Having been part of the exhibitions industry for only seven years I guess I’m still a relative newcomer, but even in that time I’ve witnessed changes which have meant that the role we play as Account Managers has become ever more important and rewarding.
The relationship between venue and organiser varies dramatically from client to client, with some organisers viewing venues as a simple supplier of space, versus others who genuinely see their venue as a strategic partner and work hand in hand to deliver a first-class experience for their exhibitors and visitors alike.
When the “bottom fell out of the world” in 2008 it created a huge change in the way both venues and organisers behaved. Organisers’ traditional commercial models were challenged, and they had to work harder to create more meaningful content to meet customers’ high expectations and demands, while at the same time delivering positive ROI for exhibitors.
From a venue perspective, the Account Management role became even more critical and we worked extremely hard to strengthen our partnerships with our organisers, ensuring we pulled together rather than apart in what was a very difficult time.
Venues and organisers began to share in a way that had not really happened before, resulting in strong strategic relationships where the Account Managers really sought to understand organisers’ challenges and needs in order to deliver well-constructed, creative, commercial propositions which supported their activities and helped create genuine, long-term relationships which continue today.
Exhibition Sales Account Management is relationship management in its extremist form – it’s wonderful! There are, of course, always going to be challenges, mainly around the tricky issues of profile management and price, however, strong Account Management should result in mutual respect between venue and organiser, enabling you to work through the thorniest of issues.
The more our organisers are willing to share and invest in their venue relationships, the more they will benefit from everything that a fantastic venue has to offer, be that flexible commercial deals that support both risk and reward, market intelligence and insight to help inform potential launch/product development activity, or simply accessing the venue’s vast resources and experience to support them and help them work more profitably and efficiently.
In these increasingly competitive times, an Account Manager’s objective should always be to enable their clients to make the most out of working with their venue - ultimately, the customer experience is everything; venues that work hard to create the very best experience possible at every single touch point of their organiser’s journey will succeed.
This is a “people business”, and the job of an Account Management Team is to make sure that we add as much value as we can, creating a venue experience which is both highly productive and memorable for all the right reasons - we do that, but we must never stop challenging ourselves to do more!
NEC Venue Sales, Exhibition Sales Director
The NEC, Birmingham, B40 1NT
T: 0121 767 2782