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Having been at the helm of the LondonBook Fair (LBF) for the past 10 years,Reed Exhibitions' group exhibitiondirector Alistair Burtenshaw has had to contendwith almost every problem the event could throwat him. But last year the drama wasn't consigned tothe pages and the agents squabbling overinternational rights, and it certainly wasn't fiction.The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcanoand the subsequent ash cloud paralysed airroutes and grounded flights to the UK, deprivingthe event of an estimated 20 per cent of itsoverseas visitors. As soon as the LBF team became aware of thetravel disruptions, Reed worked with outfitsincluding VisitBritain to make sure people wereable to get to the event, and for those unable tomake the trip by means other than flying,contingency measures were put in place. Reed's customer service team contactedinternational exhibitors to ascertain the needfor temporary stand staff, and although theweekend events took place as planned,people who were unable to attend couldnominate someone to replace them or receivea digital copy of the notes. Ultimately the exhibition did suffer. Smallershows, such as Göteborg Book Fair in Swedenbecame home to many of the right discussionsoriginally scheduled to take place in London."Many people missed the fair in London," saidinternational sales manager at the GöteborgBook Fair, Ewa Bråthe. "As a result, we noticed arise in interest, especially in the rights section." Among the London event's notable personalitylosses was former PM Tony Blair, who had toread his memoirs not to the London audience butto himself, stranded in the Middle East.ExhibitingOnce the dust had settled, Reed began acampaign to ensure the London show was neverfar from people's minds, through one method itunderstands the value of only too well: Exhibitingat international events. Much of the organiser'smarketing spend for LBF went on trips to otherinternational events to keep the London event'svisibility high. After all, who understands theimportance of face-to-face representation betterthan an exhibition organiser? LBF regularlyexhibits all around the world, at the BeijingInternational Book Fair and shows in Bolognaand Frankfurt. "We knew quite a lot of people who didn'tmake it to London for the 2010 event would go toour sister event, BookExpo America, which tookplace in New York six weeks later. So we took astand there," said Burtenshaw. LBF's US outingwas followed by trips to Brazil, Turkey andRussia, the international focus for the 2011 event."A lot of our marketing spend went into theseoverseas trips," Burtenshaw continued. "Theyhelped us to reach and engage internationalaudiences, but we've tried to engage ourcustomers all year round online too, through thewebsite and by email." Close to homeThe 2011 LBF will be held at Earls Court from 11to 13 April. The show's setting - London -provides strong currency for everyone in thepublishing business, and ensures the credibility ofthe event's education programme. "The UK has a really strong reputation for thecreative industries, particularly in the publishingsector," Burtenshaw said. "Last year's LBFfeatured 230 seminars and events."LBF is renowned above all else for its largerights section, an area of 575 tables full of literaryagents negotiating over the right to publishbooks in their home markets.HarperCollins is one of the foremost publishersexhibiting at the event in 2011 and is a long-timeattendee at the fair. The company's group rightsdirector Lucy Vanderbilt said she's lookingforward to the 2011 event after thedisappointment of last year."[LBF] is a great opportunity to catch up withour international customers, and for them tohear about and see our new publications aswell as talk about ongoing business," she said."Of course we were all disappointed last year,but it seems people are even more determinedto get to London this year and to have theface-to-face meetings; our schedules arealready filling up with two months still to go."Let's hope Mother Nature stays away fromLBF this time. ENshow profile EXHIBITION NEWSEXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKMARCH 2011 31Out of the cloudA year on from the Icelandic ash cloud that marred the 2010 London BookFair, exhibition director Alistair Burtenshaw speaks toAntony Reeve-Crookabout the measures Reed has taken to make 2011 a real page-turner."A lot of our marketing spend went into overseas trips; theyhelped us reach and engage international audiences."