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page 48 25contractors at the end of the chain that bore the brunt of the downturn. The enhancement and maturity of shell scheme thanks to developments like Octanorm's reusable aluminium system have also commoditised some of the services traditionally provided by a skilled exhibition contractor. Organisers participating in Zing's qualitative research said they recognised contractor margin decline over recent years was largely due to taking a commodity approach to purchasing. They took the blame for pushing contractors to reduce costs and admitted a significant proportion of the recession 'hit' had been taken by their suppliers. "I think [contractors'] margins must have declined otherwise we wouldn't have had the consolidation we've had," one respondent said. Another admitted organisers had been 'beating' down contractors on price, and they were giving in, resulting in scratched and badly maintained kit. "I don't feel like I have a responsibility for contractor margins but I don't feel like you should screw them," said another organiser. "They should be treated more like partners than someone you can just get cheap kit from." The majority of organisers surveyed also stressed the importance of contractor relationships in event delivery. "Achieving a partnership that works for both sides means that organisers are taking some responsibility for maintaining contractor margins, in most cases because they feel that reduced margins can lead to reduced quality delivery," Zing stated in its report. Sixty-four per cent of respondents to the survey said the cost of shell and electrics services had increased over the past five years. An increase in more sophisticated solutions were also opening up some avenues for improved margins. "Venue costs have remained high, whereas the contractors were amenable to helping us through a difficult time," one respondent said. "During the recession, a lot of contractors froze their prices and for the last three years it has stayed static, whereas with the venues, a lot of prices have gone up."However, the antagonism between contractors and organisers was still prevalent when discussing margins."I'm always of the view that you don't screw down your supplier but at the same time you don't want them creaming off too much money because you've got to make money as well," one respondent said. "I don't care, it's not my business. Do they offer me the right service? Can they deliver? Whether they make a million or £0.05 is irrelevant to me," said another.Supplier conSiderationSWhat is perhaps surprising is that price isn't always the sole thing organisers focus on. Although pricing has often been seen as the overriding factor in how organisers choose their suppliers, Zing found quality of service actually pipped cost at the top of the list of decision-making criteria. Following service quality and price was the quality of stock and people and skills. To a lesser but still important extent were flexibility, organisational stability, reputation and quantity of stock. The least significant criteria reported by organisers was the size of a contractor's business and their physical location. Nevertheless, market consolidation and the recession have led to a more cautious approach. Organisers touted credit checks, financial security and contractors with sufficient organisational infrastructure and back-office support as musts. In As part of its qualitative research, Zing asked organisers to provide in-depth comments on how they dealt with contractors and what impact consolidation was having on those relationships. Here are some of their responses."We're careful when we're negotiating our contracts with the contractor to actually set the figures for the fees that our exhibitors are expected to pay. While we appreciate that if we're paying less contractors have to claw back the figures somewhere, we're also quite mindful that we don't want to upset our exhibitors.""My view is that the industry has become fixated with the cost of shell scheme when most contractors are offering a lot more sophisticated solutions. We have focused on the wrong thing. It has become an obsession and we are not getting the best relationship as it has become 'how much per square metre?'.""With the smaller contractors, it disappoints me that they're not upping their game and shouting about how good they are and what they can do. Now is the time for them to present to the industry what good companies they are."organiser feedback

Call us on 0208 997 8596or visit us at Imaginatively. Cost-effectively.Moyne Exhibitions has been seamlessly managing every aspect of the exhibition process from concept right through to construction for events of all sizes for over 15 years. We offer a bespoke service allowing us to deliver high quality products whist keeping our costs competitive.Our services include. Display Systems. Electrical Services. Feature Design & Build. Floorplan Design. Floors & Floor coverings. Furniture Hire. Graphics. Online Ordering. Outdoor Events. Shell Scheme. Stand Design & Build. Stand Fiting. Venue Services. Worldwide Management