Sunday June 23rd and Monday June 24th will see all the industry’s major suppliers congregate at the NEC, just outside Birmingham, for the 2013 ETO Show. If you’d like to join them, and us, at the event here is everything you need to know…
The ETO Show is like a ‘live’ version of ETO magazine, in that every major distributor will be showcasing its latest and greatest products alongside a large number of specialist suppliers who are dedicated to specific areas of the business.
Not only will there be a vast array of new products making their first public appearance in the UK, there will also be a significant number of firms attending their first trade show as exhibitors. As a visitor, whether you’re a buyer for a retail store, online store or party plan business, you will see things you have never seen before. And if you do your buying at the show there are significant savings to be had – many exhibitors offer show-only deals and discounts.
The ETO Show is also the best networking opportunity in the UK. It has been since 2005 when it first opened its doors. It might seem hard to believe now but prior to this there were no dedicated trade events – not just in the UK but in the whole of Europe. Retail buyers were forced to attend all-singing all-dancing consumer shows which had trade sections awkwardly bolted on – and the organisers expected the trade to pay the same entry price as the public and negotiate their way through halls thumping with ‘dance’ music, packed with camera-wielding hoards of consumers.
The industry demanded better. It wanted somewhere to meet and do business away from the public. It wanted this event to be located somewhere central, easily accessible from all areas of the UK by car, train or plane, and it wanted members of the trade to be given free entry. And with the ETO Show, that’s what it got and still has.
The ETO Show has returned to the NEC every year since, though its format has altered slightly over the years, reflecting the industry it serves. It now features a catwalk for instance, where exhibitors can showcase their lingerie and costumes.
There have been some lean times, particularly as the trade came to terms with DVD no longer being its most important sector, but last year’s event – fuelled by a certain erotic novel that promoted BDSM products – exceeded all expectations.
And judging by the number of enquiries we have received over the last couple of months, this year’s show could be the most successful to date. If you have never visited the ETO Show before please do come along this time. You will be very welcome. If you are involved in the retailing of adult products, you are a VIP in the eyes of every exhibitor. You are the reason they are exhibiting. If you write about adult products, you should also be well received and make many new contacts.
If you are an ETO Show first timer, or even if you’re an old hand wanting more information about this year’s event, here’s everything you need to know:
Q. What is the ETO Show?
A. It’s the UK’s only dedicated trade event for the pleasure products sector. All the UK’s major wholesalers will be exhibiting along with a wide variety of specialist suppliers from the UK and overseas. Expect to see everything from lingerie and costumes to sex toys and even publishers of erotic literature. The ETO Show is a strictly trade-only event and there is no charge for admittance.
Q. Where is it?
A. It’s held in The Pavilion, at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), a purpose-built exhibition complex in the Midlands.
Q. Why isn’t it in London?
A. Because it doesn’t need to be. London is a great city but the NEC was chosen for its central location and ease of access from anywhere in the country. Besides, have you ever tried to park in London?
Q. When is it?
A. The ETO Show takes place on Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th June.
Q. What are the opening hours?
A. The opening hours are 10.30am – 5.00pm on the Sunday and 10.30pm – 4.30pm on the Monday.
Q. Can I drive there?
A. Yes indeed. Birmingham is at the hub of the UK motorway network, enabling visitors to travel directly from the M6, M1, M40 and M42. The NEC is signposted on motorways and major roads and is marked on most good maps. If you need a map or more detailed directions please visit www.thenec.co.uk. If you are using a satellite navigation system enter the postcode B40 1NT. The entrance to the NEC is located on the roundabout you will encounter when you exit the M42 at Junction 6.
Q. Ah but can I park there?
A. Absolutely. The NEC has its own on-site car parking for 22,000 vehicles. The NEC does charge for this. Standard Parking is £10 per day. There will be signposted directions for the ETO Show car park and free of charge shuttle buses to take you from the car park to the show venue.
Q. What if I don’t want to drive?
A. Then let the train take the strain. The NEC is situated adjacent to Birmingham International Rail Station so you will be able to reach the venue without stepping outside. Depending on which station you departed from, you can travel directly by train to The NEC by alighting at Birmingham International. If your point of origin does not provide a service directly to Birmingham International you will need to travel to Birmingham New Street first and get a connecting train from there. For further information on travelling by train to Birmingham International Station, please contact National Rail enquiries on 08457 484950 or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk. Once you have arrived at Birmingham International Rail Station take the stairs or lift from any platform up to the station interchange. The entrance to the NEC is situated on the right hand side as you exit the station and is clearly signposted. Continue to walk along the covered walkway called the bridgelink where you can then follow signs for the Pavilion.
Q. Can I fly to the show?
A. You can. Birmingham International Airport (BHX) is very close to the NEC, which is extremely convenient for our foreign visitors and those on internal flights. Once you’ve grabbed your luggage it will take just minutes to get to the NEC from the airport. If you are on foot follow the signs to the Air-Rail Link which leaves the airport from the first floor of Terminal 1. Once you have stepped off the Air-Rail at Birmingham International Station continue straight ahead through the concourse onto The NEC bridgelink. The Air-Rail Link is a free, speedy and convenient way to travel between the Airport Passenger Terminals and Birmingham International Station and the NEC. Using a cable drawn system the Air-Rail Link has two trains, each with a maximum capacity of 27 passengers. The Air-Rail Link operates every two minutes between 0515 and 0200 and has a one-way travel time of 90 seconds. For more information visit www.birminghamairport.co.uk
Q. I’ve just looked at the NEC website and there is no mention of the ETO Show in its What’s On section – are you sure it is actually on?
A. Quite sure. The event is not listed at our request. The ETO Show is trade-only and many members of the public visit the NEC’s site. We do not want consumers to know about the show.
Q. Is it worth me attending?
A. Yes, if you are involved in adult retail in any capacity, be it on the web, High Street or through party plan. This is the only event of its kind in the UK. If you write about adult goods or have a blog then it should be right up your street too.
Q. Do you expect me to give up my Sunday, my only day off, to attend your show?
A. It’s your choice – you can come on the Monday if you prefer. We have found that retailers prefer to ‘give up’ a Sunday rather than a Monday though. Whichever day you ‘give up’, the benefits to attending surely outweigh the sacrifice.
Q. Who will be there?
A. Every major distributor, including: ABS Holdings, Concorde, Creative Conceptions, Darker Enterprises, Net 1on1, Planet Earth Wholesale, Scala Playhouse, Shots Media and Tonga.
Suppliers of specialist product ranges and services, including: Carnal Creative, Cobeco Pharma, Cyrex, DVD and Magazine Village, DVM Enterprises, EAN, E-Stim, Fun Factory, LTC Healthcare, Mister B, Music Legs, Mystim, Nexus, Pasante, Rocks-Off, Rouge Garments, Sign and Xcite Books.
Lingerie and clothing firms, including: Alterego, Kevco Wholesale, Starline Lingerie and Veritus UK.
There will also be a significant number of companies attending their first ever trade show in the UK, including: Black and Blue, BodyGliss, COAST, Deeva Toys, First Light, GayRado, Give Lube, Heaven SX, House of Eros, Love Life Products, Natural Green Holdings, Naughty Originals, Noir Handmade, Odeco, OVO, Shoes by Emma and Voulez-Vous.
Q. I’m happy with my existing suppliers – why should I want any more?
A. Customers need a good reason to visit an adult store, whether it’s on the High Street or online, apart from competitive pricing and excellent customer service (which is a prerequisite for everybody these days) and the very best reason of all is to see something that they haven’t seen before. There will be companies at the ETO Show who are exhibiting at a trade event for the first time. All the major names know that trade shows are the best platforms to launch new lines because it gives them the opportunity to introduce them to a large number of their customers at the same time. Of course, even if you don’t attend a particular trade show, you will still get to hear about products launched by your suppliers because lines of communication are so slick these days, but you won’t be the first to stock them and, if supplies are limited, you might not get to stock them at all until the second production run, which could take months.
Q. How much does it cost to attend?
A. Nothing at all. All we ask is that your line of business is the adult industry. And, of course, a further benefit of attending events like the ETO Show is the chance to save money. Many exhibitors offer special show-only deals and promotions and additional discounts for orders placed on the stand. Those who buy in significant quantities can, and do, save significant amounts at the ETO Show.
Q. What’s this about a catwalk?
A. In recent years lingerie and clothing has become an essential ingredient in most adult stores’ product mix and there is no better way of evaluating the appeal of new styles than seeing them in their natural habitat, on an attractive body. There are three catwalk shows each day, lasting around 25 minutes each. They will feature runway, lights, music and a compere announcing which products are being showcased and where they are available from. A large screen will also display the company name and logo and stand number. Companies booked in to showcase their latest designs on the catwalk include: ABS Holdings/Pipedream, Alterego, Darker Enterprises, Gayrado, Kevco Wholesale, Rouge Garments, Sassy Ass, Starline Lingerie and Veritus UK.
Q. Will I be able to take pictures?
A. You will. There are no restrictions regarding photography on the catwalk.
Q. OK, I want to come – what do I do now?
A. If you have not pre-registered for the event at www.etoshow.com then you can still attend. Please be aware that your details will need to be taken in the reception areas before you can get in though.
Q. Do I need to do anything else?
A. Bring a business card or letterhead with you – even if you have an entry badge, you will still need additional proof of trade status to gain admittance on the day.
Q. I am new to the industry – as in, in the process of setting up – so can I still come?
A. We try to be as open and welcoming as possible to new companies – after all, everyone was new at some point – but we cannot admit members of the public to the show. Even if you are so new that you haven’t even settled on a name you should still get business cards printed with your details on. It’s a tiny commitment and you risk being turned away without some proof of trade status. Without business cards you are also unlikely to be taken seriously by exhibitors.
Q. Can I bring my staff?
A. You are most welcome to and it can only help your business if they are fully up to date with the latest products and developments in the marketplace. Please note that the ETO Show is a licensed event and therefore no persons under the age of 18 can be admitted.
Q. Will I be able to eat/smoke/drink inside the venue?
A. There is a bar, coffee area and café/restaurant serving hot and cold food inside the Pavilion – all of which are owned and operated by the NEC. There is no smoking allowed anywhere inside the building but a smoking area is provided outside the main entrance.
Q. Do you have any other tips for getting the most out of the event?
A. Plan your visit. There’s nothing wrong with using the event to meet up with old friends and have a beer but don’t get wasted during the day – your focus should be on meeting the exhibitors. Contact them in advance and make appointments. It can be very frustrating being part of a queue of people waiting to see a particular exhibitor. Arrive in plenty of time for you to not only keep your appointments but to see other exhibitors too. Get the mobile phone number of everyone you intend seeing; if you are running late for any reason, you can let them know and reschedule. Dress appropriately; it might not be fair but smartly dressed people get taken more seriously. Ladies may want to reconsider wearing 4” heels – it’s a long day. Bring plenty of business cards. You may also find a pen and paper or a voice recorder useful. Enjoy the event but remember that the benefit you get out of the show will be in direct proportion to the effort you put into it.
Q. What if I want to stay over on the Saturday and/or Sunday?
A. There are many hotels within a mile or so of the NEC although the designated hotel for the 2013 ETO Show is the Crowne Plaza, right next to the NEC. We have negotiated a ‘fully flexible’ rate of £97 per double room including breakfast. You can reserve rooms now and pay on departure using the group booking code on the hotel website. To book your room(s) visit http://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/birmingham/bhxpw/hoteldetail?groupCode=CVF and this will take you through to the hotel website. Put in your arrival and departure dates and select number of rooms, than please enter CVF in the ‘Group Code’. You will then go to the reservation screen and complete the booking. If you require single, twin or suites then please call the hotel on 0870 400 9160 and they will take your booking over the phone. Please remember to quote CVF as a group booking code. There is also a special offer for the duration of the show at the Holiday Inn Express on the NEC site. They are offering rooms for £49 including breakfast and the reservations number is 0121 782 3222 – please quote ETO RATE when booking to secure the special rate. A list of other hotels close to the NEC can be found at www.thenec.co.uk
Q. What time does the bar at the hotel shut?
A. Usually very late.
Q. Can I come to the Awards Dinner?
A. Unfortunately not, unless one of your suppliers or friends in the industry has bought you a ticket and not told you yet. Tickets for the Awards Dinner sold out last month. However, after the presentation of the awards most attendees will be found in the Crowne Plaza bar, so you can join us later.
Q. I’ve got another question…
A. If you need any additional information visit www.etoshow.com or email show organiser Jonathan Kirk via firstname.lastname@example.org