CHS19 enjoyed it’s 10th anniversary which broke box office records as UK event professionals came together to meet world-class exhibitors and learn from the best.

The 2019 Conference & Hospitality Show enjoyed a record-breaking 10th year, bringing together exhibitors from across the UK, representing venues, hotels and suppliers of event products and services. A record 1,350 delegates convened at Leeds’ first direct arena to network, learn and raise their profile with over 220 businesses in attendance.

There wasn’t an empty stand in sight, with exhibition space having virtually sold out prior to Christmas 2018. The organisers, CHS group hailed the event a success after pre-registration was up 10% from 2018 while footfall increased by 10% year-on-year. To mark its 10th anniversary, the show was imbued with a party theme, where “rockstar event organisers” celebrated in style with cocktails in the VIP bar.

Delegates also enjoyed a packed schedule of educational events rooted in key industry topics and trends. The CHS19 programme of speakers included Gavin Ingham, TED speaker and founder of #IAM10 as he revealed strategies to give event professionals the edge in business.

Addressing pressing industry issues, Carol Ann Whitehead, Director of The Zebra Partnership chaired a discussion on improving diversity in the events sector. The panel which included Olyainka Seiriki, UK Together, Leigh Cowlishaw, Winning Edges, Aaron Hornback, Horizon Health and the Lighthouse and Holly Gaffney, Lloyds Banking Group revealed their experiences and explored ways to improve the representation of women and ethnic minorities amid a seismic global attitude shift.

Later in the afternoon, digital experts convened for a panel discussion forecasting the future of event technology. Jonny Ross, founder of Fleek Marketing demonstrated the potential of interactive mobile technology to boost audience engagement through hosting an informative quiz that saw one lucky audience member leave with a bottle of Taittinger. “As much as you try otherwise, attendees will inevitably be on their phones, so why not give them something to look at?” quipped the affable Ross as multiple choice questions brought key trends to the fore, shocking audience members with statistics including a 13% lead follow-up rate at major exhibitions.

The Leeds-based digital marketing specialist went onto to discuss the need to engage delegates, giving them reason to share by utilising the ‘wow-factor’ of emerging robotic and augmented reality technologies. He also stressed the need to marry the online and offline worlds with interactive technology such as Twitter walls and create a stream of sharable content such as behind the scenes videos.

Liz Taylor, Managing Director at Taylor Lynn Corporation discussed the future of event design, emphasising the need to put a show that “delivers the unexpected and takes the audience on a journey.” Creating a sense of engagement through subtle, styled theming and show-stopping theatrics were branded key to creating a memorable experience. Apologising to caterers in the audience, she observed: “delegates never go home boasting they’ve had a great piece of chicken”.

Nicolas Tinker Regional Business Development Manager at CrowdCompass spoke of the need to “embrace the crazy” to get people talking about events. Discussing the rise of holograms and human Ubers, Tinker stressed that technology is not set to replace but to facilitate face-to-face relations, as events have proved “the second-best way to drive revenue behind websites.” He highlighted the increasing potential for technology to canvass feedback, helping organisers better understand the needs of delegates in real-time, using data leveraged from value-driven apps, wearables and chatbots.

TV chef Simon Rimmer was in the hotseat for the CHS19 keynote event in conversation with Samme Allen, as he divulged how event caterers can create a show-stopping menu on scale and within budget. He spoke of the challenges organisers face when toeing the line between hitting a brief and reigning in costs which can spiral with increasingly demanding client expectations. He advised that caterers keep wastage and the number of culinary processes to a minimum when preparing their menu to maximise speed and scale, underlining the need for simplicity.

Busy networking sessions took place under the big top tent of the VIP Rockstar Bar, providing headline sponsor, Zest Mixologist with the chance for its flair bartenders to showcase their skills. Its MD, Murdo MacLeod was delighted with the response, commenting: “It’s a been a big success and very worthwhile over the last two days. It’s the opportunity to connect with relevant buyers for our product and have them all in the same place and in a really friendly space. London shows certainly have scale, but I find this is really conducive for building sales relationships. Live enquires have exceeded anything we’ve ever had from a show before.”

As long-time CHS partners, H&E North enjoyed prime position for its debonair team to welcome attendees at the entrance stand, handing out copies of the latest magazine to familiar faces and meeting keen new advertisers and subscribers.

2020 is already shaping up to be a major event, with many brands already securing their stands as the show is set to return bigger and better for its 11th year. Theresa Ring, of Visit Scotland Business Events, said: “We love CHS19, as it is such a strong platform to showcase Scotland as a MICE destination to a large and relevant audience. We caught up with lots of existing clients and made some great new connections too. This was a really good event for us, and we will definitely be back next year with bells on.”