An Update on Franchise Events and Exhibitions in 2021

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With rules and restrictions changing week by week, it’s difficult to plan business events here in the UK.  Most 2020 exhibitions were called off, postponed or put online, and lots of people are keen to take advantage of face-to-face networking and learning opportunities this year. Keep reading for an update on franchise events in 2021. 


At a time when social interaction is limited, anxiety is high and businesses are struggling, networking events serve a useful - possibly even vital - purpose. Ironically, the reason for cancelling industry exhibitions is exactly why we need them more than ever. 

It’s hard to know when we’ll be able to gather in large groups again but, until then, rest assured there are plenty of online events planned to keep everyone busy. And they go much further than a group Zoom call. The biggest dates of the year include networking rooms, interactive content and Q&A sessions, among other useful and exciting features. 

During a time when so much is still uncertain, communication between franchisees and franchisors continues to be key.
—Steven Beagelman, Forbes contributor

Why we should embrace virtual franchise events 

There are several in-person events planned for the latter part of 2021, but until we reach the autumn, it’s likely we’ll have to be content with attending virtual exhibitions. Before we get to the run-down of the year’s biggest calendar dates, it’s worth reminding ourselves why online events can be brilliant. 

  • You can attend from the comfort of your own home, which means no commute and no transport costs

  • Most tickets for virtual events are free, as the organiser doesn’t need to hire huge venues or plan for catering and other costly considerations

  • Online franchise events can attract more exhibitors and visitors than traditional ones, thanks to their convenience and affordability 

  • Online events can attract visitors from across the globe, who may not ordinarily be able to travel to an exhibition

  • You can network with people from different countries and find information quickly and easily with accessible presentations and webpages 

  • If it’s not for you, you can simply log out and walk away! 

We went from weekly, in-person events in a theatre to 25 hours per week of interactive content via Zoom. Our membership has grown by 120 percent since Covid hit. - Jennifer Sellers, General Manager of Metal International, a community of media, entertainment, technology and artistic leaders



Franchise exhibitions going ahead

Although the franchise industry calendar isn’t set in stone yet, we’ve created a list of some of the sector’s biggest gatherings planned for this year. Please note, they may change depending on the events of this year, so it’s worth checking online to find more information about each exhibition closer to the time. 

The International Franchise Show 

The UK’s biggest international franchise show plans to go ahead with its annual event at ExCeL London this year. It’ll take place on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd October, by which point, large gatherings should be possible (fingers crossed!). 

Usually, The International Franchise Show attracts over 300 exhibitors and around 10,000 visitors, who take part in 80 different seminars. 

The team behind the event has also created a selection of digital resources for current and prospective business owners to explore, from monthly webinars and newsletters to bi-monthly magazines. 



The National Franchise Exhibition 

The National Franchise Exhibition is also scheduled for the 1st and 2nd of October this year. While the International show will take place in London, this national exhibition will occupy the NEC in Birmingham. 

To reflect the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, The National Franchise Exhibition has also organised a virtual event in the spring. On Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd May, you can head online and take advantage of one-to-one advice sessions, franchising seminars and free presentations. 

There will also be Q&A panel discussions, a vehicle-based showcase and a finance clinic, allowing virtual visitors to access the information they need before joining the industry. 

The IFA 2021 Annual Convention 

The franchise industry’s biggest event for business development and personal growth is going online this year. It’ll run various live sessions from the 10th to the 25th February, which will be available to watch and access until May. 

This year, the International Franchise Association (IFA) has planned nine days of empowering content, 10 general sessions with keynote speakers and 190 educational and networking opportunities for guests to enjoy. 

The UK Franchise & Business Opportunity Exhibition

This online event proved so popular in 2020, its organisers are bringing it back for spring 2021 (exact date TBC). The exhibition will be live 24 hours a day, allowing visitors to explore franchising opportunities at times convenient to them. Expect to find a wide variety of investment options from across the different industries and price brackets. 

Plus, you can attend for free. There will be group discussions, open forums, polls and networking opportunities for anyone who takes part. 

Preparing for events this year

It’s still difficult to predict when large gatherings will be given the go-ahead, but an increased focus on virtual tools has enabled many organisers to take their plans online this year. For more event inspiration, take a look at our guide to alternative learning and networking opportunities

There are countless virtual franchise events already planned for the year ahead, but if you’re organising your own, we can help you get the formula right. Our selection of business guides demystify the art of creating high-quality virtual networking opportunities. If you’re preparing an online get-together, see our articles, How To Plan A Successful Online Event and How To Organise A Successful In-Person Or Virtual Franchisee Event

To find even more informative articles and insights, type a topic into the search box or browse our most recent publications.

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