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WoSJ Exclusive; An organizer’s point of view

Tuesday, 05 April 2011

BCM's manager of events Edwin van Diessen. Photo by Hanne Christensen.Indoor Brabant is one of the best international horse shows in Europe, and draws a crowd on about 71.000 people every year. Next year the event is the host of the world cup finals in showjumping and dressage. Behind the Indoor Brabant you will find the Dutch event organizing company BCM. WoSJ sat down to speak with Edwin van Diessen, who is the manager of events for BCM.

We asked Edwin to tell us a little about the BCM. “The event organizing at BCM consists of putting together events, mainly equestrian ones. Also we publish magazines, such as the equestrian magazine Hoefslag. We are also behind websites such as sporthorses.nl and paardenwerk.nl,” Edwin explains. “BCM is also the owner of two big Dutch shows; Concours Hippique Eidhoven and Jumping Indoor Maastricht. Here at Indoor Brabant we are one of the partners of the show. We also focus on exporting our knowledge on event organizing in the equestrian world to other countries,” Edwin says. “The Helsinki International Horse Show in an example of just that.”

So, how does the BCM pull it all together financially? “The show in Eindhoven is unique in the way that it is put together by sponsoring only. The entrance at this show is free, and thus there is no income from ticket sales – so at this show we rely totally on sponsors,” van Diessen lets us know. “That being said, you will find a broader range of sponsors at this show than the other shows – as the free entrance attracts a mixed crowd. I would say that besides their commercial aspects, the social aspects are important for the sponsors that participate at the event in Eindhoven,” Edwin explains. The Concours Hippique Eidhoven attracts a crowd of about 85.000 each year, and as the two other shows in Maaastricht and ‘s-Hertogenbosch it is run over four days.

“What’s also special about Eindhoven is that we put the show together from scratch. There is no arena there, just a park. A team of 15 people work with this event on full time throughout the year, while when the show is on we are a team of 50,” Edwin tells us. Jumping Indoor Maastricht is also a big event for the BCM, with around 41.000 visitors throughout the show.

Edwin also gives us some thoughts on the sponsors of these events. “The sponsors of these equestrian events focus on hospitality and exposure, but most important for them is the hospitality – I would say 75 % of the sponsors have their focus on that. Remember that the equestrian sport is a much more social sport than many other sports, for example tennis. Here at Indoor Brabant you can watch the classes, the warm-up arenas, talk, mingle and have a nice meal, whereas in tennis you have to sit at the stands and stay completely quiet for hours,” Edwin says. “I also think the sport attracts sponsors that represent lifestyle products, and not only products that are connected to the sport itself.” What Edwin tells us at this point, is very visible at Indoor Brabant – where a lot of the main sponsors have their own hospitality areas, and the focus in general is on the social part of the event, and not sports only. This creates a unique atmosphere, and makes the show a definitive happening you would love to attend more than once.

To get the sponsors in to the sport is not always the easiest task, but Edwin lets us know that “once they are in, it’s not that hard to make them stay”. What the BCM does is to make sure that the sponsors see the sport for themselves, and “We also follow up on them very closely throughout the show,” Edwin says.

A big challenge for the Indoor Brabant team in 2012 will be the organizing of the world cup finals. “That will definitely take a lot of effort, especially with the sponsoring; the budgets are high – remember that we have to fly in the horses from the countries more far away and expenses such as these are covered by us as the organizers,” Edwin says.

Each event organized by the BCM has a project manager that keeps it all together, and one project manager can only have responsibility for two shows each year. “We have a very good team at the BCM, which allows everyone of us to focus on our own tasks – here at Indoor Brabant I can do my job without stress, and just focus on the sponsors,” Edwin smiles. “It’s constant managing from our side; every detail is planned and needs to be followed up on.”

BCM is now a professional giant when it comes to equestrian events in Holland. This year they were celebrating the 65 year anniversary for Concours Hippique Eidhoven. Next year will bring even more big moments with Indoor Brabant’s 45 year anniversary. What better way of celebrating than bringing the international crowds to ‘s-Hertogenbosch for the world cup finals, and to experience the unique show for themselves?

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