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Engaging with clients and building trust 'keys to success'


May 13, 2009 | Editors

The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) seems to be bucking the recessionary trend at the moment, continuing to land major events contracts, as well as hosting the usual array of concerts, stage shows and comedy performances.

Recently named the UK's Best Conference Centre, the venue announced last month that it will be the location for the Music of Black Origin awards ceremony this year, the first time the event has departed from its usual London home.

During the year ending March 2009, the SECC pulled in just under 1.2 million visitors in 190 events, so it would seem the venue is well placed to offer advice on how to perform well despite a struggling economy.

Ben Goedegebuure, sales director at the SECC, explains that one of the keys for the conference centre has been to connect with its local audience and establish a relationship of trust with its clients.

"We have made a conscious decision not to hold back on our marketing stamp, just to keep it up as much as we can and put our message out as far as we can," he reveals.

"We are talking to our clients to try to understand if the client is in any sort of challenging situation. That is how we keep ourselves as successful as possible at this time."

Mr Goedegebuure asserts that the SECC has not suffered from any large-scale cancellations, insisting business is "absolutely fine".

"We haven't noticed a lot of anxiety out there, we haven't noticed anything big happening here.

"It's really a matter of conversation, trying to find new ways of doing business if we have to and seeing if we can come to a different type of relationship if we have to."

Mr Goedegebuure reveals that before the major recession hit, the SECC was already engaged in these networking efforts. In an example of the success of the tactic, when one firm which was scheduled to stage a major conference at the facility went bankrupt, the SECC was able to put it in touch with another client, who subsequently purchased the event space, avoiding the loss of a contract.

"It's really a matter of using the network, trying to connect clients, suppliers and being as understanding as possible. But luckily we've not been hit."

Mr Goedegebuure also puts the success of the SECC down to its value proposition, the idea of offering all-inclusive, transparent packages.

"The main thing at the moment is that people understand what the costs are that have to be controlled and that they can control them.

"It needs to be a fair price, so there needs to be no hidden costs, because it is all about trust," he asserts.

Another potential area of opportunity for venues at the moment is in international business due to the current weakness of the pound, says Mr Goedegebuure, adding that the SECC is actively marketing to this sector at the moment.

Keeping in eye on budgets is also important, in addition to maintaining marketing strategies, he stresses.

"All our costs are under scrutiny, we are trying to be as lean as we can, and this is time to do it of course," Mr Goedegebuure concludes.
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