Later this year, Professional Beauty North will be coming to EventCity for the first time. EN meets up with MD Mark Moloney to learn more about the brand and the show’s evolution.
In an industry which has been defined by publishers discovering the joys of live events, it’s somewhat refreshing to learn that Professional Beauty’s story is actually the reverse.
“We did it the other way around,” managing director Mark Moloney tells EN. “Our competitors wouldn’t let us advertise, so we launched a magazine.
“For us it’s all about content – face-to-face content at the show, print content, online content, social media content. We conduct focus groups and allow the industry to come together, not just at our shows but also outside so that they can discuss issues. We believe we are central to bringing the industry together.
That industry is the beauty professional industry. And with events in Manchester, Ireland and London (30,000 audited visitors), plus international editions in India, South Africa and Dubai, it’s an industry that clearly values an exhibition.
“There’s a growing trend of people working freelance and working from home,” says Moloney. “As an individual you can go to a salon or spa or you can get the treatment in your home, and that’s a growing phenomenon. Those people tend to value the show even more, because they can be isolated, and it brings people together.”
If the show has a ‘typical’ visitor, it would be a beauty salon owner or hair salon owner, says Moloney.
“They’re typically women, and the salons vary from maybe three people to 20, so they’re small business owners,” he explains.
The show has a small but growing area dedicated to spa owners, who are attracted by the wide range of content on offer, varying from business workshops covering retail and social media to an advanced treatments programme and sessions on nails and skincare.
After a decades-long stint at Manchester Central Professional Beauty is moving venue to EventCity to cater to its higher-end visitors who enjoy the convenience of driving straight off the motorway.
The move has also enabled the show to successfully. avoid clashing with the October half-term.
“Childcare is an issue at half-term,” explains Moloney. “Also, a lot of our audience is wealthy business owners and a fair proportion might consider a mini-break in October.”
The conversation turns to event technology, and specifically the value, or otherwise, of having an event app.
“I’m in a debate with my marketing team about the app,” Moloney muses. “We launched the app a few years ago and I think we had about 4,000 people registered on it. I need to have an update as to what the usage was on our last show.
“But, having just expressed scepticism there, we want to develop it so that it has some genuine use that people can’t just get on the website.”
Moloney is less conflicted when it comes to the newly launched bespoke matchmaking service, which was specially developed for Professional Beauty.
“We’ve invested in quite a lot of tweaks and improvements to that, to take the randomness out of exhibiting,” he tells EN. “We get thousands of people to the event but what we want to do is deliver a certain amount of appointments to our key exhibitors to guarantee an element of their success.
“We still have some exhibitors who think, ‘It’s not my job to get people to the show’, and I respond by saying, ‘you’re right, but it is your job to get them to your stand’. Those exhibitors who do engage properly have a much better show.”
The long-term future for the show brand looks bright, with the only blip being the recruitment deficit affecting the professional beauty industry. Less and less students and young people are entering the professional, which Moloney attributes in part to schools being incentivised to keep as many pupils as possible until sixth form.
The show does what it can to bring in as many students as possible, subsidising coach travel to make sure they make the trip. Not only is it a great way to encourage the next generation of beauty industry professionals but, handily, students are buyers too.