Event organisers should start planning for a shortage of freelance staff in 2012 due to the Olympic Games in London, Paul Hussey at BSI Meetings and Events Services has warned.
Hussey, director of business development - meetings and events at the London-based agency, has already encountered difficulty securing regular freelancers for next summer because they have been signed up to work on events by LOCOG.
He said: “We use freelancers from a fairly regular pool and have already found that two have been booked up to work on Olympic events. It’s started happening further out than I expected, so I think organisers need to start deciding what to do sooner than normal. Although it’s difficult with budgets, next year is one for pre-planning. I think short term events will be the ones to suffer.”
Although the Olympics take place in the summer, which is traditionally a quiet time for corporate events, Hussey says it will mean a lack of qualified freelancers to work on the pre-planning for autumn events. “Likewise, those freelancers will be planning pre-Olympics and therefore not available then either,” he said.
At peak times, freelancers make up 20 to 25 per cent of BSI Meetings and Events' staff. Hussey added that although the freelance pool is quite a large one, most agencies have temporary staff they use regularly.
“It’s going to create some challenges in the industry,” he said. “There are quite a few freelancers out there but we try to work with people who we know and trust and try to do repeats for our clients. However, it might lead to a bit of a refresh and opportunities for people who want to get into the market but don’t have the contacts.”
Hussey advises those pursuing a career in events to join a recruitment agency and check websites of industry organisations such as Eventia. “They ought to identify the agencies it looks like their skills align to and get in touch,” he said.