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October 2, 2006

Professional Processes Yield Cereals Award

At the recent Event Awards, Haymarket Land Events, the joint venture of Haymarket Exhibitions and the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE), scooped the Best Business Exhibition Gold Award for `Cereals`, the annual farmers market for the agricultural sector.

The business planning and execution of this event by the Haymarket team has undoubtedly illustrated the enormous returns for the stakeholders participating within the event and confirms the wisdom of the RASE to outsource the marketing and the management of it.

"The moment we took over the reigns, we implemented relatively standard processes and controls to the business, gained from delivering thousands of professional events at Haymarket. The business process re-engineering
(BPR) levied immediate cost savings and we simply re-invested these savings into delivering a live event which matched the requirements of the agricultural community and the manufacturers serving that community," confirmed Dominique Gill, managing director of Haymarket Land Events.

Gill - dedicated to knowledge exchange
Gill - dedicated to knowledge exchange 

Since Haymarket took control of Cereals, the event has established itself as the annual `must attend` for arable farmers looking for the results of recent crop trials (to decide which varieties suit their respective soil types and average rainfalls), new fungicides and insecticides as well as fertilizers to create a healthy crop, while also getting a hands-on experience of the new agricultural equipment, including kit from the former Sprays and Sprayers show which has been absorbed into the Cereals event.

When EVENTS:review visited the winning show last year, it was clearly pointing towards the top end of the agribusiness world. The sheer size of the `tackle` (as they call it on the yard) from the likes of John Deere, Deutz-Farr and Claas, was quite frightening and illustrated the seismic shift towards agribusiness, block-cropping and collaboration over traditional standalone sub-1,000 acre business units. 

"While our audience levels have grown, the number of people involved in UK agriculture continues to fall as average unit sizes, the automation of production and collaboration between farmers increases," continued Gill. "Although we place no barrier on the smaller farmer attending, the 20,000 farmers that do attend are drawn from the top farmers, by unit size, in the country. The fact that our audience has grown simply reflects the fact we have successfully focused on delivering relevant content to a very specific business audience. Cereals is the arable farmers` B2B event and mustn`t be confused with the County Shows which broaden their appeal to the rural and family communities who see and attend these events as part of an integral way of life in the countryside."

Haymarket Land Events has enjoyed similar success with the Grassland Show, held every three years at the home of the RASE, Stoneleigh Park, that serves the livestock sector (next outing in May 2008).

But it hasn`t been all plain sailing for Haymarket, which bought out the Smithfield Show and promptly failed to run it due to a lack of support from the manufacturers. This recent award vindicates Haymarket`s commitment to the sector, and it also illustrates the humility that accompanies failure to keep in step with the ebbs and tides of industrial change within vertical sectors.


Gill is quick to confirm the need to immerse her brands within the communications exchange of the industries that she serves, and the recent `Big Picture` Survey from the Exhibiting Show and the Events Industry Alliance confirmed that dialogue across the vendor and user communities, whatever the sector, is paramount to staging a live event that satisfies all concerned. Haymarket have learned, through their association with the RASE as well as from the Smithfield experience, how costly a failure to do so can be.

To its credit, Haymarket went out of its way to partner, and invest, in activities such as the hugely successful Share to Grow television production for EFFP (English Farming &  Food Partnerships) promoting collaboration for profit within crop farming, supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the National Farmers Union, and Barclays. The knowledge spilling out of these activities has provided the necessary intelligence and industry positioning for a wiser and more confident organiser. The Smithfield acquisition and subsequent experience will have hurt Gill, and she has done well to weather the critics, while adopting a highly focused and strategic response.

The lessons of the Smithfield demise clearly extend to all marketing communities and not just media owners within every B2B sector – communicate with your event organiser to create a pedigree event – or expect a mongrel.

"We invest in delivering as well as gleaning knowledge. Without a `knowledge exchange`, how could we possibly deliver content, live or otherwise, to the satisfaction of the composite parts of the agricultural community. This is why we insist on detailed pre and on-site registration, for example, so that we can gain knowledge and also create an updated database of farmers, agribusiness professionals, and their information requirements. We then offer an abiltity for manufacturers to match their solutions to those requirements at our events, as well as over other communications media," added Gill.

"We`re about delivering highly focused communications platforms across the food production and supply chains throughout the year, not just about live events, and certainly not for disparate communities. This is why we need to position ourselves centrally within the knowledge pool of our industries, and not on the edge."

Gill, never knowingly shy of answering a direct question, has firmly grabbed the steering wheel of this particular harvester and the yields are there for all to see. As with mixed crop rotations, there`s a hint of a mixed media offering somewhere in the content of Gill`s responses which bode well for a resurgent Land Events team at Haymarket, and better still for the manufacturers targeting the agri sector.

More about Cereals can be found at CerealsEvent.org.uk

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