Carlo Zoccali, account director at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre, on dealing with the highs and lows of organising events.
Well-organised events rarely make news. A well-organised event is interesting, brilliantly catered, easy to access, straight-forward to navigate, engaging, and at just the right temperature so that afternoon lulls are not exacerbated by a room that’s too warm.
Achieving success against that backdrop represents a logistical symphony bringing together suppliers, clients, sponsors and delegates all governed by budgets and a very hard deadline. And although planning may verge on the micro, the number of variables involved introduces a wealth of unknowns that could easily undermine success.
For event professionals, delivering events of any size harmoniously while managing the challenge of the unknown is where the attraction lies; it’s certainly not an industry suited to fans of tedium. But this brings with it injections of stress, long hours and exhaustion invariably masked by adrenalin highs.
The Farnborough International Airshow is a biennial behemoth which builds to a week of big business around all aspects of flight and technology. This July’s show saw $104bn worth of business carried out throughout halls and chalets filled with 1,500 exhibitors, hosting approximately 80,000 visitors.
Planning and coordination for the Airshow takes a full two-year cycle, with the team also delivering an Airshow in Bahrain, and working on a number of events taking place across the Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre site.
The team at Farnborough International is highly experienced with at least one veteran of ten Airshow’s; however, the long hours and intensity that characterise build-up to any show are the same for everyone regardless of tenure.
Staff welfare is an important aspect of life at Farnborough International, and the overriding message is clear: take care of yourself and take care of each other. There are several practical steps implemented year-round, such as health checks and free fresh fruit, as well as in the build up to an Airshow with the favourite being a daily visit from an ice cream van. Greensleeves signals the need to stop work, step out of the pressure into the sunshine and enjoy a free-of-charge 99. Simple but effective.
EventWell is an opportunity to the whole industry to focus on what can be done to ensure event professionals avoid exhausting the reserves of energy and enthusiasm which mark them out as suited to such a demand-led industry. May it stimulate discussion around the techniques all organisations can benefit from and provide far-reaching positive industry impact.