Steve Knight, Event Director, tells ITCM how the show opening in Olympia in July 2013 will meet the needs of exhibitors and buyersThe world MICE events calendar would at first sight appear to be congested with exhibitions immediately relevant to this sector. ITCM lists 27 important MICE shows here. However, Centaur, the business information, publishing and events group, identified a gap in the line-up and is introducing a brand new MICE exhibition. It is called The Meetings Show UK and the first one will take place at Olympia, London, 9-11 July 2013. It will be in the venue’s new 2-storey West Hall
It may be over a year away, but its launch is very much in full swing. The Event Director is already fully engaged, but was kind enough to make a little time available to talk to ITCM.
He is Steve Knight and Centaur must have been very pleased to appoint him, for he has a long and successful track record in this highly specialised business. His CV includes a 10-year stint at Visit Britain and seven years with Reed Exhibitions, with the final 18 months engaged in launching AIBTM, Reed’s US version of their European EIBTM.
‘Exactly what is the gap you have now found?’ was a prime question we put to Steve.
He was first at pains to point out that the gap was mainly identified by the Chairman of Centaur Travel Group, Paul Kennedy MBE, a man with vast experience in this sector and who, just to mention one of his claims to fame, has been Director of Reed Exhibitions ‘We don’t have to be afraid to mention’, Steve continues, ‘that the most successful exhibitions in this field in Europe, the States and elsewhere have been based on Hosted Buyer schemes. Nothing is more important than the quality of the exhibition visitors and the only way these can be guaranteed is for the organisers to identify them and bring them in numbers to the show.
‘The requirement we propose to satisfy is for a UK event with a Hosted Buyer programme. That is the main plank on which we are launching The Meetings Show UK’.
Hosted Buyer programmes have now been run by other exhibitions for well over 20 years. ‘This has given us the chance not only to introduce the approach to a UK event, but to improve on it.’
Steve enlarges on the improvements. ‘There have been complaints over the years about the way that appointments have been made for whole groups at individual stands. Exhibitors have told us how soul-destroying it is to give presentations to important buyers who are on the stand not through their own choice, but because it is a compulsory part of their programme.
‘The Meetings Show will not allocate stand visits to buyers. All appointments will be chosen by the individuals themselves. And we will be guaranteeing over 1,500 selected buyers, of which about 750 will be brought in from outside the UK.
The Meetings Show UK is an event to be held in London, but exhibitors will come from all parts of the world, with the buyers mostly from the UK and Europe. It is also planned that larger numbers of visitors will be attracted from all markets by an education programme devised by a panel of people selected because of their intimate knowledge of the sector.
‘We will have more than the usual number of UK exhibitors, because of what we can offer and because of the convenience of exhibiting in London’, says Steve. ‘We also see networking amongst the buyers themselves as well as with exhibitors as an important aspect of the show. We have a substantial marketing programme planned to ensure that all markets, not just the UK, are fully aware of what is being offered.’
He also adds that London is one of the most attractive destinations in the world. ‘We are aiming to use all the attractions of the capital as a valuable extra draw’.