Damian Norman cannot ski. A skill, you might think, that would be considered a pre-requisite for the show manager of DMG World Media's Metro Ski and Snowboard Show.
The first time he put skis on was at the show in 2003, when testing the artificial ski slope. "Because I didn't know how to turn I hit the bottom at 30 miles per hour and hurt my knee," he says. "I had an operation and found out my knee was already damaged. I am under immense pressure from the editor of Daily Mail Ski & Snowboard magazine to learn. During a ski test in Italy in March it came out that I couldn't ski and we were meant to test the equipment; it's a bit embarrassing sometimes."
To spare his blushes, Norman has become an accomplished snowboarder, a hobby that he is passionate about and, following his injury, was advised to take up as an alternative to skiing.
A LOVE OF MARKETING
But Norman's event career has not always been about the piste. Before joining the industry he studied business and marketing at university. "I loved marketing and the idea that I could be creative and inspire people," he says. "But without experience, no one would give me a job."
Following a two-month break travelling in America, Norman returned to the UK and in 2000 applied for a marketing position at organiser Business Intelligence. The role required him to speak fluent French, but despite not speaking a word of the language - and lying to the recruitment agency - he applied anyway.
At the interview he met DMG World Media's current marketing director Caroline Carr, in her previous guise as group marketing manager at Business Intelligence. "My lack of experience didn't matter because we got on great and she gave me a chance, which I'll always be thankful for," he says.
Even his lack of French did not seem to bother Carr.
After Business Intelligence, Norman moved to Penton Media in 2003 and worked on Leisure Industry Week as marketing manager for a year. He has been with DMG World Media for more than three and a half years, having joined as senior marketing executive for the Ski Show. Following a later stint as PR manager for the Ideal Home Show he was promoted to group marketing manager for DMG World Media's sports events division, which includes the Outdoor Show and the Outdoor Adventure Show.
In February 2006 Norman assumed responsibility for the Ski Show. He was determined to liven up the event ready for its stint at Olympia from 18-22 October. "I tried to give people a reason to visit the Ski Show," he says.
"You can buy ski equipment online now, and I wanted to provide a day out for people with their family or friends."
The show had 10 new features, including a World Resorts Village, a Trespass Quarter Pipe, which featured top skiers and boarders leaping from Olympia's balcony to perform tricks, and the Motorola Brand Arena and Fashion Show, which offered prizes of free ski equipment to visitors.
To attract parents, Norman also organised a complimentary creche, while children under 14 were offered free entry.
Such incentives appear to have worked. The 2006 show saw a 24% increase in visitor figures from 2005, with 39,000 (pre-audit) attending.
But there is little time for Norman and his team to rest on their laurels, with ambitious ideas for 2007 at the fore. "We are looking at including London's first-ever luge. A type of toboggan run, it will start from the roof of Olympia and travel 50 metres down into the show."
Although you might never see Norman wearing a pair of skis himself, his plans for this popular event are showing no signs of slowing down.
NORMAN ON ...
Skiing ... Skiing to me is not all about going to Cloisters, it's not an elitist sport. Prices have come down and the 'stuffiness' has gone. It's had a renaissance period over the past few years and is a great sport. We talk about obesity in children, so why not take your family on active holidays - it's a great life experience.
Career highlights ... One of the highlights would be what I'm doing right now, because I'm enjoying my job and everyone who works with me works hard and with a smile. The people in the show team are passionate about what they do, and that's a rare quality.
The success of the show ... The result was a completely different visitor experience, moving the event from being an exhibition to a show. The new features ultimately invigorated the atmosphere and created a new energy about the entire event.