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“It’s a fix, it’s a fix!”

by Stuart Wood

Mash Media MD Julian Agostini wonders if exhibitions could benefit from a truly open platform for feedback.


“It’s a fix, it’s a fix!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a raffle where this proclamation hasn’t been blurted out by one or more members of the audience.

It’s normally said in slightly pointed jest of course and somehow still manages to generate at least a titter from the other rafflers in the room. Mainly because they are in the same losers’ boat as there can be only one winner, so if I don’t win, someone must be cheating.

Do we really think like that? Probably not but there is a lack of trust in these processes which is also evident at any business awards ceremony that I’ve attended.

We have just completed another EN Awards; a night for which we always receive many thanks and accolades. I thoroughly enjoy the event every year, as do many of the shining lights in our industry, despite always being cornered, at some point later in the evening, by a disgruntled loser who wants to question the judging process.

The frustration is completely understandable; show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser, so I get it. In these moments of anxiety, often alcohol-fuelled, there seem to be very few considered thoughts of self-analysis and reflection. The only possible, reasonable explanation is that the powers that be had decided who they wanted to win, irrespective of who entered.

In the main, I am thrilled that our awards mean so much to people and that winning, or rather missing out, creates such an emotional response. However, it would be irresponsible of me to ever allow any thoughts of skulduggery or foul play to be harboured in terms of the judging process.

I remember a year when one single company won seven awards. There was pandemonium afterwards: ‘fix, fix’, ‘you just give it to whoever spends with you’. Surely that would be the worst devised fix ever…wouldn’t you spread it around?

In the cold light of day, everyone is calm and probably accepts the reality that the best performances win, but you will never convince everybody no matter what process you use. 

Now the EN Awards is a Red-Letter Day in our calendar, and I don’t want to be shooting myself in the foot, but is there a better way of pleasing all the people? The modern world gives everyone a platform to be a publisher or a critic.

Social media keeps us all on our toes at all times and that’s not a bad thing. The way in which we seem to buy everything these days is via customer reviews, whether it’s a holiday, a cleaner or a car, there will be a site which reviews performance, quality etc.

Tripadvisor has changed the world, but where is Expoadvisor? Surely it’s a matter of time before something like this exists. Check-a-trade has given all wary consumers trust, but where is Check-a-contractor? Around the corner perhaps?

Of course, nearly every exhibition will conduct its own research, but that’s not the same as an open platform, which can be very powerful in terms of testimonials but also leaves you vulnerable as you have no control (and there are some nutters out there that will write anything!).Would the creation of sites like these be the fairest way to judge our industry in the future? Maybe, but that’s only if you trust the reviews and who’s writing them, no easy solution.

See you at the EN Awards next year or, as Phillip Schofield referred to them on national TV, ‘the Oscars of the events industry’…now that’s a review!

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