The Event Industry Must Do Better

There’s a conversation that I’ve heard in many event circles and it goes something like this:

The events industry doesn’t have a tall enough barrier to entry. Therefore, too many unqualified planners start up companies which leads to under-successful events and a behind-the-times industry.

After a few recent gigs on the “sponsor” side of an event, I decided it’s time to tackle this topic on the techsytalk blog.

Let me first start by saying that I am one of those who was able to take advantage of the low barrier to entry in our industry. I didn’t have formal “event” education or a certain degree. I simply had experience and passion and joined the industry to make a career out of doing something I love. In many ways, I don’t see any problem with the fact that the prerequisite list for starting an events business is not prohibitively lengthy. And while there were many times I wish I had more education, I’ve learned a lot through experience and via my peers. So – I don’t think we need to flip the industry on it’s head quite yet.

However, we’re working with a new client – an electronic cigarette brand  – and we are helping them with their events strategy from A to Z. This means starting small – sponsoring existing events to capture an already-engaged audience. Of course, we’ll be planning large scale events on their behalf as well, but this is where we start. In this process, we’ve had the chance to sit on the other side of the event planning world – paying money to participate in an existing event and trying to vet the quality of that event before we sign on and after it’s all over. Of course, we’ve worked with some great people, but I have to say that there are far too many planners who suffer from:

  • Lack of a clear plan for marketing their events
  • Unclear communication with event stakeholders aka sponsors, speakers etc.
  • False expectation setting for sponsors – over-promising and under-delivering
  • Inability to prove ROI or share successes from past events
  • Ancient technologies and poor social media strategies

So what can be done? I’m sure the answer is far beyond my understanding, but here are a few things I’d love to see in our industry:

  • More collaboration and sharing of best practices so that people can learn from each other’s mistakes. Too much “fear of competition” leads us down a road of isolation (read: lack of growth)
  • Under-promise, Over-deliver
  • Standardization of basic event practices – make it easy for people to learn about ADA accommodation, menu planning, A/V and technology, risk management etc.
  • Reward systems for those in the industry who push the envelope and try new things. I’d love to see the industry adopt a badge system where you can promote the types of events you do and the quality of work that you’ve done. Of course, this is different than certifications and would have to be objective.

So what do you think? What can we do better to make sure that we grow as an industry and evolve at a much faster rate?


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