INTERVIEWwww.exhibitionnews.co.uk 19buyer programmes and so on over the next six to 12 months. We do quite a bit of hosted buyers with Spring Fair and Pure - these are events that lend themselves extremely well to hosted buyers programmes and we can do a lot more. With regards to launches, you'll see a lot of things happening over the next six to 12 months. What's your opinion on the prosperity of exhibitions as a media?People continue to want to meet face-to-face and buy, trade, learn and celebrate together. What will happen is that people will become more discerning about which shows they visit. That will make exhibitors even more happy, because it'll mean they're getting the cream of the crop. People also have different reasons to go to exhibitions - when you go into an emerging market for example, most exhibitors participate because they want to enter that market. We have to evolve with what exhibitors and visitors want and I think we're doing that - Spring Fair keeps growing for example. The days of the great pioneers and opportunism have gone, but that's just because our industry has evolved. I believe it's a great time to be in this industry.I left ITE in 2001 and then helped create Expomedia. We started predominantly as a venue business, then expanded into exhibitions by becoming the local partner for a host of international organisers taking their brands into new markets. We had a third part of the business, which worked in partnership with Informa across conferences [Infor-media]. After we took that public, I got heavily involved in private equity. I wasn't interested in starting from scratch, as I've been there before. I worked primarily with Advent International, who was and still is looking for media assets. The cash flow characteristics for most media companies is amazing, especially for events - you pay upfront and it occurs year after year, as long as you've got the top event of its kind. I looked at various media businesses and in a way, that's how I met with Emap via private equity owner Apax. What attracted you back to running exhibitions?As I keep saying to everyone here: This is the last great platform in our exhibition industry. If you look over the past 10 years, this is one of the last businesses with unbelievable events that hasn't capitalised on its international potential. We have the most amazing group of events but the group hasn't really gone international or been able to service its clients in multiple markets. It's a wonderful platform to completely internationalise and build because it's starving for some way to grow. is the fact that i2i is behind other uk organisers going abroad a challenge?It's a huge challenge. That's why I'm here and that's why the business has been restructured. The shareholders recognise we have three completely different businesses. Publishing is very different to running events, and events are very different to information services. Before, they were basically being run as one and the group was constantly looking for synergies, which meant we only looked at certain sectors because other divisions were involved in them. That does limit you. That's why we've gone through a restructure, rebrand and made three different businesses. And that's why each business is now being run by experts in their own field. Publishing is less than 20 per cent of our whole business, yet every time you talk about Emap, it's based on us being a publishing business. Events account for nearly 50 per cent. In fact, i2i Events Group itself consists of three businesses: Exhibitions; large-scale conferences and events; then a festivals business led by Cannes Lion, where we get 10,000 creative media people every year and attract incredible speakers like Kofi Annan and Warren Buffett.media and financial experts have claimed the restructure has been done to alloW emap to sell-off parts of the business. What's your response to that?No, that's not why we did it. We did it for the reasons above; we have to be completely focused on the industries we serve. Having three separate companies is the best way to grow. Ultimately, we are owned by a private equity group and eventually things are put up for sale at some point - that's the nature of all private equity investments. But that's not why we did this restructure. This is about allowing us to grow faster. What regions offer the best groWth prospects?We are driving forward in four main markets: China, Latin America, Middle East and Asia-Pacific. We already have a strong presence in the Middle East through MEED, an events, publishing and information services business. As a whole, Top Right Group is looking at building infrastructure across those four key markets and we will have our own people on the ground. It doesn't mean we won't do partnerships with others, it just means we want to be there. It's logical we start expanding with our own brands and look to 'geoclone' and 'geoadapt'. For me, cloning is when you have a majority of international clients that move with you from place to place; geoadapting is where you have a strong industry sector but you're effectively replicating it in another market. Our shows will be a mixture of the two and based on what event brands will and won't work in other markets. It's really up to the customers. emap has made inroads to launching bett in china - hoW are these plans progressing?We're looking at launching BETT across multiple markets. It's one of the strong global brands we have where a core group of clients are international. Our customers include Microsoft and Google and it's the markets they want to break into that drives us.What's the challenge for i2i events group?The challenge is that we are internationalising when many organisers have been doing this for some time. But what's great here is we have very strong industry sectors that we service, and large numbers of those clients want to go abroad via some of the shows we have. That's a huge advantage. the exhibition industry has matured significantly since the early days of ite. do you think the exhibition model has changed?What has changed is the visitors. Today, they are more discerning about which exhibition or event they go to. People don't have much time to go to things anymore and that's the big issue. They want to go to one place, once or multiple times a year and perhaps in different markets, but to an event that does everything for them. That could be buying, selling, educating or celebrating. What they don't want to do now, compared with 10 years ago, is to go to lots of the same events in the same market, lots of times. emap has traditionally been more successful With larger shoWs. Will the restructure improve your ability to run smaller shoWs?Yes, that will change as we internationalise. It's very rare to launch an event that's 20,000sqm in its first year. has your strategy been affected by the Wider economic climate?What's affecting our strategy is internationalising and broadening our exposure to multiple markets, rather than just one. Now we are private equity owned, we want to grow apace and build. We have a lot of talented hungry people here who want to expand into new markets. can you talk us through the restructure of the i2i team?It's a constantly evolving structure. We have now structured ourselves to grow very fast, to launch organically and to harness that growth, rather than rely on acquisition, which Emap has relied on historically. We have invested in four key areas - content, international sales, customer services and hosted buyers - and there is a lot more to come. What time frame are you Working to?The restructure has already been done but we'll keep investing in more teams, different content, hosted emap announced a major restructure on 28 march that saw its business operations split and rebranded into three distinct operating companies under holding group, top right group:i2i Events GroupFormerly known as Emap Connect, this new division encompasses: Exhibitions such as BETT and Spring Fair International; large-scale conferences and events; and festivals. Combined, this business accounts for 44 per cent of total turnover. 4C GroupThis newly-formed company covers information services and is now divided into three areas: Design including WGSN; retail and customer insight; and infrastructure. EmapThe Emap brand will now exclusively refer to Top Right Group's publishing business, which now accounts for 18 per cent of total turnover. Emap rEstructurE
20 www.exhibitionnews.co.ukFOOD FOR THOUGHTThe righT buyersIn light of increased investment in pre-booked appointments at today's meetings industry shows such as IMEX and EIBTM, Exhibition News asks three organisers: Why do we need hosted buyers at exhibitions?June ClarkeManager, hosted buyer prograMMesMeetings and events portfolio,reed travel exhibitionsWe believe a hosted buyer programme is a core element of our IBTM events portfolio as it successfully secures attendance of more than 6,000 top-level buyers to the shows each year. It's also a key USP as it guarantees a concentrated amount of top-level buyers at each of our shows, which in turn attracts and delivers business opportunities to all participating exhibitors. But the status of such a programme depends on the organiser. Ours is based on quality rather than quantity. We will never jeopardise this key brand value in favour of accepting anyone onto our programmes.Everyone who applies is reviewed against a number of criteria to ensure only those with real buying power are accepted. This includes quantifying the number of international events held annually, purchasing authority, budget, the amount of business conducted internationally and their reasons for attending. In order to achieve such quality, we have an international team based at RTE's offices globally and at UK headquarters working with group coordinators, ground handlers and strategic partners. A typical hosted buyer programme for an IBTM event includes complimentary flights, 4- or 5-star accommodation, hotels and the exhibition venue, exclusive access to hosted buyer lounges, an education programme and participation in networking events. Each qualified buyer also receives a personal itinerary of appointments with exhibitors based on their own selections made prior to the show. The number of business appointments depends on the size and duration of the event. Hosted buyers attending EIBTM, for example, have seven Pre-Scheduled Appointments (PSAs) and one destination presentation per day of attendance. Education is a key component of all IBTM events and there are specific sessions for hosted buyers from the corporate, agency or association sectors. Networking is another crucial element and many shows have an 'icebreaker' event exclusive to hosted buyers the night before opening. So yes, we do need hosted buyer programmes to really help deliver ROI at our events. James samuelevent Manager, international Confex,ubMMore and more UBM events, not just International Confex, are introducing hosted buyer programmes. The visibility it gives you on the interactions between your biggest customers and their biggest potential customers is hugely valuable and a fantastic way of proving ROI.In the meetings industry show sector this is not new, as EIBTM and IMEX have run successful hosted buyer delegations for years. In addition, the exhibition hosted buyer programme is not dissimilar to the Richmond/McLean Events way of doing business by hiring a yacht or luxury resort where top decision makers are invited in return for committing to sponsors' meetings.International Confex 2012 was the first time we ran a programme with any sort of scale - over 5,000 meetings through the system - which we badged as a loyalty programme. This was for the simple reason that while we wanted the buyers to book meetings with our exhibitors, there was no need to host them to the extent IMEX or EIBTM do in terms of travel. So we gave them other benefits around their show experience (lunch, accommodation, reserved theatre seating and so on).The quality of hosted buyers is absolutely key as there are some proficient freeloaders in the meetings industry. The system we used allowed exhibitors to turn down meeting requests, which was a quality control in itself, but we will look to extend this for 2013 by running every request past a group of experienced exhibitors.The perennial hate of every organiser is the no-show and we did experience a few on Confex. The best way an organiser can protect themselves is by imposing penalties, which we will do next year. Another challenge is that in some cases a hosted buyer model encourages lacklustre exhibiting. Exhibitors with full diaries of appointments sometimes fail to work the aisles of the show, put less effort into incentivising visitors to their stand and therefore miss out on an even better returns.Following our success in 2012, we are looking to significantly increase investment in our loyalty programme. We are also keen to extend the programme throughout the year so we can continue spending time with key decision makers and give introductions to our exhibitors.ray Bloom ChairMan, iMex group A well-planned hosted buyer programme offers a guarantee of both high quality and planned numbers of buyers to a show. While useful, hosted buyer programmes are not always essential: Outside the meetings industry, I expect them to be minimal. In the case of our IMEX events, where we have 4,000 hosted buyers coming to Frankfurt (and 2,000 to Las Vegas), we have higher staffing levels than any other part of the organisation. That infrastructure also includes many online tools and processes - our unique appointment system, messaging and automated flight refunds to name a few. That said, it is our team's experience and knowledge that provides ultimate quality control.The most essential ingredient is the quality of the buyers. We mostly work through intermediaries such as hotel groups, publications, trade associations and our representatives. We then have qualification processes prior to buyers being accepted. With IMEX Frankfurt, hosted buyers spend an average 12 hours on the show floor. This compares to less than half that time for trade visitors, of which we normally have about 5,000. Hosted buyers are committed to a certain number of appointments with exhibitors prior to the show (we do not 'match-make'). They make about 50,000 pre-arranged appointments. In Frankfurt, 80 per cent of hosted buyers attend from Europe. At IMEX America, 80 per cent come from North America. The hosted buyer programme has evolved a great deal since we first created it in 1988. Back then, we managed all applications by hand. Although you would expect technology to have reduced our reliance on staff, the fact is it frees staff up to spend time on the higher value parts of the programme. They no longer have to correct so many travel, accommodation or visa errors but instead can invest in checking buyer credentials and applying our strict criteria. For example, we 'requalify' every application every year. This attention to detail is extremely important for our exhibitors and also for our reputation.