SPACE-HOPPING: TICKETING PROFESSIONALS CONFERENCE 2022Case Studies | 12 May 2022
We hear from Andrew and Carol, co-founders of Ticketing Professionals Conference (TPC) about their move from the ICC to the Vox Conference Venue.
"The conference itself was designed by event ticketing professionals to give our industry a place to meet, to learn and to share our stories and success. Each TPC we aim to reach more people, from more countries and deliver an even better education programme. We have two main metrics; not to lose money and that our delegates go away as advocates and spread the word of how good TPC is."
YOU BEGAN WITH US AT THE ICC
"The ICC was a great starting point for us. One of our original event organisers used to work there so we had a contact. Our account manager worked with us to help us understand not only the costs but the opportunities that we could leverage from various facilities and share the secrets of what works (and doesn’t!) from their hundreds of other clients. We started small in 2016, and every year we extended our agreement with the ICC, either the rental periods, how we configured the halls, and then to taking more halls, until we physically ran out of room."
WHY THE MOVE TO THE VOX?
"By our third event in 2018 it was clear we were going to have sustained growth year on year, and we needed to find either a new configuration at the ICC or a new home. We worked with the ICC to examine configurations, but we decided that we needed to grow further before we could sufficiently make use of larger halls. Our delegates, from all over the world LOVE Birmingham, they consistently vote to come back. Our ICC Account manager Becky suggested we look at the Vox. At first, we were not interested as we thought the city centre and its hotels were too important. Our first visit to the Vox changed that. I remember my first view from outside, then the ride up the escalators to level two on resorts world. ‘Wow’ - those were my first words and I did walk around in wonder. I knew I wanted out event to go there, it oozes class. It was obviously going to be a rise in rental but working with the same production and technical teams that had worked our event allowed us, again to ensure we leveraged all the possible opportunities to maximise our revenues. The venue wows you, the team seals the deal."
Did you keep the same team?
"We did for some elements. Jo, our event manager was really valuable and on hand for any issues. We kept the same technical production team, and Matt, the tech lead, was instrumental as he knew our audience, he knew how the delegates operated and he was clear about what was required. To keep the consistency in approach made it much easier to trust the tech side of things."
What helped in terms of the new venue change?
"We had a number of delegates who felt ‘devastated’ to leave the ICC. It had become a venue with added traditions for the delegates, with certain bars and restaurants nearby which they had become very attached to as part of the community and networking aspect to the conference. The hotel options were also really strong in the city centre, and we were worried that would reduce when we moved. However, the array we found on the NEC campus really worked for us, from The Moxy, The Genting, the Hilton and Holiday Inn Express. The leisure options also worked for many people, as well as the options for going outside and enjoying the Spring weather."
What about new options/did you change the format?
"We had a huge success with the flexibility of The Vox. A key area for us was to accommodate a multi-faceted event in terms of the layout and the variety of needs from delegates and exhibitors. We used Hall 3 for networking, and as a space for people to log on and do work when needed. We used Halls 1,2,4,5 for the conference sessions.
"The three boardrooms were very popular with our exhibitors, as they were able to utilise the spaces for private meetings and demonstrations. So, the flexible nature and the compact layout kept people together and allowed for the event to cater to different needs."
"All industries have been bit in the last two years, but the live entertainment industry was one of the hardest. To finally stand on the stage in Hall 3, in our magnificent new home, in front of 500 friends and colleagues was a memorable experience. As I said in my opening remarks “Welcome, welcome, welcome to the fifth Ticketing Professionals Conference……. I have waited a few years to say that last line”.
"During the event and our post event survey has been overrun by positive comments from delegates, on The Vox, the position in Resorts World, the eateries and the chance to grab some fresh air. Even some people who stated “I wasn’t sold on an airport location, but you proved me wrong”.
Can you think of any elements in the event felt like a big gamble?
"They were not so much gambles, as well calculated, and mitigated risks. The more from the city centre was significant, and the increase in costs was too. That has to be put in perspective - we almost doubled our capacity and we needed to invest in order to grow."
WHAT DID SUCCESS LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
"As I said earlier, we have two metrics, not losing money and delegate feedback. The Vox not only delivered the extra exhibition space we needed, but also extra sponsorship opportunities to boost our commercial revenues, while we could sell additional delegate spaces, so all things commercial were a massive success. We reinvested some of that extra commercial revenue into improved and extended catering opportunities, working with our same contacts at Amadeus we were able to really impress our regulars and over deliver on expectations of first timers. Our Net Promoter score increased slightly this year, and visitors of our post event survey awarded the Vox 4.6 out of 5 for “Venue Overall” - which we remind ourselves means more people gave it a 5 than a 4!"
WHAT CHALLENGES DID THE PANDEMIC PRESENT?
"Our event was scheduled for late March 2020 - so we were pretty much ‘sold’ when the world shut down. We restarted sales in October 2021 for the 2022 conference and things were going well until the Omicron hit in December. By then we had sold ALL of the last remaining exhibition and sponsorship opportunities. Delegate sales picked up in early February but we saw a much later booking window than in previous years - normally the last two weeks to conference we would sell 10 tickets, this year it was 50 - last minute changes to our numbers were all taken care of through our dedicated catering contact."
Practicalities – how were they impacted?
"We had delegates coming from New York, Canada, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and many other countries, so the proximity to Birmingham Airport for the event at The Vox was perfect. It takes no time to walk to the conference venue from the airport and it meant delegates could stay at the conference until around an hour before their flight left. Compared to travel into the city centre, it gave delegates more time in the event and helped them use their time more efficiently. It also reduced any worry or anxiety around travel planning. We also find that the fresh air and outdoor access to the lake and green space was a bonus, it was easy to head out for a gentle walk between sessions or at the end of the day."
What was the reason for Birmingham?
"We find other conferences have multiple city destinations and they can come across as a ‘jolly’ for delegates and can seem more fun than serious and professional. The Americans only really understand Birmingham from Peaky Blinders, and refer to it as ‘Brum’, which we smile about as we often say ‘No one comes to Birmingham for a jolly!’. But that does help, it is a very productive and valuable conference where people aren’t viewing it as a place to just have fun. However, we do find that everyone enjoys the conference and it has proven valuable in terms of positive feedback and popularity, which you can see from our growth."