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Archive for October, 2011

Event bigwigs grapple with WiFi issue

Monday, October 31st, 2011

At a meeting held at Reed Exhibitions‘ Richmond head office recently, no less than 28 senior executives from members of the AEO (Association of Exhibition Organisers), ESSA (Event Supplier and Services Association) and AEV (Association of Event Venues) began to debate the WiFi needs of exhibitions.

This was a meeting of the Technical Committee established following discussions on the business networking site LinkedIn and an exploratory meeting at the Event & Exhibiting Show 2011. The importance of the topic was demonstrated by the fact that the chairs of the AEV, ESSA and the EIA (Events Industry Alliance) all attended, as well as senior executives from all member companies involved.

Commented Piers Kelly, Operations Director for Reed Exhibitions, “This began as a discussion on Reeds Ops LinkedIn Group and seems to have struck a chord with all parties within the industry. Technology will become an increasingly important part of exhibitions and we need to have reliable, available and cost-effective solutions to providing WiFi irrespective of size of event or location.”

The meeting explored the experiences of the various parties and their customers, as well as an overview of the current WiFi provision and ideas for the future. It was agreed that there is a need to define the requirements of key users of event WiFi services – visitors, exhibitors and organisers – and consequently a number of research projects have been set up to investigate these and report back. Watch this space!

Event industry may grow by 12 billion by 2020

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

A report presented to members of parliament earlier this week states that, with the right support in place, the UK events industry could grow from its current value of 36 billion to over 48 billion by 2020.

Commissioned by Britain for Events, the annual marketing campaign promoting the value of event tourism to the British economy, the report shows that the UK events industry could provide a much-needed boost to Britain’s economy over the next decade. As well as the industry’s economic value, the report highlights the benefits of positioning the UK at the centre of international business and the role that events play in bringing together world leaders. The report also outlines ways in which the events industry can work with national and local government to make Britain more competitive internationally.

Phil Mist of the Event Industry Forum commented, “With the countdown to the London 2012 Games and the Queen’s Jubilee well underway, the UK events industry will undoubtedly again show the world that organising major outdoor and sporting events is one of our specialities, and because of our expertise, the UK economy as a whole will benefit.”

According to Michael Hirst, Chairman of the Business Visits & Events Partnership, the report comes at a crucial time for the British economy: “The UK events sector is well set to play a pivotal role in facilitating economic growth and added employment by showcasing Britain as a world class destination for international conferences and trade shows, as well as staging its great sporting and cultural events and festivals.”

QR codes: getting it right

Friday, October 21st, 2011

QR codes are getting some bad press but many argue that it is not deserved. The problems in QR code campaigns originate mainly from poor implementation and a lack of joined-up thinking. If your QR codes do not work, your reputation and brand are tarnished, rather like when a web visitor discovers broken links. The key point to remember is that a QR code is something of a tease and, as such, those enticed to expend the effort of scanning it expect to be interested, delighted or rewarded in some way. With this expectation in place, it is easy to disappoint.

A common problem is that marketers are simply not testing the code with a variety of readers and devices before a campaign goes live. More haste, less speed. If the QR code is too small on an ad, for example, it may not scan. Other key pieces of advice when it comes to design are to use link shorteners to create clean codes, avoid using colours that do not provide sufficient contrast, provide a sufficient ‘quiet area’ around the code and avoid using 2D codes on highly reflective surfaces.

Don’t expect your user to do anything more than point, scan and arrive at the intended content. If it doesn’t work first time, you’ve probably lost them. Remember, almost all QR codes – including those printed on carrier bags – are scanned by smartphones, so don’t point the user to your standard desktop website – link your codes only to mobile-friendly or mobile-optimised sites.

When it comes to the ‘reward’ part of the deal, try to be creative. A digital copy of your leaflet is just plain dull. Think about offering exclusive videos or photos, free downloads (such as an eBook), ‘instant win’ competitions or money-off coupons. To be truly successful here, it is essential that you understand your target audience in order to deliver a favourable user experience.

Finally, don’t allow your creative zeal to cloud your marketing objectives. You can use your QR code campaign for a variety of business development goals, such as increasing your e-marketing database, growing the number of Likes for your Facebook page or increasing your number of blog subscribers.

Jobs hailed as hero of design and prepress

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

It’s just over a week since Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passed away, so the various sectors of the media industry in which technology was largely driven by Apple have had time to reflect on his impact.

In the late 1970s, Jobs – along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula and others – designed, developed and marketed one of the first commercially successful personal computer ranges, the Apple II series. In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the potential of Xerox PARC’s mouse-driven graphical user interface, which led to the creation of the Apple Lisa and then the Macintosh. It was the user-friendliness and speed of these computers that led to Apple Macs becoming the stalwarts of the graphic arts industry, gracing design agencies and pre-press facilities all around the world – including, of course, those involved in the design and production of carrier bags. The Apple GUI was much copied – unsuccessfully, in the eyes of dedicated Mac users!

After losing a power struggle with the board in 1985, Steve Jobs left Apple and founded NeXT, a platform development company. In 1986, he acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd, which was spun off as the hugely successful Pixar Animation Studios. He remained CEO and majority shareholder until its acquisition by Disney in 2006, making Jobs a member of Disney’s Board of Directors. Apple’s acquisition of NeXT in 1996 brought Jobs back to Apple, where he served as interim CEO from 1997, becoming permanent CEO from 2000. During this time, he fought an eight-year battle with cancer, which eventually led to his resignation in August 2011, his election as chairman of Apple’s board and his untimely death.

Ultimately the impact of the company Steve Jobs created has been far wider than the media and publishing industry. Apple has evolved into one of the world’s leading technology manufacturers, with iconic products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. During the past week, Apple has sold hundreds of thousands of its brand-new iPhone 4S – far in excess of expectations – and some believe that fans are paying tribute to the late Jobs by buying the latest Apple gadget.

UK at disadvantage in bidding for international events

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

According to a report from the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), Britain needs more government support when bidding to host international business events.

The report investigated ’subvention’ – the grants and financial subsidies offered by a country’s government – around the world and found that, when bidding for events, UK cities are losing out to destinations such as Cape Town, Barcelona and Copenhagen. Many of these foreign cities provide free transport, co-ordinated hotel rates and civic receptions.

The report says, “It is clear from our research that the UK and UK destinations are at a competitive disadvantage when bidding for major international conferences and related events. Competition from new and emerging destinations, as well as from existing key competitors, will only increase in the years ahead.”

The report found that 83% of overseas destinations offered receptions for delegates hosted by officials, whereas only 35% of UK destinations did the same. An impressive 50% of overseas destinations make available a contribution to event marketing, whereas this was possible in only 17% of UK destinations. In addition, 50% of overseas destinations would provide a direct subsidy for an international event or conference, compared to just 23% at home.

The BVEP report calls for a “more effective, joined-up approach” in recognition of the long-term importance of conferences and events to the UK economy. As well as providing a boost to the business events sector, it is worth noting that up to 40% of business visitors to the UK can be expected to return with their families for leisure.

Diversified boss urges Boris to save Earls Court

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Carsten Holm, Managing Director of Diversified Business Communications UK, has written an open letter to London Mayor, Boris Johnson, urging him to get behind Earls Court and help fight plans for it to be developed into housing, stating that it is “not too late”.

In the letter, dated 6 October, Holm raises “serious concerns” about the future of Earls Court and states that he is “absolutely appalled” by the prospect of losing “this important venue”.

Capital and Counties (Capco), owner of the site, is planning to bulldoze the exhibition facility and commence construction of both commercial and residential property as early as the end of 2012. The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has been lobbying the government to prevent the redevelopment, or at least ensure that it includes a ‘new’ Earls Court exhibition centre.

The full text of the letter reads as follows:

“Dear Mr Johnson,

I am writing this email as the managing director of Diversified Business Communications UK, an international organiser of trade exhibitions, and I want to raise my serious concerns about the likely redevelopment of Earls Court exhibition centre. Along with the rest of the industry, I am absolutely appalled by the prospect of losing this important venue, our only major international venue in central London, due to private interests and property speculation. Yes, it is in need of modernisation and investment and could do with being redeveloped – but not as housing. In other countries, major exhibition and conference venues are seen as a crucial platform for business and a way to showcase products and facilitate business, but in this country, somehow, nobody really seems to care.

I recall a BBC Money Programme Special, broadcast a couple of months ago and presented by Evan Davies, in which Mr Davies posed the question of where, in this new age of outsourcing and increasingly little manufacturing, the jobs will be found in the future and to consider in which areas we are world leaders with competitive advantage. The two top sectors were ‘financial services’ (no surprise there) and as a ‘meeting place for the world’, where he considered us to be particularly well placed, due to language, airports, our trading heritage and London as a city. Yet the reality is that business people increasingly prefer to do business in other countries with much better conference and exhibition facilities, which, in the UK, are generally considered amongst the worst of any major international city.

Most major international cities have learned from the German model, where state-of-the-art exhibition centres form a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the cities and support commerce, and just look how successful Germany is today. They provide the single most important facility to promote a country’s products to the wider world, they are a source of pride, they generate significant income and employment, and they provide a place for people from around the world to do business. Yet here nobody seems to care, and those that should seem to be trying to make life for the commercial world, that powers the UK economy, as difficult as possible. It’s a bit like asking us to run a rail network without providing the stations.

The exception in the UK is, of course, Excel, which rightly I know you are a great supporter of, and it is a fantastic venue for certain types of events. But it doesn’t work for all and is too far from central London, and Heathrow, to be considered a viable alternative to a central London venue for many events. It is not a question of one or the other but that both have a place and that London needs a top international facility in the centre of the capital. It’s a huge issue for our industry and you simply cannot force people to go to venues they don’t want to go to – they choose another country.

People from outside the UK are incredulous at our general facilities and the lack of vision and planning, and I really feel it is about time we take stock and consider our priorities. We in the UK are world leaders as trade show organisers and we have the demand, yet we have the worst facilities of any major modern city. As a result, most major UK organisers – and yes, our companies are international leaders in this field – now focus on organising trade shows abroad, supporting foreign economies, rather than our own UK economy. We can afford to spend billions on an Olympic Games, which nobody seems interested in, yet, where we still have an opportunity to not just maintain but create something which will have a positive long term impact on the UK economy, we turn a blind eye, as if supporting the real world and encouraging commerce in the UK, is just a little too dirty to get involved with. I can’t imagine any other major economy taking the same stance. It is extremely depressing and reminds me of how we treated our motor industry.

I would very much welcome the opportunity to meet you in person to explain how other countries treat this important industry, to show images of their facilities and to discuss why we quite simply, for the sake of our nation, can’t allow this to happen.

It’s not too late and I appreciate your understanding of what lies before us. Please, as someone so passionate about changing our priorities and focusing on the long term, I urge you and your party to get involved and help to fight for this important cause.

Thank you. I have sent letters to Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Chelsea & Kensington and I have also communicated my concerns to Mr Cameron.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Carsten Holm
Managing director, Diversified Business Communications UK”

The Carrier Carrier Company clocks up 10 years

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

We are celebrating ten years of successful trading this November.

Said Nigel Scott, Sales & Marketing Manager for the firm, “The time has certainly flown by, but it’s been a great business to be involved in. We took our very first order – for the PR firm, Grayling – in November 2001. Over the years,” continued Mr Scott, “we’ve supplied carrier bags to some of the biggest global brands including Coca-Cola, Toyota, the BBC, Moet, Shell, Disney and HSBC.”

Over the last 10 years our range of custom-printed bags has expanded to include laminated paper bags, bottle bags, twisted paper handle (kraft) paper, polythene, cotton, canvas and non-woven material. We specialise in meeting urgent orders, offering lead-times from just five working days. Says Nigel Scott, “We’re very proud of our reputation for providing exceptional service. This is why many of our clients turn to us time and time again to meet their exhibition or promotional carrier bag needs.”

We are now looking forward to the next 10 years.

AEO hits back at Boris over Tube cuts

Friday, October 7th, 2011

The CEO of the Association of Event Organisers, Karim Halwagi, has written to Boris Johnson in response to the London Mayor’s announcement of plans to axe Tube services to Kensington Olympia on weekdays.

Part of the overhaul of the District Line, which comes into effect in December, the move has left event managers fuming amid fears that East London is receiving preferential treatment over West London in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Currently, the District Line transports 73 per cent of Olympia’s visitors from Earl’s Court to the venue, amounting to some 803,000 people a year. Mr Halwagi claims the service change will seriously undermine the exhibition and events industry in West London. His voice echoes general concern in the industry that, without the transport link, both event management and exhibition visitors might stay away.

Summing up, Mr Halwagi stated, “We are very angry and don’t feel that Boris Johnson has given the issue the proper consideration it merits.”

London & Partners celebrates raising 2 million in first six months

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

London & Partners – the promotional agency for London that was officially launched back in April – has managed to secure more than two million pounds of private sector funding from partners including Radisson Edwardian Hotels, Merlin Entertainments Group and Hilton Hotels.

Since its launch by London Mayor, Boris Johnson, the organisation has secured over 300 private sector partners, including many in the events industry. Gordon Innes, London & Partners CEO, said, “Not only have we managed to sign up an incredible range of commercial partners, but we have also brought business, associations, events and visitors to the capital. Our mission now is to ensure we are taking full advantage of the 2012 Games to attract visitors, businesses and students throughout 2012 and beyond.”

London & Partners was created in order to bring together the remits of the capital’s promotional agencies – namely Think London, Study London and Visit London. The aim is to have a single promotional agency for the capital that can speak with one voice to audiences in the UK and internationally. The organisation’s objective is to drive leisure and business visitors, as well as bidding to bag major events for London.

Cameron warns retailers over carrier bags

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has warned retailers to cut the number of plastic bags that they hand out or face new legislation. Although he praised various programmes aimed at reducing the number of bags from retailers in recent years, he also expressed disappointment that some valuable work had been undone in the past year. This fact was highlighted in a recent Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report, which showed that the number of plastic bags handed out in the UK in 2010 had increased by 6% over the previous year. Mr Cameron said, “That’s unacceptable and we need to do better. I want to see the numbers going in the right direction again.”

He warned that the government might be forced to follow the lead of Eire and Wales, which have introduced a carrier bag levy to tackle the problem. Shoppers in Wales are just getting used to a charge of at least 5p for single use bags, introduced on 1 October.

“I know that retailers want to do better too but if they don’t I will be asking them to explain why not,” said Mr Cameron. “They also need to know that the government has options at its disposal – including legislating as other countries have done. We will continue to look carefully at all options in order to make sure that we further reduce the use of single use plastic bags.”

The Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) has condemned Mr Cameron’s threats, with a spokesman saying, “In the face of massive economic pressures it is a great shame that the Prime Minister is suggesting taxing the ordinary shopper, particularly when this flies in the face of the evidence from his own Environment Agency, which proves that the lightweight plastic bag is the best environmental choice if re-used – as it is by 76% of households – or recycled.” The CBC added that, despite the small recent increase in bag usage the UK, voluntary agreement has still reduced bag consumption by more than 40%.