Exhibition News November 2018 - Page 54

EN ROUNDTABLE The organiser- venue relationship On 18 October, the EN Roundtable gathered at Hilton Olympia to discuss a potentially contentious question – what should the relationship between an organiser and venue look like? 46 I t’s a question that many in the exhibition industry have strong and conflicting opinions on – the relationship between a venue and the organisers that operate within it. On the one hand is the idea of a partnership, where venue and organiser work together to their mutual benefit. On the other, a strictly transactional business- customer relationship. EN brought together an experienced group of event professionals to discuss the topic, including Govnet’s managing director – exhibitions, Haf Cennydd, who kicked off the debate by reflecting on her experience with international venues in a previous role. “I haven’t actually been in charge of looking at venues so far for our UK events, but my experience has not been fabulous with a lot of the international venues,” she says. “What I’ve always found is that they are very much a supplier and we’re just buying a service from them; there’s no real relationship and there’s no strategic goal between us. “That’s been a lot of our experience, especially in places like India or in China where we’ve been thrown out of venues because somebody will just pay a bit more November 2018 | exhibitionnews.co.uk money than we’re willing to.” Rohema Ali, operations manager at dmg::events, adds: “I worked on an event previously where one of the venues – because the industry and the market there is so strong – is very much like, ‘here’s your key, crack on’, because they know that they’re going to get the business. They don’t care, necessarily, about the customer experience. I think some venues are very much aware of that relationship; they’re not vying for your business because they know that you have to give them your business.” Ali now works on the organiser’s flagship event Gastech, a peripatetic behemoth that was opened by the King of Spain at its most recent outing in Barcelona. The location each year is based on where the industry wants the show to be, and where it can be supported by industry stakeholders. “With Gastech, we’re quite lucky in that we have a number of people that would be looking to host,” continues Ali. “We can leverage them against each other a bit more and look at the different offerings they have. “For example [after Houston in 2019], we’re looking between Singapore and Malaysia and looking at what the venues can offer, whether they can take the size of the event and be able to contribute to the scale, so a more strategic partnership.” The conversation turns to the impact the size of organising company has on the organiser-venue relationship. Miriam Sigler, founder of Ways & Means Events, comments: “Working with a lot of different clients and different scales, there are some venues that will support you, regardless of your size, and that support comes in on- site in helping organisers develop the show, in marketing, all that sort of stuff. “And there are some venues that are very inconsistent in their support, and I can see it from the big organisers going in compared to the little launch show. When I’m in that position, I think, ‘hang on, I know you do this for ‘X’, why are you not doing it for the small shows that probably need the help a bit more?’. The big ones which have the clout and the money get what they want and the smaller ones don’t always.” Macdonald asks if it’s also a question of trust, when it comes to the newer, smaller organisers. “We just ran a couple of events and there were no dates available to us, but the events