Editor's Blog

Getting by with a little help from our friends

The sun was shining last week as a group of more than 120 agencies and suppliers embarked on the 2018 M&IT Agency Challenge at the renowned Celtic Manor resort in Newport. Off we headed to the green, green grass of Wales, which was actually more of a scorched shade of yellow after the furnace heatwave of the last few months.

As the mercury hit 30 degrees, the Celtic Manor appeared in all its glory like some kind of a mirage in a sun-drenched desert . It was to be our home for the next three nights, as we saw more suppliers and agency participants than ever before embark on this perennially popular annual event.

The class of 2018 bought great enthusiasm and gusto with them and the energy was electric. It’s always an occasion to be celebrated when so many events professionals come together under one roof, reminding us all that we are lucky enough to work in the very best industry.

The first night saw new faces and old friends, laughter, networking and a good old fashioned singsong round the piano, which, I might add, we all thought was spectacularly tuneful at the time. Sadly, some rogue video footage materialised the next morning, demonstrating exactly why we should all stick to the day job and maybe not apply for Britain’s Got Talent this year…

One of the most touching parts of the Agency Challenge was a supplier who found herself at the challenge for the very first time. Nerves were catching up with her: “I can’t eat or sleep,” she whispered to me. She was incredibly nervous and my reassuring words of “everyone is really supportive, they’re all in the same boat,” did nothing to abate her fears.

At the end of day two it was her turn to take to the stage and promote the venue to her assembled industry peers. The stage was set, her name was announced; would she be ready for a room full of eager event organisers?

After explaining how nervous she was to the waiting audience, she went on to deliver an A* presentation, she was whooped and cheered by the group, who supported her in conquering her fears. Looking around that same room and watching the group later that night, that’s what I continued to see – support and camaraderie.

The blue team may have been the overall winners of the Agency Challenge 2018 and kudos to them, but I’m fairly sure that everyone walked away from the event feeling like they had also gained something – and I don’t just mean a case of mild sunburn.

The Agency Challenge is an incredible way of getting sales messages out there, networking and making new contacts, but it’s also a place where contacts stop being mere contacts and become actual friends, a place where ideas and individuals are nurtured, supported and celebrated.

In an industry that focuses so much on the third party, on planning amazing events for others, what a pleasure it was to experience the other side of the story, and witness such a flawless, fun event organised for the very people who spend their entire lives planning around the needs of others.

Event profs, I salute you – and now it’s back to those singing lessons to brush up my vocal chords in time for next year’s networking evening and that all-important piano sing-along.



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