04-Sep-14by Annie Byrne
Under the stewardship of MD Andy Orr, EventCity looks set to further put its stamp on the North West’s exhibition industry. Andy Orr gives us his inside view and reviews the venue’s plans for the future The North West Pull One of our biggest challenges was managing to break through the impression that The NEC in Birmingham could service the North West of England. A lot of organisers seemed content to just do London and Birmingham and perhaps Glasgow, and thought that covered everywhere. I think we have proved through hard graft and through delivering successful events that there is a massivemarket full of millions of people in the North West who have never been to an exhibition. Out of the 37,000 people who went to the Ideal Home Show, 70 per cent had never been to an exhibition. That is an incredible amount of new attendees by anyone’s standards and shows the pull that an event space our size has in the North West. Cloth Caps & Whippets When we opened up, the economy wasn’t in a good position. You could understand that organisers needed a lot of convincing to bring their exhibitions up here instead of The NEC or anywhere else. But I think we have managed to break though that. There was a perception in the north that folkwore cloth caps, raced whippets and didn’t have the money to spend. But I think our spend per head have been comparable with many London shows. Breaking through those barriers has taken time, but through the support of organisers we have managed to show that EventCity is a place to hold a successful show. 16 Million People We have 3,000 free spaces for car parking, which for consumer shows is a real advantage and a selling point. Our transport infrastructure is extremely well developed. We have the M60 on our doorstep, which is within an hour’s driving time and puts us in easy reach for 16 million people. Ideal Home Has Put Us On The Map We have the Clarion caravan show which has been a huge exhibition. We are immensely proud to have almost doubled the footfall of that show, but the significance of the Ideal Home show is that Media 10 chose us over The NEC as their venue outside of London. From the North West’s perspective, that has been a major achievement. The show has been a huge success and we are looking forward to building on it. We are delighted that we have broken through theperception that Birmingham was the only viable option outside the M25. Media 10 shared our vision and took that risk with us. I think the Ideal Home Show has helped put not just Manchester, but the whole North West on the exhibitionsmap. North West United With London being such a pull for organisers, I think it is massively important that the exhibition centres like us, Manchester Central and Liverpool ACC in the North West pull together and work with each other. If we want the North West to be seen as a very viable place to stage exhibitions, it can’t just be seen as one city or one venue. If somebody calls me up and our halls are all booked, they’re just not going to consider the North West next time, so it is vital to our industry here that we help each other and recommend one another. The North West economy needs to realise, that if it wants to challenge London, the M62 corridor from Liverpool all the way to Leeds needs to be united together. United as one, the North West economy has massive potential. Heat Mapping When people log on to our Wi-Fi, it enables us to be able to monitor their phones, allowing us to produce a heat map of where that particular customer went in the building. This has allowed us to analysis the floor of our exhibitions and identify the hot and cold spots. This has given us the ability to identify and better inform exhibitors on floor layouts and how attendeesflow around the building. Going Green Our recycling system has been substantially invested in. On a day-by-day basis, we now have the ability to analyse the volume of rubbish that has been produced, how much has been recycled, how much will go to landfill and what the carbon footprint is for that event.We hope we can use this technology with organisers to improve recycling at Event City to actually show the difference using the correct bins can make to the environment but to their pocket too. Ultimately, those costs are going to go through the roof over the next few years, so I think we are now ahead of that at this stage, which will stand us in a good position. We arelooking at renewable energy sources as well. This includes looking at solarpanels on the roof, which we hope to be in a position to go ahead within the next 18 months. Improving Footfall Currently, there are road works going all the way around the Trafford Centre and EventCity. These road works are providing additional lanes to bring people off the motorway and are enabling there to be crossings over the Manchester Ship Canal. New Metro Link Stop We are in final public consultation to bring the Metro Link to EventCity, which will include our own stop for the venue. We believe this will really improve the public transport to EventCity. We are confident the green light for this will go ahead. We have draft plans of where the track will go and have measures in place to ensure we can minimise the effect this has on the area. New Onsite Hotel The tram’s line will in effect go right past another new addition to EventCity – a 210-bedroom hotel that we are also in the final stages of negotiation.We have the blueprint for the hotel and from what we have seen, we are very excited and encouraged about how this will improve the experience of visitors who come to EventCity. NEC The sale of The NEC certainly gives us potential for new business. We are in the position to offer up to ten-year contracts for shows, as we are not going anywhere. The Peel group is a £6bn company and EventCity is one of their key projects. Having the uncertainty over who will own The NEC and what the new owner will do to the rent or whether they will really invest in The NEC or their strategy of their operation, works favourably for us. We are in a position where we can map out all of this and also for the whole of the area.
This article first appeared in the September 2014 issue of Exhibition News