EXHIBITION NEWS June 2017 - Page 20

COVER FEATURE established itself as a successful marketing agency – with a readymade database of potential clients at its fi ngertips – so how did it end up running exhibitions? AN EVENTFUL RECESSION 20 The answer, in a nutshell, is the global recession which hit in 2008. “Naturally, the fi rst thing that everyone did was half their marketing spend,” recalls Millar. “The company went down from 25 people to just 15. It was a really tough time. “There were several property industry events which were continuing to charge fairly lucrative amounts, despite the recession. A lot of the agents couldn’t afford it, or at least couldn’t see the value in it.” In 2011, the retail property industry as a whole came to Completely Group, as the company was seen as an independent body with ties to, and contact in, the industry. Millar and his colleagues were asked if they could put on a new one-day event in London. They agreed, little knowing how important the new event would become to their business. “We thought we’d use it to promote the website,” Millar laughs. The fi rst ever Completely Retail Marketplace event took place in 2012, in London’s Old Spitalfi elds Market, welcoming around 600 visitors. It was clear from the start that this was no ordinary trade show. “One of the differences between our event and probably any other event is that we’re really picky about who attends it,” explains Millar. “From the very start we probably could’ve had around 1,000 people if we’d let in the lawyers, consultants and architects. “But we decided to make it about leasing; all about letting shops. We just had the owners of retail parks and shopping centres, the investors, the brokers and agents and the retailers.” Another major difference between June 2017 | exhibitionnews.co.uk "Everyone turns up in suits and ties, if I could ban that then I would" Completely Retail Marketplace and other trade shows was the stands. “We specifi ed and built all the stands,” Millar tells EN. “We built a shell scheme, we provided the branding, a literature rack, all the furniture, and we were very prescriptive about what people could and couldn’t bring. “It means that everyone is the same. You could have the UK’s biggest property company next to someone who only owns one shopping centre and they’ll have exactly the same stand. “We’ve invested in our own shell scheme. Everyone said not to do it, but we’ve done it and now it’s totally under our control. It was a massive investment, but it’s already paying dividends and it makes our events a lot more profi table.” Millar’s central approach was to bring together all the people necessary to make a specifi c type of deal, and to allow them to meet and interact on a level playing fi eld. Rather than attempting to attract as many visitors as possible, he decided to aim for precisely the right mix of visitors and exhibitors, which would enable deals to be made on the day, on the show fl oor. GROWING THE MARKETPLACE The effectiveness of this approach shows in the numbers. Retention rates for the Completely Retail Marketplace events are over 90 per cent, while the company found that 98 per cent of 50 people surveyed at the show had either done business as a result of attending, or would do a deal having met someone at the event. “If you’re in the business of doing deals then you come to our event,” Millar says. “That’s what everyone’s there for, and because everyone’s there to do one type of business everyone does more. “It’s like a stock exchange of deals; it’s frenetic. I get goosepimples when I see it. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve created.” Due to the contacts Completely Group already had in the industry, and the affordability of the show, the fi rst Completely Retail Marketplace event was an immediate hit. “We very quickly went to two events in London in 2013,” continues Millar. “We outgrew Old Spitalfi elds and moved to Old Billingsgate, which is where we are at the moment.” The location of the events in venues like Old Spitalfi eds and Old Billingsgate is no accident; Millar feels that the atmosphere of the venue is hugely important to the overall feel of the Marketplace events. “We haven’t got any more room at Old Billingsgate, and we could go to somewhere like ExCeL London, but it would lose the spirit of the marketplace, that Grade II-listed feeling,” he says. “It would lose its personality. “If we could put hay and sawdust down on the fl oor then we would. We want people to feel that they’re in a marketplace. Everyone turns up in suits and ties, and if I could ban that then I would. They’re professional people coming to our events so it’s a sea of suits.” The focus on building th ɭ)ѡٕ́́ɕձѕЁє)ѕЁȁ͕ͥ́Ёѡ̸͡+q]eٔЁѡгtɕ́5ȸ+q]eٔЁͽх́ѡхєѡ)ѥ܁ɕхɽ䁥́ɥݡѡ)ӊéٕѵЃLѡЁՙL)ЁeЁѡȸQeɔѽ+qQЁѕЁݔ́