Exhibition News January 2018 - Page 20

COVER FEATURE “I need to have a really good time at a show, whether it’s consumer or B2B doesn’t matter” 20 That’s what the market wants. People like familiarity, but peppered with excitement. I know that when I go to the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Show that there’s going to be something new and exciting each time. It’s giving them a level of familiarity that will help them cross the threshold, but it’s also that absolute experiential piece that will help them come back year after year, because they know that the show will evolve. That must be a common question from exhibitors – what’s going to be new, what’s going to be different? The fi rst impressions of a show are really important, whether you’re an exhibitor or a visitor. As a visitor you want to be able to say ‘ooh, that looks different’, and as an exhibitor you want to say, ‘I can see that they’ve invested in my show’. Exhibitors spend a lot of money. They want to see that we’ve invested, and they want that feeling of progression. And as an organiser you surely want to be as in control of someone’s fi rst impression as possible, not just once they walk in but also the parking, the public transport etc? The experience – whether it’s for an exhibitor or a visitor – starts the moment they leave their house. We have to think about that whole journey. I love going into an event and pretending I don’t know what I’m doing. As a seasoned event person, I know exactly where to go, but if I was just an ordinary person would I know the touchpoints, would I know where to go? It’s about making that journey and that experience as clear as possible. Do you find that when you hire new January 2018 | exhibitionnews.co.uk people, you suddenly have a fresh perspective? I always try with all new starters to catch them in the fi rst month. After they’ve done a month you sit them down and say, ‘what surprises you? What was exactly as you expected? What wasn’t as good as you expected?’ After a few months they’re in our way, they’re in the Telegraph way of doing something, but in that fi rst month there are things that are exciting and weird and I want to know these things, because they see my business in a totally different way. How did you see the business before joining, what were your preconceived ideas? I loved the brand. I’m a sucker for a brand, and this is one of the biggest in the business. Events people can do any event anywhere and make a success of it, if they’re good. That’s easy. Making truly great events – working with a brand – gives you that opportunity ten times over. I had a marvellous experience at EMAP, which was very brand dominated. We do come to work to have fun; there’s purpose in what we do, and actually it takes up most of our waking hours. If I’m not having a bloody good time and laughing so much, then that’s not right is it? I want to have a really good time at work. We’re passionate about what we do. My husband always says to me, ‘you’re very cagey when you describe what you do’, and it’s because I’m so proud of what I do – and so excited – that I’ve got to try and contain that a little. Going back to the start of your career, what was the day-to-day of your time as a conference producer for IIR? It was long, hard days, but it was never the same thing twice. The conference business was interesting because you become a jack- of-all-trades and master of none. I can talk to anyone at any dinner party about any subject, but only for 15 minutes. After that my knowledge is superfi cial, l and I have to move onto the next thing. As a conference producer it’s deep dive; get on with it, and then get out. Exhibitions are very different. It’s a longer burn, it’s a bigger play, and the fascinating thing about the business here is we’ve got those dimensions. We’ve got the big consumer shows and we’ve got the business events, we’ve got a whole host of experiential bespoke events, and we’re also looking at acquiring into the B2B trade show piece as well. And are you bringing in that B2B knowledge and background? Absolutely. The comment up here a lot is, because my background is B2B, does that meant we’re exiting consumer? I’d be mad to exit consumer, we’ve got lots of fantastic shows. We’re doing a portfolio review – there’s no secret about that – and there are a number of products under that portfolio review. There are also a number of products not under portfolio review. We’ve got some super consumer shows. We’ve got some really strong DNA talent; I’d be crazy to walk away from that. Having said that my background is B2B so watch this space. Clearly we’re investing in our business continued ➞ events, clearly we’re going to