The APF Exhibition is the UK’s largest forestry, woodland, arboriculture, fencing and biomass show. Here, exhibition secretary Ian Millward offers an insight into how preparations are coming along for APF 2022.

AS I write this article, the industry continues to wake up from COVID-induced hibernation and it is dawning on many that APF 2022 is only six months away. There is also a tangible, exciting mood from people looking to get out and about again and visit shows. I am sure many businesses have been delaying buying new equipment until they can get out and see the latest kit and compare it with all the other makes on offer. This has been reflected in very strong advance ticket sales and bookings for the camp site. It appears many people are planning to stay for at least a couple of days, which is great, especially with the huge range of events, competitions and demonstrations that will be taking place. 

Exhibitor bookings continue to flood in and we now have over 220 booked. If you want to see who has booked and whether your competitors are stealing a march on you, then check the current list of exhibitors in the ‘useful documents’ area of the website.

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We have already sold over 75 per cent of the space on the demonstration circuit. This is a fixed-length circuit – we cannot extend it. When it is gone, it is gone. I know it is the usual marketing hype to say ‘book now before it is too late’ but having done this job for nearly 30 years and 15 shows I am excited at the level of interest for 2022 and am confident we will sell out well before the event. It is encouraging to see the number of new exhibitors who have never been to an APF show before booking in. Many have been recommended by other exhibitors, who know they will not be deluged with ‘tyre kickers’ on their stand and every visitor is a potential customer.

After APF 2018 several exhibitors told me of completely unexpected sales of high-value items to customers they had not seen before. They commented on the noticeable change in the profile of these buyers. Once upon a time it would be an older customer, the boss of a firm, perhaps well heeled and dressed, but now they were seeing a much younger buyer profile that could not be judged by their age or how they were dressed, wielding the company credit card and buying a new machine. 

Around 90 per cent of our visitors are trade professionals and this makes it a very attractive visitor profile for an exhibitor. This is why we have steadfastly maintained our predominantly trade focus. It is a show by the industry for the industry. We very much welcome the general public to come and learn about what happens in a modern working woodland but it will be over my dead body before we have fairground rides and exhibitors selling cheap plastic toys just to try and get a few extra people through the gate! Our value to the industry is our focus on being a trade show.

For any exhibitors who have not yet booked and would like to see the site before they do so, we have two more exhibitor site meetings. These are on April 13 and June 22. Both at 2pm at The Kings Court Hotel, Alcester B49 5QQ. Attending one of these is mandatory if you want a demo site and have not attended the show before. It gives us a chance to bring you up to speed on what you need to know and you the opportunity to see exactly what you are booking to ensure it meets your needs. Anyone wanting to book a static display site doesn’t have to attend, although they are encouraged to do so, and can simply complete and email their booking form in to us.

Our April meeting will also see us host our Safety Advisory Group meeting. This is a getting-together of all parties interested in the event. The logistics of running a big show are huge. Getting all those exhibitors and visitors to and from the show safely is paramount. Gordon Adam, our safety officer, has, over the years, developed a very comprehensive Event Management Plan, which we constantly update. 

Forestry Journal:

This EMP includes the minutiae of how we plan to run the event. It covers traffic management on and off site, how we would deal with emergencies, etc, etc. 

Anyone caught in a traffic jam at APF 2018 will be delighted to know we have poured considerable resources into sorting this out for 2022. Four visitor routes to site, two main entrances, mobile patrols to firefight any holdups external to our site, CCTV, real-time control of traffic flow and a full-time traffic controller in HQ will, we hope, keep us on top of any problems.

APF 2022 will take place on 22–24 September at the Ragley Estate.