How are plans for IBC2009?
Exhibition bookings for IBC2009 are still very strong. Currently we are about 10% down on the final space requirement for last year, which at this time is very good. My view is that we will have an excellent show, filling the RAI Centre, and perhaps the space available to us in the new Elicium building. Sony is the only major company at IBC2008 which has not signed up for this year.
Does that mean IBC2009 will be a smaller exhibition than last year?
We are a little smaller because many exhibitors have trimmed their stand space a little, and we fully understand why they need to do this. Sadly, we are seeing some cancellations from companies who are struggling in the market, but these are being replaced by fresh applications. Last month we were able to allocate stands to 25 new companies, who were waiting for space in the right areas for them. It may be hard to believe but I promise it is true: new bookings are still outrunning cancellations for IBC2009 Sustainability is the keyword. IBC has been central to our market for more than 40 years and we want to help our all stakeholders continue to prosper. IBC is run by the industry, for the industry, and the market is continuing to show a strong commitment to IBC.
So you feel confident about IBC2009?
Confident but not complacent. The IBC team is very experienced in creating a vibrant and relevant IBC and is completely focused on delivering a valuable experience for everyone. At its simplest level, business is about people and relationships. Those relationships are important in good times and in tough times. Certainly in this industry, which is all about communication, people need to meet face to face to do business and compare the marketplace, and this is one of the great strengths of IBC. North American trade shows seem to be suffering. The exhibitions so far in the rest of the world – like BVE in London, CCBN in Beijing, Cabsat in Dubai and ISEurope in Amsterdam – have held up very well. IBC is very much a global event, and we remain confident that our audience will see the value in attending.
You mentioned Sony opting out of IBC2009 ?
Obviously this is a disappointment. Sony is a big player, and IBC has always worked well for them. We have been talking in detail for some time, of course, and they have explained their thinking. They have also been positive in their comments about IBC. For this year they have chosen another route. We wish them well, and I can say that we are continuing our dialogue with them, working hard to get them back into the show. For the last few years Sony has anchored hall 9 and made it a production zone. That is really important for IBC, so we are taking the space and creating in it a production village. One key feature will be the opportunity to compare a huge range of cameras from all the leading manufacturers. Nowhere in the world will you have the chance to make direct, side-by-side comparisons on this scale: another way IBC adds value to your visit. The production village will also include a training zone, looking at workflows as well as shooting, and we are investing even more in visitor marketing to the production community to tell them about what will be happening and why it will be valuable to them. We have not had a rush of cancellations following Sony’s announcement and I do not expect one: the value proposition of IBC is still exactly the same. If you are a competitor of Sony, it may even have got stronger!
Are you making any other initiatives to help exhibitors?
Like any other business activity, IBC has to be measured in terms of return on investment. And there are two sides to RoI: the cost, and the value received in return. Now we appreciate that everyone has to look carefully at the level of spend, and we are working hard to help people control this. We also recognise that people’s time is more valuable than ever, so we are helping exhibitors by reducing the effort required before the event. The new stand packages include a ‘walk on’ free design structure. This is for exhibitors who want to take more space than we can accommodate in our shell scheme offering, but want the convenience of a pre-built stand. For small exhibitors who really want to be a part of the IBC experience but are worried both about containing costs and about management time, we have a plug and play solution: a Zone-style exhibition pod, complete with broadband connection, power and light, a lockable cupboard and stand graphics. Also in the package is freighting for your equipment and two hotel rooms, all for a lead-in price of 10k euros.
We are working with our partners in other areas, too. In the next few days, Amsterdam will announce a reduction in hotel prices of around 10% in most areas. We are encouraging them to launch some other specific cost-saving hotel promotions, and I am confident we will hear more about those in May.
What are you doing to encourage visitors to attend?
This is the value side of the IBC RoI, and I can assure you that we are investing heavily to make this year’s event unmissable. In particular we are looking at show floor visitor attractions and a whole range of new communications and promotions designed to add value for exhibitors and visitors. I have already mentioned the expansion of our popular training programme, for example, with production and workflow in hall 9 alongside post in hall 7.
Why are you investing in what is bound to be a difficult IBC?
When we talk about IBC being run by the industry for the industry that is not a marketing slogan, it is at the core of IBC’s mission. We are not running simply running an event – and taking money out of the industry – we are running IBC because we are a part of that community. We know what exhibitors, delegates and visitors are going through at the moment, in planning for IBC and across the whole of their businesses. We take that knowledge, add to it some creative thinking from our professional team, and build an event that will actively drive the industry forward.
What are your predictions on attendance?
I can promise is that we are making every possible effort to add even more value to IBC2009, with a very strong communication and promotions plan to ensure everybody is fully aware of the benefits of IBC. We are building a telephone marketing campaign to top broadcasters and media organisations across Europe, finding out how we can help them maintain their place in the IBC community. For example, where a northern European organisation can guarantee a strong delegation we are looking at providing coach transport to Amsterdam, additional conference facilities and networking events. Inevitably, when times are tight travel budgets are looked at, and we know that some bodies, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, are not able to fly to the US. But they do plan to be at IBC.
Registration opens in two weeks, and hotel bookings do not really start to come in until May, so at this stage there is no comparative data but I believe we will have another healthy, vigorous global event.
What would you say to those considering a trip to IBC this year? I would give them the same message as any other year. IBC is a key event in the calendar, the must visit show for all serious professionals in this market, worldwide. IBC offers - a comprehensive state of the art exhibition – which our bookings show remains the case in 2009 - genuine thought leadership from the conference – and this year the programme has been reinvigorated to meet the challenges of the times - added value events – from briefings to screenings, training to unique presentations and demonstrations - unrivalled networking opportunities in a friendly and attractive city.
Those reasons resonate even more strongly this year. 2009 is the time to invest in the knowledge you will need to tackle the coming creative, technical and commercial challenges, and successfully navigate the post-recession media landscape.
You do have to question why Sony do not want to be a part of IBC but then with one new SD DP-175 DVCAM camcorder to show off maybe this has been the correct decision, it could also be like a lot of big companies like Apple, they have supported these big shows for years and the cost versus the financial return is making them cherry pick the biggest and best shows or in Apples case possibly no shows. Another consideration must be the internet, if one of the big companies sneezes it’s round the globe within the hour so shows like IBC may becoming dinosaurs of the past.