60 seconds with... Steve Knight, The Meetings Show

C&IT caught up with The Meetings Show's event director, Steve Knight, to talk hosted buyer numbers and the plan to move next year's show.

The Meetings Show's event director, Steve Knight
The Meetings Show's event director, Steve Knight

How has the show gone this year?

I think it’s gone very well. We came into the week with some positive numbers as we had scheduled more than 12,100 appointments between hosted buyers and exhibitors, which was 20% up on the previous year. For us, that really is the key metric, because the exhibitors want as full a diary as possible. Pretty much every exhibitor we’ve spoken to has given great feedback.

The hosted buyer model has been a topic for discussion lately, why do you think it’s a positive way of doing things?

I think the hosted buyer model is so key because it allows the exhibitors to feel comfortable that the people coming to see them have asked to see them. Also, at our show the buyers have to fill out an application and every single one of them is reviewed. We’re very open about it and once an appointment has been made, the exhibitors can see the answers that the buyers have given us to the questions, except a couple of things that would be against data protection. I think that’s important because they can do research on who the buyers are and what they want, so it’s beneficial for everyone. Of course, some buyers want to come and just walk the show floor and I’m happy with that too, we like to be flexible.

Any particular highlights from the show?

I think one of the best achievements we’ve had this year has been the Association Meetings Conference. When we started it three years ago we had about 40 delegates, and this year we had more than 100. It’s a market that a lot of destinations want and it’s hard to catch these people sometimes, the conference allows us to bring everyone together. 

What are your learnings for next year's show? 

I think this year we delivered pretty much everything as I wanted to. I was so pleased with our education sessions; we’ve made some enhancements from last year and run more focused sessions. We’ve dropped some things about ROI because people didn’t want to hear that because it’s been talked about so much. So looking at next year’s show, my focus is on The Meetings Show's move to the new hall at Olympia. I want to make sure that we do that right and we’ve spoken to some of our exhibitors and discussed how the flow will work better for them, which is standard exhibition practice.

Why did you decide on the move? 

These halls have been a good home for us, but it’s getting to the point now that we need to expand. The team at Olympia said they could get us into the Grand, and I think it’ll be nice to be able to have all the exhibitors in the same room. We were going to have to move very soon so I think it makes sense to do it now.


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