Angela Smith, business development manager at the SEC, on how understanding the needs of your audience can aid a sale.
At the Scottish Event Campus, the sales team encourage exhibition organisers to bring their event to our venue.
Having experience on both sides of the organiser/venue fence helps a great deal – I have a strong knowledge of the market and what organisers are looking for, having been one myself. However, it can take more than just industry knowledge to help clients realise the potential that Scotland, and Glasgow, can offer. It takes a personal touch and deep insight into the inner workings of the Scottish audience to open client eyes to the opportunities here.
With new and prospective clients, I often find myself with my destination marketing hat on. A lot of the time bringing a show to Scotland can feel to organisers like they are launching in a totally different country – which is one of the hardest things to do in this industry.
My experience and personal circumstance mean that I can empathise with clients and I truly understand their potential concerns. Most importantly, I can provide reassurance to them that bringing an event to Scotland could be one of the best strategic decisions for their show.
I have lived in Scotland all my life, and have been attending events at the SEC, such as Carnival, since I was a youngster. I’m one of the 67 per cent of the Scottish population who live within an hour’s drive of the venue, and I now have a young family who love coming to events. In a sense, I am the target audience that many events are trying to reach!
This personal understanding of what consumers are looking for in events helps to put clients at ease. It’s a great base for building a strong working partnership, which can lead to long-standing relationships like the ones we have with the Model Rail Show, Ideal Home Show and Hobby Craft – who have all been with us for decades.
One of the primary challenges of organisers looking at bringing their event to Scotland is the task of understanding a new audience – something which I can relate to, having launched an event in a new place before. Aside from the sales team’s in-depth knowledge, we have an in-house market research team who can provide clients with expert insight and analysis into the target market.
All these conversations happen long before we event get to talking about square metre rates and catering options with clients. It can often be a lengthy process, but the results speak for themselves – we recently helped Ocean Media Group launch The Scottish Baby & Toddler Show to great success, similarly, ReedPOP Comic Con (formerly MCM) attracted and maintained a strong audience year on year.
The personal touch stretches across Glasgow, and we have highly-esteemed cross-city partnerships with Glasgow Convention Bureau and Glasgow City Council. These strong links mean that running extraordinary events – like the 2014 Commonwealth Games and this year’s European Championships – can be delivered smoothly.
These connections all play a part in bringing events to life in Glasgow, be it city-wide engagement activities, introductions to local businesses in relevant industries and local sector champions or basic travel and accommodation support, organisers can have huge weights lifted off their shoulders by coming here.
An exhibition hall is an exhibition hall. It’s what’s inside (and outside!) that counts, even more so here in Scotland and that’s what makes us so unique. We sell the destination and our people – the whole package, not just the bricks and mortar.
The door is always open here for a warm Scottish welcome, and we encourage everyone to do what over 1.5 million people a year do: visit the SEC.