Posted on Thu 23rd May 2019 at 3:05pm
What was your first job in the industry?
After a career in the transport industry, I joined ExpoManagement as an Event Manager in 1996 when it was a small start-up business. My job description was so broad it was easier to say what wasn’t in it when there was a staff of just one but it was great fun and I learned a huge amount very quickly about staging events. I had just 6-months lead time to organise my first trade show at the NEC where being ‘multi-disciplined’ taught me the key principles which I still embrace today.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Following the financial crisis of 2008-2010, my biggest challenge was getting exhibitors to “carry on exhibiting” after the appetite for trade show participation was turned off by many leading brands literally overnight. With key “bell weather” exhibitors life got fairly interesting to find a way of keeping the industry supporting us. We took a few knocks but got through to actually grow our events in other ways.
Who’s inspired you?
Frank Dick, the British Athletic Federation’s Director of Coaching from 1979-1994, where he was widely acknowledged and remains one of the outstanding sports coaches and mentors in the world. He wrote "The difference between winning and losing is small; it's the consequence that's huge. Focus on your performance and be the winning difference." We worked with Frank on a fantastic event we helped organised for the Cricket World Cup 99 and twenty years later I still use his advice in personal and work situations.
How has the industry changed?
Technology has undoubtedly improved the way we all work. It’s simplified processes and online information. Sadly, it’s also created a culture where people hide behind email and avoid face to face business engagement. I'm old school. I like to shake on a deal or agreement and get on with it to create a culture of swift decision making. Waiting weeks to get the support/buy in of someone copied in on an email months ago really is frustrating and holds businesses and individuals back…call me a dinosaur if you wish!
What are the top trends you are seeing?
High quality learning and thought leadership content is now key to providing a compelling event proposition. But it needs to be done right if you want to create real impact. The days are gone where an organiser puts out a few chairs in an unsold part of the hall, gets exhibitors to deliver a product demo and calls it a seminar theatre!
What’s your criteria when selecting a supplier for your events?
Having a can-do approach and ethos is vital and they must deliver. It’s also key for organisers to accept that suppliers have to make a profit too and not cut costs to the bare minimum. If a supplier can immerse themselves in an event with the organiser early on then it’s likely to be productive. In business I prefer to be on the look-out for a marriage partner rather than the odd date for dinner!
Mark started his career in the bus and coach industry having operated a fleet in a family business. After 4 years working for the trade association, Mark crossed over to “the other side” and became an organiser in 1996 joining Expo Management with a staff of 1. By 2000 he had completed a management buy-out and by 2014 the team had grown a successful publishing and events business with a £3m+ turnover and B2B and B2C shows in numerous sectors including transport, cricket, motorcycles and tourism.
Mark sold the business in 2014 and took the opportunity to do 2 years of community work delivering a unique award winning £500k refurbishment of his local village playing fields – “one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
Having vowed never to get back into events he spotted the potential that the brilliant venue at Farnborough International has to offer, launching ITT Hub 2020 as the demand for events in the transport sector is rapidly changing. “We had really positive feedback from our research from potential players who shared my vision, I then joined up with a few like-minded individuals to form Binswood Media and launch the event ourselves...it’s proving to be a hugely enjoyable comeback!”
ITT Hub 2020 is a brand new event combining innovation, technology and transport for a dynamic sector taking place 13-14 May 2020 at Farnborough International. Showlite have the contract to deliver full event services.