Exhibition News September 2018 - Page 37

of the capital. Onuma, who previously worked at Upper Street Events, recalls moving the Cycle Show from London to the NEC. “We lost quite a handful of huge exhibitors and a significant number of visitors as well,” she says. “The show took a hit but then the next year it went back again, visitor numbers increased by 30 per cent the next year, because we just had to change the marketing to make it more regional and sweet talk the exhibitor back. And it continued to grow from there.” McAndrew: “That goes back to your point about we blame the venue and the location, but actually could it be the marketing?” When it comes to moving out of London, adds Seaman, it’s not just about changing the mindset of the organiser, it’s also about changing the mindset of the clients: “You're trying to convince people that they're wrong and that's always hard.” Eddy: “From your experience, when you've got your international exhibitors, is the cache of London far stronger, with all the additional elements? It’s a destination.” Seaman: “Stick an event in Vegas or stick an event in New York and you know where everyone's going to go. If your event is a destination, that does make it more attractive. You are going to probably take a hit in your first year, but commit to it. Treat it like a launch and assume that you're going to take a dip in numbers, but then assume that you're going to grow, because that's just how these things work.” Macdonald: “I would assume if you're London-based organiser and you have a show in London you might say that the majority of the visitors are in the south east, but is it because that's where you are? That's where you're going out and meeting people in person and making relationships.” Seaman: “London isn’t the UK. It’s a microcosm. You can have an event in London and be outside of an hour’s travel time from somewhere else in London. I’m not knocking the London venues because there aren’t many places where you have seven million people within a short train ride of your venue, you can’t knock that especially in B2B. But if you’re looking at consumer shows it does not always have to be London.” The right conversations Macdonald wonders if moving venue would be a more seamless experience if more conversations were taking place, for instance between ops and suppliers. Eddy: “From a supplier point of view I’m not sure we’re as involved in the earlier stages, and whether that’s because at the end of the day we’re all independent businesses and we’ve all got to look after our own best interests, but at the same time I think it would be interesting if we did get together and an organiser said ‘we're thinking of doing this’, especially if we’re an established supplier. “We'd certainly be open to having more advanced conversations earlier on to help throw ideas on the table.” Seaman: “It’s actually my big takeaway from this. These decisions tend to be made in isolation and they tend to be made in an office in London somewhere. You make it with the data you have to hand and actually you probably need to ask more people who have a broader skill set and more experience.” McAndrew: “Because we don’t hold our exhibitions in exhibition venues we have to get the supplier on board straight away becau se the have to tell us if it’s going to work. They’ll really our partner, and it works really well.” Burton: “I think there’s a slight fear with us if we’re looking to move venue that we let the cat out of the bag, because obviously quite hush-hush to start with and the more people you tell, it’s a very small industry. If it gets back to the venue you’re having conversations before you’re ready to.” Eddy: “With some clients we have to sign NDAs, and we’re all adults so if it’s hush- hush we can keep it to a very strict number of people. But I take your point that it’s a bit of a leap of faith.” EN Mark Eddy, Chief Commercial Officer EMEA – GES It was a pleasure to host this EN Roundtable around the complex and often daunting business of moving an event to a new venue. We have lots of first-hand experience of guiding our clients in moving venues so it’s a hot topic for us. It’s a tricky move to get right - with lots to consider from location and space, right through to catering and accommodation, not to mention the risk to visitor numbers and revenue. What was evident during our discussion was how important organiser/supplier relationships are when it comes to moving venue. With intimate knowledge of venue spaces and long-standing, established relationships with venue operations teams, suppliers are often best placed to advise on the potential opportunities and pitfalls of a move. Getting your partners involved early on in the process and taking them on the journey helps reduce risk to both the exhibitor and visitor experience and allows for a smoother, less stressful transition. exhibitionnews.co.uk | September 2018 37