The Venue ViewThe Venue View: What’s in store for 2024

In this first instalment of The Venue View, you can hear from some of our venue team on what they’re looking forward to this year, trends for the industry, top tips for organisers and lots more!

The Venue View: What’s in store for 2024

01 February 2024

(Pictured L-R: Helen Ridley, Assistant Venue Director, Robert May, General Hospitality & Catering Manager, Amadeus, Emily Simmons-Wright, Head of Venue Sales)

With January gone in a flash, 2024 has got off to a lightning-quick start at Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre. This year has already seen us welcome back the Homebuilding & Renovating Show, company conferences, numerous meetings, site visits, planning and exhibitor preview days, plus our local business open morning. Amidst all this, we took time with some of our venue team to look ahead at an exciting year for both Farnborough International and the wider events industry.

In this first instalment of The Venue View, you can hear from Helen Ridley, Assistant Venue Director (HR), Emily Simmons-Wright, Head of Venue Sales (ESW) and Robert May, General Hospitality & Catering Manager, Amadeus (RM) on what they’re looking forward to this year, trends for the industry, top tips for organisers and lots more!


What are the emerging event industry trends to look out for in 2024?

ESW: "People are increasingly seeking out experiential activations, and brands are taking notice of this trend. As a result, we are likely to see more event organisers striving to create memorable moments for attendees. They will also aim to use their events to encourage year-round content creation and choose more innovative venues in locations that offer a mix of business and leisure opportunities (also known as ‘bleisure’ destinations)."

HR: "I believe the resurgence of in person events and people convening in person is getting even stronger, notwithstanding that the development in technological innovation and immersive technologies will play a large part alongside this. Catering trends are also becoming more of a focal point, with consumers wanting food to be more rustic & rural, understanding the food to fork process. Focusing on the mind & body – food to fuel our physical and mental health. Also, the younger audience want playful, colourful presentation both in food and drinks sector."

RM: "Right at the top of the list is sustainability in food and beverage, everything from food mileage and distance purchased to waste management and use of single use plastics. Here at Farnborough and Amadeus, we not only believe in providing great food to enhance the experience of our guests, but we hold the belief that we are accountable in providing sustainable catering solutions that minimise our impact on the environment and continually improve the quality of every dish."


What events are you most looking forward to welcoming and working on at Farnborough in 2024 and why?

HR: "Q1 is always such a busy time of year for Farnborough and I love that we have a fantastic portfolio of clients who we get to work with year on year, making the shows better every time. Events I am particularly looking forward to welcoming back on site this year are The Big One, Southern Manufacturing, Screwfix Live, The British Motor Show and Everything Electric."

ESW: "Our largest conference to date – SQLBits - is happening in 2024 and the organisers are pulling out all the stops. They're offering creative catering options and a refreshing attendee experience to ensure it's the best one yet!"

RM: "Farnborough International are hosting many large-scale conferences this year; I’m really looking forward to delivering SQLBits in March over a 5-day period welcoming 1,500 delegates each day and enjoying a full day of catering daytime and evenings. I also really look forward to delivering Security and Policing also in March, a long-standing event at the venue with multiple offerings in different locations, this event welcomes delegates from all over the world, so our menu offer needs to be strong and diverse."


What are your personal development goals for 2024?

ESW: "My mantra for this year - if it doesn’t scare you, it’s probably not worth doing! I want to make bold moves to both develop Farnborough International as a venue and me as a person."

RM: "I’ve been at the venue now for four and a half years, and my main objective is always to build and operate a team of professional catering managers, chefs and sales managers that are able to deliver world class catering to the masses, day in, day out. The venue and our client base continues to grow year on year and this year promises to be our busiest yet!"

HR: "As I shall soon be heading off for a different style of personal development – maternity leave - my personal goal is to enjoy the time out of the industry, but of course keep in touch with what is happening over the next 12 months!"


What is your favourite event space at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre?

HR: "My favourite space is Advance. It has so much natural daylight with large windows overlooking the Farnborough Airport runway, so it provides a versatile conference and networking space with unique views."

RM: "It has to be Hall 1! It’s such a diverse space with many opportunities, adjacent to many other meeting rooms and facilities. We have delivered many different event types in Hall 1, from large dinners, exhibitions, and large-scale conferences. It really is an impressive, versatile space.

ESW: Adding a sprinkle of cheese here, but it must be the main entrance to Hall 1. As it's my first year with the company, I'm always excited to walk into an event, holding no expectations of what the live event may look like, and being constantly amazed. Every company we have welcomed goes above and beyond to create an exceptional experience for their guests."


What is your top tip for event organisers when planning their events?

RM: "We are all here to delivery amazing experiences! The venue has a dedicated and experienced team of catering and event managers that can assist event organisers in planning their events. Use us! That’s what were here for."

ESW: "The entrance to an event is crucial for several reasons. Its significance extends beyond just being a physical gateway, so be sure to take into consideration first impressions, brand image and identity, atmosphere and social media opportunities."

HR: "Talk to us! We are not only a venue, we are a group of experts who organise our own events as well as supporting on yours. We are happy to be part of the creative process as well as the operational delivery." 


What’s makes the Farnborough team unique in how they support event organisers and clients?

ESW: "Our company's DNA is ingrained with a culture of unwavering support, extending seamlessly through every team member. We take pride in fostering an environment where knowledge is not just power; it's a shared asset. Our commitment to clients goes beyond transactions; it's a genuine interest in their events, ensuring a collaborative journey where success is a collective achievement."

HR: "As a collective we are a group of people who genuinely love and care about our clients and their objectives, which I believe resonates outwards. We provide a partnership approach to everything we do and always want to achieve the best for all parties. Events such as Screwfix which has been with us for 10 years are testament to the value of creating truly fantastic relationships with our clients."

RM: "Nothing is too much for the Farnborough team when it comes to supporting our event organisers. We always work together to ensure we exceed our clients and their visitors’ expectations."


What part of the event industry are you most passionate about?

HR: "Nurturing future talent is a real passion of mine. Currently I sit on the AEV Academic Board, working with universities and further education establishments. I have been very lucky to have some fantastic teachers and mentors over the past 20 years, who have definitely inspired me to develop and achieve my goals, way beyond where I thought I would be!"

RM: "Local produce has always been important to me on a personal level as well here in the workplace. Using seasonal ingredients in our dishes when its available is also very important, it tastes better when its season. Quality ingredients in season, taste and presentation are what fuels me. We eat with our eyes first."

ESE: "Advocacy for government support and policies that recognise and support the event industry; This may involve lobbying for incentives, regulations that foster innovation, or an opportunity to educate on the economic impact of business events."


What is one of your most memorable moments from your time working at Farnborough so far?

HR: "Probably the first year we ran The British Motor Show – a huge launch show, working with a fairly small operational team and just how fantastic it was to see over 40,000 members of the public having an amazing experience with us here at Farnborough. Although I have to say the Army band in 2023 were pretty epic as well!"

ESW: "Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Screwfix at Farnborough in 2023 was such a fantastic moment. Seeing the venue team join the organisers in cheering on their successes was truly heart-warming and humbling."

RM: "Farnborough International Airshow 2022 was my first airshow and wow what a show it was! It was extremely exciting with thousands of people onsite each day and a truly international crowd of visitors. It was hard work, but very rewarding."        


What makes working in events and at Farnborough such a great job?

ESW: "No. Day. Is. Ever. The. Same! Working at Farnborough International brings constant variety in daily challenges sparking creativity and personal growth. We have the opportunity to collaborate on diverse projects, witness organic innovation and connect with some truly inspiring minds!"

HR: "Farnborough is a great place to work, never sitting still, always trying to be the best in whatever we do, whilst acknowledging that we are still growing as a venue and how incredible the last 5 years have been! The event industry is resilient, its dynamic and there are an amazing group of people who work within sectors under the events umbrella."

RM: "Every day and every event is different. You can’t tell the venue apart from one event to another! So much hard work goes into planning and delivering an event, so when it comes to actually delivering it you get a huge buzz and feel very proud of everyone that took part in the delivery."


And finally, what is on your bucket-list of must-attend events in the future?

HR: "Glastonbury! I have an absolute passion for music, any genre any venue – I absolutely love live music and what better than to go to one of the most prestigious music events of all time!"

ESW: "I’ve always wanted to go to some New Years Eve Fireworks, London, Sydney, anywhere! But I absolutely cannot get on board with waiting all day to secure a good viewing point."

RM: "I’d love to attend The British Motor Show here at Farnborough, but I’m always delivering it! 😊"


Visit our What’s On page to discover all our upcoming events in 2024.

Looking for a venue for an upcoming event or an event idea you need help bringing to life? Check out our variety of flexible space here or get in touch with our expert team can support you and your objectives.

Stay tuned for more Venue Views from the Farnborough team coming over the rest of the year!