How has business been in 2016?
Echo is a business of two parts – we deliver events and conferences, and provide a wide range of outsourced services to membership organisations, from finance and bookkeeping to events, marketing and meeting management. For some clients, such as the British Association of Critical Care Nurses, we provide a full management service which includes member management and an annual two-day conference with a full academic programme, 50 sponsors and exhibitors and over 400 delegates. For others, we provide elements of event management or finance support. We also create our own events, such as the North East Accountancy Awards. All of these areas of our business have grown this year so we are excited about 2017.
What have been the business highlights of 2016?
Events are fertile ground for producing highlights so there’s plenty to choose from! Our client work takes us all over the UK and internationally to the likes of Rome, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Hong Kong in 2017. These trips are always a bonus but it’s especially satisfying to work on events closer to home. In particular, the Northern Law Awards has been a huge achievement for us and has grown exponentially since we launched it in 2015, quickly becoming the go-to event in the North East for the legal sector.
What has been the biggest challenge?
It can be a perennial challenge reminding people that there is power in the North beyond Leeds! It is no secret that we face challenges in the region when compared with cities such as Manchester or Glasgow where there is more concerted, coherent political action to stimulate events, conferences and wider business initiatives. That is why it is so important that the business community in this region pulls together and highlights some of the great work done here across various sectors from IT and digital to professional services.
Have any external factors had an impact on your business?
Brexit has definitely been a distraction for some clients who operate across Europe, mainly in terms of its immediate effect on the exchange rate but our finance team have worked closely with clients to balance risks and help them plan for the future.
What are your business plans for 2017?
In 2017 we’ll be looking to build on our existing strengths and specialisms in high-end business events and conferences. For our membership organisations, we’ll continue to deliver a professional member experience in a way that also maximises their profitability. What gives us a kick is using events and professional management services to help clients increase their influence, impact and profitability. For us, success is helping clients succeed and hopefully 2017 will see that continue for us all. We are also looking to strengthen relationships with key individuals and organisations in the region who we can work with to stage leading events and conferences, whether that is bringing flagship events here or showcasing what is already happening on our doorstep.