Stephan Murtagh – Managing Director says, we work with exhibitors all over the world helping them get more leads not more business cards from Exhibitions. Too many companies these days just assume it will all “happen” when they do an exhibition…it doesn’t and they become understandably disillusioned. Essentially, we help companies to exhibit really effectively.
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
For me it’s all about working with our clients to put them in the best and strongest position to exhibit and see real results. As a goal, we are looking to train and coach 5,000 Exhibitors in each continent in the world and be seen globally as the expert in our sector.
What are your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges we face are educating exhibitors that there are better ways of Exhibiting and not just going with what we did the last time. On a personal level it’s about doing more business in Ireland as currently it’s 70% UK, 20% India and only 10% Ireland! Looking forward to reversing some of those numbers!
How do you keep your team/staff motivated?
For me motivating my team is all about giving them ownership and responsibility for projects and working with them so they can advance their own skill sets and ensuring that I value their input at all times. Think it was Steve Jobs who said that we should employ people who were more clever than ourselves. It’s all about letting people do what they are good at and not micro-managing people.
What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?
The Exhibition industry like many industries is very much economic dependent but with marketing/exhibitions, it tends to be the first thing that gets cut and really quickly when the economy is not going well. The challenge is to consistently adapt so that our service is always relevant.
What new trends are emerging in your industry?
The move to far more sustainable exhibition stands is becoming far more important and relevant and this is a great development as theirs an onus on all businesses to be sustainable. There is quite a movement to become more digital in Exhibitions in terms of promotions and this seems to be a consistent development in our sector.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
Would love to see more investment by our government in the Exhibition and events sector. As a country we have so much to offer in terms of ancillary things for exhibition visitors to see and do outside the events but feel we don’t play up to our strengths as much as we should or could. For me I have also noticed that all the emphasis for success is put on the organiser whilst it should be a joint effort by exhibitor and organiser so that everybody wins. Exhibitions are growing faster than the global economy and we need to all be capitalising on the opportunities they bring.
Are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
The main skills gap for me is that people are married to one thing they do and we all in business need to become more rounded and gain more overall skills. The amount of time I meet people who are working for companies who say they are not in sales is amazing. We are all in sales no matter what “title” we have.
How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?
During the crisis we needed to focus in on the good things we were doing and actually dump some of the services which are purely add ons. This actually was a good thing as it helped us consolidate and focus in on the things where we added the most value. I think like any business, strategy is always evolving and that’s not a bad thing as it helps you become more pro-active rather than re-active. Every cloud has a silver lining I suppose!!
How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
To be fair, I just don’t know and doing so much business in the UK it may well be even more of a challenge. As a service business it’s hard at this stage to see what the real impact will be, but we have to be braced for it and again be proactive. With my glass half full hat on it could actually be great for us as UK exhibitions will undoubtedly suffer and in fact our services may be even more important to them then. Like everything else we just have to deal with what’s in front of us when it happens.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
For me success in The Exhibition Guy is clients coming back to us saying that we helped their business get more repeat business and want to use us again. We offer a no nonsense real to life coaching platform and course built from 25 years of walking the walk (literally in exhibition halls!) and delivering for our clients. This is what drives us to succeed. Being a small part in our clients own success story.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Value your time and it will value you by never selling yourself too cheap. We don’t charge for a half or full day training course, we charge for the almost 30 years it took to develop it.
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
Being shortlisted in the UK Exhibition News Awards was a big highlight for me as it’s our industry stage and to be nominated as a small company was a real honour. Other highlights would be being called the Guru of Exhibitions and building amazing clients and friends globally over the past 12 months.
What’s next for your company?
We have just developed a unique and first to market online course for Exhibitors – “The 7 Steps to Exhibition Success” and it’s all about spreading the message! Other things include a multi city trip to India to deliver the 7 steps course with the biggest Exhibition organiser in the world. It’s a real honour to work with them, particularly as 12 months ago I was told by numerous people they would never work with a small company from Ireland and they actually called me! Our strong LinkedIn effort is beginning to pay off!
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2019?
Developing more online courses and bringing the business to a greater audience globally. Ideally would like to do more work here in a Ireland. Recently did my first event for Enterprise Ireland and would love to see more work with them and their clients here and abroad.
Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
Being the official “Go To” brand for all things Exhibitions and working with 5 of the top 10 Global Exhibition companies.