ESSA G50 2009

16th November 2009

The ESSA G50 provided a platform for a number of things - a chance to hear from a venue, organiser, statistician and peers, challenging delegates to explore new ways to look at their businesses and seek growth opportunities even during the worst recession in living memory.

Senior personnel from across the industry turned out in numbers to take part.

Stanco Group MD Andy Gibb started proceedings by describing this year as one beset with unprecedented financial challenges, demands for lower prices, shorter build times and detrimental financial terms. Industry statistician Phil Soar presented a bleak picture confirming that the industry peaked in 2000 and has since gradually fallen back to 1992 performance figures. John Robson confirmed ESSA's commitment to driving the industry via the Association's Communications Working Group and announced a campaign targeting end users. Kevin Murphy, CEO of ExCel, presented a bold and innovative strategy to deal with a changing marketplace through diversification, he left the phrase 'diversify or die' ringing in delegates ears. First time exhibitor Rashid Ghafoor brought a salutary tale for the industry. Beset with difficulty during his first exhibition, he came armed with suggestions for the industry and, no doubt, left with a handful of business cards. Peder Berg encouraged the industry to embrace Social Media because everyone could miss out on tomorrow's buyers who may, right now, be in the middle of 140 character conversations and peer recommendations. An organisers perspective was provided by Paul Byrom of Upper Street Events. Paul expressed a willingness in the organiser community to engage with contractors and suppliers, and a need to work across the AEO, AEV & ESSA using the EIA as a platform to address common issues.

A livey debate closed proceedings on the perennially thorny issue of the cost of exhibiting and specifically electrical pricing. The discussion filled the afternoon slot sought to find a solution to a subject that has increasingly vexed the industry. Ultimately, unable to identify obvious profiteering an immediate solution could not be found. However, options such as organisers revisiting how costs are presented to exhibitors, venues & contractors alter the way they charge electrics or move the debate away from line by line costs towards the value of exhibiting, were all aired.

Steve Barratt, ESSA Chairman said: "The G50 was oversubscribed and the room contained the key people in our industry. We had some hard facts to absorb and some inspiring presentations from two of the top 20 people inthe Event 100 Club, we clearly have their ear and their attention. New options for our businesses were put on the table today, and now the challenge is making these happen. Clearly costs and transparency are an issue for the industry and it is going to require an ongoing dialogue, perhaps through the network we have as part of the EIA, to find the route forward. The G50 has provided an opportunity to air views and to speak with other parts of the industry.”

“ESSA is committed to raising the profile of the contractor and supplier community. In the current economic climate, the UK industry is under pressure from all sides. But through ESSA we will continue to increase our voice and make our presence felt.” concluded Barratt.