Friday 28 April 2017

A Handy Venue Guide to the Business Design Centre

This week in our Handy Exhibition Venue Guide series, we’re visiting the former Royal Agricultural Hall – a grand Grade II listed building that now goes by the name of the Business Design Centre.  Situated in Islington, this striking venue features architecture originally inspired by the breathtaking Crystal Palace.

As its name suggests, the Business Design Centre is designed to boost business through exhibitions and conferences.  With prime space spanning 6,000m² and plenty of flexible facilities on offer, we think it’s the perfect place to big up your brand, and with over 300 events held there every year you’re bound to find one that’s ideal for you.

Here at Guardian Exhibition and Display, we’ve been helping our clients maximise their messages at the Business Design Centre for years – meaning we’re old hands at understanding what makes this such a special venue.  So here’s the lowdown!

© Business Design Centre 

A brief history

The Royal Agricultural Hall opened its doors for the first time in 1862, with an intended purpose to host agricultural shows.  As the years progressed, the venue was consistently developed, and the hall adopted various guises including a theatre, a bingo hall and even a makeshift Post Office during the Second World War.

Years of neglect followed, until the venue’s 1980s rescue in the form of developer Sam Morris.  It was in 1987 that the Business Design Centre finally prepared itself for actual business, with a grand opening by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. 

These days, the Business Design Centre hosts hundreds of events every year.  The Mezzanine, its main exhibition space, covers over 2,000 square metres, with conference facilities nearby that mean you can conveniently arrange a large exhibition and a conference to run together.

The Business Design Centre incorporates an array of conference space, the largest of which is The Gallery Hall, comprising 890 metres of space for large conferences and events.  The Gallery Atrium provides additional room for catering, stands and drinks receptions. 

Notable events

The venue’s Islington location was chosen for its proximity to the livestock market in Smithfield, and the Royal Agricultural Hall played host to the Smithfield Show every year until 1938.

Slightly grander events include the Royal Tournament, held there from 1880 until the early 20th century, and the first Crufts dog show in 1891.

More recently, the Business Design Centre is home to the London Art Fair, the largest contemporary art event of its kind in the UK.

Getting there

Incredibly well-situated, the Business Design Centre is just a short walk from Angel, Highbury and Islington tube stops, with Kings Cross St. Pancras and Euston not much further away.  There are plenty of bus routes, and an on-site car park houses nearly 300 spaces. 


The Business Design Centre is located in the heart of Angel, an appropriately heavenly setting for all kinds of bars and restaurants!  On-site restaurant Jack’s changes its menu daily, and there are also plenty of hotels within walking distance from the venue.

Shoppers are truly spoilt for choice too, with Camden Passage just opposite the venue and offering a tempting selection of independent boutiques and cafes waiting for you when you feel like taking a break from exhibiting.

What else is available for exhibitors?

It would be easier to ask what isn’t available for exhibitors at the Business Design Centre!  For starters, you’ll find a dedicated exhibition team on-site to help make your event run perfectly smoothly. 

The venue has just completed a huge investment in its internet and wireless systems, meaning it’s now one of the leading UK venues for infrastructure services – ideal if you’re bringing a digital display.

With a whole host of additional services on offer, you could even have fresh flowers delivered direct to your stand if you ask nicely enough!

Can we help you get display-ready for your next business-boosting exhibition?  If so, please contact our friendly team (here).

(Check out the BDC's website:

Tuesday 25 April 2017

A Handy Venue Guide to Olympia London

We hope you enjoyed our Handy Guide to ExCeL last week, or at least learned something new from our endlessly entertaining insights!

This week, we’ve chosen to focus on the unique piece of history that is Olympia, London.  Purpose-built in the 19th century from a starting vision to create the largest covered show centre in the UK, there are more than a few stories to be told about the life and times of this fascinating venue. 

Not only that, but from our years of direct experience helping clients exhibit there, we know exactly why Olympia, London makes such a wonderful and welcoming setting for just about any event.

©Olympia London

A brief history

Found in the heart of the cultural hub that is West Kensington, the grand opening for what was then known as the National Agricultural Hall was on Boxing Day, 1886.  The impressive venue covered an area of four acres, and the Grand Hall was thought to be the largest building in the UK to be covered by one span of iron and glass.

The venue’s name was soon changed to Olympia, and as the years passed it took on many guises, from a temporary prisoner of war camp during the two World Wars, an army clothing store and a renowned dance hall. 

Many more changes ensued through the years, including several acquisitions.  In 2013 Olympia, London underwent an extensive redevelopment and these days the site features four event venues and a conference centre.  

The event venues consist of Olympia Grand, measuring around 210,000 sq ft, Olympia National, Olympia Central and Olympia West, each boasting just under 100,000 sq ft of prime, custom-designed event space.

Notable events

The very first Ideal Home Show was held at Olympia in 1908 (we’d love to have gone along to that one!) and this hugely popular event is still held there today.  Other firsts include the 1950 Food Fair, the incredibly quaint-sounding British Electronic Computer Exhibition in 1958 and 1948’s Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Exhibition.

Not that Olympia, London hasn’t played host to the cream of the entertainment world, too.  The Smash Hits Awards, Miss World, Crufts and London Fashion Week have all been staged there, with the coolest ever Olympia concert performer (in our opinion at least!) being one Jimi Hendrix.

Getting there

As impressively well-connected as a senior member of the Royal Family, Olympia, London is incredibly easy to get to.

Kensington (Olympia) trebles as an overground, underground and mainline rail station, while a hive of nearby underground stations include Barons Court, Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush and West Kensington.

Road-wise, plenty of on-site parking and an efficient vehicle booking system means you can unload your event equipment – and yourselves! – with ease.


Olympia, London is perfectly positioned to enjoy the very best that the thriving capital has to offer.  You’ll find yourself surrounded by a whole wealth of bars, restaurants and even a few places to rest your exhibition-weary head, with over 30 hotels to discover within walking distance.

On-site you’ll find an array of eateries to suit every taste, with a sit-down restaurant, bespoke bakery and espresso bar thrown in.  Specific on-site catering for your event can even be organised in advance.

The venue is equipped with full accessibility for wheelchair users and gives assistance animals as warm a welcome as their owners.


What else is available for exhibitors?

Olympia, London makes exhibiting supremely easy with its does-exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin ‘Easy Guide to Exhibiting’, available as a download from its website. 

You’ll find this amazingly all-purpose venue comes fully equipped with everything you’ll need to make your brand shine, with IT services, AV equipment, advertising and even traffic marshalling all readily offered.

Can we help you with venue advice?  There aren’t many we don’t know about, and our friendly team are always ready to answer questions about absolutely anything exhibition-related.  Simply get in contact (here).

Also, don't forget to check out Olympia London's website for any more information:            

Tuesday 18 April 2017

A Handy Venue Guide to ExCeL London

Choosing your ideal event isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, when exhibitions can be a costly business and there are a headache-inducing amount out there to select from. 

If you’ve taken heed of our blog advice up to this point, you’ll probably already have a good idea of the events you need to get yourself noticed at.  But what about the venues themselves, you may ask (and believe us, people often do!)

Here at Guardian Exhibition and Display, we know a thing or two about the very best places to exhibit, having spent years helping our clients maximise their messaging at venues all over the world.  Frankly, we felt it would be a waste not to share our knowledge with you, which is why we’ve decided to showcase some of our favourite places and help you get to know them a little better along the way.

First off is one of our favourites, ExCeL London, a 100-acre purpose-built super centre for high-impact events to remember.

©ExCeL London

A brief history
The name ExCeL is formed from the venue’s full title, Exhibition Centre London (see what they did there?), and the grandly imposing venue is perfectly positioned in the heart of London’s Royal Docks. 

Opened in November 2000 as one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects, ExCeL’s exhibition area comprises two rectangular halls of approximately 479,493 square feet each.  These halls are perfectly built for exhibitions of all descriptions, both rectangular and column-free and each with a central boulevard for catering and information.

ExCeL was acquired in 2008 by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, and has been constantly evolving to accommodate the needs of its vast legions of visitors, from the addition of London’s first International Convention Centre, an abundance of hotels, and even a cable car line linking the venue to the O2 Arena (yes, the same cable car line Boris Johnson got famously stuck on!)

Notable events
Famous ExCeL attendees have included everybody from Barack Obama to Olly Murs, and it would probably be easier to list the prestigious events that haven’t been held there. ExCeL has played host to the London 2012 Olympics, the G20 London Summit, national awards ceremonies including BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and our personal favourite – the X Factor auditions.

Trade show-wise, ExCeL is the setting for Grand Designs Live, the BBC Good Food Show and many other renowned commercial events.

Getting there
ExCeL benefits from its incredibly easy accessibility.  There is a Tube station positioned at each end of the venue, while London City Airport is so close you could almost touch it.  Over 3,000 parking spaces at reasonable day rates mean you’re sure to find somewhere to leave your car while you man your stand!

There isn’t much that ExCeL hasn’t got covered.  You’ll find food to suit every taste in the global food hall, there are over 20 on-site restaurants and there’s even an in-house bakery.  Seven versatile on-site hotels mean your exhibition can run conveniently and comfortably for days, and the venue is fully accessible by wheelchair users.

What else is available for exhibitors?
We particularly love ExCeL London because as a dedicated 21st century exhibition centre, the venue houses absolutely everything you need to help make your stand shine.  Simply bring yourselves, your brand and your material, and you’ll find AV, WiFi, staging, technology, charging points and a whole host of on-site services all provided.

Check out the ExCeL website to find out more: 

Are you exhibiting at ExCeL soon, or would you like to?  Wherever your preferred venue, we can help you stand out from the crowd.  Simply contact us (here) to get started.

Friday 7 April 2017

Simple, Cost-effective Marketing Tips Especially for SMEs

As you’ve probably guessed, we’re all about exhibition and display here at Guardian Exhibition & Display!  But that doesn’t mean we don’t also know a thing or two about the marketing world in general. 

We work with a diverse range of companies every day, helping to promote them at the largest and most prestigious trade events – so we’re confident we know the best ways to attract new business.  Better still, we know how to save money in the process.

As April begins and spring really gets under way, if you’re ready to freshen up your marketing plans then why not take heed of our cost-effective tips and prepare for some late spring business blooming?

Reach out to your local or industry press 

Are you doing anything of local interest?  Holding a bake-off for a good cause, or launching a new product or service that will benefit the local community?  Local media is always on the hunt for something new to shout about, so why not let them know what you’re up to every now and then?

Utilise social media 

Short of streaking through your local High Street trailing a banner behind you, you can’t get much better than social media for targeted business promotion!  Remember that your customer base will have different social media preferences, so be just as active on Instagram as Twitter, and encourage your followers to share and retweet your updates as much as possible.

Start a blog 

…such as this one!  A blog is a fantastic way for you to speak directly to potential customers, informing them about what you do whilst showing them the friendlier side of your business.  Be consistent, as posting regularly means your blog will be more easily found on search engines.

Get networking

It’s not hard to find business events in your local area, and whether you prefer a formal ‘sit down’ meeting over breakfast or a more freestyle session, there will be something for you.  Take plenty of business cards and prepare to get chatting.

Enter industry awards 

Trade press and your local Chamber of Commerce will detail awards for your industry, offering benefits that go way beyond winning (though we’re sure that would be nice too!)  Awards are great PR opportunities that boost your profile, give you something to talk about on social media and improve your credibility.

Develop a customer referral programme

Customer referral programmes result in valuable leads.  Targeting your referral group for relevance, offering incentives and thanking people who refer customers will generate a greater return on your marketing investment than cold calling ever will, as well as making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Employ email marketing 

Reach potential customers somewhere they go each and every day without fail…their inboxes!  Boasting the broadest customer reach (you can target anyone, anywhere in the world as long as they have an email address) and the greatest return on investment for the smallest outlay, an email marketing list should be a no-brainer for any business looking to increase sales.

Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials and reviews 

Business is increasingly review-driven – you only need to think about the popularity of TripAdvisor or Trust Pilot for confirmation of this! People will often be happy to leave a review or a testimonial if asked, and you could offer an incentive, such as an exclusive discount code, to help them along.

Link your company on free business directories

Free business listing sites will increase your online presence and help improve your search engine ranking.  Google, LinkedIn and Yelp are good places to start with.

Well, we hope our tips have helped you devise a full-on, cost-effective spring growth campaign that will see you well into summer and beyond!  To discuss any of our insights further, or for specialist exhibition-related advice, please get in touch (here).

Monday 3 April 2017

Why Guardian Exhibition and Display is Your Only Choice for Your Next Event!

Regular readers will notice that we’ve been waxing lyrical about the business-boosting benefits of trade events and exhibitions.  We’ve also been enjoying passing on some of our hard-won experience about how you can turn trade events into pure sales gold with an eye-catching stand.

Whether you’re exhibiting at your first event or you’re an old hand, it can be hard to know if you’ve really thought of everything.  You might decide you need some help, so you Google ‘exhibition stand design’ only to discover an eye-watering number of companies to sift through, all of them claiming to offer service that’s second to none. 

We believe that here at Guardian Exhibition & Display, our experience, dedication, flair for design and all-seeing know-how sets us apart, making us the only choice for your next event…and just in case you need a little more convincing, we’ve come up with a few more reasons for you!

Visit our showroom – or let us come to you

Our professional showroom is a true love letter to a well-designed, attention-grabbing stand, with our team of friendly staff and examples of our work on hand that show how we can take your display material to the next level.  But we understand that people are busy, so if you’d rather stay put then we’re just as happy to come to your office with a dazzling demonstration.

We’re a one-stop design shop

With us, there’s no need to appoint a separate design team who may not understand how their amazing creations will translate to your display.  Our in-house designers will not only work with your exact creative needs, but they’ll know precisely how to display them to their best commercial effect, with free artwork proofing and in-house printing before you commit.

Free 3D visuals and stand planning

Worried about committing to a costly stand you’ve so far only imagined?  See your ideas and our designs come to life with free 3D visuals, following stand planning sessions with our expert team that ensure you’ll have the slickest display at your next event.


Free concierge service and secure stand storage

We’ve always been keen on the idea of a personal concierge service (hasn’t everyone?)…so this is exactly what we provide for our clients!  We don’t charge a penny to transport your display material to and from your event, and we even have a secure storage facility where your stand can be safely protected…

Reusable stands with a lifetime guarantee

…until the next time you decide to use it!  We’re extremely confident about the quality of every eco-friendly stand we create, which is why we’re proud to guarantee them.  This leaves you free to bring your creative dreams to life, safe in the knowledge that they’ll also last for life.

Pre-building and professional installation

We’ve all been there – coming home with a great new find from IKEA, only to find it takes far longer to put together than we first thought!

Never fear, our team will save you from installation complication as we’ll not only pre-build the stand before it leaves us, but we’ll also professionally install it at the event itself.

Fast turnaround of work

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that all our crazy professionalism might mean we’d need extra time to get your stand just right.  But you’d be wrong.  We’re just as slick with our service as we are with the displays themselves…we’ll tell you our turnaround time when you ask for a quote, and we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised!


It’s not hard to get started on letting us take the stress out of exhibitions for you, so you can get on with the business of promoting your business!  All you need to do is contact us (here) and we’ll get to work on creating the sales-converting display of your dreams.