Guess what, in the world of unique and unusual venues, June is peak time for exhibition bookings, so we’re taking this is a reason to explore this interesting and varied sector of the industry. We’re fortunate here at Lime Venue Portfolio to have in our group some of the most infamous exhibition brands in the world, from the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, to Olympia London and ExCeL London, in the capital’s West and East respectively.


However, as those who work in this part of the industry will quickly tell you, exhibitions come in all shapes and sizes, and from the beautifully big to the boutique, venue choice can make a real difference to the success of the event. In fact, more and more exhibition organisers are looking at new and unusual venues to host their events as the industry grows in its diversity. The fact is, this is a part of the events world that is incredibly dynamic. So, to help us navigate through it all, who better to have lunch with than Duncan Siegle, the man who heads up the exhibition portfolio at industry publisher Mash Media …


First of all, we wanted to get to know Duncan and understand why he seems to know more than many about the world of exhibitions, how long has he been working in the sector? “Indirectly for many years through my publishing career, but more directly when I joined Mash Media in 2010, and then very directly as both publisher of Exhibition News and Event Director for four of our annual exhibitions!


Ok, that would explain a lot, this is a man who seems to be steeped in the world of exhibitions. But so too is Mash Media, they've been involved for a while too right? “That’s right, from the very first day of Mash Media, in Julian’s (Agostini, the company’s founder and CEO) brother’s spare room, when he created the first edition of Exhibition News about 25 years ago.  But, as with me, the company has been an organiser on and off before really getting into the market in 2012 with the purchase of Event Production Show followed by International Confex a year later


So, how does Duncan fit into the world of Mash media, what do you do over there? “It’s easier to say what I don’t do! I avoid the kitchen rota like the plague. Outside of that I’m; company, commercial, publishing, event, director; depending on the day of week and where we are in the calendar year!”


So, as someone who has really engrossed themselves in this world, what has changed most about the industry in the time you've been working in it? “The breadth of technology available to organisers and exhibitors is probably the biggest thing, although most of it is unnecessary!  At a point soon, a company will come up with some tech that really changes the industry.  Like making the registration process a whole lot simpler.”


How about the role of venues, has this changed much; should it? “Find a landlord that cares about the resident, you’ll find a house that nice to rent.  It’s much the same in exhibitions but with a much higher churn rate; you’re in for four days and the next tenant is starting their build whilst you’re still there. This is how it has always been and continues to be.”


Back to us at Lime Venue Portfolio now, time for some mutual back rubbing. So, in our portfolio we have lots of sporting stadia as well as other unique venues; should these be considered viable options for exhibition events? “Yes, and many are already. As long as the space is large enough, accessible and well catered, it can host an exhibition.  Size being a key factor here of course.  Competition for the well-known and established large exhibition venues is nothing but a good thing.”


Hurrah, and this is also born out in the increased exhibition business we’re seeing across our portfolio, but we’re also a food business and we wanted to get Duncan’s opinion on this. “The quality and variety have never been better, which does reflect the demands of the most important group to attend the shows – the visitors.”


That’s also great to hear. But as well as being a very competitive industry, what does its future look like, any predications? “Watch out for that tech that going to change the industry, it’ll be here soon!”


We’ll certainly keep our eyes out but sounds exciting. In the meantime, it’s nice to see a part of the industry that isn’t afraid of trying new things, and that values the role of venues and food. We also like Duncan, his magazines and his shows, with folk like him on the scene, it’s no wonder the exhibition industry has its mojo in full gear.

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