GoHospitality talks with Tim Collette, the managing director of Specialised Events and leader of the team that organises FoodService Australia, as it maps out the Australian hospitality industry.
What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.
I am fortunate to lead the team who organise the Foodservice Australia exhibition. That means we contact potential exhibitors and book them into the show. We then run an extensive promotion campaign to attract the right visitors. Finally we manage the logistics of the exhibition and all the special events running within it. As MD I also oversee the running a small business.
What training/education did you need for your job?
I am not sure you need formal training to be an event manager. However you need to be a very well organised and enthusiastic person who can focus on the big picture and small details at the same time. You tend to learn on the job.
I have a Bachelor Degree of Arts and a Masters in Business, but would not look for the same in my people. An undergraduate degree in anything would be good, plus a competency in office software, customer management, online media and basic common sense.
How did you get to where you are today? Give us a bullet point career path.
I worked in a boat shop during my university years. After a few years my Dad told me I should be buying boats, not selling them.
Soon after graduation I applied for a sales position at Australian Exhibition Services. Through good luck I was hired and put on the Fine Food show. The show was just about to take off. A few years later I became the exhibition manager and then exhibition director, overseeing Fine Food and a number of other shows.
After 16 years I decided to take a break. I spent two years travelling, studying and consulting to an overseas investment group looking to export Australian food.
Two years ago I established my own event business. We acquired the Foodservice Australia show and have been rebuilding it as the premier event for the hospitality industry. More recently we acquired the Franchising & Business Opportunities Expo. Onwards and upwards!
What tools and/or sofware do you use on a daily basis?
We are very reliant on our computers and telephones. We like to have a good understanding of our clients and always be available. We use Act! to store customer information and run our accounts using an online system called Xero. We use Dropbox to share files. Our phones are internet enabled which means we can take calls anywhere.
What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
I am proud of every show we run. The next show is always the most important because we want to give exhibitors and visitors maximum return for their investment of time and money.
Biggest daily challenge?
Getting through everything in normal business hours. Especially when we get close to a show and have to manage exhibitors, visitor promotion and logistics.
Biggest career challenge?
I think more about the development of shows rather than my career. I want every show to be better than the last and am always looking for new ideas.
What is your biggest frustration in your job?
Most of our exhibitors are fantastic, but some just don't take advantage of what a live event can offer. It is hard to watch companies spend the money but not properly train their staff or follow up their leads.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
We have a lot of competition in the marketing space. Our challenge is to convince marketing managers that live events are still incredibly relevant, and that a focused event like Foodservice Australia is better than other tools for reaching restaurants, cafes and caterers.
Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
If you get into trade exhibitions then you need to decide if you are an operations person or a sales person. If you want to get to the top and have the enthusiasm then choose the sale route.