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October 14, 2008

Duncan Reid:Event UK delivers

September saw a new meetings and events show hit the NEC in Birmingham, Event UK. Its event director reflects on how it all went.

We’re delighted with the first outing of Event UK, a product that is more in line with the aspirations of both ourselves and our exhibitors than is previous incarnation as the National Venue Show.

The changes we brought to the show – making it a two-day event, introducing new features, increasing marketing support and developing a new identity – have all contributed to create an enjoyable and more atmospheric show that is conducive to people doing business.

Facts and figures

In terms of visitor figures, we were 7% up on ‘pure’ visitors to the event (organiser's statement subject to audit), which is a great achievement for a new show. Total attendance this year hit 4,041 (organiser's statement subject to audit). We feel we have created a product that can grow in the long term and bring people back in 2009 and beyond, as we improve the event in line with Confex Group standards.

We were particularly delighted with the way our 300 plus exhibitors supported Event UK. Stands were more engaging and created a positive environment for visitors to actually buy UK meetings and events. This support is also reflected in our 21% rise in exhibitor bookings for next year’s show.

The figures place Event UK as the biggest show outside of London – twice the size of its nearest competitor – and the primary show for the UK events industry.

Engagement and education
Event UK has been created as a ‘buy British’ standard for the meetings and events industry. It is this positioning that has bought a lot more industry engagement, be it from industry figures, organisations and associations, as well as great support from the media.

Other positive news from the show was another first class education programme, which filled the seminar rooms for each session. This further underlines the importance of quality education and the strength of our Confex Knowledge brand. The Next Big Thing was also a great initiative, which added to the show atmosphere and showcased some real stars of the future.

When we first took over the National Venue Show, we put together a three-year plan to change and grow the product, and we’ve made excellent progress. Our exhibitors have helped us create a show that the industry believes in, and we have an expanding base of pure visitors that will help deliver big returns on this support.

Duncan Reid is event director of Event UK

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