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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.
Des Mclaughlin, MD of Grass Roots HBI
What do hotel sales people actually do?
This question has been at the back of my mind for some time now. Grass Roots HBI handles over $350m spend for our clients annually, but rarely do I or my colleagues come across a sales person who makes a material difference to our view of a property and the way we present it to our clients. Yet most hotels have one and they are generally quite well paid, so what are they doing?
Nothing frustrates me more than 'directors of sales' pitching up to the office with a box of doughnuts and feeling they have carte blanche to wander over and talk to anyone. Then there’s their annoying habit of hanging around and stopping people with real jobs from working. On my recent visit to our New York office, I witnessed the Krispy Kreme attack in action on more than one occasion. It reinforced my view that some sales people over the pond have taken a different slant on what it means to try and grow the market. But let’s not try and pretend the strategy is confined to North America. My current misery was compounded not so long ago by a discussion on ‘favourite goodies’ from hotel reps within our UK trade association Linkedin Group. Is that really the hot topic of the moment?
As the weeks pass following the sales call, and the sugary remnants have finally disappeared from our desks, there is still no sign of any follow up email with confirmation of actions or subsequent thoughts and observations that might deepen the relationship. No sign that the visit has changed anything for the better.
Whose fault is this? Ultimately I blame the hotels who invest next to no money in training and rarely bother to recruit proper sales professionals. Lest I be accused of harshness born from ignorance, it’s worth pointing out that I began working life as hotel sales representative myself. Yes we were called reps then and titles such as vice president were nowhere to be heard. Naturally I was a beacon of professionalism at all times. The iced bun was much less messy than the doughnut.
Mark Dodds of Roythornes LLP
It’s all about the brand
What a great article about meeting design by Eric de Groot and Mike van de Vijver in the April issue.
From the initial communications to how you say goodbye and follow up, your event (whatever size) should live and breathe your brand.
For people new to your organisation and potential clients it’s a chance to set your stall out, whilst for your customers it’s an opportunity to reinforce their decision to work with you and indeed give them a bit of pride that they do so.
There are many examples of where organisations have tried to move out of their ‘box’ only to fail dismally and look like complete numpties. So if you’re not ‘hip’, don’t get your chairman street dancing onto the stage, and if you’re a kids' brand a Government minister may not be your best choice of guest speaker.
You never have a blank piece of paper as your clients and targets have expectations of your brand, and whilst there is nothing wrong in introducing new elements, your whole approach to events should reinforce and build this. It is after all who you are and what you do.
Ken Clayton of RefTech
Re. News Story: Delegate spend worth £40bn to UK, impact study shows
This is excellent and long overdue. So far as I know there hasn't ever been any robust research to show how much the industry is worth so congratulations to all concerned for undertaking this research. That said, one aspect of the figures reported is a puzzle: some years ago it was reckoned that just over half of conferences were corporate events. Later, association meetings grew in importance and were reckoned to represent more than half of all conferences but the figures reported here show that only 6.3 per cent of meetings were association events. This is so far from the accepted view that I'd really like to see more detail on the methodology. If the figure is accurate, then many people in the meetings industry might have to adjust their marketing strategies.