Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Post covid business in the events industry has been insane in real business terms. If in normal times there was an upsurge in business, as there has been since the pandemic, businesses would have been wary of the bust that normally happens to piss on our chips of success.
It doesn’t appear to be around the corner!
End clients seem to be desperate to get their product messages out to what, if the media are all to be believed, is an ever dwindling pocket of change for consumers to spend. It seems to be driving a super powered force that is either going to blunder into the darkness of bust or continue to drive our industry upwards in terms of business turn over and pressure cook it until something gives.
A danger lurks for the supply chain. It's something we have all experienced in production since the re start of the UK industry and its very difficult to see it being sustainable.
We have all no doubt recently experienced the usual short term lead project, which then leaves the supplier faced with finding people, kit and of course all of the diverse services we task them with finding. Does that now need to be a thing of the past? Do we now unilaterally need to acknowledge and get production companies to acknowledge, and then in turn, end clients, that the short lead time project is now not a sustainable thing?
We need to re-educate the client base, and by that, I mean end clients via the production companies, they need to be able to set realistic expectations based on the event industries actual capabilities to deliver, not what they have come to expect it to deliver. The supply chain is not only more expensive but it's also not always there at the drop of a Friday evening phone call.
The will is still there in the industry, but the people and the volume of kit is so stretched that the end product will become watered down and not as reliable. If a series of knock backs from suppliers happens to the client regularly, it’s not the supplier’s fault, its simply that the brands that we deal with daily are not aware enough of the massive event supplier market challenges.
As sales teams in all industries are used to understanding their supply chain issues and finding solutions to them, it needs to extend to them understanding their supply chains, supply chain. I feel it’s not just in the event industry, but as we all change over to more environmental methods of working, all industries will struggle to do business with their pre pandemic processes. As businesses transfer spending priorities to new vehicles, more efficient working practices and workers become more scarce (the UK with the lowest unemployment figures announced in 50 years) how can we proceed continuing to expect the supply chain to always be there at weird hours just because we need it.
We need to understand our supply chain issues and work together on designing projects that are not only sustainable/recyclable but also reflect fewer people in its production, in its delivery and less waste at the end of it. If the supply chain is always under pressure to deliver 24/7 with less resources, we will not be receiving the product we want, and also, we are quintessentially proving that the event industry is not sustainable in all senses of the word.
The event industry has been bumbling towards a supplier crisis and the pandemic has shed people and companies, leaving it exposed to over pricing and some unscrupulous suppliers. If we don’t start to design, produce, and develop projects with a sustainable point of view, we are throwing the supply chain and hard won friendships and work relationships to the lions, every time.
There are some amazing companies helping to recycle event waste by repurposing and recycling but let’s start to design events with that second life in mind, whether it’s a reception desk for an event that becomes a counter in a charity shop, make them real world practical and of proper materials so its half life is extended. Talk to these companies and see what is sought after in the real world and have these possibilities in mind whilst developing a project. It’s a process I am sure will be thought of as impractical but unless we try, we won’t know.
It involves the C word of Change, and if our supply chain is knackered and has lost interest in the long days and endless requests for more stuff because post Covid they have seen life doesn't need to be like that, we need to change now to keep them in the industry.
For many years I made a good living at always being able to sort things out for a client at short notice and I enjoyed the resulting feeling and continued business, but it is not sustainable, that's why I live on a mountain away from everything. If it takes individuals to do it on a project by project basis, so be it, but change on a global scale is urgent I feel.
We will all still jump in and help people at the last minute obviously, but there needs to come a time when it should be the exception, not the rule for the industry. It's a massive head change for the exceptionally successful UK events industry, but once we start to deliver substandard projects it will be too late, and the clients will move on to people who will still work the wholly unsustainable old way.
If we can all try in our own small way to send the message up the pole to the adults maybe this amazing life of ours doesn't have to be a contender for being
Any thoughts and comments always welcome.
I would be really interested to know if the exhibition industry has any thoughts or something in place that requires stands to prove longevity or re use, not just single use, as it’s probably the biggest part of the construction side, certainly in Europe. It would be great to hear from anyone who knows and maybe that is a possible talking point to bring to the corporate event world.
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