Event tech company Crystal Interactive is taking the first steps outside of its UK home. But at this crucial stage, how does it plan to manage its international expansion?
Crystal Interactive announced the opening of the first office outside of its UK home earlier this month, in Düsseldorf, Germany.
The announcement comes two years after the company acquired IML Interactive UK, and became, in its own words, “the largest full-service event technology company in the UK.” It is now at a crucial stage of its expansion, as it takes the first steps towards becoming an international business.
CMW spoke with managing director Chris Elmitt, to find out how Crystal Interactive is seizing the opportunities and mitigating the risks that come with doing business overseas.
What is your strategy for international expansion?
During the last few years we had always planned to expand our offering into different territories, but following the acquisition of IML Interactive UK Limited in 2017, we concentrated on consolidating our UK business.
The uncertainty around Brexit brought forward our European expansion plans, as we moved to mitigate the risks to the business due to potential changes in market conditions. Germany is one of the world’s largest events markets, so it made good sense to make it our first base outside of the UK.
“We aim to continue with our strategy of forging strong alliances with agencies, as well as positioning ourselves as the company of choice for large German multinationals.”
We will continue to look at further expansion opportunities, and are confident our products and services have global appeal. Our intention is to expand into new territories on an 18-24 month cycle. Our experienced team will continue to provide worldwide support to our clients from our UK Head Office.
How does the German market differ from the UK market, and how do you plan to target it?
We have worked with German companies and at German venues since our inception so in that regard, we are comfortable with our knowledge of the market and have some very valuable connections and business associates in Germany.
Of course, there are cultural nuances that we need to be aware of, but we hope to smooth this process through the hiring of locally-based, experienced and skilled event professionals.
We aim to continue with our UK strategy of forging strong alliances with agencies, as well as positioning ourselves as the company of choice for large German multinationals. We believe the large Messe market in Germany is a perfect fit for our technology, and we will focus our efforts here.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to growing event tech companies?
The event technology business is a crowded marketplace, with many companies fighting for space. We believe customer service and loyalty is crucial. Taking the pressure off event organisers and giving them complete peace of mind, in what can be an intensely stressful environment, adds great value and is key to ensuring repeat business.
Too many companies offer the technology but not enough support to go with it, which can leave the event organiser frustrated and stressed. For a growing event technology business, nurturing your client and understanding their needs around events is a sound piece of advice!