The Security Event 2023: The biggest and the best yet


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International Security Journal catches up with Tristan Norman, Group Director, Nineteen Group.

Tristan Norman fell into the world of trade shows by happy accident when he won a work placement while studying at agricultural college. Today, he leads a team of dedicated individuals bringing The Security Event (TSE) 2023 – part of the Safety & Security Series – to the NEC Birmingham on 25-27 April.

How excited are you for TSE 2023?

TSE 2023 is the biggest and best iteration we have ever produced. This year has the largest collection of the world’s best security brands on show in the UK. Visitor registration is already 102% up year on year so, to be perfectly honest, it’s hard to say succinctly just how excited I am, but it’s safe to say, ‘a lot’. The rise in visitor registration is driven, in large part, by people coming in from overseas – principally Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

The interest from the US is getting stronger all the time, particularly amongst our exhibiting community – and that is very encouraging. We are even expecting buying teams from the Philippines to attend with a shopping list. There will be 750+ exhibitors in all across the series which represents a phenomenal growth.

Can you describe your role?

Aside from being the founder of The Security Event, I’m the Group Director of Nineteen Group, heading up the Safety & Security Series which comprises of The Security Event, The Fire Safety Event, The Health & Safety Event, The Workplace Event, National Cyber Security Show, Professional Security Officer Live and the newly acquired Lone Worker Safety Live. The latter is a vital part of what we do in our show. The shows are about protecting people, places and assets and it’s about creating an event that makes the working world a safer and more resilient place. Lone working is a real challenge – we have to reflect that.

Has your background always been in the trade events industry?

Pretty much, yes. I fell into the trade show world rather by accident. A rather fortuitous work placement year at university gave me an opportunity to work as a Sales Executive on ‘Autosport International’, a Large Motorsport exhibition at the NEC; I have been in trade events ever since! More specifically, I have been working in events within the security industry for more than a decade.

What is the secret of getting TSE just right?

That’s a great question – I would say a team with mixture of passion for the industry, dedication, hard work and an understanding of what ‘works’ and what doesn’t, based on many years of combined experience in trade shows. However, all those things still can’t make a successful event in isolation. You need a coalition of the willing… both exhibitors and visitors who believe in your concept and help create the ‘atmosphere/buzz’ which is the real heartbeat of the event.

In TSE’s case, we really did go back to the nuts and bolts of what makes a great security event in the UK and created something sustainable and fit for purpose in a location (NEC Birmingham) which is favoured by the industry.

By nuts and bolts, I mean that we looked at the common traits of trade shows and asked what people disliked about that landscape. For instance, we introduced the capped stand size limit so that no exhibitor could have a stand bigger than another – it was not in the best interests of the industry. This is something completely counter-intuitive to the traditional trade show model.

It is a huge undertaking – you must have a great team!

Absolutely. None of the meteoric growth of the event is possible without every member of the team being exceptional. They all have hard work, talent and resilience in spades and care deeply about the industry and the events we run. The same can be said about the senior leadership and investors here at Nineteen Group, whose sage advice and fully committed support has enabled us to scale from our small launch event in 2019 to the UK’s largest security trade show as it stands today in 2023.

What does an event like TSE set out to achieve?

To use the analogy of a film set or theatre production, we are the production team. What I mean by that is we set out to build the best stage or platform possible for the stars of the industry to shine and wow the audience. We want our events to be as seamless as possible and leave both our visitors and exhibitors looking forward to next year from the moment they leave.

Are there any new elements which are being introduced?

There are many new elements as well as some returning ones! Firstly, the National Cyber Security Show returns alongside TSE for 2023. We have also launched the Professional Security Officer Live exhibition and conference which is truly exciting as well as a brand new Physical Security Zone complete with Live Security Testing in partnership with the Element & Access Control Theatre. This is all set against the backdrop of the biggest and best TSE ever.

Can you tell me about Professional Security Officer Live (PSOL)?

PSOL has been launched with industry stakeholders to help address current challenges. There will be 20 to 30 exhibitors from the sector and a three day conference to address issues, share best practice and so on. We want to create a platform where companies and individuals feel valued and can network with and learn from like-minded peers.

Is this because there are issues in the sector with recruitment shortfalls?

I think the sector has several issues, recruitment being one of them – the pandemic accelerated these and exposed some shortcomings. Furthermore, the number of private security firms has exploded.

PSOL aims to provide knowledge, expertise, best practice as well as suppliers, training etc. to help this sector of the security industry grow and flourish. When I started working with the security industry more than 10 years ago, we were talking about the skills shortage and we’re still talking about it today. We have teamed up with some fantastic organisations, in particular, Skills for Security and The Police Cadets, to help drive and inspire the next generation of security professionals.

How will you measure the success of TSE?

The success of TSE is easy to quantify in some ways, but hard in others – it is now unequivocally the UK’s largest security event in only its fourth edition. However, for me, it’s not necessarily just about the size and scale or even the amazing Net Promoter Scores from the post show surveys.

But, more the ‘buzz’ and the ‘feeling’ that both exhibitors and visitors leave the event with – the collective enjoyment of the industry in one place, networking, doing business and having fun at the same time. The knowing nod across a crowd from a founding partner enjoying a brilliant and productive day, who has been there since day one – that’s what success looks like to me!

This article was originally published in the March 2023 edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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