ADVERTORIAL Five years supporting the icon Justin Craig, joint MD of LiveBuzz, tells EN about his passion for International Confex, his love of the events sector and LiveBuzz’s role in helping Mash Media make International Confex buzz How did you first get involved with International Confex? 22 In 2013, Mash Media acquired International Confex from UBM. At the time Julian Agostini commented “International Confex is an iconic event for our industry”. LiveBuzz was in its infancy having only been incorporated in 2011. Like the Mash Media team we had a shared passion and genuine belief that we could do things differently and better. I had a strong relationship with the Mash Media team and they asked if we would be interested in tendering to supply registration services. Why do you love International Confex? Firstly International Confex (including its co-hosted events) has soul. It has passion and integrity. It’s an event for the event sector served by a publisher whose life blood is the event sector. I concede that all well run commercial enterprises are focused on the bottom line. But with International Confex there is a genuine desire to service, support and advance the event sector, a sector which is such an important part of all our lives. It’s delivered by a team who love this space and that passion shines through. Equally I believe it's delivered by a select team of suppliers and organisers who really are the best at what they do. A team that have built relationships over time and dove-tail together to deliver excellence. Why is International Confex important to you? For LiveBuzz International Confex is our showcase to the global events sector. It’s our shop window. Equally it’s a validation. A validation? What do you mean by that? The AEO and EN Awards recognised LiveBuzz in 2018 as winners in the areas of technology and customer service. Our February 2019 | exhibitionnews.co.uk company achieved record growth in 2018 and retention has never been higher. Despite those accolades, there is no greater validation than being told you are doing a fantastic job by individuals that you respect and value. I love working with Liz Agostini and her team, and massively value the relationship I have with them. I equally consider Liz a mentor, friend and sounding board. If ever I need advice, I know she would be forthright and honest in her answers – which is invaluable in business. Here comes the ‘but!’ Liz and her team are very tough task masters. They expect the best. They are driven to do things differently and better. They are obsessed by making International Confex a bellwether event for the global events industry. And so they should. They’ve got the eyes of the global event sector looking at them demanding that they demonstrate best practice and new ideas. Mash Media have the choice of the entire supplier community to use. They don’t have to use LiveBuzz. It may surprise some readers but LiveBuzz are appointed on merit and Mash Media pay us a market rate for our work. We have to deliver excellence and demonstrate a leadership position. I have seen numerous suppliers come and go over the past five years. Why has your supplier relationship with International Confex endured? Relationships are the key. There are many levels to what makes a good supplier. You need the right technology and product. You need the right team to deliver that product and project. You need experience and an awareness of practical implementation and pragmatism. But the most important aspect is a strong relationship on an organisational and personal level. A strong professional relationship means ‘working together’. Trust is key to a strong relationship, it means you can have strong opinions, and you can challenge each other. When things go wrong, you can get angry, but you can also forgive, move forward together, and learn together. Organising a game-changing and innovative exhibition is complex and imperfect. It’s equally stressful and at times euphoric. A good working relationship allows for all those things. It allows us to be humans and most importantly it allows us to achieve success together. LiveBuzz delivers; we are cautious on promise and high on delivery. In 2018 we have enjoyed a 98 per cent client retention rate across our portfolio. Why does LiveBuzz exhibit at International Confex? For LiveBuzz there is no better place to meet with existing clients and industry contacts. It gives us the opportunity to say thank you and to showcase our new developments. Confex is the one time a year that LiveBuzz externalises the success its been enjoying and our presence reflects our brands position as a leading provider of event technology and booking solutions. What are you looking forward to most? Seeing the event being successful. In the past five years the reincarnation and transformation of International Confex has been so exciting. I am proud of how we have worked as part of this team. This year is going to be fantastic. Seeing the team, doing a great job and being proud in that is very rewarding. We deliver some complex stuff, but make it look simple. And yes – probably getting a little tipsy at the networking drinks and having some laughs with my friends within the sector. Equally, we get on with most of our competitors and some of whom I class as friends, so its always fun having a catch up and sharing stories.