In an interview with EN’s sister title Access All Areas, Marked Events CEO Mark Walsh revealed details of its, Craft Drink Festival, the exhibition organiser’s first outdoor event.
Walsh said, this isn’t the average craft drink event, but “a proper festival”, a celebration of all types of craft drinks. “The focus isn’t solely on craft ale or beer we will encourage cider, spirits, prosecco and even coffee!” he commented.
The two-day event (28-29 July 2018) will be held at the NEC’s Hall 16 and accompanying gardens. The event will be using the venue’s outdoor space to create a pop-up town comprised of brewers, distillers and street food stands.
Walsh said that Craft Drink Festival will have stages for live music, a comedy tent and areas where visitors can learn how to brew at home.
“With that in mind, there really isn’t another UK festival or craft drink event like this,” Walsh said. “We want it to be inclusive; it’s not just for those who know their weak beer from their pale ale!”
What made you launch the Craft Drink Festival?
MW: To be honest, the team at the NEC! We have a great relationship with the guys there and they knew we were looking to expand our event portfolio. So when they pitched the idea it excited the team and we agreed it was an obvious market to go after!
Is this a sign of your interest in consumer events?
MW: When we launched BPM 11 years ago it was a consumer show, it just morphed over time into a hybrid trade/prosumer event as the other trade events in the sound and lighting industry lost focus and we gained their exhibitors. So, this isn’t a new area for us. We love working on consumer events as we can get creative with them!
What is the strategy behind this project?
MW: Ultimately we are all consumers! Any event should reflect the current vibe of an industry and be leading the trend curve. When designing an event we don’t really look at it from a trade/consumer point of view. We look at it more from the ground up from an exhibitor and visitor point of view and deliver what excites them.
Marked Events, a Lancashire based creative event organiser, offers event management for brands and organisations as well as producing their own exhibitions. Walsh explained: “We still have specific trade events in our portfolio and right now we have a good balance across a few very different areas.”
Current events in the portfolio include GIG, for entertainers professional, and the technology events Worship, Live, and Club+Bar. In October, Marked Events announced that the 2017 outing of BPM | PRO was the last.
Looking ahead, Walsh told Access that several new shows are lined up to launch when the timing is right. He said: “I would like to think we are one of the most ambitious organisers out there. We have spent 11 years getting the formula right with BPM and are really excited to be up-scaling the business.”
“Craft Drink Festival is defiantly an outdoor festival,” Walsh said. The organiser has secured a large hall just in case it rains. “We have worked in outdoor events for a few years now but this will be our first in-house festival,” he explained.
For Walsh, indoor and outdoor events are operationally different however both share the same formula. “A passion, an audience and a venue!” he said.
What do you make of 2017?
[It] has been a good year for Marked Events and many things have clicked in to place. It’s been a ‘head down’ year focusing on ourselves rather than looking out of the window too much (oh I wish I had the time).
What opportunities do you see in the market?
MW: I think what is staggering to me is the number of industries that are still underserved or have just really dull exhibitions in place! There are lots of opportunities to disrupt several sectors at the moment and so many different areas to launch shows in.
What has been your main challenge?
MW: I think the frustration for a small business like ours is that you can only grow so fast – we have a really good and creative team and often just have to put our ideas back on the shelf and save them for a rainy day!
The Marked Events boss predicts 2018 will be a busy year for the company, but “a very exciting” one. He concluded: “We have another two trade shows launching at the end of the year alongside a whole year of events for a lifestyle brand we work with, and our smaller portfolio of conferences and workshops.”