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THE BIG Issue 8 | 201133this business will continue to rest in each country. The calibre of our staff is hugely important - I totally rely on their expertise and commitment and they sometimes work round the clock to deliver shows. We are putting a considerable amount of effort into career development and training programmes. Service levels, technology and customer relationship management all demand a whole host of specialist skills. Our recruitment needs are also constantly evolving. For example, we are currently bringing in people who understand mobile technology, web development, social media and data management. In hindsight, do you think that stopping/slowing down on acquisitions during the economic crisis was a mistake, given that several of your competitors acquired market share during this period?We have focused a lot of our energy over the past two years on organic growth and development. This year we will create 46 exhibitions, yet in 2009 we only launched eight. We have a rich pipeline of acquisitions and within the next six months or so there will be a number of announcements. We are more focused on quality and long-term sustainability and less focused on timing. A number of projects we are working on will have taken several years to come to fruition.What happened to the hot-housing initiative that gave rise to International Luxury Travel Market?We do continue to look at these and they haven't gone away. But such initiatives are driven by the quality of the person and product. Reed is a particularly strong player in the mature markets. Where is the bulk of Reed's involvement in the emerging markets?The majority of our activities are in BRIC and the Middle East. We are the market leader in Brazil, in a leading position in China and active in Russia and the Middle East. We have a number of partnerships in our sights in a range of emerging markets.With Reed's business in India withdrawn to an outbound sales team, are there any plans to build Reed's business in India?We didn't withdraw from India. We remain very interested and have recently launched some new shows. It has taken us a number of years to fi nd our way into new countries because we are focused on building solid positions, but we remain committed to India. I hope 2012 will provide the required platform for long-term sustainable growth.What's your strategy for maintaining Reed's position as the world's leading organiser?Reed has a strong position in all the established global markets and we are now focusing, like a number of organisers, on high growth, emerging markets. We started off with BRIC economies and the next phase of our strategy is the new generation of emerging countries in North Africa, Asia and elsewhere. I anticipate over the next few years we will enter at least two new countries each year. In terms of maintaining and growing our events, the customer is increasingly demanding and sophisticated. We have to be continually on our toes, very responsive and innovative and aware of their needs. Their ever-evolving demands have changed the way we do business and the types of products that we offer. For example, we have launched new event models that focus on delivering one-to-one business and networking opportunities. We have launched ReedPop, an entirely new division of consumer events serving the fan-based pop culture communities. And we have invested signifi cant time and money to develop our online presence and social media networks, which are now critical to the success of any exhibition. We have been working for the past few years on a global web platform and CRM system and by 2013 will have rolled these technologies out across the business joining up the entire organisation globally. All are designed to enhance the value to our customers and deliver consistency across the world so that our clients experience the same services and similarity of functionality online whatever the event. This online capability extends our presence in the market for each exhibition from the duration of the show itself to months and potentially year round. Not only have we already spent $25m on this web platform, and committed to do so through the recession, but we are also continuing to invest. It's an ongoing commitment to add value to our customers and continue to build on their ROI when they take part in our events.With such a broad network of regional satellites and events, how does Reed offer consistent quality at all of its events?We aim to deliver the highest possible level of service we can, wherever in the world we operate. The conditions can vary considerably, but we remain committed to delivering customer ROI at our events. The fundamental building blocks remain however; they are local teams close to local markets. Our job is to see where we can leverage the scale and scope and add value to that, but the future of Mike travels frequently to meet up with Reed's exhibition teams across the globe and tries to visit plenty of events "I continue to be amazed at the professionalism, expertise and dedication of the people who work at Reed," he says. "Each year, 120 senior managers come together to exchange ideas and develop our events across borders and the energy in the room is extraordinary. That's what it is all about - experienced enthusiastic teams collaborating to deliver exciting professional events."Unfortunately, fi nding people to develop exhibitions isn't easy. Mike claimed one of the biggest challenges organisers face in the medium to long term is securing enough talent. He called on the industry to do more to address the skills gap."Sadly, the exhibition industry isn't recognised as a career choice for a lot of people," Mike claims. "I believe this is a huge challenge for the industry- how we inspire, recruit, train and retain people. There simply aren't the facilities out there turning out graduates who want to work in exhibitions and events. Talent is what counts."PEOPLEGLOBE TROTTING

How do you think the exhibition industry will change over the next fi ve years? Face-to-face is increasingly recognised as a vital part of the marketing mix in a more digital world. I believe the need will continue to be important. This is a global industry. Everybody is looking beyond their own shores and while I do not believe that virtual exhibitions will ever take the place of live events, the use of online has become highly complementary and supportive of face-to-face. I believe the two should continue to be refi ned to be mutually benefi cial to each other. I see some real challenges ahead, particularly arising from the increased global economic and political volatility. We must be ever mindful of how unexpected events, natural and man-made, may affect our plans. The response of Reed Exhibitions Japan to the recent Tsunami and earthquake was an inspiration to us all and a lesson in what can be achieved when we set our minds to it. Technology adoption will continue to develop at an astonishing rate. Mobile apps and mobile Internet support is rapidly becoming a critical component of exhibitions. It's about providing an enhanced experience for visitors and exhibitors from searchable directories to creating a personal show plan guiding visitors and optimising their time. For exhibitors this translates to increased quality of engagement through targeted leads and easier exchange of information. This change in technology and opportunities it gives us can't be underestimated. The rising cost of energy will impact on travel and consumer behaviours and we have to watch its affects carefully. Nevertheless I have a very optimistic outlook for the exhibition industry. Of course our success is built on securing and retaining talent. It's a big issue for a company our size and while I don't see anything out there that's a risk to our business strategy, one thing that could slow it down would be recruiting and retaining staff. It's the same for other organisers. What do you do when you're not working?I spend on average 50 per cent of every week out of the country. The time left is devoted to my wife and children. . 1978: Joined Clapp and Poliak as a sales executive. 1982: MD of Cahners Exhibitions, part of Reed Elsevier. 1994: President of Reed Exhibitions Europe and Asia. 1996 to present: Chairman of Reed Exhibitions worldwideTHE BIG INTERVIEW34CAREER HIGHLIGHTS THE CUSTOMER'S EVER-EVOLVING DEMANDS HAVE CHANGED THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS AND THE TYPES OF PRODUCTS THAT WE OFFER