David Chapple, the new Group Event Director for The Meetings Show spoke to H&E North ahead of another busy year for the premier exhibition for the meetings and event industry in the UK.
Hi David. Thanks for talking to us. What have you been up to recently?
I am recently back from a successful ICCA Congress in Prague which was a great opportunity for myself and the team to meet, catch up and network with members of the event industry from across the world. ICCA is just one of the associations and industry partners that we work with to ensure that we continue to offer a dynamic, productive and rewarding experience for visitors, hosted buyers and exhibitors.
As long term supporters of the association, The Meetings Show was also at the closing ceremony of the 56th congress to present the ICCA Best Marketing Award to Flanders Meeting & Convention Center for its ‘a room with a zoo’ campaign, promoting the new convention centre in Antwerp, Belgium.
What are the preparations for The Meetings Show (TMS) like at this time?
With six months to go until the 2018 show takes place at Olympia London on 27th and 28th June, one area we’ve been focusing our attention on is putting together our education programme and getting ready for hosted buyer registrations which open in January.
I’ve been busy working with our advisory board, focus groups, partners and exhibitors to refine plans for the 2018 show, which includes making changes to the format to put more emphasis on offering networking with value.
We’ve appointed Erica Keogan as Conference Producer, who brings more than 20 years’ experience in the meetings industry, managing the global education programmes for exhibitions in Europe, Africa, India, the Middle East, China and North America. With Erica’s extensive knowledge, we’re building a dynamic, targeted programme centered on the four core themes of technology, marketing, event design and leadership, and keeping attendees up-to-date with the latest trends and challenges.
There have been some big changes to TMS for this year.
Following extensive research with exhibitors, visitors and hosted buyers we took the decision to condense the show into a new two-day format. Crucially, as part of the new format we will be building on our experience from the last five years and introducing changes to our hosted buyer programme to make it even more attractive to corporates, associations and agencies. We’ve simplified the options to make it clearer and easier for buyers to join and benefit from the excellent meeting, learning and networking opportunities available.
Was the decision to turn TMS into a two-day event an easy one?
Evidence showed overwhelming support for condensing the show to achieve the best value from attending. TMS has grown to be an unmissable event for anyone working in the UK inbound or outbound meetings industry, and it was evident that while many achieved excellent results from the 2017 edition – our largest show to date – they would be able to achieve even greater ROI from a focused two-day show with more opportunities for networking in addition to appointments with hosted buyers. It was the best option for everyone so it made perfect sense.
Why should venues and suppliers from the north visit TMS?
Northern venues and businesses who exhibit at the show will have the opportunity to secure face-to-face appointments with some of the biggest meetings and event buyers based not only in London and the south, but also have the chance to get in front of international buyers to directly demonstrate how the region provides an amazing wealth of opportunity and a fantastic backdrop for events.
Although London continues to remain a strong destination for events, Scotland, the North West, North East, Midlands and Wales shine as destinations and the show offers an incredible platform for venues these regions to really make their mark and showcase their expertise. We know the 2017 show alone saw over 1,700 buyers in attendance who had registered with an interest in placing their events in the north of England.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career so far?
I started my working career selling classified ads, before moving into exhibitions and working on a large computer show. I joined Centaur 19 years ago – the UK’s leading business information and media group – starting as a sales executive on Business Travel Show and I’ve now worked my way to Group Events Director of the company’s biggest shows.
Any career highlights that particularly stand out?
My standout moments have to include launching Travel Technology Europe, which is co-located with the Business Travel Show, as well as turning the Business Travel Show into a globally recognised event bringing together more than 7,500 European travel professionals.
What lessons did you learn from overseeing The Business Travel Show?
Listening to the needs, challenges and desires of both visitors and exhibitors is essential to ensure that we continue to deliver a rewarding experience. Similarly, offering a dynamic education programme is key – it’s the big value-added part for visitors, looking to source suppliers and network.
But ultimately you need to have a good team in place, which The Meetings Show most certainly has. The team are knowledgeable, have built long-lasting relationships with clients and partners and have a real passion for the industry they work in. They’re always making time to attend and support a huge amount of industry events – in fact I hardly see them in the office!