Apparently, All Roads Don’t Lead to Shanghai EXPO

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 10:51
Posted in category Uncategorized

For the last several weeks, it was my believe that the May 1st holiday was going to be perhaps worst week to try and visit EXPO. Besides the fact that May holiday usually attracts a large number of visitors to Shanghai, the additional 600,000 expected EXPO visitors was sure to create a set of conditions that some would find unbearable…. and, with reports that the entire first week of EXPO tickets had maxed out at 600,000 level, EXPO officials themselves were doing all they could to make sure to learn from the soft launches the week before.

Things apparently have not gone as planned.

That, the reports of 600,000 sold tickets actually were not the best indicator of actual attendance (as you can see in the chart above). So, what happened? How is it that 600,000 tickets were sold, but actual attendance has yet to actually hit 250,000?  I have a few theories.

First, I think it is important to remember that the week before, through a series of soft launches more than a half million Shanghai residents were shuttled through the site … and things did not go exactly “to plan” for planners hoping for a flawless trial period. Long lines aside, there were equipment failures, food stock outs, and a number of logistically expected events that probably did little to the guerrilla advertising that most event planners would hope for.  Instead, you hear quips about half the pavilions being unfinished, long lines to food/ restrooms, and complaints on pricing. So.. this resulted in probably more than a few people deciding to give things a pass until the kinks were worked out.

Second, I think it is fair to say that most people who had the luxury of being able to be a little more flexible in their planning, chose to put their visit off until later for some of the issues mentioned above, but also becuase a number of the more interesting pavilions are not planned to be ready until June… so, why not put off the trip until then?

Third, like the Olympics, tickets can be bought as give aways, and regardless of the intent of the buyer it is highly possible that the receiver may opt not to take the ticket.  And while I have no data to support this, it would be my guess that this accounts for a matieral percentage of the issue.

Finally, my guess is that some visitors bought multiple tickets expecting that they would go back 2-3 times.  That, unlike a day at Disney where you are free to enjoy as much as you can pack in of the major attractions, for EXPO there are limits on the number of pavilions one can see on a given day (5 I believe).  Yet, for some of the reasons above, what we may be seeing is people opting of their 2nd and 3rd visits.

At any rate, my guess is that planners are now in fire fighting mode, and my second guess is that it is going to mean freebies!

Either way, I am still not planning to go for the full pavilion tour until much later, but I do have an event next week where I will get my first peak of site.

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3 Responses to “Apparently, All Roads Don’t Lead to Shanghai EXPO”

  1. Margeret Cho says:

    May 4th, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Freebies is exactly what happened at the Beijing Olympics. And every year at the Xiamen trade fair. Give ’em away just to boost attendance numbers.

  2. Amanda says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    It is very strange for Chinese consumption behavior.

    I think that at first day all things seem fresh and a lot of people want to try,but during the China holidays they can travel to another country.The tickets sales is just a number,it can’t represent the needs exactly.

    It’s important when customers in Chinese setting evaluate the service they are receiving. Just like service,I think the product (EXPO) is the same concept.

  3. Jason Lau says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Interesting ideas Rich, and perhaps all are contributing factors.

    For me personally, 3 hour queues are a deal-breaker. So I will wait for the most unlikely day that people will be there, and have already resigned myself to not actually seeing inside any of the pavillions, if necessary.