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Clients still cautious post-Brexit, EventHuddle hears

Panel members say budgets can be managed on trimming elements like speaker and table setting spend

Pictured: EventHuddle panel Michelle Fanus (Dynamyk Events), Ingrid Van Der Weide (International Confex), chair Kevin Jackson (Experience is the Marketing), Joanna Kafouris (events consultant) and Gareth Dimelow (LiftD)

Speakers, photographer and table setting budgets have been named as frontline elements that can be reduced as event professionals report client spend is still down following Brexit.

Choosing a locally-based industry professional over a celebrity, or waiving table settings over the free standard set-up offered by some venues, were some of the suggestions made by a panel of event professionals at yesterday's EventHuddle on managing event budgets.

Panelists and audience members reported that budgets had been cut and lead-times reduced since Brexit, with many clients still cautious about event spend.

On managing budgets, panel member Michelle Fanus, of Dynamyk Events, said: "It's really about thinking practically and using common sense. It’s about thinking what do we absolutely need; what are the must haves and can we do without it.

"Using a cheaper speaker is one way; someone local to the event as opposed to flying someone in. We did an event recently where we found it wasn’t very valuable to have a photographer. The photos from Liverpool looked the same as the photos from London. What we found was getting a valuable promotional video, and getting interviews from attendees (was more beneficial). So we took out the photographer and had a videographer instead."

Fanus was joined by chairperson Kevin Jackson, of Experience is the Marketing, and fellow panel members Gareth Dimelow (LiftD), Ingrid Van Der Weide (International Confex) and Joanna Kafouris, a marketing, communications and event consultant at the monthly session at London's 1 Wimpole Street.

Kafouris said smaller elements of events could be trimmed without a noticeable impact. She suggested: "Maybe don't get a colour tablecloth; maybe get the white linen that the venue will give for free. Then give some colour with table settings. Little things like that can cut corners without reducing the offering of your event."

Dimelow said event professionals should be urging clients to look at the "bigger picture" and not focus on saving money. He said sometimes spending money on a headline act, naming hiring U2, paid dividends in terms of engagement and "brand love".

The audience at EventHuddle was polled as to whether an effect from Brexit had been felt, with about 10 per cent saying they had felt a noticeable impact.

Van Der Weide said she had noticed people were "more fearful" about where and how to spend budgets since Brexit. She said: "There’ll always be events happening abroad and events coming into the UK. The exchange rate will have a big impact so it’s about how can you deliver the same experience but possibly on a reduced budget, so people are going to have to be a bit cleverer about working with reduced (budgets)… they might need to scale back and have only the must-haves instead of nice-to-haves."

Fanus said she had also seen an impact, saying: "There has been drastic change in budgets being cut, travel bans, particularly with pharmaceuticals, and also working with clients; before, companies may have wanted to throw budget at a new event or take new risk, there is a change happening where people are being a lot more cautious in exploring new opportunities."

One audience member said: "We work across a broad spectrum of events and we have seen some stuff go away but largely we haven't seen a big impact. I wonder whether we’ll start to feel it in the first quarter of next year after Christmas. But we’ve certainly seen some events go away as a result of it."

JJ Jackson, from Performing Artistes, said lead times had noticeably reduced after Brexit. He said: "June and July was awful, and August was a record August. Looking next year we're down a bit but not drastically. We're now booking for February and March, but we've still got clients coming in for January which is slightly unusual."

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