EEAA recently ran a panel discussion in support of UFI Asia-Pacific Week entitled ‘The Bumpy Road to Recovery’.
Gary FitzRoy has some observations with what was presented.
Having raised a number of issues impacting the industry recently I was eager to view the session in full for myself to see if they tackled the core issues.
Now there are a handful of companies and people who seem to dislike being called out when they do things not in the interest of the whole industry. To them my message is simple, we need to walk the talk and our actions currently are not about a healthy future. I am committed to calling out anything that impacts our whole of industry future. I have been around the industry for 40 plus years (I know I don’t look it) and I am PASSIONATE about the industry and what makes up the industry and the harm some are causing needs to stop and be called out as it harming our true return and growth.
Now to the interview.
I am sure you will draw your own conclusions from the interview however there were a few things that sent a very confusing message v the reality.
“Honest, open early communication” was an early one for me. Communication is of course key to good business relationships, however I have a list of companies who have had orders cancelled last minute and prices hiked.
“Pinch points, mitigating risk”- the need to think differently with solutions. I must of missed something, I can’t see us doing anything differently other that stretching ourselves, which may continue until there is a major incident, we are simply building and doing what we did pre-covid, but under even more compressed deadlines, with less staff and resources and with the sector trying to now maximise revenue but compressing every show into a shorter period.
Staff and resources are key, I again table the reason we are largely under resourced is because of the decision many companies made to cull staff; we cannot play the victim card when we created the situation in the first place.
Admittedly, casuals could not be kept on when there was no income to pay them (JobKeeper did not cover casuals) and now many of those casuals have found work elsewhere. What was important was to keep the permanents on. The ones with the knowledge and experience to then train and supervise the new casuals who are brought in.
The host pointed out that SISO (Society of Independent Show Organisers) after doing research has recommended dropping the term “hybrid” as respondents to the survey didn’t understand what that meant.
The bigger issue is the cost of hybrid – the technology, the technicians and then what the venues charge for that.
There is no doubt that more key speakers will appear virtually at a conference or event (pre-recorded or live) due to travel restrictions (or a desire not to travel) but as an industry we should not forget that we sell face to face contact and we should not be actively promoting “Hybrid or Virtual” – these should be offered as a last resort or a profitable add on.
The conversation around companies booking later goes to our old friend the confidence factor. However the “need to be flexible”, is unfortunately not a reality, I have seen written quotes and invoices that show clients who do book and act late are being punished beyond what is reasonable. I was contacted last week by a company that had received an invoice for $269.10 to have a power lead installed.
I was taken aback by the statement that the last two years has “unified the industry” Again, how? Membership of most sector associations are at a record low, EEAA still has a board vacancy. I am sorry but I am seeing nothing that suggests the sector is unified, the strong are trying to get stronger, the weaker are leaving the industry and there is NO VISION to how together we will get through.
I ran into the new EEAA CEO on the concourse at the MCEC as he was attending AIME, I was running a show in an adjacent hall (I believe the best sales message we have is doing and better use of our time than a self-serving industry back slap). I asked him why isn’t EEAA tackling the real issues, why are they focussed on sustainability rather than the sustainability of the industry such as the builders, cleaners, security, freight (businesses surviving, staff welfare and employment, shows not cannibalising each other, costs etc), surely the sustainability of the businesses who we all depend on should be the number one concern and focus for EEAA – not whether we separate recycling to land fill, our priority should be for our immediate survival, and by the way this could mean the membership grows!
The response just flawed me, “if you don’t do sustainability the government will mandate it” that may be right but if we don’t have an industry – what is there to mandate! This along with many points in the video show how we are out of touch with the real issues and if we continue to say things are great we are sadly kidding ourselves.
What the video and conversation I had told me is that we still fear dealing with the real issues and having solutions, we talk a lot but the sales pitch and reality don’t connect, there needs to be a shift and its time some put their “big boy pants on” and tackle the difficult path ahead. From where I sit it’s simply survival of the fittest and like the dinosaurs there needs to be a whole new evolution for our industry.
Then again what would I know?