One of the main issues that producers mention time and time again is the ever decreasing planning cycle. Lead times are becoming increasingly shorter while expectations of the outcome of the event are growing. The kind of pressure this puts on event producers of today is enough to make this the number one concern in their role.
Why is this happening?
As we mentioned in an earlier blog: ‘Events Disrupted’, we talked about the transformation the event industry has undertaken in recent years. This is in part due to the implementation of new technology which has enabled events to become far more experiential, engaging attendees in a way that was simply not possible before (think back to the era of PowerPoint presentations). The result is that delegates’ expectations are now higher than ever and are demanding a higher volume of engaging events
There are also number of event planning technologies designed to make event management more efficient. Because of this, clients are beginning to demand that things happen at a far quicker pace than they have done in the past.
Ironically, these same technologies can have the adverse effect to what they were designed to do. Rather than making a producers’ role more efficient, the time spent getting to grips with them can mean they are more trouble than they’re worth. Technologies such as speaker management, mobile applications, attendee networking, member management, live streaming etc are a critical component to organising and running events. However, the speed at which these technologies evolve and the diversity amongst devices adds unnecessary complexity. Simply making a decision on which of the many event technologies to adopt can take up months of precious lead time. Thorough research needs to be done, as well as test driving the software and negotiating suppliers.
What are the implications?
Aside from shortening lead times, there also appears to be a shift in what producers care most about in their role. Rather than producing innovative events, producers are caring more and more about money. This isn’t good for the evolution of the industry if producers are more motivated by generating revenue for themselves rather than producing an event that’s ground-breaking.
As producers are faced with shorter lead times and higher expectations, putting on an event to match demand becomes further and further out of reach. Clients are asking for and expecting customised solutions, but often without providing adequate lead time to allow their requests to be properly fulfilled. If producers feel that they are trying to achieve the impossible, it may also turn them to focus more on revenue than the quality of the event. This would create a cycle of events being put on that become worse and worse – leading to disrespect for the industry.
On the flip side, short lead times can, on occasion have small advantages. For example, producers may have the opportunity to secure large discounts with venues that have last minute availability, although this could be risky. This tactic may also not outweigh lower ticket sales that are often associated with short lead times. Recommended marketing times and notice period for attendees are simply not long enough to achieve maximum attendance at and event with a short lead time.
Short lead times doesn’t just put pressure on the event producer role. Due to the reduced flexibility, pressure is put on the availability of keynote speakers and other important participants of the event.
Really, the best thing for the industry is the balance between quality events, revenue and the ability to put on ground-breaking innovative events. The pressures on the role of a producer are not allowing them this balance at the moment.
How are we combating the issue?
From a technology point of view, some producers may choose to free up lead time by using off the shelf software. Although this allows you to get started straight away, the solutions may not sufficiently meet requirements.
It seems that short lead times and short term business in general has become a new industry norm. Producers are fully aware of this trend and release that short lead times translate as less time to book, plan and negotiate. Simply being aware of this trend is a big step for producers being able to handle the challenges presented to them. The bottom line is that in this role, it’s important to accept up front that due to this trend they need to be willing to compromise.