Q & A with Dean Rees – New business development manager
We are delighted to welcome Dean Rees to the East of England Arena and Events Centre team. Dean joins us with 20 years experience in the events industry and tells us why the venue should be the first choice among B2B event organisers.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I have worked in the events industry for over 20 years. Initially I worked as a freelance Event Manager on many types of corporate events within the UK and I spent three years as event manager at the National Maritime Museum in London, managing corporate and B2B events.
In 2006, I left to spend eight years living and working in Dubai as business development manager as well international sales director within the B2B exhibitions industry.
On a personal level I am a keen fisherman. I am really enjoying living in this region because it has some of the best rivers and lakes on offer anywhere in the UK!
Q: What is the remit of your role at the E of E Arena and Events Centre?
A: To promote it as the premier B2B event venue and the gateway to doing business in the eastern region of the UK. My objective is to bring large regional and national B2B exhibitions to the arena in order that they can take advantage of a relatively untapped market.
Q: What are the challenges you face in your new role and what methods of promoting the venue will you take?
A: Changing organisers’ perception of the venue is a challenge. My first task when I joined the company was to oversee the rebrand of the business. The old ‘Peterborough Showground’ name no longer reflected the position of the company and a decision was taken in 2016 to rebrand to reflect the changing nature of our business away from the showground model.
This repositioning was also important since it reflected our regional audience demographic and reflected our venue as a multi-purpose modern events centre. The future growth strategy for the business is now very much focused upon building on the new brand.
Q: Are there any other third parties who can help with this?
A: In order to achieve this we have forged several important new partnerships. To improve our accommodation offering we are working with many of the local hotels in and around Peterborough with a view to offering exhibitors and visitors a discount on their accommodation when staying in the city during our events. In regards to a travel partner, we have also partnered with Virgin Trains East Coast who will offer our visitors who travel to the venue a discount on their train journey. This will cut down on car use and hopefully will draw more people to the region.
Q: How would you describe the venue and its potential as a national go to event destination?
The East of England economy is an untapped market for most show organisers. The regional economic drivers of the region include food and drink, not surprising giving our proximity to the agricultural and farming sector, manufacturing, digital and creative as well as transport and logistics. The Eastern region also has one of the fastest growing populations anywhere in the UK and many leading brands have chosen to make Cambridgeshire their base of operations.
We are perfectly situated to allow organisers to bring their show here – positioned directly along the A1M north-south road making road connections with London very convenient. Rail networks from the capital are 55 minutes direct from London Kings Cross. Our venue has 250 acres of outdoor space that allows organisers to build their exhibitions without the problem of traffic congestion.
Q: What can visitors expect from the venue over the next 12 months?
A: We have really started to build the profile of the venue through some of the bigger public ticketed events we have been hosting. This year we have already had well-known stand-up comedians such as Billy Connelly and Jack Whitehall, as well as a sell-out show from science superstar Professor Brian Cox. I definitely want to bring at least one from leading food exhibition and another which is related to manufacturing to the venue, as I believe these are two key markets that the region has to offer potential show organisers.