It’s not often that a show organiser credits a move to dry land as a sign of growth in his new show. But for the BNC Global Event Show held at The Brewery in London, visiting landlubbers were a sign that the show has really begun to set sail into more affluent waters.
The ‘Winter’ event on 20-21 February had around 170 stands and attracted around 800 visitors. Already, 25 per cent of suppliers have signed up for next year’s winter show. It featured corporate event buyers in law, banking, media companies, pharmaceuticals, associations, and international exhibitors from France, Switzerland, Austria, Cyprus, Korea, Jamaica, the United States and Oman. Small beginnings perhaps, but the first incarnation of the show was held on a ship. The first BNC Event Show was held on board the HMS President (1918) in April 2012, docked at Blackfriars Bridge. The ‘Summer’ edition of the show, though only open to corporate event buyers, is already sold out for its return to the vessel on 3 July. Due to the ship’s confines, it will have 80 stands and around 500 visitors.
For joint show director Kim Paulden, the show came after more than 15 years running an anonymous club of corporate event planners, which he bills as pre-dating LinkedIn and Facebook, though also admitting that he didn’t have the nous to fully cash in on the idea. The BNC Global Event Show sprang up from the Buyers Networking Club, a networking association for corporate meetings and events managers. Back in 1996, Paulsen was the publisher of Incentive Travel and Corporate Meetings magazine, after launching the publication nine years previously. The idea for the club came when on a press trip with the publication with other event buyers in Cyprus.
“I was chatting about events, with five people from the sector, and it was suggested that I set up a club to cater for people,” he said.
The club was set up in 1996, when public use of email was still in its infancy. “When I set up the club, email was hardly used. Corporate firms would only have an intranet system to contact each other within the company.”
The club launched with 40 corporate members, it now has 1,100. Its members include banks, law firms and media companies. Indeed, The Brewery, the home of the latest show, was recommended by club members.
“The club started as a huge anonymous chatroom controlled by me,” explained Paulden.
“For example recently, a company was looking to host an event for 500 people in Shanghai, and was looking for a firm to provide AV. Within an hour, I had four replies recommending AV companies.”
Through networking, Kim met up with the BNC Global Event Show’s other show director, Alec Mumford. As a result, the show teamed up with A Mumford Events for the event.
“Alec runs his event company, and he suggested I should run a show. I told him that I didn’t know how. He told me that I had the best buyers and that was all that mattered.”
From this initial meeting, the organiser began its association with the HMS President. Paulden now has a permanent office on the ship. “It’s the coolest office in London and quite unique,” he said.
“A Mumford Events has had events on the ship for a few years now. The ship also runs a few events, and we think it’s a great place to host an event.
“It’s quirky, different, and we are close to the City. Event managers can come along for a couple of hours and enjoy the show.”
Mumford was pleased with the response to the event at The Brewery. “I am really delighted with our first major show,” he said.
“The quality of the buyers who attended and the overwhelming positive comments we have had back from the exhibitors has given us great impetus for our next show.”
Paulden feels that the BNC events have come a long way in a short time. “Fifteen months ago, we didn’t have a show, now we have two. We have established ourselves very quickly. We feel we have developed a niche market. People can come and meet like at a market.”
Walking around the show, the intimate venue certainly helped provide a buzzy atmosphere. However the show does go to unusual lengths to make sure it attracts the right type of visitor. Exhibitors and organisers at the show are concerned about liggers taking advantage of free entertainment and refreshments. Particularly as the show provides a free lunch to its guests.
“Everyone is vetted by us,” explained Paulden.
“In the past, we had a lot of freebie hunters coming to the show and we have made every effort to stop that. We also provide free food, so people would come along just for that too.”So clearly, no chance of pirated goods from this growing show.
This was first published in the April edition of EN. Any comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org