Relocating IFSEC International from Birmingham to London has been an opportunity to re-imagine this 40-year-old security exhibition, according to the event director. Tom Reeve reports.
Moving IFSEC International from Birmingham to London has been an opportunity to reboot the entire exhibition, according to the newly appointed Event Director, Gerry Dunphy. Dunphy takes over from Charlie Cracknell who is moving to another show for the oil and gas industry.
In an interview at parent company UBM Live in London, Dunphy stopped short of saying it was an entirely new show.
Moving from the NEC in Birmingham, which had been the exhibition’s home for 16 years, was an opportunity “to refresh parts behind that weren’t working to everyone’s expectations”.
The ExCeL Centre in London was built 13 years ago and in terms of design and facilities is modern and very well equipped. And it’s location in London is a huge benefit. “We have a completely different palette to work with, being in one of the world’s capitals, the new locations will completely change what was already a successful formula,” he said. “ExCeL is perfect, with two very long halls and being just 88 metres from front to back, it means if you are searching, you don’t have far to go before you get to the back of the hall.”
He revealed that they have also put a four metre wide aisle running lengthwise down the middle of each hall. “It’s almost like having two front rows and exhibitors have the opportunity to develop a whole new strategy on how to position themselves.”
Transportation links are important for any show, and while ExCeL might have been more challenging in the past than other venues, that is certainly no longer the case. Thanks to the Olympics, public transport connections to the venue in the east end of London are better than ever.
“With a range of airports, trains and Underground connections to get you to the venue,” he said, adding that connections to the north of England are good as well. “Having recently travelled to Newcastle I was pleasantly surprised to find out you could make the journey in three hours, and with lots of deals confirmed from travel partners we’re making it as easy as possible to get to IFSEC International in June!”
Changing venues has been good for our clients, as well, he said, revealing that floor space was up 10% on the previous year, with some big names returning to the show as a result of moving to London. “It is serious business, a huge opportunity for our clients to reach into the vast global end user market London attracts,” he said.
With a change in venue, isn’t it inevitable that there will be a change in demographics as a result of the new location?
Dunphy claimed that this is not the case and that there has not been a significant dip in any of the visitor demographics to the show. When the show was at the NEC, 40% of the visitors were from London and the southeast, so the move to London will only strengthen those numbers, he said.
The proximity to the large companies based in London – 75% of the FTSE 500 companies are based in the capital – will result in an increase in end-user attendance, he said.
Meanwhile, international attendance has been strengthened because London is an international destination, an attraction in itself, with people flying in for the show and then staying for a few days of sightseeing. “We had a significant amount of international business, but we are already seeing a big increase in international registrations because of London,” he said.
IFSEC International is part of the Protection and Managements Series , which recognises that roles within businesses are evolving to cover a range of functions. Co-located next to FIREX International, Facilities Show, Safety & Health Expo, Energy & Environment Expo and Service Management Expo visitors to IFSEC International will be able to source products and solutions across multiple services in an integrated way. An innovation at this year’s show will be the introduction of live TV coverage of the event. A TV production crew will be interviewing delegates, speakers and exhibitors alike. It’s something that the parent company, UBM, introduced at another of its shows, Food Ingredients in Frankfurt. “There will be a constant stream of information and content in real time, from 10am to 6pm. It will give a real vibe and energy on the floor,” said Dunphy.
One of the strengths of the show, he said, was the depth of education available to visitors. Few exhibitions were able to match it: “They don’t have dedicated content or learning going on to the extent that we do. We have 7 theatres in IFSEC and 24 theatres across the Protection and Management Series.”
From Dunphy’s perspective, the show is set to be a huge success. “With impressive levels of pre-registrations, and incredible uptake from exhibitors, we have people on 3-4 year deals and many companies returning. Pyronix is back because of London. Siemens has returned to FIREX because it’s in London, and the mood music around the show is incredible, particularly on the social networks.”