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Home >  EXPERTISEBeware of event dabblers
Beware of event dabblers
A low-bar entry to the industry worries clients, but buyers should trust organisers with a good track record, says David Simpson

4 Dec 2017

There’s a lot of fear in the events industry, not from individual planners but from their clients. Why is this so? Did some unscrupulous bunch of outlaws once dabble in events organising? Did they get away with it for a while and then escape in a vortex, leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces and rebuild the industry? 

Why is there so much criticism and questioning when it comes to organising events for people? The client side are perfectly within their rights to be on edge. It’s their jobs on the line and ultimately their responsibility to patch things up if it should all go wrong.

Although there is a clear line in the sand between thoroughness as opposed to fearful (or hypercritical) nitpicking, such attitudes must change or the industry will get stuck in neutral while professionals working in it will simply burn out. 

As the experts, event professionals need to step-up; adopt the role of professional advisor; change the game to one of playing to win and advise the clients of what pitfalls to look out for and who they can really trust. 

It’s been declared again and again that the barriers to entering events and conference organising are low. We keep hearing that anyone can set up shop and say they are an events organiser. Of course they can, there’s no licensing required and little in the way of industry exams to pass, as is required in a stock brokerage or law firm. 

Some might argue you don’t even need equipment. You can access items that are easily hired, once you have the budget approved by the client. So yes, the barriers are perceived to be low and perceived is the key word here.

What we need to promote and what our potential clients need to appreciate are the clear benefits of going with professionals with a steady track record. Skin in the game – as Warren Buffet describes it – is a big indicator of trust and value.

If an events company has been around 10-15 years or more, then they are probably pretty good at what they do. Experience is a big currency that’s not tradable and it’s one that needs to be banked year on year.

Many conference and event organisers fail as the industry is demanding, stressful and unless you can prove your track record with a strong client list of past events, it’s difficult to keep getting hired.

Of course the newbie can come down on price more easily and sabotage stable pricing in the market, but if they can’t deliver, then it’s the more experienced professionals with the necessary skills that have to repair the damage done to the industry. 

A stern word also to the experienced events people: new players are going to come on the market. So don’t get complacent and rely on your track record to secure the deal; be even more creative, more organised and extra hungry for that business, or you’ll soon become one of the outlaws on the other side of the barrier.


David Simpson is co-founder and director at Team Building Asia 


Tags :
event planning  

Sharon Fisher
17 Jan 2018
David, you are so right about a lot of things. For $5.00 for the cost of a URL, anybody can be an event planner. I'd add that there are a lot of questions that clients can ask to help them weed out the inexperienced or unprofessional - questions revolving around safety and risk training of staff, types of insurance carried, examples of programs done for clients with similar strategy, experience with the size of group and the level (ie:c-suite or something else) of the group...there are about a dozen different points that can help you get the best company for your needs. I share with my clients an analogy, comparing choosing an event company to choosing which soccer game to go to. You can choose to go to a High School game - you are pretty much guaranteed to have fun, talk with your friends, laugh and be entertained. Or you can choose to go to the World Cup, where all of the above happens - but on a much higher level, with more bells and whistles, more ROI for the amount you pay, more custom programming, better venue and equipment, and higher caliber players and staff, a game where you will be blown away not just merely have fun. Ultimately it is about budgets and strategy - so the client has every responsibility and right to ask questions and choose the best option for their program.

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