The Middle East’s Ever-Growing Events Market
CT Middle East’s Managing Director, Andy Reardon, talks TPMEA through over a decade of growth in the Middle East for events and speculates on what lies ahead for the company…
From its modest beginnings back in 1986, Creative Technology (CT) has grown into one of the world’s leading suppliers of specialist audiovisual equipment, with inventoried offices in Europe, the USA, the Asia Pacific and, since 2007, the Middle East.
“CT Dubai was established in 2007 purely because we saw such a growing demand for specialist technology in the region,” Andy Reardon, Managing Director of CT Middle East, explained to TPMEA. “With such a demand, we felt that there was a need for a brand like CT to be present in the Middle East events market.”
Starting as a Project Manager at CT in the UK in 2007, Reardon was eventually deployed to launch CT’s Qatar operation in 2011. “At that time there was a huge push in the country’s entertainment market, and there were lots of clients from Europe that wanted our services,” he recalled. “Both CT Dubai and CT Doha are established single-point entities, with standalone offices and warehouses in both countries.”
Reardon reflected that his extensive European experience was invaluable – especially during the early stages of the Middle East launch. “I was able to bring those European learnings over to the region,” he recalled. Reardon moved from Qatar to Dubai in 2011 and took on the role of Managing Director for the Middle East.
The company’s Middle East presence started small, but it has grown massively over the past 13 years, going from just six members of staff to 60+ professionals across the Middle East group. “It has been a huge growth, which has sped up significantly in the past 12 months,” the MD commented.
And with the increase in personnel came an inevitable upgrade in facilities. CT Dubai started off in a 6,000 sq ft facility when it opened back in 2007, and it has since moved into its current HQ – a 30,000 sq ft combined office and warehouse space located in the heart of the events trading area in DIP 2, just a stone’s throw away from the Dubai Expo 2020 site. “It houses all of our operational staff, accounts teams and the majority of our regional resources and infrastructure. It’s the perfect place to service our clientele,” Reardon added.
The CT Group now comprises of 700+ professionals with 22 offices across 14 countries – something that Reardon sees as a huge advantage when it comes to servicing his clients in the Middle East. “Internal communication is key for any successful global company. We all communicate very well, and that gives us the ability to upscale as and when we need to,” he said. “We also have the ability to call upon the wider NEP Group services, so whatever scope a client has, the Creative Technology Group can handle it.”
Reardon explained that irrespective of where the work is taking place, the service must remain the same. “One of my big philosophies is that we operate to a European-standard policy,” he commented. “We purchase as a group, so whether our clients are in Europe or the Middle East, they get the same like-for-like products and services – with everything from the way we box our equipment, to our asset management remaining consistent.”
The MD added that this consistency is a cornerstone of CT’s way of operating. “Clients know that they’ve got a single point of contact – they know exactly what they’re going to get. It’s a huge bonus for us as a business.”
In 2017, CT’s parent company, Avesco, was acquired by US production giant, NEP, making CT a part of an even bigger global organisation that employs more than 4,000 professionals across 24 countries. Reardon explained that the being part of a larger group brought with it “huge advantages” in not only access to resources but also personnel.
‘SAUDI ARABIA’S GROWING MARKET’
Saudi Arabia has proven to be a hugely profitable market in the live events sector in recent years, Reardon explained “CT has been active in the kingdom for several years, and we have created strong relationships with our clients in the region. Over the past two years, the demand for quality event services in KSA has increased massively, and we are starting to see some of the worlds best events coming out of not only Saudi Arabia but the Middle East as a whole.”
“Because we are such a wide group, we have to look at Saudi Arabia strategically,” he outlined. “The work that we’ve been delivering in Saudi has been huge – we are out there now delivering four projects as we speak – but the key is to take our time so we can deliver the right solution to meet our client’s needs.”
The Middle East has seen nothing but growth within the events industry over the past few years and with Expo 2020 just around the corner, there are no signs of it slowing down. “We are in a unique position to help meet our client’s needs through having the capacity to ramp up and pull back on our services when needed – being the size of the group that we are helps with that.”
Reardon explained that the various disciplines on offer under the CT umbrella are a “very positive push point” when it comes to attracting new clients. As well as the rental for live events sector, the company also deals with system integration, perimeter as well as comms and networking. “We’ve got various teams of people that look after the complicated elements of our projects, which are so often shied away from by others,” he revealed. “Making sure that our clients get the latest technology and the best service is key for us.”
And while the option of a full turnkey solution is something CT is proud to be able to offer, Reardon stressed that the company is just as comfortable providing a small part of a project – if that’s the best thing for the client, of course. “We’re there to work with clients – some may have a small show one week, then a monster show the week after. It’s about being able to scale up as and when it is needed.
He continued: “We are about making sure that the project and the client has got the right service and the right kit, and not just selling them anything and everything in the warehouse. We work with the client to make sure that their show looks the best and is delivered in the right way.”
At the start of the year, CT Middle East received another boost as it was announced as an L-Acoustics Authorised Calibration Centre – becoming one of only three companies in the world to be given the accolade. “It’s another example of a bolt-on service that we can supply,” highlighted Reardon. We are one of the region’s biggest L-Acoustics distributors, so it’s fantastic that we’re now able to provide that greater level of service.” He continues, “We have a fully established Integrated Networks team who are on hand to deliver specialist event communications across our wide range of projects. Having invested in the latest communications technology from two-way radios, event networks, signal distribution and much more, we also have some of the Middle East’s well known and respected Integrated Network professionals available to ensure your event communication is seamless across any event.”
Looking to the future, Reardon pinpointed a series of milestones for the region, including Expo 2020 in Dubai, the FIFA World Cup in Doha in 2022 and the Saudi Vision 2030. “You’ve got to follow the trends and work out strategically what’s happening and where it is going,” he explained. “It’s not easy in the Middle East to predict what kind of year you’re going to have, but the main thing is to make sure you’re on the ball, and you’re able to offer clients the best service every time.”