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Planners turning away business as lead times reduce to 24 hours

Industry professionals discuss how to manage short lead times in forum hosted by Switzerland Convention Bureau

Pictured: Dale Parmenter (drp Group), Michelle Critchley (White & Case), Livio Goetz (Switzerland Convention Bureau) and chair Richard Waddington (Event Marketing Assocation) led the panel on Tuesday evening

'Unrealistic' lead times are forcing event agencies and convention bureaux to turn down business, a forum of event professionals has heard.

Representatives from event agencies, corporates and convention bureaux told #EventPlannersTalk they are receiving Requests for Proposals with deadlines as tight as 24 hours, forcing many to turn away business.

The forum, which took place at the Switzerland Tourism offices in Covent Garden on Tuesday evening, focused on the evolving relationship between buyers and convention bureaux.

Panelist Dale Parmenter, CEO of drp Group, said: "Our worst case scenario was 24 hours to put together a whole conference for a couple of hundred people  - and we turned it down. We said we can't do it, we wouldn't be able to do a good job and we'd be forced to estimate prices.

"We've turned more down on these unrealistic turn-arounds."

Moderator Richard Waddington, chair of Event Marketing Association, added: "Corporates are not signing off on the brief until later. They're holding back while starting the planning or research. They want (to hold off booking) until as late as possible, because of the change of market. I've seen examples where you're working on something and in reality you're working at your own risk."

Panelist Livio Goetz, UK & Ireland manager for Switzerland Convention Bureau, said convention bureaux were often called in at the last minute.

"What we often experience is when the client is working with an agency and something goes wrong, they'll approach us as a last resort," he said.

"Two weeks ago we had this case and the client wanted something (put together) in less than 24 hours because something went wrong with the catering. Very often people come to us in the very last instance and we will always try and find a solution."

Michelle Critchley, in-house events manager for law firm White & Case, said: "It's not what it used to be compared to a couple of years ago when we had one year to plan a conference for 200 people."

One audience member said she was given nine months for an incentive group of 15,000, adding; "Nine months is not long!"

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