Late Night London’s Head of Meetings and Events Georgina Coleman analyses how agencies are currently being utilised in the industry.
We recently surveyed a large section of our database pre-Christmas to understand how in-house events planners and bookers were utilising the tools at their disposal and if their relationship with their agencies had changed at all. With most of us heavily focused on Christmas as a significant portion of ‘the year’, taking the time to understand a 360 degree view of the industry was important for us and cemented some interesting points.
Our survey, which went out to a targeted group of event bookers, demonstrably found that an established connection forged with an existing agency is a very influential factor when it comes to all elements of the planning process. With 31% of respondents reporting a long standing relationship with a particular agency that they would not look to change. Interestingly, 68% of those working with an agency would only look to make a change if and when required, with none electing to change agency for every event. This suggests that the quintessential relationship between agency and in-house event planner is still the single most defining factor. Additionally, quality of service and product will ultimately determine choices.
Reassuringly for the industry as a whole, when questioned on the value demonstrated by using an agency, 45% of those working with an agency stated that their extensive knowledge is of principle importance and influences their decision to work with an agency, followed by 31% believing planning and management abilities determined their use of agencies.
When questioned on their corporate position regarding festive bookings 72% of those asked stated that Christmas party packages and themed parties still had value, an encouraging nod to any of those who may have felt that installations, packages and corporate theming were dying a death.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly 45% of those who responded replied that price was the most important individual factor when booking a Christmas venue. Closely following price, location was listed as a key consideration when planning a Christmas event with 31% of respondents placing it as theirs or their company’s highest priority when booking.
Once again personal relationships, lasting bonds and a solid track record were noted as the most influential aspect of selecting suppliers with 42% of event planners, coordinators, PA’s and EA’s placing personal relationship as the single most important element when deciding. 21%, however, cited showcases as instrumental in selecting suppliers, interesting in light of recent rumblings within the industry around the value of different shows year on year.
Overall the leaning was strongly towards the personal touch, something which we have seen become increasingly important since the recession. Naturally the financial indicators were still apparent throughout but perhaps marginally less prominent than we have seen the case in previous years indicating that the spend-slump across the industry may be diminishing.
All in all the position of the agency when it comes to planning will forever revolve around those personal relationships which is understandable but raises a slew of new questions for those of us managing sizeable teams that often experience rapid changes. As an industry that experiences an exceptionally high turnover of staff for a myriad of reasons how do we ensure that crucial contact and deeply personal relationships are maintained and nurtured without placing too many important eggs in one basket? Surely the wider issue becomes one of keeping the talent within the industry and finding ways to adapt our working systems to be more supportive of that talent?
Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor