EXHIBITION NEWS June 2017 - Page 25

FEATURE Ripping up the rule book Automechanika is a well- known global brand, so what happened when it launched in the UK? W hen EN catches up with Simon Albert, director of Automechanika Birmingham, one day after he completed the London Marathon, it's fair to say he is still recovering. “I’m struggling to walk,” he laughs. It’s Albert’s fi fth year running the marathon, and over the course of his conversation with EN it becomes clear that he is now equally passionate about running exhibitions. “My background is not the exhibitions industry,” he tells EN. “I used to be the European commercial director for Samsung. I came into this industry with very different ideas and approaches.” Automechanika is an automotive trade show brand with 15 editions around the globe. The owner of the brand, Messe Frankfurt, announced in 2015 that it was planning to bring the show to the UK for the fi rst time. “Sherwood Event Services are the UK sales partner for international Messe Frankfurt events,” explains Albert. “Because they know the Automechanika brand, Messe Frankfurt approached them to run the show as a licensee. “A sister company was set up called Forest Exhibitions to organise the event. Sherwood Event Services have an eight-year relationship with Messe Frankfurt, and have experience selling the other Automechanika events. They know the brand, know the UK-based exhibitors, and have the knowledge of the automotive industry.” EN writes about a lot of show launches, and the inaugural Automechanika Birmingham event struck us as not an average fi rst event. For one thing, 50 per cent of exhibitors rebooked before the 2016 show took place. “My approach was, let’s rip up the rule book,” says Albert. “If we can get a rebook done before we’re onsite then let’s do it!" Automechanika Birmingham benefi ts from brand recognition when it comes to exhibitors, but, says Albert, getting visitors engaged with the show presented more of a challenge. “Exhibitor awareness of the Automechanika brand is quite high,” he explains. “The visitors, however, are UK visitors and the majority of them have never been to an Automechanika." While exhibitors are keen to attend the show, Albert is hoping to change how they view it. “We’re trying to build a partnership with our exhibitors,” he says. “I think many exhibitors pay their money and go to the show. We're trying and get them to plan six months before the event and the the most out of it. “We’ve really tried to get our exhibitors to promote it as much as possible, because we know that one of the biggest drivers of visitor attendance is being invited by a supplier.” Whatever tactics Albert and his team use, they’re obviously doing something right. From 2016 to 2017 the show is growing by 70 per cent – from 10,500sqm to 17,000sqm. “We’re not going to grow 70 per cent next year,” laughs Albert. “Even by my own high ambitions that might be too much. But we’ll certainly be looking to grow.” The team is being kept busy building and improving the show, but will Forest Exhibitions expand into organising its own events? Albert is reservedly optimistic. “There’s nothing planned but I’d be very surprised if the team were only doing this show in the years to come,” he says. “Certainly we’re always looking for new opportunities. Watch this space.” EN Automechanika Birmingham takes place at the NEC on 6-8 June 2017. YOUR DRAPING & THEATRE SPECIALISTS 0208 801 4444 HELLO@THORNS.CO.UK WWW.THORNS.CO.UK @THORNSGROUP exhibitionnews.co.uk | June 2017 25