Exhibition News November 2018 - Page 57

EN ROUNDTABLE “For me it’s really important that we have common goals that we want to achieve together” –Haf Cennydd Andrew Evans, managing director of Thorough Events, adds: “I’ve had local government event experience as well. If you look like you’re setting something up that’s too shiny and too engaging, it’s kind of frowned upon because it could be perceived as a junket.” The venue checklist Macdonald asks what the group look for when choosing a venue. “It all starts with date line for me because that’s obviously connected to seasonality of attendants or purchasing patterns if you’re running a trade show,” says Evans. “If you’re running a consumer event then you’ve got to think about bank holidays and God knows what else, but date line is important. Then the compatibility of the venue. “Geography is critical; that’s about propensity to attend. Where is your audience coming from? Then the competitive landscape. Who’s in the region? Are you going to be competing with them and what does that look like? Cost is quite low down, you’ve got to suss all the rest of it before you can start thinking about cost, and work on the assumption that you can’t control cost. “Most importantly for me – and it’s an overused word – is ‘partnering’. I’ve launched loads of shows in my time and I’ve needed partnering. I’ve played the ‘big’ card because I’ve run big organisers and I’ve played the small card, because I’ve done that too. “Partnering is really critical, because a venue can make or break an event. You can secure a hall that you think is great and then find yourself being moved out of it because someone else is coming in, because they’re paying a bit more. You’ll get the same square meterage, but the perception is, you’ve just shrunk, and that’s out of your control unless you do an LTA (long term agreement). And most of us don’t want to do LTAs in case our shows don’t go as well as we want them to. I’ve had to unravel long term agreements that are so punitive, so that’s quite tough.” The conversation then takes a somewhat inevitable turn to the (entirely non-UK) venue horror stories attendees have experienced over their careers, which include halls not being cleaned ahead of an event, various health & safety issues, and being charged per flush of the toilet and per roll of toilet paper. We then draw a line under this section of the discussion. Doing something different “If I look back even ten years ago the whole standard and expectation of an experience coming out of a visit to a trade show, or to a consumer event, have just become stratospheric, and they should,” comments Evans. Goodsell adds: “I think the only prohibitor in that, being at the corporate level of some of the bigger venues is, if you try and be a bit experiential or you want to do some sort of food thing, then it contravenes all the elements within that hall. You end up often just dumbing an event down, I have.” Sigler says that sometimes, “if you can get the right person on board and say you want to do something different then they say, ‘thank God for that, we’re not ploughing out the same teas and coffees’. But that goes back to having the relationship with the venue and working alongside them, which varies wildly.” Towell asks how the group feels about in-house catering vs third party, saying that the venue’s in-house team does do bespoke catering. Sigler argues that that service largely depends on budget, and Cennydd points out that as a smaller organiser Govnet is ‘quite lean’ on those kind of show elements. Sigler adds that the debate around food at events, especially on stands, is becoming more complex and that it’s a topic being looked at by the AEO Ops Working Group. The debate around food and catering prompts Evans to discuss his relationship with the Honorable Artillery Company in London, where Thorough Events’ premium consumer car event runs each year. “Our promise is first around the world’s rarest cars, and secondly around a garden party, so that’s all about hospitality,” he explains. The venue is a military site, which means that the on-site caterers were more accustomed to feeding military personnel than high net-worth individuals at an automotive garden party (which sold out of champagne both show days in 2018). “But the venue is working with us,” Evans continues. “the plan this year is, let’s harness this problem together, let’s try and find a solution, one that works for me and one that works for you.” The Thorough Events team are working with the HAC to find a catering contractor that not only can provide silver service, but which has a famous name attached. “That will just take the whole thing up into a perceived value position that we can’t currently operate with,” he concludes. Closer to home continued ➞ exhibitionnews.co.uk | November 2018 49