Go figure – to get more efficient

A new report found agencies realistic about budgets. CN looks behind the stats

Eventbrite, a one-stop shop for promoting and managing events, recently quizzed more than 500 event industry professionals to produce a 44-page Pulse Report of the UK events industry.
Among the key findings was a drive towards efficiency.

Mark Walker, head of content marketing at Eventbrite, said that while 66% of event organisers expect their existing events to grow, only 24% of all surveyed organisers are expecting to increase their budgets to meet that growth, with 7% expecting to reduce them and 69% planning on keeping the same level of spend.

He said: “I think our data is reasonably accurate in giving the average budget as £40,000 per event. Organisers are telling us that that they expect that to rise by a quarter over the next 12 months so we should see budgets around the £50,000 per event mark next year. This is the first year we have run the survey so it will be interesting to look back and compare when we publish the next report.”

But as procurement departments demand an ever-closer scrutiny of how that budget is spent, there is frustration is some quarters with the slow uptake in the UK of strategic meetings management (SMM) programmes.

Des McLaughlin, divisional director at agency Grass Roots, empathically rebuts the charge that SMM has failed to live up to expectations.

He said: “I would strongly disagree that SMM has failed to live up to expectations. Through our strategic meetings management service we have brought best practice and real savings to a wide variety of clients throughout the world.

“Through a strong and focused SMM programme clients can fully understand exactly how much they are spending, who in their company is spending it and on what. It is because of this that Grass Roots’ clients are buying better both in terms of the venues they use and their value for money. Our clients also enjoying better and fairer contracts and no longer suffer from crippling cancellation fees because of a strong SMM offering.

“It is worth noting that we, and of course our competitors, work closely with global blue chip companies and we certainly wouldn’t have such strong long-term working relationships if they didn’t appreciate the value we are delivering to them through our focused SMM service.”

McLaughlin reveals that the use of electronic tools in this area is far from uniform.

He says: “Some enquiries are sent through eRFP tools here at Grass Roots but it’s certainly not an exclusive use. More often than not the enquiries need to be followed up by phone regardless of the tool used.

“When it comes to meetings and events technology, we primarily use our own proprietary software. It is designed to fit around the needs of our clients.”

McLaughlin has some sympathy with the argument that the fragmented nature of spend within organisations makes all but impossible to manage through automation.

He says: “The problem doesn’t necessarily lie with the automation but rather the level of compliance within the company. We can accurately track all business that is placed through ourselves but we are reliant on the company getting buy in from their event organisers. This can be anywhere between 30-90% and, while we can improve compliance, we also need to support key stakeholders in the business.”




Conference News resides at the heart of the conference industry examining the issues affecting organisers, venues, destinations and suppliers. Published monthly, Conference News features the latest news, interviews and industry analysis from market influencers.

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