Exhibition News May 2019 - Page 64

Last Word A multi-platform approach Tom Kemp, CEO of Northstar, on the acquisition of the Centaur travel and meetings portfolio and his plans for the future W e had identified the Centaur travel and meetings portfolio a number of years ago. Primarily a guy who runs our business travel news group who would go to the Business Travel Show every year and who said it was a great event and that we should try to buy it. We actually had reached out to Centaur probably two-to-three years ago, had conversations with them and at that point they said, ‘at one point we may go through a rationalisation of our portfolio, but we’re not ready now’. They announced last Fall that they were going to put some of their businesses on the market and they knew we were interested so we were contacted by their investment bank, Cavendish Corporate Finance, and started discussions from there. We’ve been working on it and doing due diligence. It’s a strategic buy for us, we’re complementary because we’re not in the UK or Europe for the most part but we have leading positions in the US in the meetings and incentive industry. The three events, the Business Travel Show, the Meetings Show and Travel Technology Europe, aligned perfectly. One of the big differences is that the travel and meetings portfolio at Centaur was a small bit of a 66 — May much larger business in a lot of different vertical markets, whereas our entire company is 100 per cent dedicated to travel, meetings and hospitality. Corporate travel and meetings in the UK and Europe are very large markets, although obviously the European markets have not had as much underlying economic growth as North America, China or Southeast Asia but it’s a massive market. Brexit will have an unknown impact, but we’ve never had a platform in Europe or the UK and so we’re going to be setting up our own office and platform in central London. All Centaur Group have is face-to-face exhibitions, which is great, but they don’t have a deeper platform of media, content, research and marketing services like we do. We’re a little bit different in that, as opposed to being an exhibitions-only company, we’re multi-platform and we like to be much more deeply embedded in the markets that we serve. The first thing we want to do is make sure that we get the team transitioned and integrated into Northstar. We have a transitional services agreement with Centaur and they’ll continue to provide some services to us while we find our own office, set up our own technology and financial platforms and hire our own IT people and financial people. We want to leverge our content, our databases and our client relationships all three of the corporate travel markets and then look to expand the offerings to our audiences and our clients. I sent a note to the entire travel and meetings team at Centaur and we’re very excited about it because we see it as a perfect fit. We’ll be offering employment to the entire team and we’ll be looking to hire additional people to support them in London. What we hope to do, and I think this an opportunity and challenge for a lot of organisers, is something that’s often talked about in the exhibition business, which is trying to broaden your engagement with your audience and your clients beyond just your episodic events, which in many cases that take place once a year. We’re multiplatform, with digital media marketing services and research as well as face-to- face events, and what we want to do is deepen those connections and our engagement with the audiences we serve.