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Interview: David O’Beirne, Media & Sponsorship Director, Ancillary Services, ExCel London

By Alexandra Gold  //  Tue 3rd June 2014
David O’Beirne, Media & Sponsorship Director, Ancillary Services, ExCel London on the bright future of the events industry, learning to delegate and most importantly winning a disco dance competition. (Just don't tell his kids he told us!)

What was your first job?
Trainee cost accountant – I was so wrong for that job.

How did you get into the events industry?

By accident –I wanted to enhance my sales experience and then move on but stayed in exhibitions and events.

What is your favourite brand?

Apple – they make beautiful products.

Which resources do you always turn to?

Google; Linked-In; Sites and blogs that focus on direct marketing.

Biggest marketing/event mistake?

Trying to do too many jobs on a launch exhibition (see next answer) - the show suffered and so did I.

Best piece of career advice?

Learn to delegate because you can’t do everything and you shouldn’t try to (see previous answer).

If you could work on any brand campaign, what would it be?

The Jaguar F-Type – I could really live and breathe that product…..and hopefully drive it too.

What piece of technology can’t you live without?

Any device that plays music – I especially love my MacBook Air.

How do you feel the economic climate over the past few years has impacted the events industry?

There’s no doubt that 2009 -2012 were tough years but things are definitely looking up now. Re impact, I think the past years have killed-off many weak events and have made the better events stronger. Participants have also been able to get more for their money and that’s good. Anyone selling media has had to be more creative with the solutions they offer.

Has the consolidation that has occurred in the industry had much of an impact on your offering at ExCeL?

ExCeL is definitely the home of leading industry events and this means that we have been able to work with some great brands and some great marketing people. We have tried to increase client value wherever possible and to offer a wider range of opportunities so that smaller promotional budgets are catered for too.

This has proved to be very successful. On average we introduce 10-15 new branding products per year.

What do you feel that the future holds for the events industry?

I think the events industry has a very bright future and digital technology will help visitors and participants to get more from the events that they attend.  As visitors, we can collect information on the products and services that we like or want digitally. Event organisers, sponsors and exhibitors can send us much more tailored pre- and post-event information – which must make their event investment much more productive and effective. And the life of events is extended in the online space. Visitors can source products and services before they attend a show and set-up at-show meetings with exhibitors. Organisers can reach people who couldn’t attend the event in person by providing online content that soon may be charged for. Post-show, event communities keep the event alive until the next time it takes place. All of this activity generates new revenue opportunities that didn’t exist before.   

What is your favourite pub?

The Salisbury Arms in Winchmore Hill. Great food, lots of wines and beers. Very relaxed.

What are your hobbies?

Tennis and driving children around.

Ideal holiday

Somewhere warm with water sports. St John in the US Virgin Islands is my ideal spot.

Who would play you in a movie?

The way my hair is going – any film with Yul Brynner in it.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I won a disco dance competition at Lancaster University but my kids don’t want anyone to know that. 

David O’Beirne was born in London and educated at Wimbledon College. He started off his career in ad sales before moving into exhibitions for the company that would eventually become Reed Exhibitions.

After a successful career as an event director of tradeshows, David became Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions in the mid 80’s. Following that, David took on the role of MD with EMAP working on trade and consumer shows including a JV business with the Daily Telegraph.

David made the move to ExCeL London 6 years ago to develop a joint venture company that handled advertising and branding sales at the venue. In 2012 he accepted the role as Media and Sponsorship Director, where he currently resides today.

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