Full Name: Alison Church
Company: Easyfairs UK & Global
Job Title: Marketing Director
Alison is an experienced exhibition and conference marketing professional with 18 years’ experience encompassing conferences, exhibitions, marketing and PR. She is as passionate about delivering exceptional events to both exhibitors and visitors as she is about travelling the world in her spare time.
As Marketing Director at Easyfairs UK & Global, she ensures best practice and effective marketing strategies across its event portfolio, including shows run in the UK, France, Algeria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore, China, and the US.
Before joining Easyfairs, Alison spent nine years at Venture Marketing Group working on its exhibitions, conferences, awards and publications, with a particular emphasis on building high level and valuable content across all products. Her early career included roles as a conference producer at Centaur and PR account director.
1. What experience can you draw upon to successfully judge the ETAs?
18 years of working in events marketing, and specifically for the last 4 years heading up our Marketing, Intelligence & Technology team, which not only involves leading the teams on marketing best practice, but also working with the Tech team at HQ to develop technologies that work for our events. I also lead on the introduction and adoption of new technology trials locally on our events, constantly looking at what new tech can improve any aspect of our events.
2. How long have you worked in the events industry and what keeps you interested in it?
More than 18 years, and it’s the variety and constant evolution of our industry that keeps me on my toes! No day is the same, no week is the same, and no year is the same! I am also lucky that for the majority of my career I’ve worked for exhibitions businesses that are constantly looking for new ways to grow, which means there are always new areas in which I can get involved and constant challenges.
3. Best (and worst?) moments working in the events industry?
My best moments are always at the end of delivering a phenomenal show, especially when it was a hard campaign for one reason or another. A standout moment was during my first show as an Event Director, which our Chairman visited; he took me by the shoulders and said “best show ever”, which wasn’t something I was going to take lightly! That was a pretty awesome moment! The worst moments have to be on events where you’ve put in vast amounts of hard work and circumstances conspire against you – whether it’s a venue building another show next to your conference room with only a curtain for sound-proofing (think forklift trucks constantly reversing…), or snow preventing visitors coming, or technology letting you down… there have been one or two of those moments!
4. Favourite piece of tech for work and personal life?
Personal – got to be my iPhone… where would I be without it?! Work – Gleanin… see answer below!
5. What’s your go-to piece of tech when working on an event and why?
There’s so much tech behind what we deliver on a daily basis, so there are many pieces of go-to tech. However, as an ‘add-on’ piece of tech to improve our marketing effectiveness, I still have to go with Gleanin. It’s incredibly effective and super simple for the user.
6. What was the last event on which you worked?
Our last event was a couple of weeks ago in Antwerp, a launch exhibition for the breakbulk community. The feedback was absolutely overwhelming, and we couldn’t be happier with the end result! We can’t wait to see how this event can develop over the coming years!
7. From your experience, what’s the best way to utilise tech at an event?
I think if it’s a complex concept, tech can really only be utilised if it’s fully integrated with the rest of your systems. There are so many pieces of tech that I think are great ideas, but without full integration with all our basic systems, they are very complex to deliver with any meaningful results. But then there are some that are very simple basic add-ons (from a technical set-up point of view), which as long as they have a sound concept that delivers added value can be really powerful. For me, tech should only be utilised if it drives return (whether visitor numbers, revenue or another tangible, measurable benefit; or visitor or exhibitor experience, which impacts on their satisfaction and/or likelihood of returning). Again, there are many ‘nice’ technologies I see that unfortunately don’t really provide any of those.
8. We all learn from our mistakes! What was the biggest lesson you learned from a mistake since being in the industry?
I have made far too many mistakes to remember, unfortunately! The good thing is that I’m constantly learning 😊
9. What are you most looking forward to at the ETAs?
I hope to see something new in the entries that is truly innovative or ground-breaking.
10. What do events, such as the ETAs, mean to you?
It is important I think for any industry for companies to have a way of benchmarking their work and being celebrated and recognised when they do something amazing. It’s of course great marketing for them, and a powerful way to communicate their kudos to new potential customers; but also for rewarding their teams and just getting personal recognition. There is so much tech out there, it’s a way for organisers to sit up and take note of some of the more serious contenders.