Posted on Tue 11th Dec 2018 at 6:08pm
1. What was your first job in the industry?
I joined Reed Exhibitions back in the early 90s as a very young Sales Executive selling stand space on the Environmental Technology Show and after a couple of stints ended up as head of a portfolio of events including Eurochem, Environmental Technology, Pump & Valve and Heat Exchange Engineering …. It was all rock and roll and show business for me!
2. What has been your biggest challenge?
Bouncing back after winding up my own business – Cornerstone Management Solutions which focused on outsourced sponsorship and sales support for events. I also ran my own show, which went well in terms of exhibitor and visitor satisfaction but struggled financially. I didn't lose my shirt but learnt loads about myself and others and since then have nothing but huge respect for those entrepreneurs that fund, launch and run shows. Never give up!
3. Who’s inspired you?
The list is too long to name check everybody as there are so many people that have helped and guided me. What I love about this industry after nearly 30 years in events, either as an organiser, supplier or venue side is that 8 out of 10 of the people I’ve met I’d have a beer with after work ... and all the better if they are buying!
4. How has the industry changed?
Exhibitions in the main have become focused, highly targeted and niche. All the successful events have multiple and compelling reasons for visitors to attend including great content. When I started out in exhibitions if you wanted content and learning you went to a conference. Exhibitors have also become far more sophisticated with their event participation and ROI analysis. Big is no longer always beautiful in terms of participation. There are a plethora of tools and technology all geared to help exhibitors engagement with visitors, however, I still fundamentally believe that the single biggest USP for our industry remains unchanged – good old fashioned face to face human interaction. People still buy people.
5. What’s your criteria when selecting a supplier for your events?
We have just been through a tender process to help us identify the right partners that offer services that strengthen our venue offering and proposition. Criteria that’s most important to me is trust, reliability, honesty, reputation as well as a desire to understand our business objectives and help us on that journey.
Chris leads the team at NAEC Stoneleigh, one of the most versatile venue businesses in the UK hosting nearly 200 events per annum. My role includes the management of the venue, NAEC Stoneleigh, as well as Grandstand Stoneleigh Events technical events team, Grandstand Event Management, (Zinc) a specialist corporate event management business and Stoneleigh Park Lodge, a 58 bedroom 4 star guest house.
Prior to NAEC Chris has enjoyed the best part of 30 years working for some great organisers including Reed Exhibitions, supplier side with LiveBuzz and venue side with NEC and now NAEC Stoneleigh.