Claire-Lena Miller-Davis, sales manager – exhibitions at The Event Complex Aberdeen, provides EN with some insight on selling a new venue to exhibition organisers.
I have recently returned to Aberdeen after spending the last 11 years working in the special events industry in Sydney, Australia, which was a fantastic experience that cultivated my knowledge of the industry and I was inspired by some of the world’s most innovative and imaginative event producers.
Arriving in Sydney initially on a working holiday visa, I began as an executive assistant for both the sales and service managers at Sunseeker Australia. This paved the way to my love of events as I had the opportunity to play a major role organising the International Boat Shows, which took place across Australia including Sydney, Brisbane and the Whitsundays.
The company had a highly anticipated and strong presence throughout the shows which was largely due to a combination of our marketing campaign and contracting of promotional models, live entertainers and catering suppliers to promote the brand and its elite-ness.
In 2007 I joined Sydney Prop Specialists, one of Australia’s leading event décor and production companies starting out as a specialised event theming supplier and was sponsored by the company to stay in Australia. I worked my way through the ranks of the company before departing in early 2018.
Throughout my time with the company I grew both personally and professionally, developing close-knit relationships with both suppliers and clients. One of my key achievements with the company was directing 150 per cent growth in revenue through service expansion; turning the focus from being an event supplier to an event management and consulting group.
Returning to Aberdeen I have noticed a lot has changed since I have been away, and it has been fantastic to see the investment into the city’s economy and more specifically leisure and culture. Aberdeen is a hub of opportunity and currently the city has so much potential that has not been tapped into.
This is why I am so passionate about the opening of The Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) and the array of new events and shows we can welcome to Aberdeen which will undoubtedly transform the city into one of the go-to places for events, not just in Aberdeen but the UK.
For those who don’t know, TECA is Scotland’s brand new events venue and arena bringing the best entertainment and a world-class fan experience to the north east of Scotland. Replacing the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), TECA is the largest single investment of its kind in the UK; a £333 million development delivered by Aberdeen City Council in partnership with Henry Boot Developments.
I am thrilled to be part of the team involved in launching this state-of-the-art facility when it opens this summer. The venue will have up to 48,000sqm of flexible event space including seven conference suites, three exhibition halls, nine meeting rooms, a superior 12,500 capacity arena, luxurious hospitality suites, VIP lounge, and a high-end 150-seater restaurant.
The new venue will be over four times as large as the previous AECC which means we need four times as many events to fill the space! Hence I am actively seeking new business to bring to TECA that I think will have Aberdeen’s population buzzing and help to inspire a new sense of creativity in our community. I have reached out to most of the nation’s top exhibition organisers to promote Aberdeen and the opportunities on offer.
A big selling point for the new development is that we will have two onsite hotels – the adjoining four-star Hilton with 200 bedrooms and the Aloft Hotel with 150 bedrooms, great for those coming from further afield. With unrivalled public transport connections, TECA is located right next to Aberdeen International Airport, just minutes from the city’s new western peripheral route, and in prime position for rail links between Aberdeen and the North of Scotland.
At the time of opening, TECA will be the most sustainable venue of its kind in the UK; powered entirely by the city’s household waste. As a city, we have one of the UK’s top performing economies so I, for one, think we have a lot of opportunity to invest back into both the city and its people.
However, I have found one of the main obstacles has been the reluctance of event organisers to take a risk in coming to a new venue, and indeed destination, whereby the success of the show has no prior benchmark to compare it with.
People, understandably, like to play it safe and stick to what they know and where they know, but in doing so they are missing out on so much potential that has not been taken advantage of.
We are currently working closely with organisers whose exhibitions range from consumer shows covering topics such as hair and beauty, gaming activities, pet wellbeing and food and drink as well as trade shows relating to the energy sector, retail and home decor and hospitality and tourism.
Once the doors to TECA open, the venue will very much sell itself, both to organisers and event attendees. TECA will offer a far more flexible and technologically advanced space than the current AECC site, enabling it to compete nationally and internationally for new events as well as broadening the appeal of the North East to business and leisure visitors from across the globe.
Events in Scotland are changing, and I am proud to be part of it.