Liz Haynes was appointed head of operations at the CLA Game Fair in January. Gun Trade News quizzes her about how it’s gone so far, the challenges of putting on such a big event, and how exhibitors can get the most out of this year’s show
You’ve come from roles at Haymarket and the Royal Agricultural Society of England. How does that compare to the CLA gig?
I learnt so much while working for Haymarket and the RASE, much of which has prepared me for this job. I have had varied roles in events so I understand the objectives and frustrations of both visitors and exhibitors at the fair. I also understand the need for a future vision and planning to ensure the longevity of an event such as the CLA Game Fair.
In terms of my role, I want to gain a thorough understanding of all stakeholders’ objectives. Those stakeholders include CLA members, visitors, exhibitors, the CLA team, contractors, suppliers, local communities and businesses.
And how do you see that role developing in the future?
I am very excited to be working with the Game Fair team at the CLA. There is such enthusiasm and positivity, which – I believe – will ensure the event is a success. I hope to be able to use my experience of working in outdoor, country events to strengthen the event for the future, and I welcome all suggestions and feedback.
What effect will the recent changes to the Game Fair directorial team have on the organisation of this year’s CLA Game Fair?
We’ve seen a transition in management of the CLA Game Fair with Tony Wall now leading the team as interim director. Tony has been involved in organising the event for the past 16 years and has a huge passion for it. His knowledge and experience will stand us all in good stead and he is an incredible support to the team. The CLA Game Fair is in good hands with Tony at the helm, meaning recent changes in the team will not have an undue negative effect.
If there’s one thing everyone talks about in the run-up to summer fairs, it’s the weather. What measures are you taking to ‘weather-proof’ the CLA Game Fair this year?
There is a huge amount of operational planning for the CLA Game Fair that includes contingencies for many eventualities. We have an adverse weather plan that starts from the year before and works by observing areas of the showground and car parks in wet weather. We plan for the worst weather conditions – and hope for the best.
How does Blenheim size up as a venue compared to other CLA Game Fair destinations? Does it have its own particular advantages or disadvantages?
Blenheim has many positive attributes. It is a stunning location, has a great atmosphere, is extremely popular with Game Fair visitors and has integral internal roads to ensure each area is accessible. The traffic plan works and the site is convenient for visitors from all around the country. In addition, the local community around Blenheim is extremely supportive of the show.
How can gun trade exhibitors get the most from their three days at the CLA Game Fair? What events and opportunities are being put on for them?
There is a huge amount going on for exhibitors this year, including competitions via our social media sites, new product launches on Gunmakers’ Row, a New Product and Service Award and a Best Trade Stand in Show competition. All these initiatives combine to make the CLA Game Fair a terrific business opportunity. Exhibitors can make the most of their presence through the presentation of their stands and by offering a welcoming approach to experienced showgoers and newcomers. Incorporating features on stands, such as showing the craftsmanship of gunmaking, also appeals hugely to visitors.
What are the major issues that organisers of events such as the CLA Game Fair have to tackle?
The CLA Game Fair celebrates the Great British countryside and it is essential that it is set in a rural venue. That does not come without its challenges. As with every outdoor event, much of the infrastructure is temporary, mobile reception may not be reliable and the influx of 20,000 vehicles may result in traffic delays. But the CLA Game Fair wouldn’t be the same in an indoor permanent venue, and wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular.
Still not booked your place at the Game Fair? Head to www.gamefair.co.uk now.