Exhibition industry representatives from across the Continent
descended on Prague for Exhibition Management (XM) Europe's summer
meeting. The July event, organised by the European Association for
Exhibition Organisers, drew 200 delegates from 30 countries.
XM Europe was founded in 1998 by exhibition organiser Eef de Ferrante
after he saw how the US industry came together to share information,
network and educate itself. "The idea was to get everyone together and
exchange ideas," says XM Europe managing director Cornelien Baijens.
"The industry is becoming more globalised so we wanted to meet once or
twice a year to make sure people have a free flow of information."
XM Europe held its inaugural meeting in Amsterdam last summer, followed
by its first winter meeting at Excel in London's Docklands. The theme of
the December event was Next Generation Tools for Exhibition Organisers,
but it attracted a disappointing number of delegates.
"We only had about 130 people and we had expected more," explains
"I think the theme of the event could have been more precise. If we had
focused it more, along with better promotion, then we could have
attracted more people."
Improvements were needed for the event at the Hilton Hotel Prague,
entitled One-to-one Marketing for Exhibition Organisers. Baijens
believes it delivered the goods. "The delegates all stayed in one place
at the venue. Everybody was together and able to mix with the numerous
activities on offer," she says.
Exhibition-success.com managing director Simon Desai, who gave a speech
on web strategies, thinks the informal approach worked. "Everyone was
relaxed and spoke the truth and the event provided a laid-back
environment in which to do business," he says.
Other speakers included Reed Exhibition Companies president Michael
Breet who delivered the keynote speech on how to survive in today's
"The speeches were really informative with some good professional
speakers," Desai adds. "It was also a huge cost saving as all the right
people were there. Usually, for me to talk to them separately would cost
a fortune in business travel."
Exposure Communications director Simon Burton spoke at the event about
making the most of a PR budget. "The audience was spot on and really
receptive," he says. "But there could have been a few workshops. People
should be going to the show to do rather more than just talk. It gives
people the chance to work through situations and brainstorm with
colleagues from around the world."
Desai adds: "I think XM Europe could be very useful for inviting client
exhibitors to talk to organisers who are at the sharp end of shows. For
example, XM Europe could have invited Czech businesses to the
conference, enabling them to meet organisers and sit in presentations or
seminars about successful exhibiting."
Burton also notes that there were few English organisers. Baijens
responds: "I don't think there is a big difference in attitude between
the UK and the rest of Europe," Baijens says. "We get a lot of responses
from the UK as it is one of the biggest markets in Europe. We plan to
I can't say exactly when, but it will be in the next two to three
The group is also preparing its first XM Asia meeting, which is due to
take place in January 2002 at Singapore International Convention and
"Asia is a growing area and there are some active national associations
there," Baijens adds. "But it is fragmented and there is hardly any
exchange of information. That's why we've decided to take the jump in