The Shiraz Creative agency’s UK director Alex Jones describes some of his team’s work on the stand display for the recent Eurofinance show.
The first documented event Shiraz Creative agency worked on with Visa was Visa Wired, a B2B event in London in 2016, although the agency’s work with Visa from an exhibition standpoint is a more recent thing, as the agency’s UK director Alex Jones explains.
“Historically, we’ve worked more on the larger scale experiential B2B and B2C programmes such as Visa Payments Forum and Visa Investor Days, which, as well as largely focussing on production and build, also feature more technology to tell the Visa story, such as mixed reality and other forward-thinking technologies.
For instance, for Visa Payments Forum 2022, we amplified Visa’s annual conference with innovative digital and IRL activations. Among those, we created a fully immersive 360-projection-mapping environment and several vignettes dedicated to each of their products and payment solutions. We also transported guests via VR to the Metaverse as part of Visa’s Creator Program, where they could explore a virtual NFT gallery and experience the future of e-commerce by purchasing a pair of sneakers in a virtual store.
Jones says he was keen to see what boundaries could be pushed with exhibition stand design alongside stand-builders Taylex, and how the repeat experiential technology-driven experiences that Visa see as a key part of communicating their brand in an attention-grabbing way could be pulled in.
Eurofinance is organised by The Economist and is a major corporate treasury event in Europe, being located in a different city each year. At the end of September 2023 it was hosted at the Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB).
Describing Visa’s aim at the show, Jones says Shiraz was asked to focus on the on-stand meeting experience, as they wanted a ‘safe space’ on and off the stand for clients to meet. “Previously we’ve worked with Taylex to create stand designs for Visa, and we’ve always had an element of an on-stand meeting room as part of the build, as well as an off-stand room near the stand. This time it was about having these more open meeting spaces that weren’t necessarily closed in, but felt private.”
The challenge was: how do we make it feel inviting but not closed off.
“Ensuring brand continuity at exhibitions is key,” says Jones, “so although we’d changed the meeting area design, we wanted to include the archway and LED totem, recognisable elements of the Visa stands.”
Jones adds that the feedback from Visa about the creative was “great”. “Compared with other stands as part of Eurofinance, you could clearly see that build quality, finish and functionality really stand out as a high-quality stand.”
Jones stresses the importance to his agency of having a vendor used to working with Eurofinance: “It’s crucial that our vendors have had plenty of experience with the exhibitions they’re building at. It’s been especially good to work with Peter Barrett at Taylex, as he’s had experience of Eurofinance and that insider knowledge helped to give us an edge.”
Jones notes there are many elements the team weren’t aware of going into the exhibition build – from the placement of the stand to the visibility and any quirks of the hall layout itself. “Peter and his team did a great job preparing us,” he says.
Jones adds that the team had also to be aware of the sometimes different approach to doing business in Spain.
“Some countries have different business operating hours that may not match the fast-paced nature of our job,” he notes. “It’s easier to solve last-minute issues in US, Vienna and UK due to the business culture that’s more conducive to finding solutions late in the day,” he says.
Expanding on the working relationship between Shiraz Creative and the contractor, Jones says: “I can’t stress how important it is to have trustworthy relationships in this sector, especially with vendors and fabricators; trust is how we get more business and repeat business from clients. We’re in the second year of exhibiting at Eurofinance with Visa, and have worked with Taylex both times.
“We were actually looking for an off-the-shelf solution for Sibos, when our head of production came across Taylex in 2022. We enjoyed the personable interactions with Peter and his team, and they were very accommodating of our ideas. It’s now developed into a more expansive partnership of trusted partners.”
Barrett on Eurofinance 2023 adds: “The brief was to take the agency’s initial concepts and develop them into exhibition stands that were not only structurally sound but finished to the highest exacting standards for their client. Taylex also fitted out meeting rooms at each venue with bespoke walling, graphics and boardroom tables with Visa branding, as well as AV.
“Shiraz provided the creative concepts and the deep knowledge of Visa’s brand, and trusted Taylex to bring this to life in a live environment. In this working partnership we both bring our respective knowledge and experience to the project.
“Shiraz Creative has an extensive portfolio of B2C and B2B work with Visa, and in the last few years, has put more focus on visibility at exhibitions. This is one of the areas Taylex and our experience comes into its own, as we have a 16-year history of delivering high-quality projects for leading brands all around the globe.
“Working as closely as I do with Shiraz, means constant communication and hearing of potential challenges before they arrive on my desk. Thankfully these can easily be worked out with little or impact on the project.”
What trends is Barrett seeing post-Covid in the industry? “We can see there is a greater focus on corporate CSR as part of the RFP selection process, meaning suppliers are ever more aware of their sustainability offering and impact on the triple bottom line of the client.
“There also appears to be a split by different sectors by those who are planning their shows further in advance and those who are delaying their decision making.” So, where can he see the opportunities to add unexpected extra value for the client?
“Knowing the show, the venue, the organiser and others within the event industry makes Taylex a formidable partner for clients as we can access resources wherever we go.” And how can he tell that it’s been a good exhibition for the client?
“When clients are worn out by a busy show but are smiling, are immediate with their thanks and are setting up a meeting for the next show.”
The global community of the most influential treasurers gathered in Barcelona in September for EuroFinance’s 32nd annual flagship event, International Treasury Management. The theme of the event was ‘navigating a new world’, code for the challenges of inflation, elevated rates and geopolitical change. With 2,300 treasury professionals attending, Herman Van Rompuy, the former president of the European Council, gave a keynote analysis of the challenges in global trade, with the message that geopolitics now overshadows economics.
There were over 80 sessions across seven streams and a packed exhibition floor played host to all of the world’s leading treasury and transaction services from global investment banks and liquidity providers, as well as a myriad of technological solutions for treasury.