Exhibitions and Events Australia
Organising Australia’s best consumer exhibitions
Business View Oceania interviews Jane Ford, Managing Director at Exhibitions and Events Australia, for our focus on Facilities Management
The team at Exhibitions and Events Australia (EEA) is committed to supporting the events industry through the organisation and management of exhibitions across the country. With inclusions such as their famous Home Shows, MindBodySpirit Festivals and the EveryWoman Expo, EEA’s portfolio is certainly a strong one. Formed as a response to exhibitors’ needs surrounding the logistics of attracting new clients, Exhibitions and Events Australia work closely with both buyers and sellers to create event environments that foster innovation, excitement, and lasting business relationships.
Managing Director Jane Ford shares her deep understanding of EEA’s mission, operations, approach to challenges, and future goals. “We spotted a gap in the market for pulling together products and services in one big marketplace. Events are a conduit between the buyer and the seller, so we strive to create marketplaces that meet everyone’s needs on both sides of the market.”
Exhibitions and Events Australia successfully services the incredibly varied Australian market, taking on exhibitors from all walks of life. Their Head office is in Melbourne with satellite offices in Brisbane and Auckland. Ford mentions that business is also booming in New Zealand, through sister company Exhibitions and Events New Zealand. “Our largest exhibition by a longshot is the famous Auckland Home Show. That event covers 46,000 square metres of space and hosts as many as 600 exhibitors. It is by far the largest event of its kind in the entire Asia Pacific region.
Together, Ford’s company attracts up to 5,000 exhibitors and 300,000 visitors every year. Survey results suggest that the economic activity generated across both countries was upwards of 2 billion dollars prior to 2020. These figures have since changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ford is confident that consumers are more eager than ever to attend events.
Such a large and varied calendar does not come without significant challenges. Ford shares that outside influences such as the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, multiple devastating bushfire seasons, and the current COVID 19 pandemic are the most difficult for the industry to fight against, but can also yield great reward when combatted effectively. “It’s about identifying and creating an opportunity for ourselves and our clients to prosper, even from things that generate such a huge negative impact.”
Speaking on COVID-19 in particular, Ford expresses her concern for the massive impact felt by the entire events industry and affirms Exhibitions and Events Australia’s determination to bounce back once the pandemic is brought under control. “COVID-19 has been our number one challenge. Any other challenges we might come across are only relevant if we can actually run events, so without our ability to do so, we simply don’t have a business. Another result of the pandemic is that a great many people have been listing, renovating and investing in their homes. Our exhibitors are actually busier than they have ever been and are obviously having supply issues with their products as well. They are barely able to meet the business they’ve got, let alone think about marketing their business.
Exhibitions and Events Australia has a full-time staff of 40 split across four divisions. The engine of the company is their sales department, from which existing exhibitors are contacted and new exhibitors are sourced. Alongside Sales, the Marketing team work tirelessly to update and develop EEA’s branding, create event features, and market events through digital and traditional networks, including social media, television, print and radio. Once exhibitors are secured, Operations staff begin to pull the event together by liaising with exhibitors and suppliers and managing technical details and logistical build and running of the events. At the end of the day, the Operations department keeps everything running smoothly. Finally, the Administration division manages accounts, customer service and day-to-day administrative duties. These four teams work across a 12-month planning period to deliver events that promise a great range for consumers and high investment returns for exhibitors.
Exhibitions and Events Australia also works to educate their exhibitors and support them to remain relevant in such a competitive industry. Ford shares some insight on her exhibitor education. “A lot of businesses are not forward planning. They’ve got the business now, but they might not have the business in six months’ time. Our events are not just about generating sales while they are on, they also fill a pipeline of future business for months.”
The future for Exhibitions and Events Australia depends largely on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Given that events can only be run in accordance with ever-changing health regulations and restrictions, planning ahead has proven difficult. Ford explains further. “We have learned throughout the COVID process to date that you can set up a great plan, then things suddenly change and your strategy unravels. So, you make another set of plans, then something else happens, and so on. We’ve realised that that we can only plan in advance so far, or we just end up redoing the work again and again. My current priority is simply keeping my staff in jobs, remaining relevant, keeping my brands alive and contributing to the continued success of the events industry where I can.”
Goals for Exhibitions and Events Australia following the eventual control of COVID-19 are centred around sustainable building practices and smart technology. Market innovations, changes in architecture and shifting trends in interior design are always a priority when sourcing new and existing exhibitors, but Ford predicts that community interest in smart technology and environmentally friendly products, services and operations will only grow. “The hot topics in the building industry right now are sustainable and energy efficient building products, and smart technology.”
Exhibitions and Events Australia, and its sister company Exhibitions and Events New Zealand, will continue to develop the events industry with their exciting, innovative, and vibrant events, Ford summarises. “What drives us is creating thriving marketplaces. Exhibitions are the only market place that allows buyers and sellers to connect all under the one roof. They are the only form of marketing that engages Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch. That’s why we are still around, why we love what we do, and why we will continue to succeed.”