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Existing venuesTo assess the future competitiveness of existing venues, aspects such as the feasibility and attractiveness of the city or region for trade shows and congresses, the regional or national venue competition, and the range, quality and costs of services offered by the venue need to be evaluated. The dimensions of the venue, equipment and general condition of the facilities, including safety and attractiveness as well as efficiency and flexibility, will have to be benchmarked against competitive venues and international standards. Typical mismatches we encounter include lower than required capabilities on the low electrical installations deployment; undersized congress or meeting facilities compared to exhibition space; unattractive or absent service areas for visitors and exhibitors (catering, restrooms). Additional commercial service offerings such as online information and registration or response time may be evaluated but are normally not part of a venue-focused assessment.As a principle of critical importance, venue structures and services need to address the changing requirements of customers: With less and less time available, limited budgets and mostly clear ROI expectations, guest organisers, exhibitors, visitors and congress participants will appreciate venues that best facilitate lead generation, matchmaking, networking or education. Venues addressing these requirements through flexible, innovative and pleasant meeting experiences will have a competitive advantage over others. Of course it will be necessary to offer services including state-of-the-art IT and audiovisual technology, high-speed internet access and language interpretation facilities, but all these features are fairly common in today's venues and do not really offer competitive advantages any longer. Before planning any venue, it's crucial to understand the type of customer you expect to use it. Once this is done, the core planning process is generally divided into four phases that comprise the work of the architects and project managers.Phase 1 - Determining general layout Two major types of trade fair venue layouts can be identified around the world. Type A has a central concourse. The visitor enters the concourse via various entrances from one side of the concourse while the halls are located on the other side. The halls can normally be divided into segments. This type of venue layout is ideal for smaller venues with a high number of concurrent shows. Easy orientation and access for visitors and clear logistics processes for exhibitors at the backside of the halls characterise this layout type. ADNEC in Abu Dhabi is an example of this type of venue. Type B is more complex and well suited to larger shows (more than 60,000sqm). It also has a central concourse, but this time the halls are arranged on both sides. These layouts often offer larger areas between the halls to optimise logistics processes. Entrances for visitors are usually at both ends of the concourse. Larger venues of this type also offer additional entrances. This type of venue layout is very efficient for larger shows Before starting any planning process for a new venue, some homework needs to be done. Investors and management must determine what kind of trade fairs and/or congresses and other events (quality, size and quantity) are targeted to be held in the new venue.This in turn requires a thorough analysis of customer needs, a market analysis and a clear strategy.As in the case of existing venues, an evaluation of the city or region as well as the competition is a prerequisite. The results of this work will strongly influence the profile of the future venue.The development or extension of a venue needs to take into account many dimensions: Customer needs, markets, competition and standards, while delivering attractive architecture and innovative solutions such as green building technology.making room: new venue planning

LEARNING CURVEIssue 2 | 2012 www.24exhibition-world.netand those with heavy exhibition goods (examples: Madrid, Milano, Munich).Phase 2 - Planning room typesTo conduct exhibitions and congresses, a variety of room types is necessary. A typical but non-exhaustive list of spaces serving visitors or exhibitors includes bag storage, toilets and catering facilities, registration and ticketing areas, meeting rooms with different sizes, back-offi ce functions like kitchen, storage and staff rooms as well as rooms for technical equipment. All of these have to be defi ned and listed with numbers, size and location. Based on this listing, the total space for the venue, divided into the areas 'exhibition/congress', 'services' and 'back-offi ce/technical' is determined. A sophisticated planning process can optimise the use of space and result in signifi cant reductions in investment costs. We have experienced variances in costs of up to 15 per cent when applying optimal planning processes. Phase 3 - Functional specifi cationIn this phase, a detailed specifi cation for each identifi ed room type needs to be defi ned. All technical installations and design levels have to be determined. This phase has a major impact on the budget. We often see identical designs for different kinds of rooms. It begs the question: Why should a room with no customer access have the same expensive design applied to an organiser's offi ce? On the other hand, various purpose-built technical rooms require varying special functionalities. For example, rooms destined to contain high-density IT equipment will need high cooling capacity, otherwise expensive subsequent facility upgrades will become necessary. Advanced planning of functional specifi cations will avoid mistakes and reduce total investment costs.Phase 4 - Time schedule and budgetThe fi nal step covers scheduling and budget planning. Realistic timing of the planning and construction phase is very important. A venue owner/manager must avoid opening a show while construction is still ongoing. The fi rst show will of course be subject to critical observation by future customers and other critical stakeholders, so a smooth opening is very important. This is not just about the building, but includes the operations and services. They have to be planned and implemented long before the opening date. The marketing and acquisition phase should start long before the venue opens and has to be prepared well in advance.For a new venue, a planning and construction period of four years including all above described phases is realistic.The budget planning covers much more than the construction costs. Often the budgets for marketing and acquisition, the planning of operations and services and the start-up will be underestimated or even neglected altogether. A quarterly and eventually monthly update of all budgets is recommended. Get experts involved from the outsetThe output from these four phases feeds into the work of the architects, project managers and engineers to develop an attractive and functional venue. In our experience, many of these detailed recommendations will be challenged by planning teams or architects. This dialogue will help investors, management and planning teams to understand the logic and processes of the trade fair industry and develop a best-in-class venue. To ensure customer needs and ROI are optimised, trade fair experts should be involved when it comes to the upgrade, extension or construction of a trade fair or congress venue. Use experts to conduct regular due diligence assessments of venues to check their effi ciency, compatibility with future customer needs and compliance with safety standards, and you could deliver the world's most desirable exhibition venue. Above topMesse Frankfurt's new Kap Europa congress centre (2014)AboveThe Cape Town International Convention Centre's (CTICC) proposed 'Convention City' (2015)Previous pageArtist's impression of the Parc des Expositions de Toulouse (2015)