Gary Fitz-Roy is concerned that things are not as rosy as some are making out as events return – short staffed and with rising costs
There has been a lot said lately about the current labour situation, especially in hospitality and events, however maybe some employers have more to answer for!
Yes we need to acknowledge the situation; however, within the industry no one has done anything proactive like getting all the key players into a room to table the situation and try to develop a plan and find solutions. At the same time we want to keep the issues quarantined from clients or outside the industry. The reality is we are underestimating and taking clients for granted. They are not stupid; they can see and feel the shortfall in service, the extreme costs of gouging and poor performance. Too many people are not returning calls/emails, and everything is getting just too expensive.
It’s to our industry’s peril to keep saying everything is good and live events are back bigger and better when the feedback from people participating is so mixed.
Here are a few major aspects which are at the core of today’s issues.
Extreme pricing increases are number one. Then, service providers saying at short notice they can no longer fulfil the delivery of something they have been contracted to provide; this message well could be the small end of the wedge that sets us back even further.
And then it’s the strong-arm tactics. We recently delivered a show where one of the major contactors dictated that we pay 100% up front or they won’t deliver. Whilst asking for pre-payment is OK, the manner and language used just positions that supplier in a what goes around comes around loop, and that day will be a cold day for some!
My understanding this is also how some exhibitors are being treated. Suppliers are virtually saying we will charge you more and in the process we will forget you’re the client, we will tell you when we can do the delivery not when you may need it, and it goes on from there. Are we naive enough to think this kind of activity doesn’t spread amongst clients who used to, or are considering using events?
However there is a bigger issue emerging that needs even more attention as it’s alarming. Staff are leaving the industry who don’t have another job to go to, they have simply had enough. It’s not about the money; many are burnt out, feel unappreciated, or have been poorly managed and simply don’t see a future where they currently are. There is a common link around lack of leadership and management at a time when people in key positions have to stand up. This single activity of people vacating the industry is more destructive than any other issue, and it is happening now.
The second group are those leaving to a more secure a job in a different industry.
The above is a strong message; talented and what were passionate people leaving is adding to the pressure of what the industry can deliver and fuelling many to change their pricing.
There was no user guide to managing through a pandemic and different businesses handled it in different ways and clearly a number have not done a good job. To be successful we have to value the cornerstone of the industry, our people.
We are at a crossroads and not all events a firing. Events are being impacted by severe weather like that currently occurring in Queensland. The Federal election will still come into play in the back half of the year.
People are currently fragile, and we cannot simply refill the glass with enough experienced new staff. So when will the talk stop and we deal with the most important asset we have with decisive and coordinated action?