With a sharp focus on South East Asia in our latest issue, EW asked Stephen Brooks, Chairman of global organiser Mack Brooks Exhibitions Group – a man very much in the news following the confirmed sale of the company to Reed Exhibitions (RELX) in January – to share some insights into what the region can offer.
South East Asia continues to provide a great base for trade shows especially because of the growing number of Chinese companies looking to access these markets.
Thailand is a particularly good regional hub, with easy, low cost access for event participants. Bangkok is easy to fly to from pretty much everywhere and the range of destination highlights and hotel facilities is as good as anywhere in the world.
The Thai events market is also well supported by an active convention bureau. The only possible down-side in Thailand is that the main venue BITEC is not as flexible in welcoming launch events as it might be and the other Bangkok venues, such as IMPACT, are not ideally located for visitors.
Malaysia offers a smaller home market than Thailand but is similarly well-placed to host pan-regional South East Asian events, with excellent destination opportunities and well-developed infrastructure for business travellers.
Both locations compete well on price with the longer established event and meetings location of Singapore. But, compared to Singapore, both Bangkok and Malaysia present the potential for political and currency instability. From time to time these things can take you by surprise, although, by and large, both Thailand and Malaysia seem to manage to remain open for business throughout, even in the face of startling newspaper headlines.
Mack Brooks organised its first trade show in Kuala Lumpur in 1997. It was during this event that fate smiled upon me when I was invited to meet the owner of a new venue development in KL, namely ‘Mines’. It provided me the opportunity to invite Tan Shri Lee of the Malaysian property development company ‘Country Heights’ to London to meet the ExCeL development team. As a direct result ExCeL got built, with Country Heights funding the building of the new exhibition centre in London’s Docklands. It brought about a much-needed improvement to London’s event space.
Today Mack Brooks operates throughout South East Asia from an office location in Bangkok, from where it is set-up to organise events throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. Visitor attendance at the company’s Bangkok events has been particularly strong.