22nd October 2009
Industry professionals continue to report a 20 to 30 per cent decline in the events sector, but for Expositionists International, these sorts of figures just do not compute.
The exhibition stand design company has had its busiest 12 months in its 18-year history. In the last five years, since Toby Milan and his brother bought the firm from their father following his retirement from the business he founded, turnover has trebled.
And the answer to achieving such success, even in a recession? "Saying yes."
"When the customer gives you a challenge, just sort it out, no matter what it is," Mr Milan, joint managing partner at the company, explained.
He said that the firm's success is down to "exploring opportunities with our existing clients and being very proactive with new clients developing relationships and adding value to the service we provide".
"On top of doing their stands, we negotiate stand space for them, we explore opportunities within the show, add value to not only what we're providing them but also what they're getting from the actual show themselves," Mr Milan explained.
He said that the company provides "not to just a full service, but an entire service", doing as much of the work for the client as possible to the point where customers are simply approving ideas.
"We do an event for Sainsbury's supermarkets which is at the NEC where we manage 8,000 sq metres of exhibitions for them and that's everything from us controlling the budgets on behalf of the customer, to doing all of the copy work, the design work, planning the exhibition, the routes for colleagues to walk through," he explained.
Mr Milan said the company aims to be different in the way it reacts to customer needs, not only designing and supplying exhibition stands but also recommending shows for them to attend, they type of display they should take and how much they should pay for that.
"We also support them with their pre and post event marketing so it's not just the exhibition stand, it's everything else," he explained.
Expositionists International currently does around 150 events a year for between 70 and 80 clients. The type of customers the company attracts is another indicator of its success. It has worked with Walkers Snacks, part of PepsiCo, Harrods and PricewaterhouseCoopers, to name but a few.
"We've got some huge brands that are choosing what is a relatively small company to support them because we're going in and looking at all the detail for them and effectively become and extension to their events department, saving them resources," Mr Milan commented.
He said that in the 18 years since his father launched Expositionists International, the events industry has diversified and, as a result, the company has altered its approach to business.
The aim is to make the experience of exhibiting pleasureable for the client, according to Mr Milan, by ensuring that display systems are set up by the afternoon before the event, taking the stress our of the process.
"We've got a great, strong client base there that we can develop and people will hopefully hear about the service we provide," he concluded.