Q&A: Dennis Mills, MEI

Sport Business News

MEI speaks to its own co–founder and chief executive, Dennis Mills, whose CV boasts a wide range of experience in the major events sector.

Please outline your background in the events industry"I first came to this whilst running a Prime Contracting Business for Thales and during bids for the Asian Games in Doha and Commonwealth Games in India in particular, this led to exposure to the scale of investment involved in the mega events across all market sectors. Prior to forming MEI, I worked on the London 2012 Account for the IOC tope level technology partner, Atos Origin and completed the Olympic Certification programme in Beijing. "Please explain how MEI came to be created"When seeking information and commentary about the increasing number of international prestige events, the suppliers to this specialist market and a truly multi–sector and end to end portal, it simply was not there. This resulted in a fragmented market where expertise was difficult to find, hosting nations were not benefitting from as much previous experience and lessons learned as they could and suppliers incurred significant business overheads by trying to establish basic information which MEI will provide. Given the huge amounts of data involved and the global nature of this market, we felt a powerful search engine web based portal was needed to fill a clear gap in the market. "What are MEI's main objectives and aspirations? "To provide analysis on the key events which impact this market, backed by a single marketplace for buyers to meet suppliers across the entire spectrum of disciplines necessary to bid, host and deliver these events through to legacy. This one–stop–shop is backed by experts who can provide individuals, companies and organisations with a range of support services from bid support, strategy, representation on overseas missions, life–support hosting in the target countries and the durations of relationships depend on the nature of the tasks. "Does MEI purely focus on sport? "No, but it is true that the main catalysts for the modernisation of core infrastructure in the hosting cities tend to be sporting events from the Olympics down to about World Cup series events. The World Expo, various business and political summits and event large new programmes such as new city builds are, in eyes of their organisers, 'Major Events'. " What do you perceive to be the main requirements of the events industry? "It is not just the current economic climate which seeks to drive down the costs of these high–profile and prestigious events. Nations are aware that the legacy impact must be in place as a key part of their planning and a whole life cost perspective must be taken. They need to recognise the difference between permanent and temporary overlay requirements which are different in both cost and the underpinning commercial arrangements. They also need to understand the time critical and media sensitive nature of what they are supplying and confidence about delivery schedules and quality is vital. The culture is one of teaming. Customer face multiple procurement and a complex mix of sponsors and suppliers and a 'can do' attitude is essential across company and organisational boundaries. "Why are suppliers to the events industry so important? "For those who have been involved before, they bring a wealth of previous experience from requirements setting, best practice and the challenges of delivery. Whilst we must not forget that the events (typically Games) are sporting events, people expect them to be well run events which start with transportation, arrival processes, ticketing, leisure and retail and of course to be safe and secure (from payment systems and not just classic security). This involves all suppliers across all disciplines working in an integrated way. "Do you think there are enough opportunities in the events industry for smaller suppliers? "Given the need to reduce costs, be aware of the carbon footprint and green issues and leave a legacy benefit, smaller companies have greater opportunities now than ever before. They often can bring the innovation edge to other suppliers and can provide high value add during the bid stage and mobilisation. They must take a wide perspective therefore on the range of opportunities which may sit in host city modernisation and not just in the core games procurement. The challenge is getting the right profile and reach to the buyers whether this be the end customers or the B2B community who win Tier 1 and Tier 2 contracts as Prime Contractors. "How can MEI help suppliers reach the right event organisers and source realistic opportunities? "This is where the MEI website can help and our support services. They need the right advice about market potential, strategy, customer contact plans and partnerships. This is backed up with key word searching on the only global multi sector web portal – the search engine of choice for this market – where a range of promotional services are available from advertising, submitting White Papers, MEI Radio interviews and videos. "What will the economic downturn mean for suppliers to the events industry? "This is one of the very few recession limiting markets. The events run to fixed deadlines, budgets tend to go up as deadlines get closer and requirements change. Nations and capital cities see these as opportunities to change how they are perceived and to truly deliver real change. Whilst it is inevitable that savings will be sought, it is undoubtedly a very active market suitable for all organisations which have the ambition to act internationally and vision to invest in the right advice and profile. This is where MEI will be delighted to help. "

Additional information