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Leaders must tackle perception issues for industry to grow, finds panel

QHotels’ Event Profs Panel says industry leaders must do more to promote the sector

Pictured: Some of the members of QHotels' Event Profs Panel

Event industry leaders need to tackle the perception issues surrounding events and do more to promote the industry, according to the early career event professionals on QHotels’ Event Profs Panel.

Members of the panel – made up of events professionals with less than five years’ experience – are concerned about the impact on future talent, as well as training and career progression. They would also like to see more invested into training and developing junior members of staff and increased visibility within schools of event management as a serious career option.  

The roundtable discussions, held at QHotels’ The Stratford in Warwickshire, were attended by agency and corporate events professionals from PwC, Absolute Corporate Events, First Choice Conference & Events, Donaldson Davis, Compleat Conference Company, ArrangeMY, Brief2Event, Hilti GB, Gorkana and Porterhouse Medical.

Kathleen Edwards, QHotels’ regional sales director, who led the discussions, said: “The first roundtable event proved to be a huge success, not only as a networking opportunity for panel members but as a forum for sharing valuable opinions and ideas.   

“Over time we will use the insights to improve own service, facilities, apprenticeship and recruitment programmes to reflect what’s important to this generation and by sharing the panel’s views, we hope to help shape the future of events and start to address concerns by encouraging discussion and debate across the industry.” 

Panel member Bethany Matthewson, venues team manager at Absolute Corporate Events, said: “I’m heading up a new, young team so it’s important for me to be involved to discuss how we want to shape the industry.” 

The key findings were as follows:
Perception issues proved to be the biggest concern among panel members, who were in agreement that the industry suffers an image problem, which can act as a barrier to recruiting the best people and sometimes result in talented and experienced professionals leaving the industry.

The panel members believe a career in events is perceived as being as easy and something anyone can do. It’s also seen as a profession for young people and predominantly for women. As a result event professionals feel they are taken less seriously than others.

The majority of panel members ‘fell into’ events – only three out of 10 panel members studied an event-related course at university - and all agreed that on-the-job experience was more valuable than academic learning. 

The panel agreed that higher education courses needed to be more relevant and that employers must invest more heavily in practical experience, especially for younger members of staff.

Panel members also believe more needs to be done by senior industry professionals to pass on knowledge and promote the industry as a skilled profession. 

Both agency and corporate professionals believe a career in events is not visible enough in schools and therefore isn’t a serious career option from an early age, resulting in a lack of understanding about what a career in events could look like.  

Findings and discussions from the events can be found in the Event Profs Panel Report, available on QHotels’ website

  • Gerard Ryan of Association for Events Management Education 26/10/2016

    It is reassuring to see an events organisation addressing these issues head on. Your article was both interesting and informative and hope the views put forward here will add to the debate.
    The article does make some useful observations about the need to raise awareness of events as a careers option into schools and that it is not easy work or simply common sense. These issues are being addressed more regularly as events management courses develop. Some universities are to offer a resource to invest in event specific outreach work with local schools. So this is happening more often at the moment.
    From an academic and graduate perspective, it is quite frustrating to still hear the comment experience is more valuable than education. Depending on the employee’s stage in their careers and their particular roles, they have not used all they have learned in university. The best working environments will always test your theory as well as your practical skills. There is some value in practice over theory as well as the need for both - and events management courses take this into account. The bigger problem is correctly assessing the practical/ non-tangible work. Written/tangible evidence remains a requirement and the theory that is learnt is key to good business management.
    To improve the visibility of events as a career, AEME hope to make sure the new website will offer more information about events as a career option and its regular content gets to as many events organisations as possible.
    However, in order to get a much more balanced view before debates such as these come to press, it would be of much greater value and make the key points far more accurate if at least one events academic was involved somewhere in the discussion. AEME is more than prepared to offer assistance on this if required. Of course, if you or anyone else wishes to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to get in touch. @AEME_EventsEd

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