Why exactly is Birmingham such a popular destination for exhibitions, conferences and events in the UK? There are a few reasons, but the most obvious is its location - the West Midlands is relatively accessible from most parts of Britain.
If you're staging an event and expecting attendees from across the nation, the last thing you want to do is choose a site in one corner of the island. For instance, if you opt for Scotland, it's immediately more difficult for people to come from London. And if you stage the event in the south-east, the opposite applies.
So why the West Midlands?
The Midlands not only benefits from a fairly central location - in UK terms - but it also offers good communication links to most parts of the country. This is particularly the case for drivers, most of whom can get to Birmingham within a few hours.
If you're travelling from London and the south-east, you can use the M1, and the same applies if you're travelling from Yorkshire and further north. From the north-west of England and the Borders, the M6 offers a direct route south, while the M5 heads straight into the city from the south-west.
Birmingham is also a major rail interchange, just over an hour away from many of the leading regional cities - such as Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol - for those who prefer to travel by train and avoid the traffic. London is no further away either, and should the HS2 project go ahead, it will be even easier to travel to Birmingham from London.
Of course, the Midlands is also accessible for air passengers, including those flying into the UK for your conference, exhibition or event. There is an Air-Rail Link service to transfer people into the city, and no shortage of taxis for those preferring to head directly to the exhibition venue.
The importance of location
If you're staging an event, you want as many people to attend as possible. Choosing a suitable location can help maximise footfall, while opting for somewhere less central, or 'off the beaten path', can have the opposite effect. Fewer people on the floor means less sales leads for exhibitors, or perhaps fewer people registering for training courses, or participating in seminars and workshops. There is a danger the event will be less successful than it should be.
There may be times when it makes sense to stage the event in London, or even another regional centre. But as a rule, you need to think about making conferences and shows as accessible as possible to the most number of people.
It isn't too far from London to Birmingham, for those people based in the capital. If they want to come, they probably will. But it is a significant journey from many parts of the UK into the capital, and this may dissuade people from attending London-based events.
Not everybody is willing or able to travel long distances, particularly those who are attending events for a single day, rather than staying over. As the organiser, you need to consider their needs, and ensure any barriers to maximum attendance are removed.