Under the umbrella of 3 Counties Expo, the Watford Expo will be held in Watford on 27 June 2019. Zoya Malik met organisers Debbie Gilbert and Abby Dennis about the growth and representation of local SME communities, and what’s on offer at the activity packed half day events
Kindly tell us about the growth and success of the Watford Expo event? How are you measuring this?
Debbie: We started the Watford Expo in 2016 in response to local business wanting to come together for learning, networking and to be able to showcase their business. We now have three events and have combined them into The 3 Counties Expo.
The event has gained momentum and we measure this by out footfall which has grown by over 50 per cent since we started and the by the fact that our stands sell out fairly quickly! We also get a lot of repeat sponsors and exhibitors.
How is this event addressing SMEs needs?
Abby: Our free workshops give valuable insights and information on various business topics. We offer two networking events and 60 stands.
Do you see mainly S or M sized businesses attending the event?
Abby: Most SMEs find this is an excellent way of making new contacts and also learning about relevant topical business subjects.
Which is your target market? How local are these businesses? How has the reach grown?
Debbie: Our attendees range from sole traders through to larger corporates, for example banks and large accountancy companies. Our reach has grown as the event is popular and well-established.
What are the growth business segments? What’s the exhibitor breakdown by industry?
Abby: We have such a diverse mix we couldn’t break this down, but we only allow up to 2 per type of business. Industries such as accountants, printers, banks, venues, HR, IT, website design and networking groups are represented.
What are speaker highlights and workshops?
Debbie: We have an exciting line up of speakers and topics this year. There are free workshops for attendees. Kerrianne Cartmer-Edwards of Unforgettable Impact is a former fashion designer-turned-online style innovator and brand architect. Her workshop is titled 10 To-Die-For Branding Ideas to 10X Your Impact, Influence and Income. Since 2008 she’s helped clients around the world to radically uplevel their brand and online presence with an unforgettable look, style, and message.
The 7 Key Mindsets for Better Business growth workshop will be delivered by Marcus Thomlinson who founded The Mindset Revolution. He will speak to entrepreneurs to ‘get into the right mindset’ and stop procrastinating.
Jodie Newman’s Why Creativity in Business is Critical workshop addresses how businesses of all sizes can put creativity at the heart of what they do to help them grow.
Tell us about your networking event and how you facilitate introductions and follow up enquiries?
Abby: We give people the opportunity to share a quick introduction, we allow business cards and literature to be passed and we have connections forms which attendees complete; we enter these onto a spread sheet and we then email the attendance list (permission allowing) after the event to facilitate further exchange.
Do you have industry advisors on hand to support business growth? Banks, legal, government funding agencies?
Abby: Yes if they choose to exhibit.
We have a number of financial services organisations, HR and office services providers and IT and networking groups signed up as exhibitors. Our sponsors are also accessible and this year we have Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Scala Financial Services, The Digital Office and SCAGroup.
What’s been the feedback from attendees?
Abby: Yes we receive very favourable response. We were happy to hear from Stacey Whittington who said, “It was my first time attending Watford Expo in 2018 and I found the event to be really well organised with plenty of exhibitors; to see and participate in great workshops. Also the networking events had been well thought out and I made a lot of useful contacts on the day”. We also heard from June Cory owner of MY Mustard who stated, “We enjoyed a fantastic footfall of visitors, and a wide variety of exhibitors at the 2018 event. Brilliantly organised and genuinely enjoyable!”
What is the cost of exhibiting and attending?
Debbie: The expos are free for visitors. The networking for breakfast and lunch is chargeable. Stands are £149, electric and tablecloths are extra, plus VAT.
Please visit: 3countiesexpo.co.uk for more information.