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As World Cup and Wimbledon fever takes hold of people across the UK, and with the London 2012 Olympics around the corner, there is little doubt that sporting events are key to modern-day life. This was something the organisers of Event UK were acutely aware of, as they set about arranging this year's exhibition.
Among the highlights at Event UK this year, taking place from September 21-22nd at the NEC Birmingham, is a conference which will focus on the numerous opportunities which sporting events provide for regions, businesses and event organisers, said Duncan Reid, portfolio director at Event UK.
"We're running a conference at the show called The Decade of Sport, which looks at all the great sporting events coming to the country, whether that's the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games, the Ryder Cup or the Rugby World Cup. Over the next decade, most of the world's big sporting events are coming to the UK," he noted.
Another highlight of the show is the Next Big Thing competition, a talent show which seeks out new acts for events. After regional heats take place throughout the summer, where event organisers choose the winners, the best 12 acts will perform at Event UK in September.
The winner, who will be announced at the event, will take home a £1,000 cash prize and a contract with an agency.
"From the event organiser's point of view, the Next Big Thing is great because there is constantly new and emerging talent coming into the industry that they can book for their event."
Throughout the two-day show, visitors can also attend free seminars, which will examine topics such as experiential marketing, public relations and social media, or visit the stands of around 300 exhibitors.
Although visitor numbers at the expo have been growing year-on-year, rising by six per cent last year, the number of stands exhibiting at Event UK hasn't increased noticeably.
Mr Reid noted: "I think the recession has had an effect on most of the events industry. If we look back to the 2008 show, since then we haven't seen a dramatic increase in the amount of exhibitors we have got.
"Although we would have liked growth in the show, we're going to have around the same amount of exhibitors that we had last year, which is around 300.
"While there isn't going to be a huge increase in the number of exhibitors, there is a real variety, with great suppliers, venues and destinations at the show."
He added that he expects similar visitor numbers this year.
This success is thanks to the event's high-quality, broad offering and the number of exhibitors at the show, Mr Reid said.
"Outside London, there is nothing that really competes with Event UK. It covers the whole events industry, whether you are looking for a new venue, new destination, supplier, AV company or a new stand-builder. Whatever type of event you organise, whether it's a party, meeting, road-show or conference, Event UK has something because it covers the whole industry.
"There are some other events outside of London, which cover one sector, such as the party sector, but no other event covers them all. We're the biggest event outside of London by far; we're over twice the size of any other event."
Its Midlands location is also important, he noted, because it ensures that many event organisers and exhibitors do not have to travel very far to reach it.
"From most places in the country you can get there within a couple of hours. Whether you live in Wales, Liverpool, Manchester or Leeds, you can get to the NEC quite quickly."
For now, Mr Reid believes the future is looking bright for companies within the events and exhibiting industry.
"It looks as though all of the event organisers are going to have a busy end to the year this year, which is obviously good. Hopefully that's a sign that we're coming out of this recession.
"I think everyone is pleased to see business back in people's diaries at the end of the year. And, at Event UK, people can come along and find those venues and suppliers for those events that they're looking to do at the end of the year," he concluded.