As Dubai gears up to host the next edition of Vision-X, Lucy McPhail, Group Sales Manager, Vision-X and her team sheds light on the latest developments that participants will get to see at this year’s event
Vision-X, the biggest optical trade event in the Middle East to be held in DWTC in Dubai is expected to get bigger and better in its upcoming edition scheduled to happen in December this year with Vision&Fashion as headline sponsor. We spoke to the Lucy McPhail, Group Sales Manager; Hana Holy, Sales Manager; Zahra Amir, Sales Manager and Meesum Raza, Marketing Manager from the Vision-X team to get a deeper insight into what’s in store at Vision-X 2015 and its association to the VP awards
VisionPlus (VP): Your team has played a major role in transforming the image of the Vision X event. How do you see the way forward for the brand?
Lucy McPhail (LM): The 2014 relaunch for the Middle East’s optical business event was backed by some new faces on the team, and major investment by organiser DWTC (Dubai World Trade Centre).
We started by going back to the basics – what do the buyers and the suppliers really want? We asked them, and we looked at what the region was missing, and at other events within and outside the optical business, and set about delivering an event to reflect the optical industry for the Middle East.
Vision-X 2014 achieved a lot, and 2015 will see the team building on the fresh presentation seen last year to increasingly bring the whole of the region together under one roof. Dubai has to be the launchpad for new brands in the region and the place for all distributors and suppliers to meet their existing customers, build their business relationships and to make new ones. Continued investment in exploring new markets and building new data is central to the growth of the show and to delivering for participants at the event.
VP: What should the participants expect this year at the Vision X Exhibition?
LM: For the exhibitors, it’s about who you meet and who you are noticed by – we have a new meetings agency, who will be working with the exhibitors by contacting them for details of their offer, and then closer to the show, making direct contact with key buyers to pre-book appointments at the show according to what their business needs are. This is something that has proved very successful in other sectors for DWTC. It’s a nice piece of pre-marketing for the suppliers as well as a really useful direct service for both buyers and brands.
Another new service is a professional Social Media Agency, which is retained specifically to take brand and product news to the region across Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This is a sustained program that runs from September right up to and during the show, acting as a free extension of the exhibitors’ marketing campaign.
This goes alongside the continued investment in data and the partnership with GFK Middle East & Africa for continually growing optical contacts and their reach as well as impact of the show in the region.
For buyers it’s firstly a wealth of new optical care and fashion and accessory brands at all price points, including new niche brands in the Style Atelier area, 26 new brands from Japan, which we are really excited about, and leading US specialist lens suppliers joining the big names in optical care, as well as practice management and other services.
Last year for the first time we had international business experts presenting sessions and how-to panels on using social media to market your optical business, google-glass and practice management, as well as holding one to one conversations with optical practitioners and business owners.
Hakim Group are back for 2015 with practical presentations on using technology to boost practice profits and improve business management, Dr Imran Hakim will share his top 7 tips to boost profits and some of the tools he has used to build one of the biggest and most profitable groups of optical stores in Europe. They will also be showing how cutting edge RFID technology can engage customers and revolutionise the in-store experience as well as deliver valuable analytics for running the business.
GFK will present the first independent report on the optical market and trends in the UAE and KSA at the exhibition, which will be hugely valuable to both suppliers and to buyers. In addition of course there’s the Conference and Awards, and lots of opportunities to meet peers and network.
VP: How do you think that the industry and the show have benefited from the Vision-X VP awards?
Meesum Raza (MR): Back when we started finding out what the optical industry wanted, one thing that came up frequently was the lack of networking and shared meeting points or experience, and a desire for something that reflected the value and importance of the business here in the Middle East.
We wanted to do something to meet that need, and the Awards is the perfect opportunity to mix and to celebrate the best in the business, and the brands that deliver for the eyecare practitioners at the heart of the business we are all in – for the shortlisted products and eventual winners, being voted for by the industry is the highest accolade that they can get.
Both the show and the industry benefit from the mixing of business and pleasure – it makes Vision-X a more rounded event, and doing business ought to be fun!
VisionPlus is the ideal partner in the joint Awards, with the team’s experience from India, and as a key media partner for the exhibition. We want to see the Awards grow in status, as an annual fixture for the industry.
VP: Why should people exhibit at Vision X?
Hana Holy (HH): Very simply, Vision-X offers access to more buyers for the Middle East region than any other industry event, and a marketing campaign to support and communicate the brands and products to the market and potential customers.
While there’s always a place for hosted customer events, Vision-X offers the chance to meet the new buyers that you don’t know, as well as to open up new markets. For the buyers it’s the essential place to find your new best-seller and see the market trends.
VP: How has the platform evolved in the last one year?
HH: Presentation and content. How the show looks physically seems initially like something of a detail, but it has to reflect the aesthetics and value of the products on display. We have invested in features and in new build, and the exhibitors’ stands, the brands and presentation are superb, buyers come for inspiration and we owe it to them.
The business content and international experts presenting and meeting the audience at the show was new in 2014, and will be a permanent feature of the show, to provide real, hard tools to grow and improve your business. This and the launch of the Awards were step changes for Vision-X and an indicator of where the event will go in the future.
We are continuing to work with the industry to shape the event the business needs, and always welcome ideas and contributions, as the best insights generally come from the industry itself.
VP: What is the focus of the OPTICARE conference this year?
Zahra Amir (ZA): The Opticare Conference at Vision-X offers essential learning and new skills for eyecare practitioners from leading regional and international professionals. This year we have been guided by the Eyezone Institute of Opticianry & Private Training based in Kuwait, and have dedicated sessions from the Brien Holden Vision Institute (approved by the American Association of Optometry) with a focus on Myopia control, low vision and key skills for working with children and the elderly. The latest thinking in diagnosis and assessments will also be central to the programme. The full programme is submitted to the Dubai Health Authority for CME accreditation.
VP: Tell us a little about the educational seminars that will be conducted at Vision X this year.
ZA: There are two core themes to the Hakim Group business sessions which focus on hard advice on how to manage the detail of an optical business to know your turnover and margins at any time and maximise revenues and profits, and also on the latest technology and how it can transform customer engagement and make your store or clinic a destination, both of which will offer food for thought for all visitors.
GFK will have fresh insights into the region’s business, and there will also be sessions on merchandising and selling. Retail Excellence is the underlying theme of the business seminars in the exhibition hall.
VP: What is the extent to which you are seeing repeat visitors that the exhibition is expected to see and what is your take on this
MR: We saw a very significant increase in attendance in 2014, and this is expected to continue for 2015. In addition to the work, the marketing team is also taking necessary steps to grow the audience across the region. Visitors also know that they will find interesting new products and brands at the show, as well as fresh advice and ideas for their business.
There is always something new to see and learn, and Vision-X provides the main focused event for the Middle East, we look forward to welcoming old and new colleagues in Dubai this December and are confident of making the event a grand success.
VP: Thank you for sharing your insights. We wish you all the very best for the success of Vision-X.