A Day in the Life… Caroline McCusker, event manager for IFEX with Fresh Montgomery
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I am the events manager for IFEX and ScotHot, which is owned by Fresh Montgomery. At Fresh Montgomery, we specialise in trade shows for the food, drink and hospitality industries in Belfast and across the UK as well as Asia and South Africa. Our portfolio includes IFE, Hotelympia as well as the Speciality Fine Food Fair.
IFEX is Northern Ireland’s biggest trade event, which takes place every two years. We’re currently working on IFEX 2018, which is taking place over March 20-22.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN HOSPITALITY?
I have worked in the events industry for over 15 years. My experience spans a number of business-to-business sectors; however, my specialism is in the food, drink, foodservice and hospitality industries. I have worked on eight editions of IFEX, and it’s been a pleasure (and hard work) to see the event go from strength to strength despite the changing environment. The longevity of IFEX reinforces the important role and value that face-to-face marketing still plays in helping to grow business and make new contacts.
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
With a background in sales, I really enjoy the process of identifying potential customers, liaising with them and securing a deal. I’m a people person so never shy away from face-to-face meets or phone calls as both the events industry and food, retail and hospitality sectors are all about building and establishing relationships. In my role, I get to meet interesting people who are driving the sector forward and it is really inspiring to work alongside them.
Worst – sore feet! The concrete floors which are favoured by venues start to take their toll after walking miles over the duration of a show.
OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
Each day will vary greatly, depending on whether we are pre, during or post-show. This week, I’m contacting artisan producers who are interested in exhibiting at the Great Taste Market at IFEX, using the opportunity to launch their new products to retailers and buyers.
Northern Ireland has an enviable reputation for its produce across the UK and, this year, we have some of Northern Ireland’s ‘best kept secrets’ exhibiting at the show, from local cheese producers to Great Taste award-winning coffee producers.
PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
IFEX 2016 was a very proud moment for me. Coinciding with the Year of Food & Drink in Northern Ireland, 2016 was also IFEX’s biggest show to date with visitor numbers up by 22% and the feedback we received both during and post show was incredibly positive. IFEX won numerous awards that year including the top prize for Best Tradeshow Exhibition under 2,000sq.m at the AEO Excellence Awards.