What Does The Crystal Ball Have In Store For The Events Industry?
In a loose interpretation of the old saying “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, I have always said that you can’t predict the future if you don’t understand the past. Which is why, going into the New Year, I always make a habit of reviewing the year that was and reading up on some predictions for the coming months. I find this is particularly useful for creative industries because things can change in an instant and the more insight you have, the better off you are.
2015: A year of cautious optimism
Interestingly though, according to the annual C&IT State of the Industry report which was published late last year, the events industry may have finally stabilised. Noting that confidence is at an all-time high, the report stated that “the cautious optimism that has dominated the last two years has finally subsided as agencies and clients report a strong upturn in their events”. This was also reflected in the financial analysis which noted that event-based turnover for the top five agencies in 2014 was up 37 percent since 2009. It would seem then that 2015 was the year of the tide turn after the tumultuous years following the recession, now almost a decade ago.
There were, of course, still a number of key issues keeping management up at night. These included issues around finding and retaining talent, procurement, event lead times, pitching and managing growth and profits. In addition, the C&IT report also outlined the challenges clients have, which event teams must not only be wary of, but often are tasked with combatting. These are more consistent year-on-year and include things such as budgets, ROI, resources, innovation and the continual challenge of increasing delegates and revenue.
A positive outlook for 2016
However, these challenges did nothing to dull the optimism seemingly radiating throughout the industry with the report stating that increased headcounts in 2015 combined with growing lead times and the number of enquiries meant that it was looking positive for 2016.
Looking into 2016 in more depth and the report noted that with event spending on the rise there is increased confidence in the sector as a whole. This was reflected in multiple geographies where UK events companies were experiencing success, including the European favourites – Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, as well as the US and some parts of Asia. Industry players are expecting this to continue although have conceded that the upcoming EU referendum and uncertainty around the Eurozone may dent some of this confidence in the short term.
Another area within events expected to grow is the use of technology. There were mixed feelings about technology use highlighted within the report. Some event agencies remain sceptical of its use or the ability of some technology to move out of the fad phase, while others were determined to make the most of the popularity of mobile apps.
It shouldn’t be just about the front-end technology though. In order to operate at the most efficient level, event companies should consider back-end technology solutions which enable them to ease the administrative load when it comes to resource and facilities management, finances and allocation of project teams. An agency management solution will manage all of this and more, allowing the team to focus on what it does best – putting on great events, pleasing clients and showing attendees a fantastic time.
Who will stand out from the crowd?
While it can be easy to take a lot of predictions at face value, there are some constants that shouldn’t be overlooked. The stability of the events sector is encouraging and provides a base for companies looking to consolidate and push forward with growth plans. Technology solutions, particularly those designed to support the back-end have a lot to offer in this respect and can provide a competitive edge. The year ahead certainly seems set to be a successful one and it will be interesting to see who is able to stand out in what is traditionally quite a crowded market.