One of Auckland’s premier events venues, ASB Showgrounds operates as a not-for-profit organisation, providing a top-class community facility and bringing significant revenue to the city.
It’s been an important community asset for over 100 years, but the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane continues to flourish, hosting multiple large-scale local and international events, attracting around 1.1 million visitors a year, and injecting an estimated $22 million into the Auckland economy.
The iconic exhibition space, formerly known as the Auckland Showgrounds, has facilities flexible enough to host exhibitions, trade and consumer shows, cocktail functions, banquets, corporate events, conferences, meetings, concerts and even stock-clearance sales.
A 1970 Act of Parliament amalgamated the A & P Association of Auckland and the Auckland Manufacturers Association
(now the EMA) to form the Auckland Agricultural and Industrial Shows Board. It now owns the facilities and operates the ASB Showgrounds on land rented from the Cornwall Park Trust.
ASB Showgrounds CEO Mark Frankham says that as a not-for-profit, the organisation’s mandate is to provide a community facility and to give back to the community.
“Everything we make is reinvested into running and developing the facilities. The venue and our customers are our number one goal. We run a very lean organisation, with just 18 fulltime staff.”
In addition to its commercial events, the Showgrounds provides free facilities for charitable and community organisations, such as the police for bomb squad training, ambulance services, and sports and school groups.
In 2006, ASB Bank became the Showgrounds’ first ever naming rights sponsor. Three years later a much needed $32 million upgrade included construction of a new 6000m2 pavilion and improvements to the Logan Campbell Centre, funded partly by contributions from the New Zealand Government, the ASB Community Trust, ASB Bank and Auckland City Council.
“The redevelopment was about futureproofing our spaces and facilities. It’s been very successful – it’s led to increased business and attracted more high-profile international events,” says Mark. “In the last eight years, exhibitor numbers have grown considerably. Average utilisation is around 65%; and up to 85% in some months.”
“We’re a top-class facility with a AAA health and safety rating and our focus is on delivery and operations. We’re now looking at a further redevelopment, extending our existing building, improved air conditioning, creating a new turnaround area – that’s all really important moving forward.”
Keeping track of the numbers
In August 2011, ASB Showgrounds brought in Hayes Knight to manage its financial requirements. Mark now works closely with Nicola Pollard and Tristan Dean. Their role initially involved assistance with basic tax compliance, GST, preparation of monthly accounts and reconciliations, but Nicola says that has expanded as the business has changed.
In late 2014, Hayes Knight began offering ASB Showgrounds a customised board report pack that combines basic financial information with more technical details and KPIs.
“It gives the board really powerful information to make decisions, track how things are going, and understand the drivers behind their business,” explains Nicola. “Sometimes having an independent view helps you identify areas for improvement, evaluate where you’re leaking cash and see where it’s worth spending more.”
Capturing information around usage of its various spaces and halls was an important requirement for ASB Showgrounds, she says. Having previously worked at London’s Wembley Stadium, Nicola has experience in the specialist area of event-based reporting, so was well placed to assist.
“The Logan Campbell Centre is a particularly large space…the board wanted to see utilisation for that centre reported separately, so we devised a measure with graphs comparing it to previous years,” says Nicola.
Mark mentions that the board report pack is particularly valuable in terms of time-saving and the clear presentation of information.
The report pack can evolve over time as the requirements of the board changes. Mark and Hayes Knight have also recently developed a new report to look at the Royal Easter Show as a standalone event, which has been added to the report pack to track the impact it has had on the Showgrounds’ financial results.
“We have directors from many different companies, some with more accounting knowledge than others. The board report pack combines all our critical information into one document that everyone can understand,” Mark says. “I used to spend six full days pulling it all together before every board meeting. When it was such a manual job, it was easy to make mistakes. Now we’ve automated and restructured it all, which frees up my time to concentrate on the business.”
Having met with the board to understand the information they required, Nicola and Tristan customised the report pack accordingly and presented it back to them.
“It’s a service we are keen to offer to more of our clients,” says Tristan. “We can take what their processing staff have done and put it together into a nice visual document that the board will find useful and relevant.”
ASB Showgrounds in numbers
18,000m2 event and exhibition space
11 separate spaces
5,000 seating for banquets
3,000 seat theatre
$32 million cost of most recent facility upgrade
80+ events hosted in 2016
130,000 visitors to Royal Easter Show in 2016
650,000 visitors attracted to Auckland for the venue’s top 14 events in 2015
78,100 visitor nights generated as a result
$22.41 million increase in regional output from these 14 events
$17.48 million contribution to Auckland’s GDP
ASB Showgrounds CEO Mark Frankham