From the Editor: With the right vision, the NEC could be a winning venue

In his most candid interview to date, and the first since he took over as chief executive of the Birmingham NEC, Andrew Morris admits to what visitors, organisers and exhibitors have long suspected - something has been wrong for some time at the UK's largest exhibition venue (page 10).

Up until October last year, the NEC Group had no strategy, no direction and was about to throw £40m at the redevelopment of its piazza without any customer consultation.

Just six days into the role, Morris scrapped the piazza project and set about reallocating the money to rectify the most common grievances of NEC customers: car parking, seating, organiser facilities, toilets and catering.

His vision is for the NEC to be regarded as the UK's national exhibition centre. An aggressive five-year strategy, focused on customer service, plus a four-year investment plan aimed at drawing a line through the negative connotations that surround the venue, will go a long way towards achieving this. Other UK venues should watch the developments closely or face losing shows to a new era of NEC Group management.

Almost 2,000 readers from a wide range of client companies responded to Event's debut survey into event trends and spend. The results (page 16) are good news for anyone seeking to justify the importance of an experiential strategy. As more companies find value in events, investment has risen along with product launches, brand campaigns, corporate entertaining and exhibition spend. Face-to-face is a serious addition to above-the-line activity. Clients must now focus on measurement beyond that of personal feedback for the sector to continue its year-on-year rise up the marketing ladder.

The increase in activity is reflected in entries to the Event Awards.

Judges have waded through 200 pieces of activity and the competition for gold and silver trophies is set to reach fever pitch on 7 October at the Riverbank Park Plaza hotel. Haymarket Events is currently taking table bookings.

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