Exhibition News November 2018 - Page 59

EN ROUNDTABLE “I think, on the partnerships bit, having sounding quite negative about what I’ve experienced internationally, one thing that’s really encouraged me since coming back is that there is one particular big East London venue which has surprised me in how they want to support our growth,” says Cennydd. “We might not always agree, but the fact that there is something on the table that gives me an opportunity to test the growth and to deliver something more without a huge financial risk is brilliant. We’re actually building that relationship and looking at how they can help us grow rather than it just being a transactional relationship. For me it’s really important that we have common goals that we want to achieve together.” The conversation turns to location vs. service, and Sigler recalls working with a small organising team trying to choose between a venue that was ideally located for their event and one that was in a less convenient location but willing to provide much more in terms of a partnership. In the end the organiser went with the the better location. “You need to fight sometimes to get people a bit further out, but then the service is far better for everyone,” comments Cennydd. We then move on to the topic of health & safety and major incident planning, with Cennydd once again lauding the UK’s service for organisers. The panellists all agree that when it comes to managing a crisis venues shine. Sigler comments: “when you’re in a venue, there is a safety blanket versus major incident planning when you’re in a field. There are constrictions that come with it, but when you’re in a field you can do what you want but it’s all entirely on your own head.” Evans recalls working on Taste of London in Regent’s Park during a bomb scare and having to make the decision on whether or not the event should be evacuated. “As a smaller organiser, that’s where the venue protects us, that’s when that relationship becomes very different,” says Cennydd. “I know that we go into a show and we want to deliver it safely within certain standards, but am I having a crisis management planning meeting? “I just want to get that show done, because we only do a few a year. We’re a small company and a small team, so that’s actually where the venue really plays a major part in being our support, which is probably something we overlook quite often.” To conclude the discussion, Macdonald asks the group’s opinion on build-up and breakdown times, to mixed responses. “I think it’s far more stressful if you’ve got even a one-day-build rather than a two-day- build in some venues,” comments Goodsell. “Partnering is really critical, because a venue can make or break an event” – Andrew Evans “We’ve been forced to cut down to a one- day-build in some events, some of the bigger events that I’ve worked on, from a two-day.” Ali adds: “More people are going down the trad route and bespoke builds and doing more complicated things and we’re still giving them such a short period to build in. We’re still expecting them to have a system that they can slap up within a few hours. That’s where it’s getting harder, because the market is changing and the way people want to exhibit is changing and we’re not able to accommodate that within the timeframe we’re giving them.” Cennydd agrees: “It limits growth for us as well, to have to sit down with my PD’s and say to them, ‘I’m sorry, you can only have seven space-onlys in your show next year, even though we’re pulling in this much growth, because it takes that long to build it.’” Sigler argues that on the other side of the argument, a lot of exhibitors don’t want to invest in an extra day of build: “We’re getting more and more who are just turning up on the morning of, which then kills you trying to get it ready. It is lovely to have the longer builds and it does make life easier and it takes a lot of the pressure off. I think it’s dependent on your show.” In a long and mostly positive discussion, it became clear that the consensus was that most venues have changed unrecognisably in the past decade or so, and almost entirely for the better. While elements like Wi-Fi and catering may still be sore points for organisers, the improvements had been vast, and reinvestments noticed and appreciated by those in the discussion. Rebecca Towell, Business Development Manager, EventCity “The EN Roundtable offered an invaluable experience with industry experts. It should never be venue versus organiser. Working collaboratively is crucial in ensuring that the exhibition industry stays creative, innovative and relevant to our audiences. “It reinforced the importance of developing a flexible approach to partnerships, understanding of our client’s objectives whilst delivering a seamless customer experience. Getting this right leads to long term relationships.” The group also strongly stressed the importance of trust and partnerships during the debate, hoping to go beyond the transactional business-customer relationship. The group even discussed the possibility of sharing an organiser’s P&L with a venue to ensure all parties are on the same page. All in all, it was an extremely positive, frank and open discussion, and hopefully one of many around this topic in the months and years to come. EN exhibitionnews.co.uk | November 2018 51