Bringing events and attractions to life is in Andy Cox’s blood, whose illustrious CV boasts some of the most prestigious shows and venues in the world.
In his latest role as Head of Event Services at Ricoh Arena, Andy sheds light on life at a venue where, last year, his team supported 1,350 events for more than 1.4 million visitors.
As Ricoh Arena marks 15 years of events this year I will also be celebrating 30 years in the events industry – an achievement that I feel incredibly privileged to have reached.
I say privileged because my career has given me with the opportunity to have a hand in some of the most famous shows and attractions.
I began my career in the events industry whilst I was still at university studying geography but helped part-time at my brother’s exhibition landscaping company, by delivering plants and water features to venues across the UK.
My first ever event was working at a trade agricultural exhibition, and since then I was truly bitten by the event industry bug, and eventually became project manager within my brother’s business looking after key shows that required landscaping for hospitality areas.
This included working at prestigious events such as the Grand National at Aintree, the British Grand Prix and the Henley Regatta. The role soon evolved into designing and building exhibition stands at the likes of the Chelsea Flower Show and Farnborough Air Show, as well as designing and installing features at theme parks such as Alton Towers and entertainment venues such as Sea Life Centre.
My first foray into working within stadiums was helping with the transition of Arsenal Football Club from Highbury to Emirates Stadium. This saw me personally helping to design, supply and install catering, food, beverage and hospitality requirements at Emirates Stadium, and later refurbishments at Wembley before I was eventually approached by Ricoh Arena in 2015.
I loved my previous roles as Project Director and Operations Director, but the challenge to use all my industry experience to transform Ricoh Arena into a venue that offered all its services in-house was one that really excited me.
My role is to manage and oversee all the operational services that are delivered to every event that takes place at Ricoh Arena.
Every event is different in its requirements, but we must be responsible for delivering the following services: power distribution, water and waste and compressed air, freight handling, rigging, floor covering, audio visual, graphics and signage, staging and seating. Plus, any other operational service that enables an event to run smoothly!
There is a lot to think about for an event - never mind 1,350 of them – but thanks to my industry-wide experience and contacts, I have a fabulous team of events experts that I trust and can call upon to deliver a consistently high level of service for every event organiser that walks through our doors – and is a key component of why three quarters of our events return year-after-year.
My standout Ricoh Arena moment over the past five years had to be the atmosphere inside the Ericsson Indoor Arena in 2018 for the Jess Glynne concert. Hundreds of hours were poured into transforming the space into an intimate concert hall, and to see the atmosphere that was generated when she went on to the stage gave me a real buzz and reminded me why I do the job that I do.
Looking back, the biggest change I have noticed over the years is that event organisers and exhibitors are now putting quality over cost to ensure they are standing out from the crowd – an approach I would endorse, if it is justifiable.
Looking forward, I think that while advances in technology are going to be a good thing for the events industry – particularly for those who can now attend events using live streaming or even virtual reality – there will always be demand for face-to-face interaction, so I think we will see a healthy blend of the physical and digital worlds coming together to maximise the reach of events.
For me, working in the events industry is packed with such fulfilment, and nothing beats the feedback that you get from a happy event organiser afterwards. Who wouldn’t love working in an industry that provides the vehicle for other industries to shout about their achievements?
About Ricoh Arena
Ricoh Arena is one of the UK’s most versatile venues for live sport, music, conferences and exhibitions, putting the Midlands on the map as a leading destination for events.
The venue boasts a 32,000-seater stadium bowl alongside the 6,000 square metre Ericsson Indoor Arena and 80 versatile suites for meetings. There is also an onsite 121-bedroom DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Grosvenor Casino.
The Coventry-based venue is within a two-hour car journey of 75 per cent of the UK, and is twenty minutes away from Birmingham Airport.