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VYING FOR THE EMERALD ISLETHE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND HAS BEEN ONE OF THE HARDEST EUROPEAN ECONOMIES HIT BY THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL MELTDOWN. EW ASKS HOW ITS EMERGING EXHIBITION INDUSTRY IS MANAGING TO STAY FOCUSEDfl avour. Proactive efforts by Ireland's public and private sector to drive exhibition business into the country have also raised the image of the Emerald Isle.Citywest International Events and Convention Centre is a new entrant to Dublin's venue offering, appearing in 2010. Special events and exhibitions manager Sally-Anne Browne says clients are largely from the UK and Ireland. However, the venue has partnered with the CCD, Dublin Tourism and Failte Ireland to promote Dublin as a destination to organisers in Europe and the US. The venue offers 15,000sqm of interconnected exhibition space. While shows have largely been trade-based so far, the launch of the new Luas lightrail service in July connecting Citywest to Dublin's city centre, plus Citywest's accessibility for visitors across the country, is bringing more consumer exhibitions business. "Dublin previously really only had one exhibition venue before - the RDS," Browne explained. "We're opening up new markets for organisers that weren't accessible previously and people who hadn't looked at Ireland before are looking at us now."very geographic region has been impacted in some way by the sliding economy, but Ireland has arguably been one of the hardest hit. Crippled by public debt brought about by over-ambitious bank loans and credit swaps, the implosion of its property market and the global economic crisis, the country is beset by fi scal volatility and uncertainty. This has subjected exhibition venues and organisers to questions about their viability, credibility and competitiveness against UK and international rivals. At the same time, Ireland's position on the outskirts of Europe and its Euro currency has left it with the tough task of competing with other well-established European destinations such as Barcelona, Prague, Berlin and Paris for international events business.Despite this, Irish exhibition venues are keeping focused on getting shows through their doors. In the past 12 months, their international standing has been helped by the launch of Conference Centre Dublin (CCD), a new selling point to national and international organisers looking for a European city destination with world-class facilities and cultural

CITY PROFILEIssue 8 | 2011 www.78exhibition-world.netORGANISER VIEWPOINTMontgomery is one of several UK-based, internationally-focused exhibition organisers operating in Ireland. "The Irish market is a tough one and we are in the building and furniture markets, which are suffering the most," said MD Damion Angus. "Our Irish exhibition business has had a very good run and it's terrifying to see the drop in what was a very profi table business three years ago to where it is sitting at the moment."In a bid to move forward, Montgomery is looking at other industry sectors with exhibition opportunities such as ICT."It's also about staying close and talking to your exhibitors and working closely with them to see how often they want a show," said Angus. As the market turns a corner, Browne claimed launch exhibitions are popping up and people are preparing to take bigger risks again."Organisers are looking at the current trends and evolving shows to suit them," said Browne. For example, grow-your-own vegetable shows and environment-based exhibitions are being introduced.The ongoing challenge for Ireland as a whole is remaining price-competitive against other well-known and event-friendly European cities and in particular those that have slashed prices to keep international organisers returning to their venues. "We have desirability as a location, but price competitiveness is a question and something we have to deal with every day," Browne added. Looking up, not backRoyal Dublin Society (RDS) commercial director Michele Griffi n agreed exhibition business was on the way up. Most of the Dublin-based venue's exhibitions are run by UK organisers. RDS offers 23,000sqm of exhibition space."These are completely different times and event organisers are looking at their business in different ways while looking for more value," Griffi n said. "Exhibition organisers are still investing but are taking a cautious approach before making bookings. We have responded with a competitive offering with extra value to the event organiser and with visitor numbers for trade and consumer exhibitions remaining steady, we can see the confi dence of exhibition organisers coming back again." RDS has picked up a number of new exhibitions in 2011 and 2012 and witnessed increased ticket sales for its in-house Dublin Horse Show and Art Fair."From our events we are seeing Irish consumers spending at home and supporting well-established events here in Ireland, which is great for the industry," Griffi n continued. "Ireland may be a small country but our demand for events and exhibitions is still strong despite the economic climate. "There has been a dip in certain types of trade events especially around property and construction areas, which was predictable. Despite this, other trade events are remaining strong as businesses realise the importance of trade exhibitions."Griffi n believed the combination of new venues and redevelopment of existing space in Ireland is puts the country on a par with international destinations. "Ireland has invested enormously in supporting this industry with the development of new venues and transport facilities in the capital city," she said. "The quality of venues on offer in Ireland is excellent, which is attracting more interest from international event organisers. "The increase in competition has come as a challenge to us as a venue, however it is also bringing more business to the city which can only be seen as a positive." International calling cardCCD is the newest kid on the block, launching with fanfare in September 2010. The venue is largely focused on attracting international conference and corporate events business and has secured a range of international confex-style events. "The economic impact to us from the Ireland situation is hard to measure, but it hasn't really affected our business too much," director of sales Catherine Newhall-Caiger said. "Domestically, corporate events have been impacted as they had to make some tough fi nancial decisions but we are seeing more confi dence in the domestic market and inquiry levels are on the up."Despite the differences in offering, Irish venues are eager to broadcast their accessibility and capabilities to both local and international exhibition organisers. All point to Ireland's collective investment into event venues as proof that it wants exhibition business. "There are some concerns about the stability of the Irish economy and there was a wobble in the past 18 months because people were unsure if Dublin was open but we are open for business, receptive to business and secure," said Citywest's Browne. RDS's Griffi n added that of all marketing channels, face-to-face and exhibitions have suffered the least. "The difference is people today are looking to meet and generate leads. Before business was buoyant and we only had to react - now, it's about being proactive," she said. Left:Citywest International Events and Convention Centre is the newest kid on the Dublin block