The fun of the 2020 Royal Adelaide Show goes on through the virtual event website The Show at Home. But what effects does the event’s cancellation have on stakeholders? (Image source: Kiddo Magazine)
By Lara Pacillo | @LaraPacillo
Each and every year, the beginning of spring and the nearing of Father’s Day reminds us another special time is approaching: the Royal Adelaide Show.
Sick days are at an all-time high as people flock to the Adelaide Showgrounds for the thrill of rides, a greasy dagwood dog and a handful of showbags.
Yet this year, it’s the show that’s had to pull a sickie. Along with most other events in 2020, the Royal Adelaide Show was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its 181-year history, the show has been cancelled only four times previously; these being because of World War I and II, the Victorian gold rush, and the Spanish flu pandemic.
The fun still goes on this time around however, through the virtual event website The Show at Home which launched on August 17.
Royal Adelaide Show Marketing Manager, Kirrilee Hay, says the idea for the website came from the community.
“Following the announcement of the cancellation, there were a number of requests from the public for us to host a virtual event,” she said.
“After enquiring as to what that would look like to them, we built the website using this feedback and internal skill set to achieve this.”
The online alternative which will run until September 13 mirrors the traditional event by including all of the highlights of the show, just in a different way.
The Show at Home invites users to experience the show’s entertainment, competitions, exhibitors and skill-building activities all online.
Virtual show-goers can immerse themselves in the carnival spirit through playing online games, streaming ride videos and purchasing their favourite showbags.
They can learn how to judge all things dogs to wine, and even go on a Yellow Brick Road trip which leads travellers around South Australia to redeem special offers and support local businesses.
Ms Hay said the virtual show has had an excellent response so far.
“We’ve had 31,000 visits on the site to date and we’ve received some great feedback from some of our show stakeholders including our show volunteers and sponsors,” she said.
While the website celebrates the show’s essence and provides a modified experience, the impact of its cancellation is still felt across the board.
Ms Hay said the Royal Adelaide Show normally generates a gross economic contribution of approximately $170 million annually.
This encompasses the operations, expenditure, tourism and business that the event brings to South Australia.
The impact is also significant on the show’s organisers: The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society, which is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting primary industries in South Australia.
The show generates approximately 65 per cent of their total revenue, so its cancellation greatly effects their business Ms Hay said.
She said the loss of the show’s real-life interaction is particularly a problem for businesses who rely on this to operate.
“It would be difficult for us to quantify or state the impacts of businesses associated with the show, however the carnival operators have been greatly impacted, as unlike other businesses, they are unable to sell their product or experience online,” she said.
The physical interaction of the show is also very important to stallholders for engaging with costumers’ senses.
The loss of this is definitely a setback, as is the case for stallholder Bella Wines.
The Australian-produced wine company relies heavily on the show and the customer contact it provides. This year would have been their 17th Royal Adelaide Show.
Bella Wines sales manager, Kevin Daminato, said the show is the business’s main advertising avenue.
“We do in excess of 15,000 tastings and promote our new vintages each year,” he said.
“We consider it to be vital in growing our brand.”
The show’s cancellation leaves Bella Wines in the dark with regard to the certainty of future sales.
“Hopefully it won’t be too bad but time will tell,” Mr Daminato said.
“Certainly numbers will be down, and a decrease in sales of up to 20 per cent over the ensuing year is probable.”
Bella Wines is participating in The Show at Home which Mr Daminato says is a good idea, however, it does little to compare to the real event itself for the business.
“In reality, the sampling side of the Royal Show is the main part for us,” he said.
“An online experience is in no way a substitute for what we do.
“Some exposure is better than nothing, but the sales will be negligible.”
Hopes are high for the Royal Adelaide Show to go on next year, as Ms Hay says they are already thinking ahead.
“Following The Show at Home, we’ll begin our plans for the 2021 show,” she said.
Tickets for the event in 2021 will be available on The Show at Home website from September 7 to 11. Organisers will be offering them at a discounted price of $15, which is half the price of a usual adult ticket.