Exhibition News October 2017 - Page 29

SECTOR FOCUS Words: Nicola Macdonald Planes, trains and automobiles EN dips a tentative toe into the world of event logistics “T ell me what you think logistics is,” Garcia Newell, business development director at Agility Fairs & Events Logistics says to EN. “Transporting goods from A to B?” We offer. “It’s not just about moving from A to B,” explains Newell. “It’s about moving from A to B and back to A again. That’s the different with exhibitions, and that the difference with what we do for the industry.” EN is sitting down with logistics suppliers, who work in an industry that is often an afterthought for exhibitors, but one that is vitally important for ensuring that exhibitions are pulled off without a hitch. “That’s all the fun of it isn’t it? The last- minute rush!” says Laura Banks, exhibition supervisor at Charles Kendall. “But that’s another reason to use us, because we do have a lot of last minute bookings, we do them on a regular basis and can offer express services, express shipping, same-day pick-ups etc. “Exhibitors are busy booking their space and all the add-ons that you need to attend a show and the thought of ‘how am I going to get it there?’ can sometimes be at the last minute.” Making exhibitors aware of the scale of what logistics companies can do, adds Newell, is vitally important the sector. “We do more than the average exhibitor or marketing executive thinks we do,” he says. “We provide things like labour, forklifts and storage. There’s a multitude of things that we provide that exhibitors don’t know about until we engage with them.” When EN asks what has changed in the sector of late, both Banks and Newell admit that it’s not an industry that has seen huge seismic shifts. It has however, become more technically streamlined and increasingly passionate about environmental issues, health & safety and customer service. “A logistics contractor has always been seen as being the lifting contractor, or the guys that do the shipping, but it’s a lot more than that,” explains Newell. “Look at the process: the exhibitor books their stand with the organiser, they’ve done all the designs and everything else but unfortunately the logistics is then left to the last moment. “There’s a multitude of things that we provide that exhibitors don’t know about” – Garcia Newell “We have had be more customer friendly, to listen to what the exhibitor’s needs are, as opposed to just offering a service and that’s it.” “We are experien ced with this,” adds Banks. “We know the people to contact if you need onsite services or storage or forklifts. I can imagine booking the show, travelling and all the other arrangements are stressful enough as it is, but having professionals who do this day in, day out on your behalf is just one less thing to worry about. “Sometimes there are things the exhibitor 29 doesn’t necessarily think about – like where they’re going to put their empty cases – whereas that’s the sort of thing we’re thinking about all the time. What additional equipment will we need? Will I have to hire a forklift? Or additional labour? It’s something we do every day.” It’s also important, adds Newell, not to make assumptions about how a particular show or venue is going to operate. “We’ve just fi nished DSEI,” he says. “It’s a truly international show, and has its challenges in terms of customers. In two years’ time we can’t say that the show is going to be exactly the same, you need to re-educate yourself. “We also do lots of shows in Europe and we will go and have a site visit in preparation. If I’m doing an event at RAI Amsterdam and I know it’s going to be a heavy machinery show, then I’ll go to make sure that the access is good. We like to check these things out beforehand before we start putting our shipping information together.” Like so many aspects of the exhibition industry, logistics companies are all but invisible to the visitors who see a show as two or three days out of a calendar year. The phrase ‘getting from A to B’ can barely do justice to the sheer amount of careful planning and preparation that goes into getting cargo safely into a venue… and, as Newell points out, in our unique world of exhibitions that’s only half the story. EN exhibitionnews.co.uk | October 2017