About Atticus Events

Atticus Events own and operate three world-class Business Meetings Forums for the Hospitality Interior Design sector - HI Design Europe, HI Design Asia and HI Design MEA (Middle East & Africa). The original HI Design event was HI Design EMEA, which was staged for the first time in Stockholm in 2006 and was staged for the eleventh and final time in June 2016 before being divided into two events – Europe and MEA. HI Design serves many of the key people involved in the design and build of quality hotels throughout their respective regions. From 2017, HI Design Europe will focus exclusively on the European market, whilst HI Design MEA will service the rapidly developing Middle East and Africa region.

HI Design ASIA made it's debut in Penang in 2009, and serves the same function in the Asia Pacific region. All events provide an annual opportunity for hotel owner/operators, interior designers/architects, procurement specialists and Hospitality FF&E manufacturers to explore best design solutions and future collaborations for quality hospitality projects – be they new builds or major refurbishments.

Atticus Events was founded in 2007 by Jonathan Needs and James Burke, following the acquisition by Questex Media Group of their previous company, Pelican Events, which they formed in 2000. Jonathan, James and their small, loyal team at Pelican Events gained a highly respected reputation in Hotel Operations forums through their ownership and operation of two HOTEC events.

Having founded and run HOTEC Asia from 2001-2008, and HOTEC Middle East from 2004-2008, Jonathan and James sold Pelican with these two events to Questex - the owner/operator of the two remaining HOTEC events – Europe and North America.

Now, Jonathan and James have built up a similar reputation in the Hospitality Design and Build sector in the regions that they serve. Delegates who attend their HI Design forums consistently rate their experiences as being 'Excellent investments of time' or 'Highly Effective'.

Atticus's objective is to deliver events that are truly worthwhile for all participants, as well as being fun. Above all, they strive to exceed the expectations of all their clients.

About the HI Design concept

Each HI Design event follows the same tried and tested format that Atticus / Pelican have employed and fine tuned over the last 15 years. A meticulously planned schedule run with precision timing, ensures the perfect balance of activity during the packed two and a half days of the event. Pre-planned meetings, educational and inspiring seminars, a supplier showcase, buyer and supplier networking sessions and numerous other networking opportunities make up the critical mix of these unique events.

Held in a top hotel in a new location each year, HI Design forums allow delegates to conduct their business in perfect surroundings outside of their normal working environment. This creates a highly conducive environment for all to achieve their objectives and in a way that is simply not possible with traditional exhibitions or conferences.

Meet the Team

Having worked together as a team for many years, our individual roles are clearly defined, and this experience is used for the benefit of our delegates. We take pride in providing all delegates with a seamless service, from initial contact up to the event itself. This helps to ensure that not only is time maximised, but also the experience is fun.

Jonathan Needs


Jonathan spent nearly twenty years in hotel and catering operations both in the UK and Europe, including working in hotels in Switzerland, running mainline station catering businesses, and as an Area Operations Manager for the restaurant division of a national brewery company and a major contract caterer. Following that, he spent eight years in trade exhibitions with Blenheim / Miller Freeman, culminating in running a large, biennial, international food and drink exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham.

After deciding to leave the corporate world in 2000, he and James Burke formed Pelican Events, and subsequently Atticus Events. HOTEC Asia, the first of their forums, was launched in March 2001. Jonathan lives and works in Dartmouth, Devon.

James Burke

JAMES BURKE – Director

Prior to setting up business with Jonathan in 2000, James worked for a number of years in top restaurants in London.

He then joined McLean Publishing as Sales and Marketing Manager, and was jointly responsible for the launch of the very first Business Meetings Forum in Asia –Aspec 98. Shortly afterwards, McLean was sold to a large U.S. publishing company, whereupon James moved to Speakers International, a leading Corporate Development company based in London, where he worked for two years as an Account Director.

Having always had the desire to run his own business, James linked up with Jonathan to form Pelican Events, now Atticus Events. James is based in Lewes, Sussex and spends much of his time working with HI Design supplier delegates.

Sofi Khan

SOFI KHAN – Event Manager HI Design Europe & HI Design Asia / Co-Event Director HI Design MEA

Sofi joined Jonathan and James from Sterling Group in early 2004, and has been involved in over twenty events since then. She is primarily responsible for buyer delegate management, but has a myriad of other tasks . Having been Event Manager for EMEA and Asia since their creation, Sofi steps up to the role of Event Director for the newly launched HI Design MEA in 2017, alongside Guy Dittrich.

Guy Dittrich

GUY DITTRICH - Seminar Host / Co-Event Director HI Design MEA

Guy Dittrich is an independent journalist and commentator on hotels and design. He has been our expert moderator since HI Design began 11 years ago. Guy’s experience as a Hotel Consultant and Journalist make him a natural choice but it’s his humour and temperament that put him right at the heart of the HI Design family and that bring the HI Design Seminars to life - all qualities that make Guy the perfect event co-director for our newest event, HI Design MEA. Writing for Wallpaper, Conde Nast Traveller, Business Traveller, various UK and European newspapers and travel websites, Guy also contributes expert hotel reviews for our media partner, Sleeper magazine. Born and raised in Zimbabwe and ‘always traveling’, Guy now calls Brussels home. Prior to his career in writing and moderation Guy was the UK Managing Director for Design Hotels™. Guy also advises hotels on how to market themselves.

Charlie Gilmour

CHARLIE GILMOUR - Operations Manager

Charlie joined the Atticus team in January 2016 and will now look after the operations on HI Design EUROPE, HI Design MEA and HI Design ASIA. Having studied Events Management at Leeds Metropolitan University, he graduated in 2013 and went on to work in residential property sales around the south east, primarily focusing on the marketing and coordination. Charlie is based in Sussex and works alongside James in the Lewes office.

Richard Pereira

RICHARD PEREIRA - Photographer

Richard learned his craft alongside world renowned Terry O'Neill who he worked with for many years. They shot Prime Ministers, Presidents, a couple of Queens and captured many Stars. He set up on his own in 1995. These days Richard helps companies in the Corporate, Hospitality and Events worlds who need unique, high-end images to reflect their businesses. He describes working with Atticus Events as "an absolute joy - as the whole team exudes an enthusiasm for excellence and of course fun!" www.richard-pereira.com


Oliver Needs

OLIVER NEEDS - IT Consultant

Oliver designed the unique system that faultlessly creates the meetings schedules for all of our delegates. He directs our IT strategy and still runs the scheduling programme for every event. Oliver also runs Bond Events, who own and operate a number of similar forums in the Architectural and Interior Design sector in North America, South America and the Middle East. - namely Arc US and Arc Interiors, Arc South America and Disenotel (South America) as well as Arc Middle East. www.bondevents.com

Mike McCaffrey

MIKE McCAFFREY - Marketing / PR / Copywriting Consultant

Mike was with us for four years until late 2009, working with James to help spread the word to new suppliers for both HI Design and the two Hotecs. Having left to set up his own SEO/Copywriting company Word Bomb - www.word-bomb.com - he now shares the benefits of what he's learned by taking care of all online marketing and PR for HI Design. And he's quite good!

Vicki Ball

VICKI BALL - Freelance Web Designer

Vicki has been responsible for the design and maintenance of all Pelican/Atticus websites since the very first one in 2003, and has over 13 years industry experience in graphic and web design, working at several design agencies both in the UK and South Africa. Vicki set up her own company Rubber Design - www.rubberdesign.co.uk - nine years ago, and has a very loyal client base.

Versatile and flexible, she can do it all! Eye catching search engine optimised websites, database driven web-applications, flash games and animations, as well as design and artwork of all printed collateral. Vicki lives on a farm in West Sussex with two horses, one dog, two cats and three chickens!

Luke Jefford

LUKE JEFFORD - Graphic Designer

Luke has designed all of the Hotec and HI Design event directories since 2003, as well as banners, signage, exhibition graphics, adverts and other miscellaneous material, including the annual Atticus Events Christmas card! Luke Jefford & Associates are based in Brighton and have been producing print design for over a decade, working with clients of all sizes from a wide range of industries.

Luke says "I believe in good, clean, simple design. I collaborate with photographers, illustrators, copywriters and web designers to create corporate communications, such as advertising, branding, brochures, packaging, POS, books, magazines, direct mail and websites. We're able to produce very special results at affordable prices"