As competition hots up at London venues, the key players are
investing heavily in new technology and facilities to meet the demands
of exhibition organisers.
At Wembley there is a possible sell-off of the venue. Wembley director
of sales and marketing Peter Tudor says: 'When the company published its
annual results it decided to review the business. There is a possibility
of selling the business to developers and 25 companies are looking at
the site. There will be a report on the options within the next two
General refurbishment work is under way at Wembley Arena with plans in
the pipeline to decorate the outside of the building. One of the venue's
biggest events this year is the UK Radiological Conference (UKRC).The
exhibition, which takes place this month, covers all aspects of medical
imaging and oncology in the UK. More than 120 companies are expected to
exhibit to about 6,000 delegates.
Other shows scheduled for this year include the NHS Conference, the
Cleanex laundry and dry-cleaning show that is held every three years and
a major nursing recruitment exhibition.
Earls Court Olympia (ECO) is investing heavily in products and
ECO commercial director Nigel Mason says: 'We're committed to spending
pounds 60m. We are continuing to upgrade all the toilet facilities and
the general hall environment. We plan to paint the Grand Hall and we are
upgrading security at Olympia as well as doing work on the glazed
ceiling in the Grand Hall. We have also just opened a 220-cover Pizza
Express in Earls Court which has proved popular with visitors.
It looks great. It is not what people expect in an exhibition
'At International Confex we launched plans for a new conference centre
in the Pillar Hall at Olympia with capacity for between 200 and 400. We
believe there is growth in that market. It is due to open in spring
2002, subject to finalising the design and getting planning
'Our latest challenge is to redefine the space in Earls Court 1. We want
to unveil a way of using Earls Court 1 in a different way. It has a
10,000sq m to 15,000sq m capacity and is fairly flexible. We see future
growth in this size of show.'
There is also a major programme to improve the PA system as well as a
special focus on health and safety.
A number of new shows have booked into the venue in 2001. These include
the National Countryside Show, Incentive World - which has moved from
Wembley - and Asia Expo. All three shows are committed to return to
Earls Court in 2002. New launches include Home Technology, What Holiday
and Viva Espana.
'The economy is strong and there is a good dynamic in the industry which
is encouraging people to launch shows,' Mason says. 'People are
committing longer term to us, which is very encouraging. We work closely
with the organisers to see how shows can grow. We try to offer the best
facilities, the right atmosphere and the right experience for visitors.
The whole catering experience has changed radically and we are
introducing a new bar concept whereby we are creating ECO bars
throughout the venue. What is increasingly important to us is the level
of service we provide. In years to come we will be differentiated by the
experience and level of service people have received.'
At the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QEIICC) work has been
completed on a radical overhaul of the 5th and 6th floors, creating more
meetings and exhibition space and opening up new foyer areas. New decor
has also been introduced to this area, including new carpets, wall
finishes, door finishes, conference chairs and lounge furniture. This
year the venue is hosting a number of pharmaceutical and technology
exhibitions combined with conferences.
London Arena in the Docklands has just awarded its cleaning contract to
M Prize. London Arena sales director James Rees says: 'We have just
completed a refurbishment of the Waterside Room which has capacity for
200. There was increasing demand from exhibition organisers who need
conference space. Some other remedial work is planned throughout the
building and a cashpoint machine will soon be installed. We try to
improve the service we give people. We are anticipating our busiest year
ever and we are very excited about it.'
In terms of shows, London Arena will hold ASP World, which has moved
from the London Novotel. A brand new show, Storage Area Networks, is
being launched in November. In early April it hosted the London Marathon
Show, which was attended by 60,000 visitors.
At the Barbican Centre work is being completed on the concert hall where
several million pounds is being spent on renovation. Barbican commercial
director Mark Taylor says: 'The rebranding has been well received. We
are going through the process of implementation and it is being
incorporated on front-of-house costumes, new brochures and stationery.
We haven't yet completed the changes on the outside of the building but
this will happen soon.'
Westminster Central Hall director and general manager Michael Sharp
says: 'We are continually upgrading and investing heavily in facilities.
We plan to spend pounds 4m on the centre in 2002. From an investment
point of view we are spending money on new furniture and decorating. We
welcome quite a diverse range of events to the venue from public
inquiries, such as the one into the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster, and
the Holocaust Memorial broadcast. We are also hosting a number of major
art shows such as the Society of Botanical Artists in May. We hold about
six to eight exhibitions annually.'
The Business Design Centre in Islington, north London has upgraded and
painted the entire building. A new gallery hall has been created with an
atrium on the second level of the building. The venue has also invested
heavily in a new safety rigging system in the roof of the building.
One of the newest venues in London is the Hilton London Metropole Hotel
& Conference Centre. It has exhibition capacity of 1,175sq m in the
combined Monarch and King suites, while the Palace suite offers 732sq m.
Recent events have included conferences and exhibitions for the
Institute of Travel Management, Russian Chamber of Commerce and IBM.
At Sandown Park in Surrey, United Racecourses has spent pounds 23m on a
complete refurbishment and building a new meetings facility scheduled
for completion in May 2001. The suite has capacity for 150 for a dinner
and 23 additional meeting rooms. It is a very modern, up-to-date
building and has air-conditioning throughout. The facility will be used
for corporate hospitality on race days.
CASE STUDY: Alexandra Palace
Alexandra Palace in north London recently staged two new events - the
first London Garden Show and the Fleet Show, which is now in its 19th
The London Garden Show, organised by Mainline Events, is dedicated to
urban horticulture and designer gardening. It took place from 5-8
The Fleet Show, run by Emap Automotive, ran from 1-3 May 2001. A number
of leading manufacturers unveiled their newest models to the UK's top
fleet buyers, including Jaguar, which launched its new X-type.
Fleet Show event director Chris Lester says: 'We made the decision last
October to move the show from the NEC. The event started off in 1983 at
Wembley Conference & Exhibition Centre and then moved to Olympia. It may
not be the end of the story, but we will stay in London for the next two
years. The capital offers us a large proportion of our target audience
who work in the South East. The show will attract between 6,000 and
8,000 visitors and Alexandra Palace allows us to create a buzz with that
number of visitors. Seventeen manufacturers attended the Fleet Show and
there were a record number of launches this year.'
CASE STUDY: Excel
Excel-Intouch, the EDS/ntl partnership ntl formed to install Excel's
communications and technology infrastructure, spent pounds 12m on IT
capabilities at the venue in London's Docklands.
As well as the standard communication services, Excel-Intouch has
created a web-enabled venue, providing integrated facilities
An integrated Internet Protocol (IP) network supports voice, video and
data, IP video-conferencing and digital television. A connection to the
InTouch local area network (LAN) enables unlimited access to the web for
one flat fee. And Wireless LAN connectivity will help product
demonstrations, cable management and networking of multiple offices.
Web kiosks in the boulevard give direct access to the Internet, emails
and the Excel intranet. Over time the web kiosks will offer booking and
billing of venue facilities and real-time customer services, travel and
event information. The kiosks also provide a web-based interactive
advertising and sponsorship portal for organisers, exhibitors and
Excel-InTouch launched a Mobile Business Centre at the Smart Card
Technology exhibition in late February. Facilities at the centre include
hot desks, private meeting facilities and Internet access.