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New Reed Exhibitions CEO puts emphasis on data in first UK interview

Hugh Jones (pictured) will take over as CEO at Reed Exhibitions following Chet Burchett’s retirement on 1 February 2020.

In his first global interview since arriving in the UK this week, Jones explained to EW's UK sister publication EN that he has a strong background in technology and that he intends to use some of the key ideas pioneered by Accuity/RELX (where he was CEO) to improve customer experiences across Reed Exhibitions.

He said: “Think about the future. Imagine if you have an app on your phone and you’re walking down the corridor of an exhibition and the app on your phone says this exhibit is somewhere you should stop and that they are available to speak to you right now, and the exhibitor has also seen who you are and they have already preselected that they would like to speak to you… it’s about making sure that people can figure out the best use of their time at an exhibition.

“The same applies to an exhibitor, because we want to help them to understand which exhibitions are the most relevant to them and help them to find their best customers. If you can bring data and AI into exhibitions and use that technology all over the world, that matchmaking technology can bring value and efficiency to our visitors and make it more fun.”

Jones joined RELX in 2011 when it acquired Accuity, where he was serving as CEO. Most recently, he has been the global MD for Accuity, Cirium, Estates Gazette (EG) and ICIS – all part of Risk & Business Analytics, a division of RELX. He will report to RELX CEO Erik Engstrom.

Jones also spoke of his concerns about the recent outbreak of the coronavirus. With three imminent events in China, he said he would not jeopardise the health of any of his employees or visitors and would rather postpone those events if necessary.

Jones concluded: “I’m looking forward to bringing more increasingly sophisticated data-led analytics and technology to more customers around the world. Exhibitions is an exciting, entrepreneurial industry, and the fundamentals of the business are excellent. Combining the best of face-to-face connections with technology and rich data analytics will provide new value to our more than seven million exhibitors and visitors.

“This ensures that their investment of time and resource in our exhibitions becomes even more valuable, efficient and relevant to their individual needs, ensuring that they grow their business.”

Burchett, who is returning to Texas after a five-year stint at the top, is a 15-year-veteran of Reed Exhibitions, and will serve as Non-executive Chairman through 2020, focusing on special projects and providing transitional support to Jones.

He said: “It has been an honour to lead the team at Reed Exhibitions and a privilege to serve the company. Hugh is a proven CEO and well-recognised for an outstanding track record of driving growth. Coming from a business where the importance of data analytics and product-driven innovation is paramount, he will be a fantastic leader for the company.”

A full version of the interview with Jones will be featured in the March issue of EN.