Thousands of businesses converged on the Kent Event Centre last month (13th May) to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Kent 2020 Vision LIVE, the UK’s largest regional business event.
This was the first event since Revolution Events acquired the Kent 2020 brand from its previous owners and was widely reported to be the best one yet.
New opportunities were being built from 7.30am, as the event opened with Kent County Council’s special Networking Breakfast, promoting the development of young people in the workplace through the use of Apprenticeships and other innovative initiatives.
As the breakfast came to a close, thousands of visitors were already flocking to the main exhibition halls to meet and do business with more than 300 exhibitors. With the sun shining brightly and a sense of optimism in abundance, the halls were buzzing all day as the community came together to discuss new projects and build relationships in the best way possible: face-to-face.
This year’s theme of ‘Delivering Growth’ was designed to provide insights, ideas and advice about the practicalities of building a sustainable business now that the UK economy is really gathering momentum again.
Supporting this theme, the free seminar programme kicked off with an inspirational keynote from James Averdieck, founder of the popular Gü Puds line of luxury desserts, who spoke with passion and an endearing honesty about the highs and lows of growing a £30m company from scratch – along with the regrets of losing the excitement and satisfaction after selling the business several years ago. Fortunately, James is already well into a new venture called Coconut Collaborative.
Later in the day, global futurist Rohit Talwar provided some fascinating insights into the key social and technological trends that will shape the business landscape over the next ten years: including game-changing advances in Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Everything and 3D Printing. Rohit also explained the increased need for businesses to operate on three parallel timelines at once in order to stay competitive in times of rapid change: specifically, a focus on operational excellence in the short term (1-12 months), business growth in the medium term (1-3 years) and innovation and future-proofing in the longer term (4-10 years).
Further sessions included senior speakers from Kent County Council, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, Zoodikers, Grant Thornton / Business Growth Services, University of Kent, Sleeping Giant Media, FSB, Open University, Broadplace / Google, Southeastern, the Intellectual Property Office and many more. New streams of workshops were also introduced to focus on key industry sectors such as Manufacturing, Retail, Construction and Travel & Tourism, which all proved extremely popular.
The total number of visitors increased very slightly to just under 3,300, making this year’s attendance the highest in Kent 2020’s ten year history and exhibitors reporting it to be the best yet in terms of both overall footfall and the buying intentions of the audience. Research conducted by Facts International at the show revealed that four out five visitors (79%) were senior decision makers (business founders, directors or managers) and 97% considered their time at event to be valuable or extremely valuable.
“Feedback from exhibitors and visitors has been overwhelmingly positive, with most participants gathering dozens or even hundreds of new contacts and really serious sales leads,” said Rich Tribe, Joint Managing Director of organisers Revolution Events. “The high quality of this year’s free seminars and the improved comfort of the exhibition halls made a significant difference to the overall visitor experience, with more and more exhibitors combining eye-catching displays with pro-active stand staff and some great interactive features – which all encourage people to stay right through the day.”
You can see for yourself what a great day it was by watching the short highlights video on YouTube, squeezing the biggest day in the South East’s business calendar into just a few minutes…
As the new custodians of the Kent 2020 brand, organisers Revolution Events were delighted to start with such an outstanding event and are greatly looking forward to taking the helm for the event’s development over the next decade (and beyond). Planning is now under way for 2016 to ensure the event delivers even more value in the future, with next year’s date set for Wednesday 11th May 2016.
> NEXT EVENTS
Join us in the Autumn for two more great events:
Kent 2020 Vision Start-Up LIVE – Tuesday 20th October 2015, Kent Event Centre
Kent 2020 Vision Marketing LIVE – Tuesday 20th October 2015, Kent Event Centre
For information about exhibiting or participating at either event, call Tom Healing or Emily Taylor at Revolution Events on 01892-820930.