Exhibition World Issue 5 – 2021 - Page 49

Meet the CEO

Emerald ’ s Sedky eyes capacity with busy relaunch season

Paul Woodward finds Emerald ’ s CEO is very pro-active in battling short term headwinds to implement some ambitious future plans
ith 21 trade shows scheduled to take place during August , the month was one of the busiest ever in international organiser Emerald Holdings ’ history . Hervé Sedky , Emerald ’ s president and CEO , explains that August is typically a slower month for the company , so the backlog and pressure on the calendar caused a few challenges .
“ It is nice to get back , but it ’ s putting an immense amount of pressure on our organisation ,” Sedky says , adding “ from a resource planning , staffing perspective , there are definitely some real challenges and not just for ourselves internally ”. He ’ s also seeing it among what he calls the ‘ downstream partners ’, the general contractors , venues , and other organisations supporting the fairs . “ There ’ s definitely going to be some choppy environments that we have all to operate in . But we ’ re ready for it and doing our best to make sure that it ’ s transparent to the customer ,” Sedky says .
The day after our interview , in the company ’ s Q2 results announcement to investors , Sedky said Emerald would be staging 86 live events through the second half of the year , representing the most active show schedule in the company ’ s history . When asked about the pressures on capacity he ’ d described and whether it could lead to Emerald having to turn away business , he said : “ No , we ’ re not expecting that ”.
Employee engagement Emerald has put in place a programme where all its employees are encouraged to attend and work at its events . “ So , they ’ re being trained and we ’ re doing things differently . There is innovation that is a result of the situation that we ’ re in . And that is actually quite good ,” Sedky suggests . “ There ’ s a lot of benefits out of having every single employee participate in some way in the production of a large show , whether they ’ re in accounting , or data security , or whatever role ”. Sedky is upbeat about the
Left : ‘ The enthusiasm among small businesses is very , very high ’, says the Emerald CEO
enthusiasm among clients to return to live events , although he does note that the speed of return is varying considerably among the different sectors in which the company is engaged , different geographies , and the timing of the events . Almost all of the August events were postponed from earlier in the year and it ’ s clear that some companies are waiting for ‘ normal ’ timing next year before they re-engage .
Exhibitor company size is a key factor in determining their interest in returning now . As with most exhibition organisers , some 80 % of Emerald ’ s customers are small businesses , Sedky says . “ The enthusiasm among small businesses is very , very high . [ They ] need our platform to be successful ,” he notes , stressing that exhibitions are “ really essential to the reopening of the economy to small companies doing business . They use it to sell , to meet their own customers , to meet new customers , and it ’ s a really important platform for them ”.
The fact that larger companies are less keen to re-engage with trade fairs right now is , Sedky believes , “ largely because of travel policies ”. CFOs , he says , have also been cutting back hard on travel and entertainment budgets . This means that companies are either not coming back at all this year or are sending much smaller groups of participants .
Sedky is , however , bullish about future prospects and says that “ forward looking numbers are very strong ”. The day after our interview , the company told the market “ Our bookings for our 2022 first quarter events are tracking much closer to pre-Covid-19 levels ”. So , Sedky
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