BI Worldwide set itself a goal in 2011 – to double the size of the business by 2017, an especially lofty aim given the state of the global economy. But its ambition has been far from thwarted and the group is on track to hit the target a year early.
C&IT talks to managing director Mike Davies and director of events David Battley about past performance and where they are planning to take the business.
How is BI Worldwide's UK event business performing?
Davies: Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves that we are doing so well.
We're on track to achieve (our goal to double the size of the business by 2017) a year early and since 2009 and 2010 we have grown by more than 40%, improved margins and secured some great new clients. Turnover is at its highest for more than a decade.
What's your forecast for 2014? Is client confidence returning?
Battley: We expect 2014 to continue the growth trend that we have established over the past three years and we are targeting modest growth of just eight per cent in 2014. We have a strong pipeline of client opportunities and our existing clients are placing more business with us year on year.
Why are clients returning year on year?
Battley: Because our team always delivers on our promises and provides exceptional experiences for every delegate and guest. Our focus and indeed our company structure is centred around the client. Client confidence is at its strongest for several years, but I think we all have to accept that purchasing teams play an important role for our clients and so the need to control costs, show our value and keep budgets down will never go away.
How's new business?
Battley: Our strategy to expand our global capabilities has enabled us to secure some great new clients, one example being Dell. Having worked with it in North America, we expanded our business with the company to include EMEA and have started to help it in its emerging markets.
Davies: To support these strategies we have grown our permanent employee numbers from around 120 to almost 160 over the past two years and invested heavily in new technologies. Last year alone we opened a new data centre, installed new telephone systems and moved our Eventrak delegate registration systems to new cloud-based technology.
How will you realise the growth plans you set out?
Davies: The 2017 goal to double our business is one that assumes purely organic growth. However, we have been casting our eye over one or two potential acquisitions and we hope to expand our global footprint further, with a new office due to open in Moscow at the beginning of January 2014, adding to existing operations in Europe, US, Canada, India, China, Australia and Latin America.
We are confident that we can achieve our existing goals ahead of schedule. Primarily we focus on what we are exceptional at: high-end incentive travel, impactful conferences and flawless product launches and roadshows.