Sustainable move

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RWM and Futuresource have merged to create one exhibition. Emap Connect’s Alison Jackson talks plans for the future and strategy…

At the end of 2010, Emap, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA) signed an agreement that saw both Recycling and Waste Management (RWM) and Futuresource merge into one event.

Stand Out is talking to Alison Jackson, managing director of Emap Connect, organisers of RWM.

The deal, announced in December, means that Futuresource will no longer take place at ExCeL in June, and the first combined event, which is operating under the name RWM in partnership with CIWM, will commence on September 13 at the NEC.

“The hard work starts when the deal is done,” laughs a relaxed Jackson, who has taken time out from busy meeting schedules to chat to Stand Out about plans for the future.

“In theory, conversations about joining the two exhibitions have been ongoing for a couple of years. The market has been very keen to combine the events, and so negotiations gathered momentum in September. We said ‘come on, let’s sit down’. Exhibitors looked to Europe and saw one show and questioned why the UK had two.”

The merger now means, says Jackson, that RWM can compete on a European level.

“The combined size and scale of the exhibition and the combined visitor base means that RWM can play on a different level. The reality was that we were two medium-sized exhibitions.

“We want to transfer as much business across as possible but we are aware that not everyone will want to move.”

It’s the organisers aims to keep the exhibition at roughly the same size as the two original events combined – 45,000 square metres in total. And whilst ExCeL was debated as an option, the decision was taken to remain at the NEC.

Futuresource exhibitors are now being invited to transfer their space to the new combined event, with details of the transfer plans being finalised as Stand Out types. Three Futuresource employees have transferred to RWM, each taking responsibility for either sales, marketing or operations, and Jackson reports no job losses.

She continues: “Our key priority is to move contracted exhibitors from the June event to the September exhibition. Because the market has been asking for this, it has welcomed it but we still have to deal with each exhibitor on a case-by-case basis. But more so we are dealing with the practicalities rather than resistance.

“Industry has considered us as brave to get on and do it.”

A series of roadshows and open days will commence in the spring, enabling the joint team under the leadership of exhibition director Gerry Sherwood, to hold clinics and conversations with current clients and new prospects. The NEC, Scotland, Manchester and London have been identified as roadshow/open day locations.

“Open days are an effective way of talking to the masses. There are still some visitors who visited the NEC 10 years ago and had a bad experience and we also have to reassure people that they won’t lose presence at a bigger show.”

Going forward, CIWM will play an integral role in influencing the shape, content and direction of the event through a joint event advisory board. It will also have a high profile presence at the show and will make a significant contribution to the marketing and promotion in 2011 and beyond.

Jackson explains that the two parties consulted the market with lots of hypothetical questions and it was its feedback that galvanized both RWM and Futuresource to sit down and make the agreement happen.

“Part of the rationale behind the deal is that both events are good at covering the market, but we both agreed that we’d like to offer more to those within the broader environmental sector. CIWM attracted more consultants. We’d like to develop new areas within the show as well as transfer some of the already successful elements.

“The reality is that we have nine months to work on ideas, and we now need to communicate with our visitors, as we have a lot of people who are used to going to ExCeL in June.”

Jackson concurs that the show will have to rebrand, identifying it as a job for the summer so that the new name, logo and branding for the 2012 event can be announced and launched to all interested parties in September. And she adds that whilst targets have been set, as a case had to be made for acquisition, Jackson is realistic about goals.

“RWM had about 9,500-9,600 visitors and Futuresource had 7,000. The shows only had 20 per cent crossover between them. Not everyone is from London is going to travel to Birmingham, so we are being realistic but in terms of attendance 13-14,000 will be a good place to be,” she concludes.