Operations Director Christophe Robinson takes us into the heart of the RX event control room to reveal how his team relocated Batimat, Interclima and Idéobain to the heart of Paris, building new business opportunities for customers whist minimising the logistical headache and environmental impact for exhibitors, contractors, and city authorities alike.
Few things are more rewarding that bringing people face to face to learn, connect, and do business. Creating something from nothing, and seeing it spring into life when the doors open is magical. But for our operations team behind the scenes, led by Julien Algoud and Margaux Pommiès, each event takes months and even years of meticulous planning.
Held in Paris every two years, Batimat is the world’s largest trade show for the construction industry. Until 2011 the event took place at Porte de Versailles, in the heart of the capital. In 2013 we moved it to Paris Nord Villepinte to co-locate Batimat with Interclima and Idéobain, so that customers could enjoy the business synergies whilst also benefitting from easy logistical access. But our customers missed the convenience and social amenities of being in central Paris, and so for 2022, following extensive renovation of Porte de Versailles, we took the decision to move the three events back.
During our time away, the Paris authorities had introduced new regulations to reduce vehicle pollution within the city centre. Meeting this and other challenging logistical requirements became central to the successful delivery of the 2022 edition, but by partnering closely with our sales team, the venue and the city authorities, we were able to deliver an ambitious and uniquely workable solution.
Our roadmap for success
The first step on our roadmap was to reinvent our event business model, standardising our stand sizes so that only five sizes were offered (9, 18, 36, 54 and 99m²). Only the two largest sizes were available for custom build, with RX France supplying the smaller stand sizes, all of which were designed and equipped by our in-house department, led by Sandrine Cerati and Fanny Riller. This decision had the dual advantage of increasing customer ROI whilst improving the logistics for build-up and knockdown by reducing vehicle numbers by 35%.
To streamline the build-up, we strictly scheduled all vehicle arrivals. Each one of the 1,746 exhibitors was given a specific time slot to access the venue. Access restrictions for heavy goods vehicles were also enforced at key times. This eased pressure on delivery areas, and reduced congestion in and around the venue.
To ensure stand contractors and drivers could easily find their way to the venue, we deployed extensive signage at exits along the Paris ring road and leading right to the exhibition halls. This was reinforced with clear and comprehensive email communication. We also had dedicated support teams in place at strategic locations, particularly on public highways - a paradigm shift for RX France involving around sixty agents working on logistics and traffic alone. Two roadside waiting areas and three regulation car parks made it possible to manage access for heavy goods vehicles, carry out LOGIPASS checks, as well as check slots for parking, unloading and forklift driver availability.
The whole system was overseen from a pop-up CCTV PC located in the organiser's office. This made it possible to monitor activities in real time and address any issues on the spot. Thanks to this unique system and meticulous preparation, it was possible to smoothly manage all exhibitors including non-registered, latecomers and early arrivals.
Breakdown is always a big logistical challenge, with all exhibitors and service providers eager to dismantle their stands and vacate as quickly as possible. To limit congestion around the venue, on the ring road and in the immediate vicinity, we prevented all heavy goods vehicles from accessing the Porte de Versailles on the first breakdown evening leaving as much space as possible for light commercial vehicles. Enforcing this rule required the close cooperation of the City of Paris and the police but significantly helped to ease tensions for all concerned. Breakdown was also staggered by pavilion to prevent logjams, and a ‘welcome point’ was provided with coffee and sweet treats for drivers waiting for access. The entire breakdown went particularly smoothly, and everyone was happy!
A greener, cleaner Batimat
Batimat’s return to Paris made it possible to respond to the wishes of building, construction, and architecture professionals for a more convivial event. But it also enabled us to pursue ambitious new plans to reduce our own environmental impact, whilst challenging and inspiring the construction industry to do the same.
Working with climate consultancy EcoAct, we undertook a comprehensive analysis to understand the scale of our carbon emissions and implemented a range of different actions to reduce their impact on the environment. We put in place a major logistical plan to encourage some 5,000 visitors to use trains and buses. We incorporated a carbon calculator onto our pre-registration page so that visitors could see how their chosen method of transport impacted their carbon emissions. And for the first time in 2022 we had a 1,000m2 exhibition space dedicated to Low Carbon Construction.
Held from 3-6 October 2022, Batimat, Interclima and Idéobain attracted a 15% increase in attendance, with +45% new exhibitors among the 1,720 participating. We also enjoyed a significant increase in customer satisfaction scores, helped by our new central location and streamlined move. 93% of exhibitors and 97% of visitors have expressed their intention to coming to the next edition of the shows, from September 30 to October 3, 2024 – at Paris Porte de Versailles!