Model Railway Shows

I realise that I'm lucky people are prepared to put on model railway shows for me to visit. But, time after time, the following things irritate me.
1) How to get there. So long as an accurate postcode is supplied Google maps or a GPS will get me there. Many organisers put out signs "on the day" and many are very good. But too often they don't appear where you need them (we aren't all locals and we don't all use GPS) and the direction they point is unclear. 2) Parking. Many halls have small car parks. Where do I go when the park is full? Again, some organisers are very good with marshals pointing out empty slots. Some go so far as to make arrangements for overflow parking. Just leaving me to clutter up local streets is asking for conflict with residents and pointing me at a supermarket car park which has civil enforcement of stay time (no I've never had a so called fine) is stupid. Start by at least clearing the car park of all trader, exhibitor and helper cars before the public arrive. 3) Pricing. Thank you for offering concessions. Now, who qualifies? Unemployed - how do you want me to prove it? OAP - define OAP. Old enough for a bus pass? In receipt of state pension? Over 60? Over 65? And bear in mind all the changes that governments have already introduced and will continue to introduce to increase the age at which you receive the state pension. How old is a child?
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Every show that I go to is well documented usually in the adverts that are around, and nearly always with an organisers telephone number. Why not call the people involved and ask them. Some I access by train, some by car, some by bus and train etc, with a 100% success straight to the door. I just don't see a problem, neither do I experience with what is always entry 'restrictions' . I've never known of an 'oap' EVER being challenged , but I take it as 60 , nor have I known of a 'child' being challenged. Went to Stafford swapmeet today and one child in front of me was at least 17 and still only paid a £1 to get in. These are 'friendly' events , not a George Michael concert- you really should try them.

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I suppose I just like to cross T s etc. I don't like cheating the organisers out of money so I always make sure I'm allowed to use a badly defined concession rather than assuming.
As for phoning for instructions my experience is very mixed. As with the signs some are very good but some people seem incapable of giving meaningful instructions. So often they start by saying something like "You know the Red Cow?". Well no, I don't live locally which is why I'm asking.
As I indicated at the beginning I do appreciate the work that goes in to organising these events. I just wish certain things were better in some cases.
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So where have you just been that brought all this on?

So what's the problem?

Signs tend to need local authority approval, and that can be difficult to get. Often the argument is that the venue itself is signposted, but there is no guarantee that those signs are readable and accurate.

How much car parking is enough? What was adequate for last year's show may be inadequate for this year's, and how do the organisers know? And if they know that parking is inadequate, how do they find another venue that will work. And if it's full, it's full - nothing anyone can do.

Where to? And who moves them? Add too much hassle to a trader's or exhibitor's day and they won't want to come back.

A balancing act between taking enough money and not upsetting visitors. As long as the publicity and a sign on the desk show what the rules are there should be no problem.
Eric
--
ms fnd in a lbry

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It's not just one show and it would be unfair to name the most recent culprit if only because they didn't do "everything" wrong and the show itself was extremely good.
If the venue is signed anyway then do you really need more? Putting out extra signs that can confuse is silly.
As for the parking, yes, anyone can get caught out and trade does fluctuate hour by hour and year by year but several that I have visited more than once have had problems every occasion I've been. As for traders not coming if you move them somewhere else they definitely won't come if people can't park nearby and thus don't attend. It's a problem; you need somewhere nearby to act as an overflow/trader park and I suspect it needs some security for the traders to be comfortable but most organisers seem to just ignore the issues and hope it all works out. Tolworth is good with overflow nearby.
How can being more specific about your pricing upset people? If the pricing is clearly defined everyone knows where they stand.
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On Jan 15, 8:30 pm, "Graham Harrison"

As examples of good practice for getting there and parking, I can recommend The International N Gauge show, Wycrail in High Wycombe (plenty of overflow parking with marshalls) and Railex Aylesbury.
As for the contect of the shows, that an entirely subjective matter...
MBQ
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...

But how good are they for those without a car?

Indeed!
Eric
--
ms fnd in a lbry

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TINGS and Wycrail definitely have shuttle services to the nearest railway station. Railex may do, if not it is close to regular bus services as it is next door to Stoke Mandeville hospital.
MBQ
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The question was mostly rhetorical, to raise it as a general issue. And my experience of those three is slightly different:
TINGS - only been once, there was no shuttle, but got a normal bus to the nearby crossroads, then walked between the mud and the traffic to get into the venue (through the car park which was more like a pond that day). When I came out it was a nice day so I walked back along the canal (it's a long way).
Wycrail - a proper shuttle.
Railex - no shuttle the first time I went, buses do serve the hospital but it's enormous and the bus stops are in the wrong places. It rained and I arrived soaked. More recently there was a shuttle, but it dumps you on the wrong side of the railway, so if it had been raining I would have been soaked again. Walked back both times (it wasn't raining then).
Impossible for a show to make it easy for everybody of course, and there's nothing to be done about the weather, but the key is information, Some shows seem to do nothing for the carless ("who'd try to come here without a car?" or "most people have a car so we don't really bother about the others!" - I have heard the equivalent of both).
Then there's disabled access...
And, on a different level, catering.
So which is the best venue? :-)
Eric
--
ms fnd in a lbry

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On Tue, 17 Jan 2012 21:43:48 +0000, Eric put finger to keyboard and typed:

Of the shows that I attend regularly, I'd say that the Leamington and Warwick Model Railway Society show at Stoneleigh has the best venue:
* Easy access by road * Plenty of free on site parking * Spacious, well lit exhibition hall * All on one level (good wheelchair/pushchair access) * Professional catering at reasonable prices
The main downside is that it's a bit out of the way for public transport. There are buses to the NAC, but it's still a bit of a hike to the exhibition hall from the front gate.
Good accessibility by car and public transport tends to be mutually exclusive, since city centre locations (which have good public transport) often have limited and/or expensive parking.
Mark
--
Blog: http://mark.goodge.co.uk
Stuff: http://www.good-stuff.co.uk
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On 15/01/2012 17:18, Graham Harrison wrote:

I've had long battles over that one.
"Why would we need to give the postcode? /Everyone/ knows where Fred Bloggs School is" - but what about people who haven't lived here all their lives, or coming from outside the immediate area.
Then when you get to the venue, there will be a sign saying "entrance through the maths department", which is little help to anyone who isn't a former pupil.

It seems to be fairly widely believed that putting up signs is massively illegal and impossible to organise legally. Someone at our club got so fed up with the same arguments against signs every year that he gave up on the committee and sorted it out with the council himself.

Though the traders will need somewhere to park, as they don't really have the option of getting the bus.

I suspect many modellers forget that not every other modeller is a pensioner.
The single biggest improvement model railway shows could make would be to have the ticket desk manned by a young person (say under 50) with a hosepipe linked to some hot soapy water. If they think you stink, either you get hosed down or you don't go in....
--
Arthur Figgis Surrey, UK

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Agree with all of that. In fact I sometime wonder why both with concessions at all. It's not as if you're paying £100 to get in. Does a 50 p (or even £1) discount for a pensioner make a difference to whether they go or not? There will always be some people of all ages for whom price is an issue. West Camel at Christmas only charged males to enter which I thought was a neat twist!
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But look on the bright side, the local Oxfam shop did a roaring trade in wigs and dresses that day :-)
Alan
--
snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk
snipped-for-privacy@riscos.org
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:-)
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Yes, yes and thrice yes :-)
--

All the best,

Chris

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This weekend is the Leamington and Warwick Model Railway Society show at the National Agricultural Centre, 21st and 22nd January 2012. Take a look at http://www.lwmrs.co.uk/CMS/index.php/exhibition-special-features and then consider your gripes. There's a postcode for satnav users. A google map , enlargeable down to a few feet for those otherwise , a picture of the street signs to look for, details of car parking, full details of the layouts attending http://www.lwmrs.co.uk/CMS/index.php/exhibition-layouts , a full list of traders http://www.lwmrs.co.uk/CMS/index.php/traders , everything you could wish to know even if you are not attending... I just can't see any problem what so ever.. Why the sideswipe at organisers or is Victor Meldrew alive and well somewhere...... http://www.lwmrs.co.uk/CMS/index.php/exhibition

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They would seem to have the big advantage that (as far as signage is concerned) their venue is already signposted so they don't need to put out their own (which is where I feel some improvement could be achieved by some organisers). And good for L&WMRS for doing so. Would that other organisers were in the area of or could afford to hire venues like this. And, unless the NAC isn't managing its' business well, I would expect parking is also not an issue. However, where they do fall down in my view is through the use of the word "Concessions" in the admission prices with no explanation of what that means.

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I haven't been to that one since they moved from the school venue a few years ago. Show was OK. There always seemed to be a hard-core of the same layouts, but the same is true of many shows.
MBQ
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We went to this. Am reluctant to go to big shows, especially those in wharehouse type buildings, but we did go 2-3 years ago and enjoyed it. Seemed was bigger this year, lots of visitors but lots of space. Host club seemed very friendly and that may have contributed to very relaxed atmosphere. Great time was had by all. Definately one to return to. Layouts probably very good, but didnt get chance to look as too much time chatting to trader friends :-)
Anyone else visit ?
Cheers, Simon
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On 15/01/2012 12:18 PM, Graham Harrison wrote:

I agree. But in my experience, these glitches are the effcts of muddling through instead of working with a plan. Many volunteer organisations have handbooks on how to put on shows/conventions/conferences. I belong to three organisations that put on events at several levels, national, provincial, and regional. For each type, there's a handbook, with time lines, check lists, and advice. After the event(s), the handbooks are reviewed and revised as needed. I've served on one of the subcommittees of one of these groups, and helped improve that committee's work: there's nothing like having to to do something to teach you what needs to be done. ;-) Feedback from the "customers" is essential for this process.
I'm pretty sure that the more successful groups have just such a handbook. Could they not be asked to share their expertise? A fee to cover cost of copying/distribution should be paid, of course.
Another suggestion: The British Region of the NMRA has access to the NMRA convention handbooks. Perhaps they could be contacted also. The NMRA is known for organising some of the best shows anywhere.
If a local club doesn't want to approach others for help, then they should at the very least discuss the successes and failures of their events, and start writing their own handbook. I know that "business meetings" are often a pain, but they are necessary. But a well-designed, focussed agenda will make the meetings short and productive. You also need a chair who knows how to end or redirect discussion that's wandered off topic... ;-)
HTH, Wolf K.
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