The UK exhibition industry generates revenues in excess of £5 billion every year.
Exhibitions provide the opportunity for potential buyers to meet a wide range of sellers within a single venue and range from general consumer shows to specialist trade events. The work is very similar to conference organisation and typically involves:
- locating suitable venues
- financial and managerial administration
- marketing and selling exhibition space/stands
- coordinating sponsorship
- advertising and publicising events
- liaising with caterers, suppliers and contractors
- writing promotional material/press releases
- overseeing the production of tickets and advertisement material
- undertaking market research
- ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation.
The working day is normally 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday but it can require long hours to meet tight deadlines. You will also be expected to work when the exhibition is on, which is often during weekends or evenings. Travel to exhibition venues and nights spent away from home are often necessary.
Employers include exhibition centres, specialist exhibition organising companies and major private companies. Self-employment is an alternative option, although this necessitates a good network of contacts. Vacancies are advertised by recruitment agencies, in local, regional and national newspapers, in specialist publications such as The Caterer and Exhibition News and online. Speculative applications are advisable – The Association of Event Organisers lists its members. Recruitment agencies often advertise immediate vacancies.
There are routes into exhibition organising for both university graduates and school leavers.
Although any degree discipline is technically acceptable, there is strong competition for vacancies and employers may favour those possessing a management, marketing, events management or hospitality degree.
It is also possible to start as an exhibition assistant and work up to being an exhibition organiser. To find out how to get into a job in this area via a school leaver route, visit the hospitality and travel section and the media section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
IT, sales, financial, marketing and PR skills and experience are usually beneficial. Would-be exhibition organisers should have plenty of energy, the ability to cope with pressure and meet deadlines, excellent interpersonal skills, meticulous attention to detail, effective time management and organisational abilities.