Control and comfort at trade exhibitions

26 January 2016

Trade exhibitions all over the world are the marketplace of the diamond and jewellery industry. They are the lifeblood of many buyers’ and sellers’ operations, but they also pose a wide range of potential risks. 

For companies that are expanding and attending more and more trade conferences, these risks can be a serious threat to the business. And an essential factor in responding to this challenge is to educate sales staff about the risks they face. 

Itay Hendel, CEO of security specialists, ISPS has been at the forefront in responding to the risks associated with international exhibitions and trade fairs. He says, “Over the past few years we have extended our training programmes to include both the retail and exhibition environments. Both situations allow public access and the potential risk that accompanies it.”

Exhibitions also create a specific risk for wholesalers who are effectively putting themselves in a retail scenario, which gives them greater access to clients but also to criminals. 

According to Itay Hendel criminal gangs operate widely at all exhibitions. “They come well prepared,” he says. “Bringing bags of three carat round cubic zirconia with a view to switching. But, as they roam the shows, they are also looking for opportunities to snatch a stone or a piece of jewelry.” 

The main targets are always the least well-prepared: those carrying the right carat size and those operating poorly controlled booths. The criminals are looking for overcrowded booths, unlocked showcases, lack of control. 

“The exhibition hall is a highly pressured sales environment,” says Itay’s US colleague, Yoav Pelleg. “Salespeople are thinking about sales not security, so they need to be assisted.” 

Insurance is, of course, a fundamental part of the exhibition risk strategy. Packages should include transit to and from the show as well as thefts from the stand itself. But thefts also mean loss of trade and potential business interruption, which, if not insured, can also have a severely detrimental affect on the business in the long term. 

Control is the secret. “If your salespeople are controlling the space properly,” says Yoav Pelleg. “They will not allow over-crowding. If you see someone browsing it means there are too many people. So ask them if they would like to make an appointment. If they want attention they’ll respond. If not they’ll soon be gone.”

It’s also important to think about how many items you are showing. Keep it within the limits of your insurance and don’t get carried away by the sales process. Insurance conditions are usually tailored to protect clients rather than hinder them.

Itay agrees. “Ultimately you need to present a high standard of organisation to the outside world,” he says. “And that means putting limitations on sales staff and encouraging them to present a ‘hard target’ to the criminal.”

Aggregation at shows is, of course, the insurers biggest nightmare –more so even than smash and grab or even planned heists. A fire at an exhibition, with billion of dollars exposed, could result in massive claims. Insurers therefore think very carefully about safety and storage arrangements and so should clients. At each show they need to take stock of the security environment and ensure that they are comfortable with them. 

Comfort and control are the keys to ensuring that you and your staff emerge from a trade fair with a smile on your face.

For further information, please contact Jonathan Clark, Senior Partner, Fine Art, Jewellery and Specie on +44 (0)20 7466 6271