In conversation: Mike Rusbridge, Chairman &CEO Reed Exhibitions


In the world of exhibitions and trade shows, Reed Exhibitions is quite evidently the sole proprietor of the ‘big daddy’ status. Their international sales promoters and extensive market reach in 2013 accounting to over six million participants across all events.

With a growing portfolio of over 500 events in 40 countries, including trade and consumer exhibitions, conferences and meetings, ranging across 43 industry sectors – from aerospace and aviation to sports and recreation, they have almost covered all spheres.EE speaks toMike Rusbridge, Chairman and CEO Reed Exhibitionsin an exclusive interview.

EE: Do you have a presence pan India and is your execution done in-house or you outsource?

We are running shows in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad as of now. So if you look at what we do, we basically conceive the idea first and then we sell the concept, market it and we project manage. So when we get to the physical event, we have outsourced sound contracting, lighting, registration, so we coordinate and manage the show. Because if you look at the total work load of running a show, vast majority of it is outsourced other than the concept, the strategy, its marketing and sales incurred.

EE: What is your take on tie-ups with independent event agencies?

There are several factors involved in partnering with event agencies. We do work with some of the major media companies who have a particular brand. We want to createthree-dimensional face to face equipments through some of the pop culture events that we run, so for the same we have companies who run those events with us and for us. But our primary focus is on running large scale events in big venues that are complex logistical exercises.

EE: What are the challenges that you faced while conducting shows in India as compared to those abroad?

It’s difficult to make direct comparisons. But if we look at the size of the economy, the size of the exhibition industry in India, it seems it’s in its fairly early stage.  The event industry in India lacks the facilities in which to run these events.

The other is the communication channels to get in touch with our key customers. To certain extent that is easier with Comic Con because everything is online. With B2B, finding who the buyers are and finding ways to get in touch with them can be quite challenging.

I would like to conclude by saying that we have an ambitious growth programme in India so we are looking at doubling the size of the business and we are also looking out to grow via partnerships, so if somebody has a quality enduring asset and they are looking for partner, we are surely game.

Adding further, I would like to share that there are several events and activities that we create around ComicCon, so all the event agencies who have got that skill set will be of great interest to us.

EE: What is your tie-up with Comic Con and what is the association like?

The tie up is a joint venture. The idea is that REED brings to the table international content since we run the Comic Con in New York and since these events are massive, we bring international content, knowhow and operational expertise.Considering the scale of these events we face several operational problems so the operational expertise supports the team with respect to other best practices such as financial know how etc. JatinVerma, (CEO Comic Con India) and his team bring all their local connections and infrastructure possibilities together. This is how we strengthen our existing events and plan to launch new events in the future.

EE: What is the response that you’ve received from the Indian audience towards Comic Con?

This is a sector we know very well internationally but with Jatin’s initiativeit is commendable to see what he has achieved in such short span of time and it’s an astronomical growth. The first Comic Con that happened in India in Delhi welcomed 8000 visitors and now we have more than 40000 people who became a part of our event. So the figures reveal the kind of response that we have received.If we look at the Comic Con in New York, there we receive more than 120000 visitors. But what I find intriguing is the demographics of people who want to go in these shows. I believe that the market potential is significant here and we are still scratching the surface.

EE: Being your first partnership with Comic Con India, what new can we expect at this year’s Comic Con?

We have partnered only a month back. In the early stages, we are going to help him to do the basics whether itsmanaging the complexities of large number of people, or how we get the markets, pricing strategy on tickets etc, but what we are more interested in is who will we bring from other parts of the world and who will be of interest to our Indian audience.

So we'll join Jatin with all the other Comic Con shows that we have around the world along with guest speakers or famous artists or celebrities.

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