The meetings industry is moving towards consolidation as companies try to optimise their budget globally. The industry today is very fragmented with many service providers involved in different elements of an event, such as transportation, accommodation, catering and stage production, among others. In their bid for efficiency, companies will drive change as they increasingly seek an integrated event agency that can handle all the aspects of their product launches, incentive programmes, meetings and conferences.
With this consolidation, the buying habits of companies will switch from transactional – where they secure the services of professional organisers on an event-by-event basis – to contractual, locking in one agency to handle all their events globally for a year or more.
It is all about saving time from going through the tedious task of selecting an organiser for events that may number up to the hundreds. It is also about maximising spend, as it is easier to track, manage and adjust the budget – as well as revenue – for multiple events with one agency at the helm. A quarterly report, submitted by the agency, will give a company the transparency of information it needs to effectively plan future events.
The shift to a contractual relationship will mean that organisers will be asked to create “programmes” that will take place in one or more countries. Organisers have to work with their clients to manage their events mix and stretch their dollars.
For us, events professionals, this will usher a major role rethink. We will need more people with business acumen as we will also be tasked to ask clients a very different set of questions: What are you trying to achieve as a company? What is your brand all about? What will be your next communication?
It is a different relationship, and we need to add savvy business sense to our skills set. We need more senior people with experience in managing clients on a strategic level. We have to train our talents in finance, marketing, organisational management, ethics and so forth. In five years’ time, it will be all about business strategy not execution.