Exhibition News November 2018 - Page 63

COLUMN: SPECIAL OPS Ever-evolving Rohema Ali, operations manager at dmg::events and EN 30 Under Thirty member 2018, on the challenges of running a peripatetic event H aving previously worked on several events a year in all different sizes, sectors and venues, I often get asked if I get bored of working on one event; but I can honestly say the challenges, triumphs and learnings are non-stop on Gastech. Being a peripatetic event, Gastech continues to evolve in each edition, as we essentially relaunch each time. I’m hoping I’ll be able to share my personal journey of taking an event from country to country; the challenges and some of the tips I have learnt along the way. At the beginning of the entire process we are faced with three mammoth tasks – finding the venue, drawing the floorplan and creating the budget. One of the unique things about Gastech is that the location is primarily determined by the company/s that choose to host the event. Taking a 25,000sqm- plus exhibition and a conference for 3,000 delegates around the world means that we are limited to the choices we have in venue. We have been fortunate to find venues that are able to house Gastech in our dates; but we have already had to look into other options in countries that do not have the space for us – so who knows, you may see Gastech in a high-class marquee in the near future. Once finding the perfect venue is done, it’s straight into drawing the floorplan. With the event being sold over a year in advance, determining the event flow is essential. As the exhibition is sold on a ‘premium pricing’ model, operationally we need to be confident in the floorplan we give our sales team, having to pre- determine the routes we think our attendees will take to drive them into specific areas. We do this by researching floorplans that have already been used within those venues and in a number of cases, a lot of the floorplans that are drawn are not to the scale of Gastech so we have to build on what other organisers have already had to achieve. We also utilise elements on the floorplan that we are able to control and that we know drive traffic to ensure we are able to map as much of the attendee journey as possible. Ultimately, we have to combine what we know with what we envision – which is what being in ops is all about. Creating a budget from scratch is always daunting but not having suppliers at the beginning of the cycle makes this even more of a challenge, so you need to plan “It’s important to realise the pros tendering can bring. It means that each cycle we can hear innovative ideas and solutions” for the worst and rely on advice from people in country that have the knowledge. My top tip? Ask advice from local agents, the venue, other organisers and suppliers you have worked with before to help you reach out to the right people in the location you are taking your event. It’s easy to reach out to those you know, but you may be overlooking local knowledge that could make the biggest difference to your event. There are pros and cons of tendering each cycle. If you focus on the cons; you lose the continuity, you are unable to negotiate a longer-term contract and tendering is a long and time-consuming process. However, it is important to realise the pros tendering can bring. It means that each cycle we can hear innovative ideas and solutions on how we can further grow and improve the customer experience year on year. Another pro from this process means we can leverage the desire from suppliers who want to work with us to get the best possible deals available. We are able to broaden our supplier base and try to provide the best experience for our clients. As well as selling the floorplan more than a year in advance of the event, we also look to sell as much sponsorship as possible and although some elements are easily recreated like pens and lanyards, the big concerns are for those big money items like venue signage, entrance branding and feature sponsorship. Our turnaround as a result is exceptionally tight in being able to establish what is achievable and what the costs are. What I have learnt along the way? Just because they haven’t asked for it or even know what ‘it’ is, it does not mean it can’t be done. The boundaries can be pushed in every detail, from signage that’s not been done before to feature designs that have not been delivered before. Through my broad experience and achievements in the industry sometimes I have to trust my own ideas and expertise to really help the customer and our sales team to achieve options beyond their imagination. Something I have learnt along the way is to create the momentum from the beginning. It is no use to shout about it a month before. Utilise the tourism boards, the agencies and convention bureaus to really help you as much as possible – they want to. Use their help and collaborate so that you can get your brand around the city and have exposure on the local news (plus have a monarch open your event!). Gastech brings an entire industry together in a new city each edition and we want to provide something they have never seen before in an event that’s consistently surprising, exciting and ever-evolving. exhibitionnews.co.uk | November 2018 55