Olympia Beauty Show Director, Ian Archbold, discusses the changing landscape of beauty shows and future direction of his iconic London event. This interview is by Helena Biggs, Editor of Scratch Magazine and originally appeared in their November 2018 issue.
Beauty shows have been part of the industry calendar for as long as many would care to remember, but with an increasing focus on online sales and retailing, some have begun to muse about whether attendance is truly necessary.
Here, the organiser of autumn’s biggest industry event chats openly about the changes the traditional ‘trade show’ has experienced in recent years and Olympia Beauty’s continued mission to inspire beauty pros; growing their skills and businesses.
Why should members of the beauty industry attend trade events?
There’s no other opportunity in which you can get up close and personal with brands and be inspired by so many influencers under one roof. The traditional ‘trade show’ is a thing of the past; I believe that professionals need more reasons to visit an event other than just to replenish their stock.
If a professional is seeking a new product range or training course, for example, a show means they can have face-to-face conversations with a number of exhibitors in a short space of time, thus ensuring they’re making the right decision for their business. Spending just one day at an event talking to educators, distributors, brand owners and their sales teams saves days of research online and phone conversations.
I am an advocate of the ‘see, touch, smell, try’ opportunities that beauty events offer. There’s only so much you can get from a website, yet an exhibition allows you to sample products, garner ideas, learn new business practices, watch product demonstrations and get instant answers to questions about techniques. Importantly, they can open your eyes to new innovations from all over the world which may not have been seen or considered otherwise. Attendance offers a fantastic opportunity for networking and a great team day out for the salon or mobile worker.
Olympia Beauty celebrates its 15thbirthday in 2019. How do you feel that trade shows have changed since its inception?
What brands and beauty professionals expect from a trade show is now very different. Before the digital age, brands largely used their stand space to educate, demonstrate and sell their products. Now, companies are driving their experience to be one that’s more personal. Whether selling nail products, beauty equipment, salon software or more, it’s imperative for exhibitors to be able to engage with both new and existing customers. It’s their opportunity to convey their new product launches, the education and support they offer and what sets them apart from their competitors.
Olympia Beauty serves as a platform for these brands to engage with beauty professionals. My job is to create an experience that is right for both visitors and exhibitors to make this interaction happen and in 2018 with visitors up 6% to 19,817 we achieved this with great feedback from visitors and exhibitors alike.
What has Olympia Beauty done to react to the changing needs of pros?
The journey of the visitor has changed. Our show visitor wants all their senses to be engaged and we believe that this combines business and pleasure. Olympia Beauty presented 450 exhibiting brands in 2018, as well as four competitions, the launch of the PMU & Microblading Bootcamp and The National Massage Championship, two live stages and The Salon & Spa Owners Club Lounge & Restaurant. This ensured that there was plenty on offer for the visitor. We work tirelessly as a team and continue to invest in delivering an amazing experience for visitors with competitions and benefits for those that make the journey to Olympia, London each year.
Olympia Beauty was the first industry event to launch a benefits club for decision-makers; The Salon & Spa Owners’ Club which now boasts over 3,000 members. These members are all personally checked for eligibility in order to deliver a fantastic show experience and recognise the business owner. We strive to innovate and deliver what this growing, thriving sector needs – and push the skills of those within it.
The 2019 event will see a huge pull for consummate professionals. With a focus on the three pillars of the beauty industry; education, training and standards, Olympia Beauty is launching The Education Club.
This club will present nine education rooms that will offer show visitors a huge programme of education, training, masterclasses and product launches so that visitors can engage with brands in a much more personal way. These will run all day Saturday 28, Sunday 29 and Monday 30September 2019.
What can the industry’s brands do to support the needs of professionals and show attendees?
I would like to see beauty brands only create offers for those that attend industry events, as it’s of benefit to them to get the buyer in front of them and create a buzz about all areas of their brand. In turn, the attendee gets a well-rounded, informed experience.
With a move away from retailing by some exhibitors, there is demand a greater connection with the salon and spa owner; a business’ decision maker. In 2019, we will be focusing more on this sector and building on the amazing offerings The Salon & Spa Owners Club has to offer– so watch this space. The greater the number of salon & spa owners that attend, the better the quality of the event and experience for all.
Brands also have a duty to make the most of the opportunities that Olympia Beauty gives them. We are a host of a beauty event; we are constantly pushing to offer a partnership with brands to get the most from the show and we invest a huge amount but we can only do so much. It’s also down to the brands to promote what they are going to offer across the two days. Olympia Beauty has its own marketing zone, in which exhibitors can detail their new launches, invite their customers, inform of offers and so much more, which are then promoted by us to attendees. However, only a small percentage of exhibitors use this and so much more can be done. Those that did set up a number of meetings at the show had a lot of success in inviting their customers to personally engage with them at the event. The responsibility of a shows success is more than a one-way street.
What do you say to those that feel consumers are infiltrating on the trade show environment?
Admittedly, there will always be a grey area when it comes to attendees at trade beauty events. Many professionals do not want to attend such a big event on their own, so may register a ticket for a partner or friend who is not a professional – and they may buy products from stands or ask questions that aren’t entirely relevant.
I’m sure my exhibitors would, for the most part, rather one professional attends with a non-professional friend than not have that professional attend at all. Whether some believe it or not, partners in particular are part of a professional’s decision-making process as the business or expenditure may affect them, too.
Partners have their place, and with an industry that has its own blurred lines regarding accreditations and recognised qualifications, the registration process would be impossible to police – and extremely complicated.
As a team, we try to deliver a professional experience through the brands that exhibit at the show. The Salon & Spa Owners’ Club grew by 1000 members in 2018 to over 3,000 who were all vetted, so we know that we do deliver quality visitors that are true professionals.
How do you view the trade event landscape in five years’ time?
The UK beauty industry is such a growing sector and as more brands and products are launched, beauty events are, now more than ever, a perfect opportunity for both visitors and exhibitors alike to benefit hugely from the show experience.
Olympia Beauty leads and does not follow and is constantly evolving as an event. As someone who believes that we cannot and should not stand still in this industry, we will continue to respond to market needs and wants and continue to deliver a fantastic experience for visitors. I strongly believe the future needs to focus on education, training and standards, the bedrock of the UK beauty industry, so am excited to launch The Education Club for 2019.
What’s the pull for nail professionals?
The global nail industry is extremely well represented at Olympia Beauty. As an event in such an iconic location and hosts of Nailympia London, the biggest nail competition in the world, manufacturers and techs travel from all over to attend. This makes networking opportunities invaluable and means that many brands use Olympia Beauty as a platform to launch their products and techniques to the UK nail market – so attendees can see huge number of nail brands first hand.
For those that have never been to Olympia Beauty before, the event is exciting, innovative and has a real buzz. The organisational team, while small, is so incredibly passionate and works tirelessly to deliver the most amazing experience for exhibitors and attendees. We thrive on inspiring people to take the next step in their business and I’m so proud of the event – and confident in its continued success.