Leading Australian Event Producer, Joanna Jordan from j2 ideas & events, is forecasting challenging times for the special events industry in the coming year.
Despite encouraging figures released in November by research company IBISWorld suggesting that the event promotion and management services industry will be up 1.1% for the 2013/2014 Financial Year, Joanna predicts that event managers will need to continue to work hard to rationalise their professional value to clients and to remain competitive in the marketplace.
She suggested, “The events industry in Australia really was hit hard by the Global Financial Crisis fallout back in 2009. Budgets were definitely tightened during this time and that unfortunately meant that many events hit the chopping board and sponsorship investment was harder to come by.”
“Many event agencies simply weren’t prepared for the ongoing implications of the GFC. While most survived the distress of 09, many remain unprepared for the ongoing issues that plague our event industry today.
“The strong Aussie dollar has meant that rather than Australian firms hosting events locally, many organisations are capitalising on competitive offshore destination packages and taking their events to international locations for meetings and team building experiences.
“Add to that increasing charges across all facets of our industry such as food, wages, Superannuation, electricity, entertainment, rubbish removal and accommodation – remaining competitive and viable in the industry has now become a very real and daunting challenge.”
Joanna advocates that event producers think strategically and try new things so as to prepare for the year ahead. Her top tips include:
Be versatile and responsive. “Event managers who are able to service different markets and offer a whole spectrum of services will be seen as more valuable. Organisations are looking for a one-stop service provider who will commit to delivering regardless of complexity or lead time.”
Be prepared to travel. “We love working regionally and have found that our regional events really kept us afloat during the tough GFC period. The market will heat up in 2014 with organisations fighting tooth and nail for projects so if you want to remain competitive and be viable, you will need to think beyond your immediate (and known) turf.”
Improve your offering through collaboration. “Don’t just focus on event delivery – your aim should be to work closely and in partnership with your client so as to best achieve their objectives. If you are seen as an extended part of the team, sharing the same collaborative mission – your worth will be easily justified.”
Don’t be complacent. “Quite simply, complacency will lose you work. The market will always open up to new opportunities so be prepared to chase work, review your fees and seek feedback for improving your service offering.”
Protect your IP and minimize competitive risks. “Take this how you will, but there can be no casual approach to working with suppliers and contractors. Protect your IP and your client contracts through supplier agreements with non-competition clauses. Ignore that advice at your peril!”
Keep a high profile. “Enter event industry awards programs and engage in localised PR activity. These sorts of strategies will allow you to reconnect with old and new clients but will also raise your profile amongst existing and prospective clients. Plus event wins or a news clipping is always good for bolstering team morale!”
 IBISWorld Industry Research Reports 2013, Event Promotion and Management Services in Australia: Market Research Report, ANZSIC N7299, Nov 2013, IBISWorld Pty Ltd, Melbourne.