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‘It’s a fix, it’s a fix!’

Mash Media MD, Julian Agostini stirs the emotions around judging awards and asks, where is Expoadvisor?


I don’t think I’ve ever been to a raffle (and I must have sat through literally hundreds over the years) where this proclamation hasn’t been blurted out by one or more of the audience.

It’s normally said in slightly pointed jest of course and somehow still manages to generate at least a titter from the other rafflers in the room. Mainly because they are in the same losers’ boat as there can be only one winner, so if I don’t win, someone must be cheating.

Do we really think like that?  Probably not, but there is a lack of trust in these processes which is also evident at any business awards ceremony that I’ve attended.

We have just completed another EN Awards [EW’s UK sister publication – Ed]; a night for which we always receive many thanks and accolades. I thoroughly enjoy the event every year as do many of the shining lights in our UK industry, despite always being cornered, at some point later in the evening, by a disgruntled loser who wants to question the judging process.

Don’t get me wrong, the frustration is completely understandable; show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser, so I get it. However, in these moments of anxiety, often alcohol fuelled, there seem to be very few considered thoughts of self-analysis and reflection. The only possible, reasonable explanation is that the powers that be had decided who they wanted to win irrespective of who entered.

In the main, I am absolutely thrilled that our awards mean so much to people and that winning, or rather missing out creates such an emotional response. However, it would be irresponsible of me to ever allow any thoughts of skulduggery or foul play to harbour in terms of the judging process.

I remember one year when one single company won 7 awards. There was pandemonium afterwards…’fix, fix’.  You just give it to whoever spends with you. Hmmm…  firstly the company didn’t spend with us and secondly, that would be the worst devised fix ever… surely you’d spread it around?

In the cold light of day, everyone is calm and probably accepts the reality that the best performances normally win but you will never convince everybody no matter what process you use.

Now the EN Awards is a Red Letter Day in our UK exhibition industry calendar and I don’t want to be shooting myself in the foot, but is there a better way of pleasing all the people, if that can ever really be achieved?

The modern world gives everyone a platform to be a publisher or a critic. Social media keeps us all on our toes at all times…  not a bad thing. Equally, the way in which we seem to buy anything these days is via customer reviews, whether it’s a holiday, a cleaner or a car, there will be a site which reviews performance, suitability, quality, etc.

Tripadvisor has changed the world but where is Expoadvisor? Surely, it’s a matter of time before something like this exists? Check-a-trade has given all wary consumers trust but where is Check-a-contractor? Again, round the corner perhaps?

Of course, nearly every exhibition will conduct its own research of visitors and exhibitors alike but that’s not the same as an open platform, which can be very powerful in terms of testimonials but then again it also leaves you vulnerable as you have no control…  and there are some types out there that will write anything!

Will the creation of sites like these be the fairest way to judge our industry in the future? Maybe, but that’s only if you trust the reviews… no easy solution.


See you at EN Awards next year, or as Philip Schofield referred to them on national ITV, the Oscars of the events industry… now that’s a review!

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