Bringing events back bigger and better than ever

Elite Exhibitions CEO Toby Walters explains to Rebecca Gibson why the cruise sector will benefit from attending the Cruise Ship Interiors Expo and Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo when they return in person later this year

Bringing events back bigger and better than ever
Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe will be held at London ExCel in the UK on 1-2 December 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the events sector, forcing many to cancel events completely or move them online, but in-person events are slowly starting to return. Can you tell us about the physical events Elite Exhibitions has planned for 2021?

We have certainly been impacted by Covid-19, but much like everyone else in the cruise sector, we have remained positive and done everything we can to keep our community connected throughout the pandemic. 

However, we’re now looking forward to meeting everyone in person at our upcoming event, which will take place on 28-29 October 2021 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida. The event will include Cruise Ship Interiors Expo, which will attract the entire design, refurbishment and newbuild sectors, as well as Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo, which will bring together executives focused on galley and catering equipment, food and beverage, guest experience, and health and hygiene. We’re expecting more than 320 exhibitors, which is almost double the size of our 2019 event! 

We’re also hosting Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe at London ExCel in the UK on 1-2 December 2021, which will bring together the leading design studios, cruise executives, shipyards and outfitting firms that are working within Europe’s ocean, river and expedition cruise market. This event will also be 100 per cent live and in-person with over 240 exhibiting companies. 

What are you most looking forward to about returning to in-person events?
Elite Exhibitions has put a lot of time and love into developing the cruise interiors and hospitality communities over the past 18 months, so coming back to live events will mean meeting a lot of people that have stood by us and supported us during the pandemic for the first time. We also know how important face-to-face meetings are for the supply chain, so giving the more than 500 exhibitors the opportunity to meet their customers for the first time in months is going to be special. We’re certainly looking forward to it.  

In your opinion, what are the benefits of physical events, compared to the virtual events that Elite Exhibitions and others have hosted over the past 18 months? 
Throughout the pandemic we have heard people say that face-to face meetings cannot be replicated online, and that is exactly how we feel about our events. Don’t get me wrong, technology has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives over the past 18 months, but there’s a limit as to what a virtual event can offer. There are no serendipitous meetings, and you can’t develop the same type of connection with people that you can when you meet them physically. Consequently, the benefits of attending our live events are that attendees can create deep and meaningful relationships and connections with the rest of the community. With the current technology that exists, I would compare it to attending Glastonbury via Zoom as opposed to being there in the flesh – it’s a totally different experience!  

What type of feedback have you received from the industry since opening the events for bookings? What would you say to reassure any exhibitors or delegates who may be wary of returning to events in person?
I was expecting events to come back strong, and I was expecting the cruise interiors community to come back fighting, but not to this extent. Our Miami event in October has now been operating a waiting list since June 2021, while our European event in London has almost doubled in size since the 2019 Barcelona event. After opening the registration sites for all events, we feel that the demand is coming from both attendees and exhibitors. This speaks volumes and will reassure the communities we serve that live events are back, the cruise industry is back and we are here to support you! 

How do you think the cruise ship interior design/hospitality sector will evolve over the next few months now that ships are gradually resuming sailing and the world is opening up? What role do you hope Elite Exhibitions can play in helping the industry to shape a brighter future?
I often speak with our event’s advisory board to get a feel for what changes they anticipate and how the refurbishment sector will be impacted. Based on those conversations, I expect the scale of the refurbishments to start off smaller than we were used to in 2019, but as the passenger numbers increase throughout the world, so too will the budgets to bring older ships more in line with the newbuilds that are being delivered. With regards to hospitality, I think we will see an even bigger emphasis on improving the guest experience with better technology, food and beverage offerings, and experiences. 

We have worked hard over the past two years to not only be the physical platform for product launches and procurement, but also to be the platform for networking 365 days a year which takes place part on CSI Plus, our community platform. The role Elite Exhibitions will play is in helping newer companies break into the cruise market while also creating new opportunities for established brands to grow their business within the cruise sector. 

 

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
29 July 2021

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