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Mark Dodds of Roythornes LLP
Don't rest on your laurels, London
If I were a London hotel conference organiser I would be a little concerned after reading the May issue of M&IT.
The figures on event prices across Europe ('Super savings on the continent') would make depressing reading as surely any event organiser worth his or her budget would have their work cut out justifying spending 50-100 per cent more on an event simply to host it in London?
We then had Ben Moore’s useful feature on England’s Heartland which showed just how quickly the regions are catching up in terms of the venues they offer, accessibility and of course pricing.
Are London venues resting on their laurels? We all remember the trebling of prices during the Olympics which turned many hotels into empty shells for two weeks. The City hosts some spectacular venues and options but the inevitable pressures on event teams to manage their budgets may mean a re-think on pricing and/or service is required.
If they don’t take this threat seriously the capital could wake up and find itself priced out of the market which would be a shame for such a fine city with so much to offer.
Frank Macaluso of H & A Motivation
Re. news story: 'Hotel sales staff must raise their game or get left behind', says McLaughlin
Completely agree with Mr Roots. Airline sales reps went to the wall years ago. Hotels still have them but long ago I ceased to understand why. First of all they are in love with the email and hotels employ sales people who have a phobia for personal and telephone contact. Personal relationships are a thing of the past. Since most cities have four top rate hotels that are as good as each other we used to pick the chain with whom we had the best relationship in their UK office. Now, none of the hotels bother to keep up and couldn't care less, but of course will bluster otherwise - but I have countless examples of it. It won't be long before hotel sales reps go the way of the airlines. There is a point to them but they all make themselves redundant through their anonymity. Frank Macaluso - H & A Motivation
Mrs Lisa Winterton of Distinctly Different Days
Mrs Wendy Greenhalgh of One Great George Street
Mr Roger Calvert of RYC Associates
John Fisher of Fisher Moy International (FMI)
Over-marketing and over here...again
You can tell the IMEX silly season is here again. A colleague reports he has received 278 emails since the appointment 'opportunities' facility opened a few days ago. Fortunately they have all gone automatically into an 'IMEX folder' with the result that they will remain unopened until the exhibition is well and truly over. Another great marketing, own-foot shooting triumph for the hard-pressed, ROI-obsessed exhibitors.
Mark Dodds of Roythornes LLP
If you’re a specialist, specialise
What a great success story interview with Myfanwy Quine of Mvision Events in M&IT April edition. Her clear focus on what matters to clients and flexible business model is something we can all learn from.
One of the most telling parts of the feature was towards the end where Myfanwy talks about the sectors she is targeting for growth – sectors where she already has demonstrable skills and knowledge. How many of us has actually sat down and looked at the sectors we service and which we believe are growth areas?
All too often firms panic and look to grow their whole portfolio rather than focus on either what they are good at, or where the real growth is. It may surprise some that as a law firm we have done the same and now have a clear strategy focusing on our key competencies and client sectors. This provides us with focus and clarity and makes sure our limited resources are being spent in the right direction.
Look at it from your clients’ point of view. Would you rather be called by someone who is a big name in the events industry who ‘is offering some good deals at the moment’, or someone who has already run events in your sector, knows your target clients as well as you do and comes forward with intelligent comment and advice about how they can help you to grow your business?
Paul Miller of Spectra
Can we afford to be this selective?
Re Editor's blog 'A time for ethics?'
I cannot see how this would work on a broad basis. The industry food chain (as we call it) would make this impossible and I cannot see SPECTRA saying to one of our best incentive house customers that we don’t agree with their corporate client’s business ethics so you are just going to have to find yourself another DMC!
In the case of Shell (since that’s one of the companies mentioned) who would decide and how much reading would we have to do on a company’s ethical stance before deciding whether we were going to present a quote? Should we all decline to do business with the tobacco or liquor industries because they’re bad for us? On the other hand, should an incentive agency’s decision on whether a destination is ethical play a part in their decision-making process (or does it contravene their client’s aims and values - although this might be an easier decision)? Should countries like Thailand or the Philippines (and countless other countries) fall off the list of potential destinations because of their poor human rights records? Surely the people in these countries desperately need the support of external investment in their tourism industry? CSR in programmes is a good way forward and can help a lot of destinations particularly those where the less fortunate people themselves can benefit from the time or activities on a corporate incentive.
Realistically, I’m not sure how feasible this proposal is: my goodness, it’s hard enough to get a budget or even a name of the end user client for the DMC in 2013, turn around a creative quote within 24 hours, create an amazing programme for a limited budget, and now we have to spend time on the internet finding out a company’s ethical values? There are a lot of mouths to feed in our industry and I feel we will wait a very long time before any of us can afford to be this selective, but I guess being at the end of the supply chain, this would predominately need to be driven by the agencies. However, DMCs would definitely have the choice if they are contacted directly by the end user corporate. Good luck with this one and no doubt a debate that will roll on for some while.
Calum McCallum of Merklands Events & PR
Scottish voice is much needed
Re Editor's blog 'Scotland in SEFA hands?'
The Scottish Events & Festivals Association is much needed to represent the industry in Scotland but also in Whitehall. The UK events sector is now being widely considered as an important player within the economy. And Scotland is a large contributor to that.
Irrespective of the Independence question, the size and scale of the sector in Scotland alone now makes it an integral contributor to the Scottish and UK economy whether it be in tourism, business-related events to creativity, production and most importantly jobs. The Scottish sector cannot be ignored any longer.
I have long argued that SEFA isn't competing with other trade bodies in the lobbying sphere in Scotland. Devolution has brought many changes to the legal and policy framework of the country never mind how it projects itself. A voice is not just needed in Whitehall but also in Holyrood!
With the high profile events taking place in Scotland next year, never mind what happens in 2013, now is the time to build and shape a sector for the future. The industry in Scotland is professional, more than capable and recognises best practice and training are essential to it growing and delivering the highest service possible.
With Scotland on the world stage, especially in 2014, this is an opportunity not be missed in ensuring that the sector can deliver to the highest standard and be recognised as industry for wealth and job creation. For that to happen SEFA is long overdue and much needed.
SEFA needs to be praised and encouraged and not treated with cynicism or just plan scepticism. It wasn't government initiative or think tanks that created the body. The industry in Scotland, took its own initiative, realised the opportunities, has invested in it and it has grown from that. In other words, the industry created it for the industry.