Of ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties?and events companies that go crash in the night?
The banks (those still standing) are reining in the credit and we are hearing of companies with good forward business being pressed into a financial corner. Two big event industry suppliers, PSL and SPS got their fright nights this month and were forced to go running to the administrators.
Meeting Professionals International’s Didier Scaillet predicts the meetings industry “will be hit by the global recession like anyone else” and reports anecdotal evidence suggesting a drop of ten per cent in international conference attendances when comparing with twelve months ago. The willies seem to have been put up the recruitment agencies, too, with operational vacancies in the events sector drying up on the agency websites.
Some corporates are applying the cold, clammy hand to recruitment. Whoever had the Lehman Brothers and HBOS Christmas Party accounts must be hoping things can only get better in 2009.
But, before I get accused of dabbling in the Dark Arts and talking the industry into recession, although I somehow doubt that global capital markets act on opinion of journalists and even, dare I say, financial analysts much, a general look back at 2008 would probably find that the meetings industry has generally experienced a good first three-quarters. Strong year-end results are likely to be muffled sadly by the sounds of hatches being battened down in the run up to the New Year.
How hard we ‘office party’ in the festive season will be a big barometer for the extent to which corporate hospitality budgets are coming under threat.
For those in the medium of meetings and events, the upside is likely to be that print and broadcasting advertising are likely to be hit more than those dependent on revenues from experiential marketing.
Indeed, digital and video could well be the only media forms that stay ahead of experiential marketing in terms of retaining market share in a declining overall media marketing mix.
All the more reason to spend on education, training and running the best conference or meeting you can, while keenly measuring ROI and return on objectives.
The froth of the fizz may be flattening and the chocolate fountain redundant, but the hard core of conferencing business can hone itself even harder to become a lean tool in the fight for tightening market share.
New technology offers new hope and challenges, too. New active RFID devices are on their way into the UK events market that can track delegates and show visitors from ceiling-mounted sensors. Just think of the information that can be delivered to organisers, exhibitors and, indeed, delegates. Interactivity spread to a new level on the conference floor with tablets and palm PCs in 2008. That can only increase and add value for all?unless the gremlins and viral beasties strike of course.