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NEC Group: A city’s beating heart

Through big thinking and big partnerships, the NEC Group’s venue management is about far more than putting on a spectacular show.

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For the NEC Group, the beating heart of any city is its major entertainment centre; where dreams are realised, battles are fought and won, and the world’s most creative thinking and innovative technology is put on display.

Led by CEO, Paul Thandi, the NEC Group has distinguished itself as one of Europe’s leading venue management companies by translating its big ideas into even bigger visitor numbers. Through its fresh approach to all aspects of the live event business and fostering global expertise with a local focus, NEC Group has welcomed exciting business opportunities that have revolutionised the venue management industry in a relatively short period of time.

Invaluable insights

“We’ve really stretched the limits of our thinking,” says Paul. “We used to have around 3 to 3.5 million people coming to our venues each year. They were coming to see the content our customers were putting on, whether it was an arena event, an exhibition, or a conference. At that time, all we did was facilitate that process in one of our venues. Now we actually know and interact with who is coming to our venues and we influence the content. So there was an opportunity to harness the data we have within the company so we are better able to sell our products and services to the people who come through our venues.”

The insight that NEC Group has from the data it holds has given the company its edge. “All of our competitors have customers and all of our competitors put on shows. The one thing that we do better than anyone else is based on the data we have,” explains Paul. “It gives us a much deeper understanding that is valuable to our customers, and we have launched our own ticketing business. Our relationship with the customer, I would say, is much more multi-dimensional than our existing competitors have.”

Boom time born from diversification

Today NEC Group welcomes more than 4 million visitors to its venues each year and Paul attributes this growth to the diversification of the business in recent years, offering hospitality, marketing and ticketing services to name a few. His current focus is on doing everything really well to maintain the flow of visitors.

“Our businesses are economic regenerators. If you want to really transform or economically regenerate a part of the city, you put that arena in, or an exhibition centre, or a convention centre,” Paul says. “Those 4 million people coming to our venues each year, their economic activity amounts to 2.1 billion of the economic impact for the region. That indirectly supports 29,000 jobs. We are doing something that regenerates the city’s economy and therefore, for us, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

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