Five Minutes With...Simon Mellor, President, MEA, DMG Events
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Five Minutes With…Simon Mellor, President, MEA, DMG Events

Five Minutes With…Simon Mellor, President, MEA, DMG Events

Post recession, event managers are having to work harder to attract the right people to various shows, says the president of dmg events.


1. What is your company focusing on this year?

We continue to expand our business, through acquisition, new launch, new geographies, added frequency and organic growth. In 2014 we acquired two new event teams, our Coatings acquisition has an event and publishing portfolio that includes Mexico, Indonesia, UAE, Morocco, Malaysia and Egypt; in addition to that we also bought two shows in Dubai in the Glass and Solar sectors.

Beyond acquisitions we’ve launched new events in Dubai, Indonesia and India this year. India is an interesting market in which we see opportunity so we have recently opened offices in Mumbai.
Our existing established events in the region are all now lifting out of the difficult few years of recession.

Generally we fared well across that period with our large scale events being in core regional markets, such as Oil & Gas, Construction, Hospitality and Interior Design. Growth remains a key focus for the teams.

2. What are the growth areas currently for your company?

For all our events, we had to react to the pressure that the global recession created. We recognized the pressure on travel budgets, realized that we’d need to work harder to attract the right people to attend our events. I’m very proud of how the teams have responded with a significant improvement in content for visitors at our events. We have added so many reasons for visitors to continue their relationship with our events, from workshops, free educational content, conferences, show cases, demonstrations.

Beyond content we’ve become smarter at identifying the key buyers and influencers and the events now offer purpose designed facilities for these influencers such as the Middle East Petroleum Club at ADIPEC.

The new wave of growth will be the benefits that social media provides, with improvements to connectivity, improvements in networking, adding to a richer and more engaged experience. We’re building communities across our events to ensure participants can remain in contact for longer. It’s an exciting and positive landscape.

So a significant area of growth is the compilation of meaning content at our events, ensuring that our guests leave with added learning, an expanded network of contacts and having enjoyed their time at the events.

3. What are the biggest challenges for UAE businesses in your sector?

The UAE remains a central key element of the MICE industry for the region, so demand is strong. But that growing demand does cause pressure on venues and resources. Availability for growth can at times be restricted. Costs are one of the challenges we face as organizers, some times that pressure is beyond your control.

High demand for events drive hotel prices and flight costs, if left unchecked these costs could discourage attendance. We’re very fortunate here in the UAE to work closely with the authorities who recognize the signs and work to mitigate the impact that such pressures might lead to.

4. Is the events management industry in the UAE saturated?

Not at all, we have seen the region lift out of recession faster than other larger and more established economies, which reflects the value of the Middle East economies. The region and particularly Dubai recognizes the economic value that the MICE sector provides to the local communities. As these large scale events take place, they sell airline seats, fill hotel rooms, and provide employment for catering firms, freight forwarders, designers and fabricators who support the events. Beyond that immediate impact they create a legacy for family vacations and revisits related to business development.

As the region continues to grow and the expanding young generation will be one of the main drivers of that growth we’ll see Dubai and Abu Dhabi start to offer more and more event variety. Entertainment has already taken huge leaps forward, as has the conference and convention businesses. We’re seeing more venue options and a greater variety of choice developing.

5. Where do you see scope of future growth in the region?

Right across the region, cities are replicating the model with new venues and modern facilities, which will support significant regional development. We’re seeing this in Saudi, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. In addition, as more low cost travel options such as airlines and rail become available the cost of regional travel will reduce helping the visitors attend more events. It’s an exciting time.

During the past five years we’ve expanded beyond the UAE into Saudi, Kuwait, India and now Indonesia, so we see further regional expansion for sure. Within the UAE, as this market continues to grow and become more sophisticated we see more event segmentation, more niche sectors appearing that will need to be supported.

Over the past three years we’ve added a great many new event brands and segment and that is set to continue. World Expo 2020, and the World Cup in Qatar will be the drivers for more infrastructure which will be needed to support these events. So we see a positive outcome in the next five years across the region

6. Will you be hiring this year?

Yes, we have never stopped hiring, even in the downturn years we have remained a growing business. In 2012 as a business we secured the Middle East Events Industry employer of choice award, which highlighted our positive and supportive approach to our staff.

We’ve recently taken part in the leading UK Events Industry Expo as a lead sponsor supporting an initiative to provide apprentice roles for UK graduates. We’d committed to bring one of the students to Dubai for year, training and developing them. In the end the standard was so high; we’ve taken two students on next year. Joanne and Jenny will be arriving in July to work across our business to learn and grow, it’s an exciting project and one we’re proud to support.

7. What’s your leadership style?

Never easy to comment on your own style, I’d say it is far better to ask our staff. All of the senior team work hard to provide clear direction, so we communicate a clear vision, we invest in training and development and we celebrate our success. I host a creative lunch each month for staff to share their ideas, we’ve already had a number of changes come to the business through this route. We also work hard to be creative. So I’d say, supportive, dynamic, and we recognize and reward people well.

8. What makes the perfect employee?

I don’t think such a person can ever be described as the perfect employee. We’re all individual and we try to support our staff as such. We celebrate the multicultural nature of our staff and recognize that each person’s needs motivating in their own way… we train them on their needs and aspire to help them achieve the best that they can. We’re proud of our lack of staff churn; we monitor that as a key metric of our success.

9. Define success in five words…

Vision, Passion, Drive, Adventure, Collaboration

10. Three tips for becoming the boss…

Try to listen more than you speak.

Share your vision, be clear about what you want from the business……and back it up with passion

Don’t be afraid to admit your wrong and change direction if required…

It’s not always easy……..


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