After successfully growing the world’s largest accountancy show, Accountex, organisers Diversified Communications are adding new geographies to the brand. Managing director Carsten Holm tells EN editor Emily Wallin about their plans for global expansion.
Europe’s top accounting and finance show Accountex has announced plans to launch new geo-cloned events in Spain, Canada and Australia.
Diversified Communications managing director Carsten Holm says that there is ample interest globally in the “Glastonbury for accountants” to support the new events, and that the strategy is helping them reach new markets with a tried, tested and successful product.
Holm said: “Accountex is becoming a very strong brand for us and we are delighted with the increasing international interest we are seeing in the event.
“You’ve really got to see it to understand it. It’s such fun. As one of our exhibitors once said, it’s a bit like Glastonbury for accountants. It’s fantastic. Every year since we acquired it, the audience has increased by about 1,000 attendees. I think we had about 3,000 visitors in the year we acquired the show and this year, we will be close to the 10,000 mark
“So it’s got a good reputation. But not just in this country, because it’s probably the biggest neutral kind of platform trade show for accountants in the world.
“We had people come to us and say ‘we’ve got nothing like this in in our country and would really like to work with you to try to launch something similar’. The first approach came from Australia, quickly followed by Spain and Canada. We’ve been pushing against an open door and it’s been really quite humbling to have so much support and goodwill.”
Holm says there is enormous demand for individual shows. Whilst there are some big players featuring globally, the sector is so large and varied there is capacity for them to attend each event.
He says: “It’s a very international business. Companies like Sage, Xero and and Wolters Kluwer have setups all over the world and they obviously do talk to each other. They’ve seen that Accountex over here is really popular and by far the most effective route for companies to generate new leads, they do so well out of it.
“In terms of the physical get together, networking for this sector is really important, as a lot of accountancy firms are quite small. There’s a lot of change in legislation and advances in technology also mean everything is going into the cloud now. Accountants are seeing a lot of change and need to be able to advise their clients on the latest regulations and most suitable technology for their businesses.
“Accountex is mainly for accountants in practice rather than business generally, so they need to understand what’s out there, what products are there to support their clients in terms of whether it’s expenses reports, or running the overall business or whatever. So that’s why they still have to come. it’s so important for them to come. CPD is also an important aspect of being a qualified accountant, and this is the perfect opportunity for accountants to top up their points.
“In terms of planning for the new launches, the most important thing was to listen to the industry and follow their lead. So we asked some of the key exhibitors is the UK if they could introduce us to their opposite numbers and then we got on the phone and just asked the question, ‘What do you think?’ And ‘If we launch, will you support it and help us with direction?’
“We then introduced them to our colleagues in Australia, who we work really closely with anyway. So they take over the local organisation and take the lead, but with our support. I think much of our success is down to how well we work together between our offices, where we can share international experiences yet focus on the specific needs of the regions we operate in. There are definitely things that can be translated across regions, but there are also many nuances which you need to be aware of and reflect in the content, the positioning, the partnership programmes and of course, the marketing. ”
“We were able to help with initial introductions, design and marketing collateral. We could also show the statistics and the look and feel of the UK event, then pass it on to the Australian team, who were then able to start to adapt the show to the local market and needs.”
Holm explains that the content is unique to each region.
Because of different regulatory frameworks for accountants in each region the content has to be unique.
Holm says that whilst they try to maintain the individual integrity of each show run by its own local teams, there are some benefits to geo-cloning an existing success over a fresh launch.
He says: “You’ve got the template, but the exhibitors and the businesses will
“You’re selling hardware, but a little bit more than that, because you can show a breakdown of the visitors who come to the show, you can show how the show grew from where we started, you can show images, pictures from the show when you can show the seminar program.”
Holm says much of the strength of their brands came down to creating strong digital products during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They ran an online conference during lockdown that raised £46,000 for the NHS.
“That was great for two things,” Holm says. It was helping the NHS through Covid-19 but we also realised how valuable this model can be and how it can work alongside the physical trade show, and add to the overall product offering”.
“[Digital] is not something that always works across all shows, but because people need the need CPD points and need to stay informed of the latest developments, they’re really engaged.
“The reason it worked so well, was because it was all about content, rather than selling.
“However, as for replicating the physical buying and selling aspects of a trade show, I am still not a convert to the virtual tradeshow model. In fact, if anything good has come out of the pandemic, I think it has confirmed the need for people to be able to meet face to face; to see, touch, smell and to develop long lasting relationships. You just can’t do that stuff online and I think the way trade shows are bouncing back, is proof of that.
“However, where editorial content is important, there is definitely a role for digital and I am sure that’s here to stay. Seminars with quality attendance are very sponsorable, so will become an increasingly important source of revenue in the future.
But in addition to our traditional model, which is exciting.”
Diversified’s success taking Accountex to new regions has led to further plans for the future.
International partners are taking an interested in their other products.
Another successful Diversified exhibition, Organic Food Iberia, is also set to launch at launching at IFEMA MADRID in June.
Further geo-clones could be on the cards in future, Holm says whilst keeping his cards close to his chest.
With a varied portfolio spanning fishing and aquaculture, hospitality, organic and natural products, there is plenty of scope.
“Maybe we’ve got one or two we can do things with,” Holm teases.
In addition to Accountex London, Diversified will be launching Accountex Spain at IFEMA Madrid on 3-4 November 2022, Accountex Canada 2022 is at Metro Toronto Convention Centre 30 November-1 December and Accountex Australian will be held 15-16 March 2023 at Sydney’s ICC.