Just before Christmas, it was announced that the RWM and Futuresource exhibitions were to be merged into the one show that will be held this year at the NEC in Birmingham from 13-15 September.
This decision has been broadly welcomed by people in the industry, but what were the reasons behind the decision, and what are the challenges faced in merging two exhibitions into one?
CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said that it was in CIWM’s interest to merge its Futuresource exhibition with RWM.
“It is what our customers had been saying they wanted for at least two years. This was partly because money is harder to come by in the current economy, and also because they wanted one single UK show that would showcase what they do to both a UK and international audience. This is what they deserve.
“We’ve contacted all our customers to say we have put the shows together. We want them to get involved in the new show. All of them have so far come back saying it is a great decision.”
This view is supported by Emap Connect, the division of Emap responsible for organising the RWM exhibition (this magazine is published by Emap Inform).
Managing director Alison Jackson said: “The market wanted it. Emap had spoken to CIWM before about [creating one show] so it wasn’t a new request. But with many more companies now asking for it, together with the changed economic times, it seemed like the right time to do it.
“We’ve seen the larger European shows, and neither RWM or Futuresource was capable of having a show like those while we were both separate. By combining the two exhibitions, we will be able to create a much stronger exhibition that will be the show the UK wants.”
Both CIWM and Emap believe that both exhibitions had strengths that cover the other’s weaknesses.
“CIWM and Emap are very different animals,” said Lee. “CIWM reaches into sectors that Emap struggles with, such as government departments and some of the contacts we have made over a very long time. Plus, we have over 7,000 members to tap into.
“Emap has excellent communication routes through its wide range of magazines and exhibitions that we don’t have.
“Futuresource was as successful as we expected it to be when we launched it, which is why other players approached us wanting to work with us on organising the exhibition. But with this decision, it marries the strengths of two excellent parties.”
A joint advisory board is being set up with representatives from both Emap and CIWM to bring the complementary strengths together. This has yet to meet, but will drive the direction of both this year’s exhibition, and have a plan in place by September for selling exhibition space for 2012.
At present, the 2011 show will be called RWM in partnership with CIWM, supported by ESA (Environmental Services Association). It is recognised that this rather clunky title is only a short-term solution, and the joint advisory board will investigate a re-brand for 2012.
There will also be one team made up of both RWM and Futuresource staff selling and organising the show.
Jackson said: “The three dedicated members of the sales team for Futuresource, including sales manager Julie Fitt are transferring from CIWM to Emap to be part of an extended sales team.
“Abigail Mosley, the Futuresource marketing manager will work with the RWM marketing team to transfer visitors from Futuresource to the new show. There was only a 20% crossover from the 9,500 visitors to RWM and 7,500 visitors at Futuresource, so we’ll be looking to bring across more visitors from Futuresource.
“Sue Warrick, the Futuresource operations manager will also work with the Emap operations team on the event. Sarah Poulter who is managing director of IWM Business Services, will continue to work for CIWM and will be a member of the joint advisory board, along with Steve Lee.”
Emap bought the Energy Event to sit alongside RWM last year, and this will remain a standalone event co-located with the new show. CIWM is also investigating the possibility of a London-based conference to take place in June, with an announcement expected in a few weeks.