A line-up of top-notch speakers and a record number of delegates made this year’s British Equestrian Trade Association Conference one of the best ever for all who attended.
Tim Knight, head of investment consultancy at St James’s Place Wealth Management, provided an update on the economy, looking at finance in a world of political uncertainty and highlighting the changing demographic as people live longer and the difficult financial situation for the next generation – those in their 20s and 30s, for example, who will need to save up to 25 per cent of their salary each year over their working lives to help support their retirement.
Leanne Silman, head of account management at M&C Saatchi, explored advertising and brand building, advising delegates how to improve them by keeping things simple. She provided advice for delivering successful campaigns, believing the best mediums to use were film to tell a story, radio as a cost-effective way to reach out to local audiences, social media, Google SEO and, provided one single, strong message is delivered, print.
Kirsty Kean, project manager at retail transformation agency Visual Thinking, delivered a pacy presentation flagging up inspirational visual merchandising ideas for retailers to buy into. From lifestyle stores with coffee bars sat cheek by jowl next to artfully arranged products to Japanese grocery stores with talking fruit-and-veg displays, there was plenty of food for thought.
Political commentator John Arnold, chief executive of Northern & Universal and chairman of online sentiment analysis company Tweetminster, provided a candid look at the current political landscape and key government figures, predicting major developments over the next two years.
Canadian Paralympian Bert Sheffield gave a personal account of sponsorship, explaining how companies could best achieve a highly successful and mutually beneficial partnership between themselves and a sponsored rider – and what measures they should take to avoid the pitfalls.
Tom Connor, a research follow at University College Dublin, provided an update on the organisation’s rider concussion studies, which are being conducted with riding hats that have been involved in a fall supplied by BETA as part of the trade association’s Helmet Bounty Scheme. He said that more than 100 helmets had been analysed to date and all data collected was being put towards the development of future equestrian helmet standard tests.
Harvey Smith, digital partnership manager at Chubb International, encouraged everyone to “act like a human” across their social media platforms and stop “hashtagging like a machine”. In a lively presentation on how to make a difference to your business with social media, Harvey reiterated the importance of conversation and its strength as a two-way process where listening is a key element.
Consultant Phil Stratton, of SecureDesk, looked at what new data protection regulation means to businesses. With general data protection regulation (GDPR), he said, all of us will get back control over what any organisation can do with our personal information. This European legislation will come into effect on 25 May 2018 and companies must comply with it to avoid financial penalties for breaches. GDPR will affect all organisations that process or hold personal information belonging to living EU citizens, whether automatically or in a filing system.
“Our conference speakers certainly hit the spot this year and we are very pleased with the reaction and feedback from delegates,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “It was tremendous to see so many faces from all sectors of the industry in attendance, including manufacturers, wholesalers, agents and retailers. Some were making their conference début, while others were delegates of many years’ standing. This year’s event is certainly going to be a tough act to follow, but we will certainly do our best!”