Taking the middle ground: The Midlands' exhibition venues

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Rockingham Rockingham is based in Corby, Northamptonshire, and will soon benefit from a new dual carriageway from the A14, which is due to be completed in 2014. The venue hosts a range of race events including the British Touring Car Championship, British F3/GT and the Pickup Truck Racing Championship on the oval. As a result, Rockingham hosts activities both on and off track including track days, testing, manufacturer events, corporate and gift experience days and exhibitions. Naturally, with its vehicle heritage, it hosts vehicle shows, where alongside the traditional static exhibition area, it offers a live arena for exhibitors. According to chief executive Charlotte Orton, events with a need for both types of spaces can include those for cars, bikes, commercial vehicles, mobility shows and plant equipment. “The facilities at Rockingham are flexible enough to enable exhibitors to demonstrate safety technologies, green technologies and performance handling to their target audience,” she said. The venue is looking to target more events endeavouring to inject an interactive element to demonstrate their products, Orton said. “In the current market, we have noticed all organisers are ensuring that they monitor the ROI for all events, and are very targeted in their marketing,” she said.“Everyone involved expects to see added value from a venue that cares about each event and is willing to go that extra mile.” The site has more than 600sqm of permanent indoor space and an 80-acre all-weather hard standing outdoor showground. It also offers car parking spaces for up to 20,000 visitors per day, and can be booked in conjunction with the indoor conferencing facilities, or with one of the 13 different circuit configurations or off-road courses. All facilities include free Wi-Fi Internet connection and power supply points, and Rockingham also offers a minibus service to transport delegates. Cranmore Park Cranmore Park is based in Solihull, a short distance from Birmingham City Centre. It has two main exhibition halls: The 2,500sqm Platinum Suite, and the 500sqm Diamond Suite. In addition there are two conference rooms, which can also be used for seminars or workshops, and exhibition space. These are the 330sqm Cranmore Suite and the 137sqm Connaught Room. Cranmore Park events manager Angela Peat said the venue ran more than 50 exhibitions last year ranging from large-scale five-day furniture trade shows spanning 3,500sqm, to a one-day public Christmas lace show. Most of the exhibitions are trade and run for two to three days.  “We have everything it takes to attract national shows,” Peat claimed. “Our venue is centrally located and offers excellent transport links. “The 3,000sqm of ground floor space is perfect for those smaller shows that might feel lost in a larger venue. “However, we need to shake off the perception that we are a ‘local’ venue as we tick all the boxes for a national venue and offer an excellent, much more personal, alternative to large ‘air hanger’ type exhibition halls.” Peat said the venue wants to work with new organisers on launch shows and help them grow and develop into longstanding events.  “One of the benefits of Cranmore Park is that it offers space to grow,” she said. “Because our venue includes all carpets, power, lighting and car parking within the tenancy hire, our costs are very competitive as you do not incur all the extras that you can at other venues. This offers new organisers, or existing organisers with a new show, a base to launch from.”  The venue has 400 free car park spaces and free Wi-Fi throughout the halls. Stoneleigh ParkStoneleigh Park is situated between Coventry and Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. It has a total indoor exhibition space of 21,000sqm with 800 acres of outdoor space. Hall 1 is 3,100sqm, Hall 2 is 4,500sqm, while its Blackdown Complex offers 11,800sqm of flexible space consisting of 13 inter-linked buildings. The venue’s exhibition complex has a fully furnished organisers office, registration area and loading doors. In all, the venue has free parking for more than 30,000 cars. Stoneleigh’s CEO Ian Pegler told EN that the venue has rebranded. “We have a new website, sales and marketing team,” he said. “Most people have no idea that Stoneleigh Park is here, and we are working hard to value and respect all our customers.” The venue hosts all types of exhibitions but has recently specialised in bioenergy, biofuel, motoring and in particular agriculture shows. “We have great equine facilities here,” said Pegler. “Last year we held the Grassland and Muck show, and this year it was the The British Pig and Poultry Fair.” For the upcoming Emergency Services Show, a juggernaut hitting a car will be recreated as part of the safety demonstrations at this year’s event. The Road Haulage Association will also demonstrate heavy rescue measures used by the emergency services in November. Further upgrades are planned at Stoneleigh Park in the near future. “We are investing in the site,” said Pegler. “Hall 1 has been brought up to the same standard as Hall 2. We are also planning a new entrance to the site, which will include a bridge to the car park.” Telford International Centre  The Telford International Centre can host shows up to 15,000sqm. It offers three main exhibition halls and connected public space to host events. The venue is working on ambitious plans for a multi-million pound convention quarter outside the venue, which will enable a direct link to the rest of the town centre. Southwater Event Group has just completed a £10m redevelopment of the venue as part of the £250m masterplan. In October, building work will start on seven bars and restaurants and a new 82-bedroom hotel, which will all be within walking distance of The International Centre. Organisers are increasingly looking for much more than just exhibition space, adding comprehensive seminar programmes during events, said chief executive Tom Gray. “There is a trend for co-locating shows to capitalise on visitors, and with three inter-linking halls we are primed to fully support this,” he said. A new show launching at The International Centre in Telford is well on its way to selling its total floor plan. The new Fabricator Installer Trade (FIT) Show is focused on fabricators and installers working in the window, door and conservatory industry and will be held from 16 to 18 April 2013. In addition, the venue has seen an increase in public exhibitions on its 2012 calendar. It claims to be particularly popular with hobby and collectors consumer shows and has several new and returning events in the diary this year. These include the Tattoo Freeze, held at Telford for a third year this year alongside new event Camper Mart, which caters for VW enthusiasts. The NEC The NEC is the UK’s largest exhibition venue, occupying a 610-acre site in the borough of Solihull, eight miles from Birmingham City Centre. It offers more than 186,000sqm of covered exhibition space through 20 interconnecting halls, with 167 acres of hard standing and 75 acres of woodland.The venue welcomes about 2.1 million visitors each year to a diverse range of 140 trade and consumer events. The NEC is working on an ambitious masterplan for the site. Its casino partner for the leisure and entertainment complex Resorts World at the NEC, Genting UK, has recently been awarded a casino licence. Subject to planning permission, this would open in early 2014. The plans include a £120m conference and banqueting centre. The venue’s flagship exhibitions include Spring Fair, Clothes Show Live and Crufts. It has also secured a number of new shows this year such as SOLEX with the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA) and UK Pool and Spa Expo. According to managing director Kathryn James, the venue is seeing growth and new shows emerging from the construction, energy and education sectors. “Seventy per cent of shows we’ve won recently have relocated from other regional venues of varying sizes and the remaining 30 per cent were brand new show launches,” she said. The NEC is keen to work with brand and content owners who want to extend their presence into the live and face-to-face environment. “We’ve seen this work with great success at events like Gadget Show Live, where the television format and content can come to life and interact in real time with its viewers,” said James. Environmentally, the site’s waste pre-treatment centre will be diverting all its waste from landfill from September. This is ahead of schedule and the venue believes this is a sustainable credential it can pass onto organisers. From September, 12 new onsite coaches are also being introduced to improve journeys from the car parks and around the site.This was first published in the September edition of Exhibition News. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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