In the fourth of a new series of blogs for Exhibition News, Ian Taylor, the NEC’s Venue Sales Director, considers the integral role of the ‘destination’ in successful event
It’s a term we frequently hear from TV presenters Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp, but “Location, Location, Location” is equally true for organisers in driving the attendance and commitment of exhibitors and visitors to their events.
Ultimately, while business trips can be non-discretionary, destinations that provide an attractive proposition, such as great connectivity, first class business amenities and an excellent leisure offer, tend to be preferred and can add real value to your event.
During the event planning process, organisers need to ensure the destination is an integral part of their positioning of the event, meeting the interests of their exhibitors and visitors. Play the unique card; what is it about the destination that can help you stand out from the crowd?
Of course, not all event organisers have local knowledge. That’s where venue teams can step in to add value with bespoke marketing support packages tailored to individual needs, be it relevant regional consumer publications to promote their offer or marketing insight in the B2B environment.
Successful exhibitions create the meeting place of an industry or market segment, and the core strengths of an exhibition are often the intangibles. In fact, location is the single most important factor when rating a venue according to the Venue Survey 2012, followed by easy access.
Hotels, with their on-site amenities and connectivity, are one of the most popular venue types for events, but size matters. Organisers must consider their show growth. If year one is a success, is there room to expand and improve the visitor experience in parallel?
The experience - be it for your exhibitor or visitor - is everything. Organisers that work hard to understand their customers’ needs and seek ways to create a better sense of welcome and overall event experience, are more likely to win the customer retention battle.
The NEC is increasingly a compelling destination venue. The venue itself gives shows room to grow, while on-site hotels cater for overnight stays and the LG Arena – a world class entertainment venue to be re-named the Genting Arena from January 2015 – hosts over 100 shows, attracting nearly one million visitors a year.
In addition, Resorts World Birmingham, which will open in spring 2015, will offer a unique and exciting leisure and entertainment offer to visitors to the NEC with a wide range of restaurants and bars, a four star boutique hotel and Asian themed spa, a casino, 11-screen cinema and 50-shop retail outlet, as well as the Vox Banqueting and Conference Centre.
Crucially, it will make the NEC site a 24/7 visitor destination, adding value to your existing event proposition.
City centre entertainment isn’t far away either, with the train journey to central Birmingham - recently voted the “Best UK Destination” by Group Leisure Magazine and visited by 34 million people in 2013 – taking just ten minutes.
Ultimately, you must review your audience demographics from a range of perspectives, be it exhibitors, visitors, press or VIPs, to get your offer right. Their profile(s) should offer you the insight you need to make your event stand out in the best possible location. (Location, Location).
Ian Taylor, NEC Venue Sales Director