page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36
page 37
page 38
page 39
page 40
page 41
page 42
page 43
page 44
page 45
page 46
page 47
page 48

INTERVIEW20 you outline informa's business structure?We are well known as a conference organiser and do up to 8,000 events a year, from small training conferences to exhibitions. We hadn't previously made a big effort to differentiate where these events sit internally and how we communicate externally, but we are now adopting more of a traditional model of divisions focused on geographies and specialities including my division, Informa Exhibitions. What does your role at informa entail?I started with Informa's IIR division in 2000 in conferences, then went into exhibitions in 2004 and used to work on IPEX. In 2009 I joined our newly established Global Exhibitions Development department under Will Morris [global development director, Informa Exhibitions]. We were tasked with helping the exhibition businesses become more unified, and also to bring acquisitions through. Will and I had actually been working mainly on acquisitions, but were finding them hard to complete because we were sitting in a separate group. An opportunity came up to restructure, so Will took an operational role in Dubai, I took one in the UK, and we got the wheels in motion to form Informa Exhibitions. We started to talk the talk and get the corporate side sorted out. Our biggest office is in Dubai and looks after the rest of our international offices, while I look after business run out of the UK. Over a two-year period, we've made a large acquisition in Australia with Australian Exhibitions and Conferences, which runs 12 large events, plus several acquisitions in Brazil, becoming the second-largest exhibition organiser in Brazil virtually overnight. That was done deliberately because our exhibition strategy, like many of our competitors, is to develop in emerging markets. Overall, Informa Exhibitions runs 135 trade and consumer events. What's the split of exhibition business across regions? We don't have many shows in the UK apart from IPEX, which is held every four years, and a few smaller brands. Most of the events run out of the UK are held internationally either in mainland Europe, Asia, India or South America. Our biggest exhibition business is the Middle East, which represents 40 per cent, followed by Brazil. Australia is about 20 per cent and Singapore 10 per cent. The UK percentage changes depending on the year. In comparison, Informa's total revenues are £1.34bn, split into publishing, data, Informa Business Information, including professional and subscription-based publishing and Lloyd's List, then events. Quite a chunk of that is conferences, ranging from 50 delegates to congresses with thousands of people sometimes paying £4,000 a head. About 10 per cent overall is exhibitions but it is this part of the business we're strategically growing; we are doing less of the small conferences and are more focused on branded exhibitions. Why are exhibitions so important?They are more attractive in terms of revenue and growth opportunities. The types of conferences we do are niche, paid-for, very well-researched events. Our conferences don't work alongside exhibitions because they are targeted at top-level executives. A normal trade show caters for a broader audience, as do the conferences running alongside them. This is where we see the chance for our expansion.A business restructure and concerted push to expand its exhibition portfolio are changing the face of Informa. UK exhibition head peter hall talks to EN about its strategy and global aspirationstAKIng A looK At InformAc 21fact, the first time we looked at cloning Vitafoods was six years ago but we only did it last year. Now we feel like the floodgates are open and we can clone it multiple times. People expect you to do it. What's your opinion of virtual events?Informa's conference division does a lot of webinars, but within exhibitions we're not looking to do digital events as I don't think they're particularly attractive. What we are doing is investing in our websites. Alongside IPEX for example, we launched IPEX World as a portal where you can find exhibitors and content. We're investing in such portals as a way of strengthening our community. When you're running a show, you're always more exhibitor-focused than you are visitor focused. All year you're selling, then four months before the show you start thinking about the visitor marketing. When you've got a digital portal or an online community, you are thinking about the visitor all year-round and that's incredibly helpful.What does a typical informa exhibition look like?We run business-to-business exhibitions that tend to have a niche focus. One of our most successful shows is Vitafoods, which is only 8,000sqm and focuses specifically on nutraceuticals and functional foods. Our exhibitions tend to be high priced, getting near to ?500 per square metre. Those shows aren't going to become the size of something run by Reed or UBM. It's not that we deliberately avoid organising the larger shows; it's that we have more focus in terms of market. Across my portfolio, we have a number of exhibitions about 2,000sqm in size and we make good money from those. One such example is TOC, which focuses on port equipment. Not many people in the world buy port cranes, so the visitor numbers are likely to get to 2,000, rather than 10,000 or more. is taking a smaller, sector-specific focus Where exhibitions have to go?If you have an emerging market business, big shows are still attractive, but you only have to look at the UK to see the really big shows are declining. Our threshold for a successful event is smaller than that of the traditional, big organisers and we make money with as little as £500,000 in revenue. One of the unique things about Informa is we are ridiculously flat in terms of corporate structure. That does have its drawbacks but also encourages entrepreneurialism and innovation. We can go for opportunities when we see them and take risks while encouraging people to be accountable for those risks. do you choose the sector to run shoWs in or does the sector choose you?If we're looking to acquire something, we'll obviously look into the attractiveness of the industry it serves. That doesn't mean we won't go for something in an industry where we previously haven't had any products. We'll go into anything, as long as we can identify an attractive asset and a good team. When we acquire, we keep the management team to ensure that entrepreneurialism remains. The reason we are doing the events we are doing today comes down to legacy. We have built up a history in maritime and logistics through Lloyd's List, which is a very old product. With IPEX, we'd been running the contract for the association for many years then had an opportunity to buy it. It's not that we set out necessarily to be in those sectors. The strategy also differs for each country. But if I came across an acquisition that looked attractive, I'd go for it regardless of sector. is it a good time to acquire?I don't think it's either a buyer or seller's market; it's a fairly active market. Again, I don't think I'd buy a UK-focused business. Alongside acquisitions, we're cloning our events wherever we can. For example, we've cloned our Vitafoods event into Hong Kong and South America in the past year and we hope to expand that brand further. We have also cloned IPEX in India and we're just about to launch in Brazil. We will carry on doing that, although as an organiser we're slightly limited in terms of the staff. When you're cloning your shows you want your best event director to launch it, but there are only so many shows they can do at once.Overall, our strategy is to be opportunistic. We will launch another two or three shows in the next year from the UK but if you look at the Middle East business, we're launching left, right and centre. In my division, we're waiting for a big acquisition to come along to take us to the next level. We have also looked at acquisitions in Turkey. Since expanding our Brazilian business, we have launched four shows out there and we've got more launches planned in Australia. We are taking a few calculated risks and growing organically. But the big growth comes through acquisitions. There is an appetite to make those acquisitions within Informa and long may it continue. has your strategy or expansion been affected by the economic doWnturn?I can't say we've noticed a great deal of change. I don't remember there being a particularly easy time in exhibitions where business just came in through the window; we have always had to work hard.What's informa's biggest challenge?It's to try and keep launching. It's difficult to get the right people behind the launch, and we don't have staff just sitting around waiting. But there are still good opportunities to launch. You can either launch or acquire, but either way you've got to keep growing. Launching is something you can control, acquiring you have less control over. are there enough businesses to buy?There are still some out there in emerging markets and we've always got stuff on the table. But it's like sales - you can have a big pipeline but might not pull it all off. We're also increasingly competing against UK-based companies in international markets. Reed is our arch competitor in Brazil for instance. My business competes more against UBM as that's where the products tend to clash. In the Middle East, we don't have such stiff competition as we are so dominant. One of the things we need to do is grow in Asia and we have someone out in Asia tasked with doing that. We're in quite an exciting stage of our exhibition development and exhibitions are central to the group's strategy now, whereas they weren't five years ago. We're hungry to make big moves, but then time will tell. We don't have a funding issue or debt. The good thing about our structure is that it supports fast-growing businesses with no debt, cash or back-office worries. We can compete and find opportunities while sitting under a corporate umbrella that keeps us dry. It's the best of both worlds and an attractive place to work. If the answer for our exhibition growth is to create more management structure, then it's the wrong answer. hoW important is having an established brand When expanding into a neW country?If you have a strong product, you can launch a clone of your show with a foundation of exhibitors that trust you to do it. If you're going to launch fresh products, you have to be entrepreneurially set up and have the right people. That is what we aspire to have. What's the biggest test facing exhibitions?It's not that we need to make fundamental changes, I just think we need to do more of what we're doing - be more content led, engage in more social media and offer more of the features visitors expect. We need to keep investing in content to give visitors more reasons to come to our shows. Because most of our shows are small, visitors aren't going to just come for stands. People should also enjoy and look forward to attending an exhibition. Content is an important strand but we also need to invest in hospitality, networking receptions and other innovative features. We have often decided not to clone events just because we weren't ready with these types of features or the home product wasn't where we wanted it to be. In Palexpo, Geneva10,350 visitorsNext show: 22 - 24 May 2012Swedish Exhibition Centre, Gothenburg2,500 visitorsNext show: 22 - 24 May 2012Top 3 showsAntwerp Expo, Antwerp2,500 visitorsNext show: 12 - 14 June 2012TOC EuropeROROVitafoods Europe