1 JUNE 2019            

A Gold Coast business is carving out a reputation for organising large-scale expos with a boat show later this year on its target list.

ORGANISING an exhibition is a bit like throwing a party and worrying if anyone is going to show up. That is, of course, apart from exhibitors who have paid money to spruik their products and services.


Kiara Sullivan, founder of Gold Coast-based Unified Events, admits to feeling trepidation before day one of an expo.  “Always, every time,” she laughed.“And that is why we try to focus a lot on pre-sold tickets, because that is the only way we can alleviate that worry a little bit.”

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Kiara Sullivan of Unified Events.

Gold Coast Bulletin Article

Gold Coast Bulletin article on Unified Events.

Ms Sullivan’s introduction to the events and marketing space came during a working holiday in Japan, where she worked to promote nightclubs and bars.

Her interest sparked, the Griffith University graduate joined CTM Events when she returned to Australia in 2010.

Ms Sullivan said her six years at the company involved helping to organise the Gold Coast Food & Wine Expo and taking the concept to Perth, Newcastle and Canberra.

She finished her stint at the organisation as national event and marketing manager, and decided to start her own company after spotting a gap in the market for a Gold Coast expo centred around children and parenting-related products and services.

Horizon Shores Marina will host a boat show later this year.

“The only big event on the calendar was in Brisbane,” she said. “I wanted to do something that was closer to home.”

Ms Sullivan spent 12 months planning what became The Kids Expo, held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Broadbeach in April 2017.

The event attracted more than 120 exhibitors selling products and services targeted at children and parents, and included entertainment, workshops, a Lego display and play area, and “new parents chill-out zone”.

Ms Sullivan said the high turnout, at more than 7500, ensured it was a success.

She said the profit from organising an expo did not come from exhibitor fees, which paid for venue hire and marketing.

Queensland My Kitchen Rules winners Alex and Emily pose for a photograph ahead of Brisbane’s Eco Expo last year, which was organised by Gold Coast-based Unified Events. (AAP/Image Sarah Marshall)

“For us to make a profit we need to make sure the visitors come through,” she said.

“We are in the same boat as our exhibitors. If they don’t do well, we won’t either.”

She said the main challenge was to pick exhibitors that would appeal to the target demographic and then drive attendance to the show.

“The first expo was a sharp learning curve,” she said.

“The logistics remain the same but for me I really wanted to take on a sustainable approach. There is a lot of waste in the industry and that quite upset me. I decided I wanted to branch out and focus on sustainability.

“All my events since then have been plastic bag and plastic straw-free.”

Horizon Shores Marina will host a boat show later this year.

Ms Sullivan said the advantage for exhibitors in attending an expo was having their prospective customers in one place at the same time.

“You are thrown into the middle of it and that makes it easier, especially for people doing a new product launch,” she said. “You have thousands of potential customers walking past your stall.”

She claimed this was a better use of marketing funds than using social media or other advertising mediums.

The next major event she organised after The Kids Expo was the Brisbane Eco Expo in September last year, targeted at eco-conscious consumers.

The tag line was “Let’s Save the World”, although Ms Sullivan emphasised that people did not have to be “hardcore greenies” to attend.

“It is a growing trend and there are a lot of people that don’t know anything about it and want to learn something,” she said.

“That was our message – that you do not have to be hardcore greenie to come along. We want you to come along and find one thing that can help, whether that is a reusable coffee mug or chemical-free fertiliser.”

Ms Sullivan said they had sold 1000 tickets to this year’s event, to be held in September at the Brisbane Showgrounds.

The next event she is organising is the Horizon Shores Boat Show in October at Woongoolba.

Ms Sullivan said it was designed to be a boat show for the “everyday person” with a family-friendly atmosphere.

She is also planning to organise a trade show in Melbourne or Sydney next year.

To view the full article, click the below link.

  • Link:                              Click here for original Article
  • Author:                          Alister Thomson
  • Media:                           Gold Coast Bulletin Business News

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