The managing director of MA Exhibitions on his ocean blue Gibson Les Paul, wanting a licence to kill and being pen pals with the Queen.
What is the biggest topic that needs addressing in the industry?
Any number of things: tenancy availability within the busy seasons, improved customer service levels, working with suppliers as partners rather than customers. I think the UK exhibition market is vibrant and exciting and full of opportunity. So I believe even more platforms to learn, share ideas, inspiration and have better market wide communication will help the industry as a whole deliver on that potential.
What are the three things you would change in the industry?
1. Compulsory training for exhibitor stand staff on how to interact with potential customers.
2. A licence to kill for all organisers who see the aforementioned staff sat at the back of their stands looking disinterested, with their arms folded staring at a laptop or a phone.
3. Venue staff briefings, leading to better customer service. This isn’t a universal issue across every venue, but venues can really help organisers by ingraining in their staff the understanding that visitors and exhibitors do not see a distinction between them and us. A poor experience with a venue staff member can completely tarnish the relationship between us and our customer. In short, for the period of build, open and breakdown we need to believe we all work for the same company.
Which speaker has most impressed you at an exhibition?
I heard Bill Gates speak at an event in London and he was incredibly impressive. His excitement about where the business was going wasn’t anything to do with the bottom line. The fact that he firmly believes in what he’s doing; he wore his heart on his sleeve and he wasn’t complacent. I have held on to the phrase he used of ‘when you wake each day, remember everything can be improved’ having spent much of the last 10 years within the engineering sector, that is something I know to be true and see on a daily basis and we have it as a core aim for the business.
Which member of the industry is least likely to get a round in first?
Luke Webster, sales director on the Engineering Design Show. If I hear ‘I left my wallet in the car’ one more time…
Where is the best place for a nightcap and what would it be?
I like Blind Spot at the St Martin’s Lane hotel, either a mojito or a Tanqueray 10 and Fever Tree. Or both?
Favourite restaurant – best dish?
There’s a gastro pub near home called The Hare and their shoulder of lamb should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Most prized possession?
Gibson Les Paul in ocean blue.
What’s your karaoke song of choice?
It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones – though after my performance in a Tokyo Karaoke bar I was asked to leave, so I’m not sure you’d want me to sing.
What one thing do you do better than anyone else?
Paint ceilings without a ladder – I’m 6’ 8”.
I am shockingly colour blind.
Proudest moment in the industry?
I think the proudest moment has to be when we launched the first show that started the path to creating MA Exhibitions, the Engineering Design Show.
Team you support and why?
Wasps. They win more regularly than my football team, Spurs. In the case of why I chose the latter, I was lied to as a child.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I once met the Queen and as I was introduced she went up three steps to get closer to eye level and commented that I was very tall – we’ve been pen pals ever since.
Worst item of clothing you own?
I once bought a three-piece tweed suit, which turned out to be incredibly bright green, like Toad of Toad Hall green.
Most embarrassing song you own?
High School Musical or Pitch Perfect soundtracks. I can only apologise in a sorry, not sorry way.
Worst experience you’ve had in the workplace?
I had a job as an inconspicuous 6’8” bald private detective. I used to follow people and serve papers – I was punched twice in the first week and chased round a garden with a rake.