit with the punters. Anyone who didn’t win a prize was offered a hug or a handshake. The table was busy all day with people playing or stopping to find out what all the laughter and commotion was about.
We invited some of the other VegFest companies attending to participate by sharing prizes in exchange for social media marketing. The response was off-the-scale. At one stage I could be seen dragging heavy bags full of vegan products across the venue floor as I couldn’t physically lift them. Can’t say this was my finest moment, but it got the job done. Check out our instagram & twitter feeds to see photos: @veganeventhub Winners were happy being photographed with their prizes giving the generous product creators well-deserved publicity.
A quick roll call reveals 34 amazing companies donated prizes. How many of their products have you tried? Definitely worth Googling these brands and supporting businesses who have been supporting vegans (and veganism) before it started trending;
4Nuts, 4SOME, Amazonia, Arbonne, Bear Face Industries, Body Me, Bohemian Chic Minerals, Bute Island Foods, Derma Enhance, Dutch Weed Burger, Eden Perfumes, London Falafel, Freet Footwear, Global Fusion, Happy Maid, Humblestuff, Koko Dairy Free, Mahin Naturals, Mobile Massage, Ms Cupcake, Natural Balance Foods, Perkier Foods, Pudology, Purapressed, The Coconut Company, The Tofu Box, Tickles’ Pickles, Uncooked Media, Vegan Age, Vegan Tuck Box, Veganuary, Vivo Life, White Rabbit Skincare, Yum Earth.
Onto the number crunching.
So after working flat-out for 2 days seeing over a thousand visitors, securing hundreds of email sign ups and raising awareness of the Hub, we left feeling pretty good about the value gained.
Here is our final breakdown of exhibition stand costs;
London Olympia VEH Stand
Banner/Tablecloth creation £152.40
£20 Lightbox – handmade by me with cost for LED lights/wood/cloth
£2 printing + laminating table signage
£1.50 travel Bristol to Lon Megabus
£3.50 travel London to Bristol Megabus
£83 x 4 nights accommodation Zone 1 hostel dorm. Walk from accommodation to exhibition venue, just 25 mins from Earls Court YHA to London Olympia.
£20 food/drinks over the weekend.
£25 Business card sized flyers x 250
£25 Velvet business cards x 500
£ Volunteer staff tickets
£0 Vehicle Pass for access to the arena not required as carried stand in suitcase.
£0 WIFI as too expensive £285-2k! It was on the wishlist, but not possible at these prices.
£0 Stand Hire – donated by our VegFest UK sponsor
£0 Wheel Of Fortune creation (traded for marketing consultancy)
£332.40 expenditure total.