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The discussion on this subject at the ATG-sponsored LAPADA Conference in London on February 24 generated more contributions from delegates than any other topic during the day.

Dealers increasingly now do not have galleries - relying on the internet for daily business - and depend on fairs as the only public platform to promote their brands.

The debate arose during brand specialist Rebecca Battman's presentation Who do you think you are?.

The strength of feeling reflects concern in the wider market that international fairs at the top end, especially, unreasonably exploit the reputation of their exhibitors to promote their own events while failing to ensure that dealers' brands enjoy the exposure they deserve.

Presenting stands with uniform branding and backdrops across a fair instead of allowing dealers to highlight their own branding was one complaint.

Reinforce your brand from your stand, was Ms Battman's advice, although delegates were uncertain how to do this effectively. Many already use promotional postcards, business cards and other forms of literature, but these often fail to have the required impact.

Rebecca Davies' first conference as LAPADA chief executive focused on practical advice and proved a lively affair.

Interior designer Nina Campbell told dealers to fight back by having an item of strong interest at the back of their stands to tempt visitors in and offer them a coffee from a Nespresso machine to keep them there. Never rope off a piece of furniture, she advised, and as soon as it sells "get it off and put out something new".