Interview with John Cox, director of DCE Agency

Name: John Cox 

Company: DCE Agency

Job Title: Director 

What does it mean to you to be a 2020 Finalist in the World Exhibition Stand Awards?

Although I have been working in the exhibitions industry for over 20 years, DCE Agency is a new and exciting venture in my career. To be recognised and appreciated at this level is an honour and a true testament to the skills and hard work of the people that have supported us in achieving this; I’m incredibly proud of our team.

What are the big trends in exhibition stand design? 

New technologies and exhibition solutions are emerging constantly throughout our industry and a great example of this is the application of Virtual and Augmented Reality.

Our stands are created to be the best possible platform for our client’s product, to emphasise and highlight, using whichever technologies and developments do this best; be that VR walkthrough or BMX stunt riders – the key is the client, always. 

How international is the exhibition industry becoming?

The exhibition industry is continually being strengthened and enriched through internationalisation. As we adapt our working patterns and processes to become more dynamic, we are creating consistently stronger relationships with clients and contractors across the globe. DCE Agency has been operating on an international level since its creation and as such we have fostered many relationships with clients and contractors which have boosted the efficiency of our work tenfold; allowing us to offer immediate and excellent support and solutions on a global scale.

What is driving this internationalisation?

Globalisation is an undeniable contributing factor of how international the industry has become. As mentioned above, our working processes have developed and diversified. We are able to do business with an expediency on a global scale, that simply wasn’t possible 10 years ago.

For DCE Agency, this has an incredibly positive outcome, not only for our client base, but also our efficiency and environmental impact. By being able to source trusted solutions and labour locally, dramatically reduces our emissions as a business whilst allowing us to provide immediate and relevant support on a global scale. This ensures we deliver brand consistency; On Brand, On Time and On Budget. 

What has been the best innovation of the past 5 years?

5G – Enabling the application of cutting edge technology within the exhibition and events environment, A real game changer!

What are clients currently asking for in stand and experience design?

Naturally, the latest trends in technology and marketing solutions are on the minds of a lot of our clients, so we are seeing more uptake on technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality – which is an exciting area for us and one which we excel in. With this in mind we have been actively developing ways in which these technologies can be harnessed to provide our clients with tangible data to help understand their ROI. 

As the landscape of marketing and product exposure is changing to virtual and non-physical solutions, it is crucial that we are able to provide the most in-depth and relevant ROI insights we can. We are currently working with smart screen and AR technologies to provide heat mapping of attendee engagement on our stands, to better understand how our stand design can create the most product exposure and engagement possible for our clients. 

How are exhibitions and stand design staying relevant in a digital world?

For us, business will always be about human interaction. However as we become more global and international, restraints such as travel costs and availability to attend exhibitions are factors we must recognise.

We are always looking at the best practice to integrate systems into our stands which allow for client interaction to happen, even if face to face isn’t an option, be that live streaming addresses from our clients or installing virtual meeting systems.

What do you expect the next 5 years will hold for exhibition stand design?

I believe there will be a greater demand for presentations to include VR or AR walkthroughs, Making these interactive allowing our clients to experience first hand how the stand is perceived, there will be a bigger focus on the customer journey as ROI becomes more of a focus to prove that the real event has a place in the digital world.

Do exhibitions get the status they deserve versus other marketing channels?

As we find ourselves in the world of the ‘digital office’, it is easy to forget the importance that face to face interaction has in establishing trust and security in business, and that is our game; to curate these interactions in innovative and relevant ways. Our deadlines are immovable in this industry and we all know the pressure this can put onto a team, but it’s through our passion and ingenuity as an industry that we are still relevant and needed in the marketplace. Exhibitions allow for all forms of marketing to work together to create real 380degree experiences, which we think is unmatchable! 

What’s the best exhibition stand or event you’ve seen in the last year?

CES – Las Vegas is always a favourite for me. A chance to really see the cutting edge of stand design and solutions. What always stands out for me is the relevance of exhibition design in relation to the client’s product; style and substance – what’s not to love!

If you could change one thing about the world of exhibitions what would it be?

We love our job, but we all know the pains of freezing cold exhibitions halls during English winters, or the searing heat in Dubai summers! If I had my way, everyone would have a personal thermostat!  

Does stand size matter?

Clients can often think that bigger is better in terms of attendee engagement, but we believe that innovation and product engagement is key to successful exhibition exhibition marketing

What are the biggest challenges for exhibition stand design and build currently?

With the exception of COVID-19?

We are an Agency who believe in providing a high level of service and compliance whilst striving to play our part in protecting environmental health and providing sustainable solutions. Unfortunately, we seem to have unfair playing field in the industry at present, seeing many companies with complete disregard to follow global build, health and safety legislation. Not only does this affect the safety of our working environment but also creates a very unrealistic pricing structure throughout.