by Mark Rowe

Roy Cooper, Professional Security magazine MD, has a question and answer session with Simon Parker, pictured, of UBM Live, organisers of the IFSEC shows.

As you know I attended the ExCeL launch of IFSEC 2014 the other week and featured it in my April gossip. For readers who weren’t there, could you run through why IFSEC’s moving to London? You evidently took the view people are at least as happy to attend a London show as Birmingham. Which begs the question how do people travel to shows – is it by car, public transport, plane even?

Hi Roy it was great to see you at the launch thanks for coming. It really depends on the venue; ExCel is fantastically situated to accommodate people travelling by any means with parking, excellent public transport links and an airport on its doorstep. While ease of access is really important what is more important are the reasons ‘why’ people attend and how IFSEC’s move to London will continue to build its reputation as ‘the’ place to be if you are in the security and fire industry. As you know, IFSEC started in London and only moved as it outgrew the venue – ExCeL is a modern, purpose-built venue in Europe’s most vibrant capital city and has the space to accommodate IFSEC and its associated shows.

Also you are changing the month of the show from May to June – what was the thinking behind that, as in June are you nudging into summer holiday territory?

You don’t make a move of this size without researching it extensively first. The team at UBM did the largest research project with exhibitors and visitors I have ever been involved with and the results indicated an overwhelming preference to move to London. With regard to dates, June proved to be the most popular summer month – the only other preference was not December!

And why the change to three days. Was it something you had in mind to do before – as it has been a grumble among some exhibitors and visitors for a while that the show was a day too long. Or was it a matter of doing all changes at once?!

We are always working on ways in which we can provide better ROI [return on investment] for our exhibitors and going to three days will ensure that their costs are reduced substantially, ensuring ROI increases as we deliver the same or more visitors. Our research indicates that a move to London will increase visitors especially from key visitor groups such as Installers, End Users and International visitors.

Speaking more generally, over the years mobile communications have become faster and easier and cheaper. Does that give business people less cause to attend events – or are events as popular as ever as a time to network and do business?!

As an industry we have been cautious about the threat that technology could pose for years. The belief was that the internet was going to kill events and our only saviour would be the virtual world. What this theory doesn’t take into account is the fundamental need for business to be conducted ‘face to face’. Most of us have experienced video conferencing and while it works in certain circumstances it is no replacement for the power of meeting someone in the flesh. We have found that our events have flourished in the digital age and far from being a threat, technology has helped us to make them more exciting and appealing.

I’ve said before that I love IFSEC – and have been to it for five decades. So I have seen it change over the years! What if any change can I expect to see in 2014?

Is this where I say ‘don’t be ridiculous, you can’t be old enough’? On a serious note it is very nice of you to say so Roy and your support and feedback has always been greatly appreciated. As you know I have been involved with IFSEC for 15 years and have also seen it change and evolve. This latest move is part of that cycle and represents an incredibly exciting chapter in IFSEC’s history. We have lots of exciting plans including the launch of the Security & Fire Installer Live Programme. I would however like to invite you to a major new initiative for this year which takes place on the Wednesday night of this year’s show. We are staging a ‘Welcome to London’ party at the Hilton Metropole which will be the biggest and best party we have ever staged. It is aimed at key installers, will be invite only, and feature fantastic entertainment, some great bands and complimentary food and drink (so right up your street Roy!) . We are due to unveil more plans around this at IFSEC in a few weeks and excited to party ‘London style’! We’ve had a fantastic initial response and will be organising a series of annual events that will be repeated in London in 2014. I sincerely hope you can make it as it promises to be great fun!

Readers might be curious to know about the work that goes into IFSEC – do you go into hibernation for a few months then start work on the next show, or is it a 12-month job from one to the next?!

Thanks for asking this because it is always the question people ask me at dinner parties when I have told them what I do. As you can imagine with over 1200 exhibitors, seminars, features, websites, social media and a new marketing campaign to devise each year across the four events that make the Protection & Management Series, of which IFSEC is a part, exhibitions do take a little planning so we are busy all year round!

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