UBM Live announced last week the Protection & Management Series, which includes IFSEC International, is moving to London’s ExCel from June 2014 after 16 years at the NEC in Birmingham.
Following a 12-month consultation with exhibitors and other stakeholders, the decision was made that London’s status as a global business, travel and entertainment hub offered everything the market needs to create a memorable event for national and international attendees.
The switch from Birmingham to the South-East of England has garnered much debate throughout the industry since it was revealed on February 12th.
Dr Peter Speight, Director of Security Risk Management at Securitas Security Services, and regular IFSEC visitor, claims: “The London event will draw more visitors due to superior transport links and the ability for visitors to drop in and out of meetings while they’re in the vicinity of the City. It’s a top decision.”
A number of leading industry associations have given their backing, with the likes of the British Security Industry Association, National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board pledging support to the move south.
Chris Pinder, External Affairs Director at the NSI, said he had “no doubt” the move to London will take IFSEC to “a new level”. He added: “The shows will now attract even more buyers and specifiers, particularly from overseas.”
Meanwhile, Peter Hawksworth, CEO at Siemens Security Products, said: “London is a truly global city and an essential destination for visitors from across the world. It’s also a city that is resolutely open for business, so IFSEC International’s return in 2014 is an exciting move for the industry as a whole.”
However, UBM’s announcement has not been universally welcomed with such warmth, with debate over IFSEC 2014’s London switch featuring across various social media. Key industry players and interested onlookers have debated both positives and negatives to the end of the Birmingham IFSEC era.
It seems a popular viewpoint that London is a more attractive option for worldwide visitors, with those from outside the UK seemingly keen to sample the capital’s sights and sounds. While this switch should satisfy the international community it may not hold as much sway from the point of view of a British attendee.
There is also discussion that London could alienate some traditional visitors from northern England, with Birmingham having previously been praised for the fact it’s a central location that is easily accessible by land and air. In addition, the NEC has been hailed for its top-class facilities and capability to deliver a quality exhibition during IFSEC’s time based there.
A more common theme for discussion has tended to cover the increased costs associated with the capital. Some see it as a negative that hotels for the duration of the exhibition are likely to be much more expensive in the south-east than the Midlands, while other logistical overheads could also be much higher than in previous years.
While London is a major international travel hub, transport to the ExCel by road has been pinpointed as a potential downside. Some worry it could result in a long, and possibly painless, trip around a large section of the M25 for domestic visitors coming from anywhere but Essex.
The feedback in the week since the announcement was made has been mainly positive, but the debate on the decision is likely to continue to rumble on. The major piece in the puzzle as to the ultimate success could possibly not fall into place until June 2015, when the second instalment of IFSEC London rolls around.