Newsletter Issue 4 : May 2014


If you would like to be sent future editions then let us know. We would welcome input from readers on news, job changes and other stories. Please send us your news.


Interview: Sharon Roessen, Group COO, Terrapinn Events

Sharon Roessen joined Terrapinn Events 20 years ago as a Marketing Manager.  Having held various positions in both London and Asia, she felt that there was a limit that she could achieve in marketing without actually controlling the product.  So as part of major restructuring of the group, she became COO in 2012. 

What criteria do you look for when hiring someone into your marketing team?
“We used to look for organised and analytical people who were great with data” says Sharon but she explains that recruitment in marketing now has a new mission.  “Our top criteria for marketing our exhibitions and confexes is for people who can write well, the second criteria is to have a good eye for design”.  Sharon explains that it is important for marketing person to be able to design material to look good but to keep with branding of the event.  The third skill is negotiating.  “We need people who are willing to pick up the phone and do deals”, this is something that people – especially younger marketeers, do less of these days.

Sharon explains that marketeers do less analytics because the analytics are now done by systems that are built by a technical, data orientated team.  The data is so much more simplified – so there are no more database logistics or your “and/or” statements to be done.  In Terrapinn, creating systems is very important to make data selection easier for the Event Managers.  Terrapinn prefer to take on marketeers at entry level or second-job level and train them up.  They require a degree – not necessarily in marketing.  “A psychology degree is quite a good one” adds Sharon.  “We recently tried and failed to recruit for a more senior marketing role.  We feel that this has something to do with older employees being resistant to the changes in marketing strategies, so instead we promoted an employee from our content team which is working well”.

How do you get the marketing-thinking across the whole organisation?
Sharon explains that Terrapinn has tried, as part of their mission to become a “customer organisation”, to change everyone’s thinking towards a marketing viewpoint across the company.  What Terrapinn wants is to see everyone aiming to deliver a much better customer experience which in turn increases retention.  Sharon works with Terrapinn offices worldwide and explained “when we first tried to instigate this thinking, we came up against a this is not my job attitude so we have had to re-orientate people to revolve their systems around the customer experience.” 

What do you find are the different marketing needs for different types of events?
“The basic principles are the same in trying to convince the delegates to give up time and money.  Getting the right message to the right people at the right time applies to all of our events”.  Sharon explains that although they allocate bigger budgets to larger scale events, the principles are the same. Their Training Courses and Briefings are more data oriented and are marketed by a separate team who work with a lower budget than the Conference/Exhibition/Confexes.

Do you find Marketing differs in locations worldwide?

“We have local marketing teams in all our offices – Dubai, Singapore, Australia, Johannesburg and New York and each of these offices share the same systems and use the same marketing template”.  However Sharon continues by saying that obviously marketing is done in a different language, particularly in the Middle East.  Terrapinn rarely use direct mail as it is difficult to get brochures to land as there are no mail boxes in many office locations around the world.  Sharon pointed out that the company values the partnerships they have on the ground in different areas where they do not have an office, such as publications, exhibitions and sponsorship agreements.  This is particularly so in Latin America.  The only area that Terrapinn now does direct marketing is into Europe.  These days it takes up 10-15% of the budget (as opposed to the 80% they used to use).  Interestingly, a number of companies say that direct mail is on the up again, given that email inboxes are often overloaded and many people read their emails on their phones.  Sharon, however is not convinced that this is the case.  “Revenue attribution is the hardest part of marketing.  It is difficult to work out what works”.  Terrapinn also find that using telesales for Dubai events works particularly well as executives in this region communicate best verbally.

How do you find marketing with no publishing arm – where do you get your content?

Sharon explains that Terrapinn went into content marketing four years ago and decided to start this with launching some blogs.  They did this around the event brands and started from scratch.  They asked their Events Team to populate them.  “Getting that culture into the company and asking employees for their uptake has been hard” Sharon explains.  “I travelled worldwide and had lots of interest in the concept of content marketing but, again, came up with the it’s not my job hurdle”.  So Terrapinn made the decision to invest in employing graduates (mainly from journalism) as in-house editors.  They took the funds for this from the marketing budget so all of their Content Teams are now effectively funded by marketing.  These editors were put into the conferences to write reports, create interviews and as a result have helped to form great communities around Terrapinn’s events.  Sharon also explains that all their events are brand driven and have their owns sites, for example Total Payments (one of their brands) is now run in five locations worldwide, it has its own newsletters, reporting from their events, video links and is even supported now by their Training Courses and Briefings.  Terrapinn now has 20 brands.

When asked what Sharon finds as the biggest challenge of event marketing she replied “Breaking through the noise.  This is a very overcrowded market and much more difficult to market to than in previous years”.


i2i makes two new executive appointments

Centaur reveals dip in events revenues

Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC - Interim Financial Report 2014

Informa plc Interim Management Statement - Full year outlook unchanged Group trading in line with expectations


As part of its mission to become the “World’s Most Visited City”, Dubai plans to encourage more events to be held in its Hotels and Convention Centres.  Key aims of  “Tourism Vision for 2020” include:

  • 20 million annual visitors by 2020
  • 11 million hotel guests
  • The Right to host Expo 2020
  • A second international airport is in its first phase
  • UAE federal pre-entry visa regulations on European Union member states will be lifted
  • Major legislative changes have been made which will directly and positively impact the tourism sector and enable Dubai to attract more business and leisure travellers

There are two bodies which have been established and can help foreign companies looking to run events or set up offices in the region: The Dubai Convention and Events Bureau (DCEB) set up to establish the Emirate as a premier business tourism destination by helping to plan, organize and manage every aspect of an event. DCEB can assist conference planners to organize their events through focusing on:

  • Business Event Development
  • Destination Expertise
  • Convention Planning
  •  Attendance Building
  • Onsite Event Servicing

The Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has been newly set up to work with commerce partners to promote Dubai’s position as a leading international business and leisure destination around the world. Its mandate includes attracting international businesses to establish offices in Dubai and fostering trade relations with local, regional and international companies within relevant industries, with a view to increasing inbound travel and trade.  If you are looking at setting up an office in Dubai email


Database Marketing Manager – B2B Events. £40-45K. London. Ref VR/00200

Show Manager – Technology Events. £40-45K. Up to £70K OTE. London. Ref VR/00201

General Manager – Confex Events. £Neg. High OTE. Budapest. Ref VR/00215

Project Leader – Middle East Conferences. £42K Up to £64K OTE. Dubai. Ref VR/00228

Product Manager – Energy Summits. £25-30K plus profit share. London. Ref VR/00225


GCN Launches GCN Talent
Building on its industry expertise, Global Conference Network has launched a conference recruitment service, to support conference companies, exhibition companies, trade associations, media companies looking to employ at levels from Producer to CEO.  This will be managed by Kevin Hosier former Head of Global Recruitment and Talent Management at UBM Conferences and supported by the team at the Global Conference Network. If you are looking for new staff to drive the growth of your business or are looking to move jobs - please contact us and we can help.

Conference Awards 2014 – Friday 13th June
Over 600 places have been sold already for this industry-wide celebration event which this year will be held in Battersea Evolution.  This year it is hosted by Comedian Josh Widdicombe. To book your place, please visit

Event Content Director’s Roundtable
Sponsored by Meetings and Exhibition Hong Kong
5.45 – 7.30, 24 June 
Topic: Launching and Expanding overseas