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he recent Facts 2011 research has shown again how resilient face-to-face events are compared to other media that have witnessed signifi cant declines in readership, advertising and sponsor revenues.The continued strength of tradeshow brands in light of tough media competition also tells me that we need to achieve a clear understanding of event brand positioning in the markets we serve. This should be followed by an understanding of the "brand permissions" events have to develop into other methods of information and relationship delivery to those markets. Brand positioningNot all events have equal status in their markets. It is critically important as an organiser to recognise how the different market sectors rate your brand as a delivery mechanism and what attributes they ascribe to the event. The term "brand permission" means the customers believe your brand has the right qualities to move into new product areas. Determining brand value ratings will indicate the degree of brand permissions the event has to develop into new areas. For example: You may remember the Iceland food store going completely organic a few years ago. The conversion lasted a matter of weeks, as the company clearly realised it did not have brand permission to occupy that space in the market. Those most likely to buy organic food would not use Iceland and those most likely to shop at Iceland had no interest in organic foods.So, do different media brands have different values ascribed to them by their markets? Of course they do and brands need to measure these differences. Maintaining the core strengths of the medium is one must, but it is also important to evaluate the markets to understand where the event stands in its competitive space. In other words, look at how the brand should develop to maintain its market position and how the brand can capitalise on the opportunities available.Today, we should be thinking of the brand as the core element in the business structure and the event as just one of the commercial or communications opportunities available in a chosen market. Such areas could include conferences, webinars, e-newsletters, RSS feeds or virtual events. research EXHIBITION NEWSEXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UK JUNE 2011 37Brand permissionsVivid Interface MD Geoffrey Dixon looks at how show brands are infl uencing the markets they serve and where organisers can fi nd growth opportunities.Previewevent guide8,839IP ExpoOnline email newsletters38,1824,944IP ExpoTotal attendance7,6315,885IP ExpoEmail promotions80,2478,4052,430Seminarattendeesat IP Expo2,955Communcation channels of IP Expo3,312Brand developments can give strength to the core "master" brand and the master brand can clearly strengthen efforts in new areas. But developments also provide new ways of reaching customers while turning exhibitors into advertisers and content providers. Importantly, new revenue streams can open up and in some cases new marketer cost centres reached.Proving valueFor events to move into new media areas, there is an incremental requirement to prove exhibitor/advertiser ROI targets are being met. In broader media environments, sophisticated media buyers want greater evidence of success and they want to understand how they can optimise their investment in communication and minimise duplication.IP Expo, the Imago Techmedia exhibition, recently invested in a brand reach audit from BPA Worldwide. The audit has many elements to it but I want to focus on the information displayed above that shows the effectiveness of the media used by the marketing team to generate attendees and examine what this could offer.Of the 7,631 attendees, 4,944 received an IP Expo online newsletter from a mailing of 38,182. This means 65 per cent of attendees received the newsletters and there was a 13 per cent conversion of newsletter mailings to attendance. Assuming a normal 50 per cent pre-registration non-attendees rate, then it is likely the mailing had a 26 per cent impact to registration.For the broader email promotions, we can see that from 80,247 mailings, 5,885 attended the show (8 per cent conversion) and 8,405 looked at the event preview guide. Of those who saw the event preview guide, 3,312 attended accounting for 43 per cent of all visitors.This IP Expo example is a simple case looking at the relative success of different means of marketing communications. Crucially, the media buyer can now use this information to begin to decide where to invest their money with the IP Expo brand and communication for optimum impact.When IP Expo further develops digital delivery platforms either to support the show or to develop new revenue streams, the way forward is being able to provide clear evidence to the media buyers of how the brand reach works.The IP Expo results show strong brand permissions exist for areas of new product development. Ultimately, what we are seeking to arrive at is a clearer understanding of brand. This is a great contrast to several years ago, when all we wanted to know as organisers was how the show performed. ENT

are paid in the industry is of interest to both employers and employees. The AEV carries out an annual Salary Survey to benchmark remuneration across the industry. The 2010 survey had a response rate of more than 41 per cent and showed salaries are generally likely to remain stable during the year. Like all industry-wide standards, this empowers AEV member companies by providing comparative data, which can help to attract and retain staff and support salary negotiations. TogethernessCollaboration is a great idea. It's only through talking to people that you can fi nd out what the problems are and work collaboratively to solve them. This leads to the development of formal and informal standards that in turn, allow the industry to plan more effectively, manage its costs and save time and resources. Standards are living, breathing entities and need to be managed. Keeping them relevant, accurate and appropriate will ultimately make life easier for many people. It's not always easy, and may involve some compromise, but we at the AEV strongly believe it's worthwhile. EN EXHIBITION NEWS industry viewpoint38 JUNE 2011 EXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKLike every industry, the exhibition industry has grown organically, which has meant the rules, regulations and standards governing the venue, organiser and supplier sectors have evolved independently of one another. While these have worked perfectly well within each environment, they have raised issues for those operating across events and venues around the UK. The AEV has been working to set-up collaborative groups across the industry to look at 'industry norms' and harmonise them creating conformity. The working groups are now starting to touch all aspects of the industry and are a key component in making the UK a prime location to launch and locate exhibitions and events.GuidelinesThe AEV has always been committed to collaboration based around working groups. These now include the eGuide Working Group, the AEV Security Working Group, the AEV Sustainability Working Group, the AEV HR Working Group and the AEV ESSA Technical Committee. Each one matches peers to share experience and knowledge - when people talk around a table they can learn, develop and see the bigger picture.One of the biggest successes to date is the eGuide, which addresses the issue of suppliers having to deal with different sets of guidelines and standards at venues. The number of venues adopting the eGuide is increasing as I write: Three high-profi le venues are about to sign up to it. Our guide sets out to deal with inconsistency, which is a signifi cant waste of both time and resources. A signifi cant example of an inconsistency is making stand builders create entire new sections of stands to meet specifi c site regulations such as different heights of stair risers, or widths of gangways between seated areas. Ultimately, this increases clients' costs and creates unnecessary landfi ll because potentially reusable structures have to be thrown away.Having common standards makes planning easier and more effi cient. You know what to expect from suppliers, suppliers know what to expect from the venue and the exhibitors know what to expect onsite. There are (or should be) no surprises. This can also have a knock-on effect of reducing costs to our end-users. If suppliers can plan effi ciently, they don't need to build as much Setting the standardEvent Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) and Association of Event Venues (AEV) joint director Chris Skeith pushes for standardisation.contingency into every budget and can pass on savings to their customers. All of this helps make the UK exhibition industry more competitive.Legislate versus self-regulateStandards don't have to be obligatory to work. Many associations have codes of conduct, quality service charters or rulebooks that they ask their members to sign up to and working to these written standards provides a kite mark of quality. Printed standards can be very prescriptive and updating them is slow and expensive. As an association, we decided to keep the eGuide online so it could be as up to date and as cost-effective as possible. In addition, working together can help venues deal with security threats and create common approaches. One of the safety and security threats that often features in independent inspections is the large area of glass in many modern conference venue ceilings and the potential risk this could be to people in the venue. Dealing with issues like this can be expensive. For example, replacing the glass or covering it with fi lm could cost thousands or millions of pounds and for many venues this is just not sustainable. By working together, as an informal alliance or through the AEV Security Working Group, venues could choose to buy collectively to reduce the cost, or accept the risk and work together to create processes to mitigate it. The power of working collaboratively as an industry means individual venues can go back to the organisations producing the reports and say "We have discussed this together and we have decided...".Another way standards and collaboration helps is around staffi ng. In a people-based industry, employment is a signifi cant proportion of the cost base. Having knowledge of what people "Standards are living, breathing entities and need to be managed."