Taking layouts to exhibitions.

Hi guys.

Because of all the rubbish going on about finding a new home for the Fareham club and trying to protect Fareham Community Centre as a whole it seems to me that the only times I get to take part in this group over the last year or so is when I have a real problem to solve. This time is no exception...

Today's exam question is this: I am being told that my approach to taking our big layout out on the road is unreasonable and not business like. The problem is over expenses. I have always worked on the principle that you charge the cost of getting the layout to the show and supporting it for the time it is there - B&B, food and so on. I am being told that what I should be doing is taking a much more business like approach and charging an "Appearance fee" for it as well. I have had quoted to me the case of a club "up north" (I won't say which one) charging a "fee" of £20 or £30 (sometimes £50 if its a prestige show) on top of their expenses to finance other projects.

Have I lost the plot? Is this sort of thing quite normal these days?

I remember a couple of years ago someone on this group asking a similar question but saying that he intended to make a tidy profit for himself and getting flamed by a lot of people for his impudence. Don't flame me - I'm tackling this the other direction by trying to prove that I'm doing the right thing by limiting what we charge.

Come on exhibition managers and layout owners, what do you do? I want (need) a body of evidence to present that says this is what goes on elsewhere and our approach of only charging our transport and subsistence costs is the right way to do it. If you would prefer to contact me off rather than on list with your story please do so at snipped-for-privacy@newnet.co.uk rather than the address from which I post this. IMPORTANT NOTE: Anonymity respected if requested.

Thanks in advance


Reply to
Elliott Cowton
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In article , "Elliott Cowton" writes:


I currently work with three exhibition layouts. One owned by a friend is exhibited on a 'cover the costs' basis, one is my own, for which I also aim to cover my costs and no more and the last is a club layout which I have subsidised on more than one occasion to ensure that we can have a good weekend away. We have been given 'appearance' money on rare occasions which has been discussed in advance and also show managers have given more in the expenses envelope than has been asked for. I think the question of appearance money should be aired as the basis of some of the shows is changing. Traditionally a show either raised some money for the host club (in a good year!) or raised money for charity. The club works hard to put on a show, hopefully the exhibitors have a good time and everyone leaves feeling good about it. Shows for charity are different and everyone knows why the show is being held and will hopefully keep costs down, in fact my colleagues and I have been known to hand back all or part of our expenses for a worthwhile cause. The third show is the one which is now becoming slightly more common where major sponsorship from a publisher or manufacturer is in place; what does the sponsorship cover. As yet I have no real experience of one of these events, perhaps someone can explain what the sponsorship covers? I suppose the crux of all this is when does one's hobby become a business? Still I suppose those that are obtaining apearance money will all have declared it on their income tax forms :-)

Tony Comber

Reply to

When I first read the mail I felt I have very strong opinions towards the 'cover costs only' approach, somehting has made me think again.

Certainly, as someone who books layouts for an exhibition, we watch expences very carefully. Our Club only expects to be asked to 'cover the expences' for layouts to appear, remembering that these layouts have been built to opperate and show off to others as part of someone's hobby. I'm afraid we don't expect layout staff to 'live it up' for the weekend, and if this comes over in the projected expences, they don't get booked. We have never asked for the earth in expences and often have subsidised our outing with meals and accommodation. But that's our choice. I don't expect others to do the same but they can if they so wish.

I have seen absolutely ridiculous travelling expences claimed and some clearly have no idea of what their vehicle does to the gallon. Of course, there's the other phenominon where 4 operators come with the layout but 10 turn up on the day hoping to get in free because they're 'helping'. Oh, and they want lunch as well!! We once had a demo stand manned by a very well known Club and they wanted 6 passes and meals per day. Mmmmmm. Needless to say they haven't been back.


having said all that, we now have the problem of big shows run by business. I don't mean Warley, but the likes of Doncaster and Ali Pally. These are clearly profit making organisations that don't put the money back into Clubs. A whole different kettle of fish.

I don't see why anyone should subsidise these so that they can make more money for their shareholders etc. So I would think very carefully if one of these invited one of our layouts to attend.

Pause for further thought.


Reply to
D A Smith

In article , Elliott Cowton writes

top of their expenses to finance other projects.

Which hat would you like me to wear?

As an exhibition manager I'll pay up to the value of the layout to my show, because a couple of prestige layouts will do wonders to my "gate". Yes, maybe I'm quoted a mileage rate which includes "depreciation" but on the other hand the owner of a superb layout who travelled over 120 miles asked for a tenner.

When we take a club or club member's layout to a show, we will charge for the vehicles transporting the layout and the key operators, and for necessary accommodation. And vehicles means fuel and van hire and *not* depreciation. If other club members fancy a day out playing trains, then they can pay their own way - they are getting free entry to a show and a chance to play trains! The basis is we are taking layouts to similar model railway clubs to ourselves and we recognise the need for them to make a surplus in order to survive the next year. We won't change our attitude for a major show, but there are other issues to consider such as a higher number of key operators required to respond to questions from a larger audience and to cope with the more complex setting up and breaking down arrangements. The interesting question is whether those paid expenses keep all the money or give a proportion to the club, I guess that about half the petrol money will end up in our club's coffers.

As an aside, I help a friend exhibit his layout when he brings it to shows in the South East. His policy is to have two operators at a club show (borrowing a club member to cover breaks) and three operators at a national show.

Reply to
John Bishop

That's interesting John.

You said.

How many 'playing trains' members would you expect to get free entry for?

So do you claim the correct cost of the petrol but some is 'donated to the club or do you inflate the petrol costs so you make a bit on the side to boost your income??

Yep, we've also had some amazingly low charges from some people. I suppose they look on it as a chance to get out with the layout. Maybe its their only chance because of accommodation ploblems for the layout. Maybe its their way of supporting the Club.

Most we will never know.



Reply to
D A Smith


That's pretty much what we do. Our expenses claim is for fuel and, if neccessary, hire of a van. If we can get there in our own vehicles we do. It's not uncommon to under charge for the amount of fuel used.

Key operators will be one or two, as needed, running trains, one shuffling stock and one more so we can rotate those on duty.

Where we can't commute each day we expect the organisers to provide accomodation. Where we can commute we endeavour to use a single car for the commute to keep fuel consumption down.

There are a few clubs were we don't ask for any expenses as they do the same when attending our shows. Similarly when a show is a charity event we absorb the cost but these are only attended when an overnight stop isn't required.

As a matter of policy these days we only attend club, or association, events.

Reply to
Chris White

"Chris White" wrote

Well said - these days there are one or two commercial organisations looking to make significant profit from the work of modellers and yet are not prepared to pay commercial rates for the hire of layouts.


Reply to
John Turner

In article , D A Smith writes

Those already agreed with the exhibition manager. If a layout travels in two cars and needs more than four operators, then we charge for the two cars only. The other operators are expected to pay their own way. Other club members over and above the agreed quota will pay at the door even if they are providing some lunch cover. So I paid at Dartford on Saturday but walked in free at 4pm on Sunday to break down our layout.

We probably underestimate. South London to St Albans and return and parking for £10. Ditto Watford (but not parking) for £5.

We're taking Farnborough Road gratis to a show this summer. We need a warm up show before a major exhibition and the gate on the local show cannot afford expenses.

Reply to
John Bishop

"John Turner" wrote

these days there are one or two commercial organisations looking

A good point John, BUT as an exhibition manager myself (My first one may I add), the whole idea for us having a model railway day at a steam railway as we are doing is to make a profit... I know with using the engine shed we loose the overhead of hall hire, but there is still the petrol fee's, lunches, advertising and post\phone calls to be paid for and this is not even considering a wage (It is voluntary by the way! before anyone asks!).

Yes, where we can, I would love to give the exhibitor a little extra at the end of the day as when all is said and done, it is THEIR hard graft making their layouts as well as the exhibition team that have brought the "public" in to see the displays.

I just hope ours is ok and not a disappointment! Details to follow in a few days of where and when!!!

Reply to
Andrew Sollis CVMRD

"Andrew Sollis CVMRD" wrote

Andy I'm not referring to making a profit for reinvestment into a steam railway or similar, my comments were aimed at shows being run to put money into the pockets of individuals or commercial organisations.


Reply to
John Turner

Andy I'm not referring to making a profit for reinvestment into a steam

John, No worries... I didn't take it any way but what you said above. I was concerned incase any novices here on the NG should get the wrong impression....How would you be fixed for September? :-)


Reply to
Andrew Sollis CVMRD

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