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Industry innovator Paul Flackett dies

The 'boy from Birmingham' helped mould the modern meetings industry
13/11/2017

Pictured: Paul Flackett

Paul Flackett has died after a long illness, aged 69. The former managing director of Imex was an industry leader in the true sense, helping to guide real change in his three decades plus in the events industry.

He was one of the triumvirate that created EIBTM in Geneva in 1988, the trade show that broke the industry mould by inventing the hosted buyer concept. Flackett worked with Ray Bloom and John Haynes to make EIBTM a huge success before Bloom sold it to Reed Exhibitions.

During that time, Bloom and Flackett forged a strong friendship that stood the test of time. When Bloom decided to come back into the industry with the launch of Imex, four years later, it was natural that he would turn again to his old ally to create the new event. 

Flackett’s strength was in building long-term relationships with customers and turning them into friends and supporters. In the past few of months, Flackett’s hospital ward was full of cards and letters from well-wishers all over the world. He said of them: “I feel like a rock star - the nurses are amazed. They think I must be famous!”

He always had a profound grasp of self-deprecation and could never quite believe his luck at arriving in the events industry and enjoying the life he did. When he was president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence – an organisation he served for many years – they brought him into the conference in Auckland on a racehorse to rapturous applause. He said to me afterwards: “Not bad for a boy from Birmingham.” It was one of his favourite lines and often repeated.

A working class Brummie to his roots, he was, however, a Manchester United supporter and he and Bloom’s shared love of football meant they took advantage of their travels to visit some of the world’s most famous grounds together.

I worked with him before he joined Imex. In the early 1980s we worked for a magazine called Conferences & Exhibitions and became and remained great friends. I remember him as an excellent organiser but also very creative. His records were fastidiously maintained and his planning was detailed. We travelled widely together and I always enjoyed his wit and charm. He valued his friends greatly. 

Ray Bloom said: “Paul has been by my side as a friend and in business for over 30 years and was an inspiration to us all in how he conducted himself throughout his career.”

Martin Lewis

  • Mark Spivey of Maritim Hotels 16/11/2017

    Paul was a great friend over the many years from Geneva to Frankfurt we shared some very special moments and that goes back over 30 years nearly.
    Paul rest in peace and thanks for your friendship and saving me from the Brighton supporters one night!

  • Thorsteinn Örn Gudmundsson of Meet in Reykjavik 14/11/2017

    Paul was a true friend, great personality and a powerful professional.
    His invaluable help and conversations during the starting of Meet in Reykjavik in 2012 where of great value and introduction to a personality I have highly regarded ever since.
    RIP - you will be remembered
    Thorsteinn Örn Gudmundsson

  • Annie Kathrine Vangsnes of Accomplish Conference and Events 14/11/2017

    Rest in Peace! All our condolances to his loved ones, and colleagues.
    A true inspiration in our industry, a pair of big shoes to fill is left behind.
    Katerina, Accomplish, DMC Greece

  • Maarten Vanneste of Meeting Design Institute 13/11/2017

    The most funny moments in the industry were those with Paul on stage at IMEX award dinners in Frankfurt. Thank you Paul for your smart, humorous and warm personality. Your light will keep shining on this industry. We will remember you always.


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