Interview with: Elaine O’Connell, Vice President of the Design & Hospitality Portfolio at dmg events

Interview with: Elaine O’Connell, Vice President of the Design & Hospitality Portfolio at dmg events

  • As the Vice President of Design & Hospitality at dmg events, what are your primary responsibilities and objectives?

    My main responsibility is overseeing the strategic direction and overall management of our cluster’s exhibition and associated events. That includes everything from developing and implementing innovative ideas to enhancing the attendee experience and driving business growth. A key part of all this is keeping up with ongoing trends, not only within this region but across the globe.

    With the Emirates proving itself as one of the most desirable tourism destinations over the past half-decade, our objectives are to ensure that our events remain at the forefront of the industry, provide valuable networking opportunities, and deliver high-quality content that meets the needs of our diverse audience.

    • What sets dmg events apart in the realm of design and hospitality exhibitions and associated events?

    I like to think we stand out for several reasons. First off, our global reach means we are able to attract major players and exhibitors from around the world, while the diversity that creates ensures a comprehensive platform for networking and business opportunities. We are also known for our industry expertise, having established ourselves as a leading authority in the hospitality sector across the Middle East and Africa.

    This year’s edition of The Hotel Show is set to welcome more than 100 industry-shaping experts and play host to 28 international countries. Such statistics demonstrate the growth of the exhibition and put dmg events at the forefront of the industry. Additionally, our commitment to innovation and continually expanding our event profile with new content and features ensures our exhibitions and associated events push the envelope regarding industry standards and expectations.

    • How do you stay informed about emerging trends and innovations in the design and hospitality industries?

    In any profession, it’s essential to stay atop of industry trends. With the hospitality industry being as dynamic as it is, I tend to stay informed of emerging trends and innovations through a variety of channels. This includes attending industry conferences and events, networking, and staying up to date with sector-specific publications and research reports.

    I also make it a priority to engage with our exhibitors, sponsors, and partners – those who are ‘our frontliners’ so to say, to understand their perspectives and insights on industry developments. As a leader, I also encourage my team to actively seek out new ideas and trends, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning within our organisation.

    • Can you share some insights into the current challenges facing the design and hospitality sectors, particularly in the context of events and exhibitions?

      Over the past half-decade, the design and hospitality sector has faced several challenges, one of the major ones being increasing competition. With new events and exhibitions emerging regularly, it is crucial for us to differentiate our offerings and provide added value and a unique experience to our attendees and participants. At dmg events, we aim to provide our visitors with an array of verticals to explore – from industry-shaping and associated events to immersive chef’s table experiences.

      Through these verticals, we also aim to bring together industry leaders and newcomers. Over the past few years, we have also had to adapt to changing consumer preferences – with this being the digital age, a customer’s journey now begins well before they arrive at the physical venue. To accommodate and offer a smooth experience, we have heavily invested in developing a user-friendly app, which also makes it an easier and more efficient networking platform for both exhibitors and visitors.

      Another challenge, of course, is sustainability, which is an ongoing industry issue. As we work to reduce the environmental impact of our events and operations, The Hotel Show encourages exhibitors and sponsors to bring sustainable solutions and products to display, promote, and sell.

      • What strategies do you employ to ensure that dmg events’ design and hospitality offerings remain relevant and engaging for attendees and participants?

      To ensure our design and hospitality offerings remain relevant and engaging, we employ several strategies, the core of which is always to understand the needs and preferences of our target audience through research. This helps us tailor our events to meet their specific requirements and interests.

      We also collaborate closely with industry experts, exhibitors, and sponsors to develop compelling content and features that address current trends and challenges. As much as possible, the team leverages technology to enhance the attendee experience, implementing everything from virtual and augmented reality experiences, interactive workshops, and digital networking platforms.

      One of our conferences, HITEC, focuses on revolutionising hospitality through technology. Over the past few years, we have brought together industry experts from both sectors to unlock the future of hospitality technology. Our speakers are leaders in robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, and more, all delivering their professional insights on how to help drive businesses forward.

      At dmg, we also continually seek feedback not only from attendees and participants, but all stakeholders. This allows us to continuously improve our events and ensure they meet the highest standards of quality and relevance.

      • Do you have any tips on fostering collaboration with external partners and stakeholders?

      Collaboration is essential for the success of our events, and one of the key strategies we employ is building strong relationships based on trust and mutual respect. We actively seek out partnerships with industry associations, government bodies, and other organisations to enhance the value of our events and reach a wider audience.

      We also engage with our exhibitors and sponsors to understand their goals and objectives, and tailor our offerings to meet their needs. Additionally, we collaborate with local communities and businesses to create a positive impact and build long-term relationships that benefit all parties.

      • How do you approach the curation and selection process for exhibitors and speakers at dmg events’ design and hospitality exhibitions?

        The process is a meticulous one. We start by identifying key industry trends and topics relevant and timely, then look for individuals and companies that can offer unique insights, valuable experiences, and innovative solutions to share with our audience. We also consider factors such as diversity, relevance, and audience appeal. Overall, our goal is to create a dynamic and engaging programme that provides attendees with valuable insights and inspiration.

        • Sustainability is increasingly important in the design and hospitality sectors. How does dmg events incorporate sustainable practices into its events and operations?

        Sustainability is a fundamental value at dmg events, and we are deeply committed to embedding these principles throughout our events and operations. As sustainability becomes increasingly crucial in the design and hospitality sectors, we actively collaborate with our venue partners and suppliers to ensure that eco-friendly practices are seamlessly integrated into every facet of our operations. One tangible example of this commitment is our transition to a digital platform for event brochures and visitor badges, effectively reducing our reliance on paper materials.

        Furthermore, we consistently strive to raise awareness and promote education on sustainability through a diverse array of talks across our event portfolios. Our steadfast dedication to sustainability underscores our ongoing endeavours to minimise environmental impact while nurturing a more environmentally conscious industry.

        • What are some of the most memorable moments or highlights from your experience working in design and hospitality events at dmg events?

        While working with some of the leading and innovative brands in the industry has led to so many amazing experiences, what I personally cherish the most is being able to create experiences for our audiences and witnessing growth. The launch of KIDSPACE this year alongside the Hotel Show, The Leisure Show, INDEX, and WORKSPACE will be another one of those moments, as we take another step forward in growth.

        KIDSPACE is all about transforming the spaces our children fill with product, design and technology. Our exhibitions and associated events have brought experts from around the world to the Middle East. Not only has it been an honour to witness the impact of our events on the industry, but I have also had the privilege of witnessing firsthand how our exhibitions have helped businesses grow, professionals connect, and ideas flourish.

        • Can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives that you’re particularly excited about?

        As mentioned, this year we are launching KIDSPACE. The exhibition will showcase the latest trends in the parent and child products industry, modern parenting, furniture, and technology, amongst other topics. Just as we spotted a gap in the children’s sector, we are always looking to expand our portfolio ensuring we grow and bring new platforms to the industries we service.

        We are also confident that the co-location of the shows will enhance exhibitor opportunities, making it even better placed as the global meeting point for the design, fit-out, hospitality, and wellness sectors. Our aim is to continue to build and create untapped platforms to cater to our audiences.

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