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April 4, 2008

Nigel Nathan: Taking venue business to the next level

A live event is, and always has been, a marketplace and marketplaces have been around forever – we have forgotten how to engage with the merchants who use our markets to sell their goods and it is up to everyone to work together to get that engagement going again.

We need to learn the language of the big corporates, their brand managers and their agencies and we need to be able to demonstrate the value of a live event in metrics that they will understand.

The EIA is paving the way for that through its focus on research, through its marketing efforts and through its contact with stakeholders. Equally importantly, we need to ensure that every single event that takes place is an ambassador for face-to-face marketing.

Every event should be fresh and new – not just a repeat of last year’s performance.

Every event should understand its core audience – their needs and how best to satisfy them – and every event should have a strong marketing input.

It’s not simply about square metres sold – it’s about content, visitor numbers, spend-per-head, return on investment for the customer and post-show audience research, where relevant. Without all of this we are dead in the water.

If we get it right, we will see a boom in individual brand events in our venues and, as the traditional large exhibition model continues to decline, we will see the growth of the experiential, content-rich event that informs, engages and builds genuine relationships with its audiences. These are events that have the ability to assume brand status themselves, going on to seek partnerships and joint ventures with the brands that we, as an industry, are targeting now.

Nigel Nathan is managing director of EC&O Venues and chairman of the Events Industry Alliance.

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