Association Voice A credit to the industry Martin Cairns, ESSA chair and commercial director at Reeds Carpets, on setting the gold standard for event and exhibition suppliers A “It has long been an ambition within ESSA to set the gold standard for event and exhibition suppliers” 64 — April s we never tire of repeating in this industry, face-to-face engagement has no substitute. It still forms a central pillar of the marketing mix for thousands of businesses, from multinational conglomerates to SMEs, because it gets results. Within exhibitions, the satisfaction and success of these exhibitors must be one of our primary goals. Whether they are sole traders taking a small shell scheme, or household brand names with their own feature area and auditorium, it’s our responsibility to ensure every exhibitor receives the highest standard of service from their exhibition partners. This has long been an ambition within ESSA. For over a decade ESSA has been independently trying to set the gold standard for event and exhibition suppliers. Our requirements for membership give our members’ customers assurances about solvency, competency and accountability. And our long-running ‘Use an ESSA Member’ campaign has received widespread support through our sister associations in the Event Industry Alliance. I believe we have grown sufficiently in stature and membership to launch our own accreditation scheme. What ESSA accreditation will consist of, in detail, will be announced at a special town-hall session at the upcoming AGM in April, but we aim to provide exhibitors and organisers with a true guarantee of professionalism, experience, probity, and financial stability and begin to eradicate poor service within the sector altogether. Of course, exhibitor satisfaction and success could be seen as a by-product, as the accreditation scheme is primarily for the benefit of our members. We want to create a level playing field for all event suppliers, and that means setting the standard that should be expected of every event supplier, and not just our own members. For example, working at height, minimum staffing, PPE etc., all cost time and money; and when less reputable businesses can cut costs by simply ignoring regulations and requirements it harms the industry. Not just directly, through harm to individuals; it leads to poor service, erodes trust in suppliers, creates the conditions for a race to the bottom, and it makes it impossible for reputable, reliable and trustworthy suppliers to compete. ESSA Accreditation upon its completion, towards the end of 2019, will be a well-planned and thought-out initiative, a long time in the making. We’re going to make it as accessible and straightforward for our members as possible, and we’ve worked to ensure it’s not going to be an onerous, costly or time-consuming process for them...they do of course, still need to make the grade! Unlike current membership requirements, accreditation will mean a degree of continuous policing, and will govern a broader range of activities and minimum standards. Organisers, venues, and above all exhibitors, will know that with an ESSA Accredited supplier they are in good, safe, trustworthy hands. We will be working with all our members over the year ahead, and providing support and resources where possible, for them to meet the new accreditation requirements when it is launched. You only have to browse the testimonials received by our members to understand why accreditation is going to be important for improving the exhibitor experience. Our members deliver great service, and the kind of exhibitor experience that every exhibitor deserves, and has a right to expect.