The Race for Space: Nick Scott, Managing Director arrangeMY
It seems that the school gates are now open and that everyone is rushing out into the world of meetings and events once more; and here at arrangeMY we couldn’t be more delighted. We’re pleased both with the relative brevity of this particular hiccup, just one of a number of such we have all had to endure over the last two years, and the timing; falling in a relatively quieter period for our business.
Meanwhile, at arrangeMY, we’re currently riding on the crest of a wave that started last year. Our business is growing beyond our expectations as we move out of the pandemic, and we’ve recently announced our latest takeover of another agency that will grow our footprint, our business, and our ability to do the best job possible for our customers. The temporary jitters we all felt in December and January were thankfully short, and we now look forward again. The Race for Space begins in earnest.
It’s this race that I’d like to use this platform to address. Because, as sure as many event organisers will ‘play safe’ in selecting only peak times for event booking, so will venues adopt this phrase to encourage them to book early or make savings from off-peak booking. Equally, I’ll have a number of commentators and experts asking me why we (organisers) can’t just flatten the bell-curve and book more out of season meetings.
Honestly speaking, maybe we can be a little more flexible in this regard; and maybe that will help our friends within the supply and venue community run their businesses more affectively, offer better pricing options and avoid the frantic ‘Race for Space’ chats where we all try and book the same day, just because of historic data.
However, I do want to put in a word for one party not quite evenly represented; the client. We have to remember that the true organiser of the meeting isn’t always my business, it’s my client. We have to remember that they have specific business reasons and objectives as well as their own risk analysis, stakeholder, and ‘powers that be’ that they need to appease.
So, we play it safe. We know that delegate conversion is higher midweek than Monday and Friday, that being first out of the pandemic is risky and that yes, March does perform better than February. We also know that these margins are small, but no one is contesting that they are not there.
We have to remember that one of the trends sitting directly underneath the disruption caused by the pandemic and subsequent shut down is that businesses are hurting. We need to remind ourselves that meetings and events are an investment, and investments carry risk. So, our job (and responsibility) is to mitigate risk through data and experience; and if that means a Wednesday in March, then that is what we’ll go for.
This isn’t a perfect solution though and venues are right that the race for space isn’t ideal on either side of the buying process. We don’t want our clients to pay more than they should have to, and venues don’t want to turn away business. So, what is the solution?
For us at arrangeMY, we’re advocating for good conversations, across the board. Between ourselves and our venue contacts, between ourselves and our customers, and between our customers and their delegates. We need these to be open and honest, aware of the risks, aware of the implications. If we can get delegates to turn up more on Fridays, then we can loosen the fiscal pressure on this day; if we can have conversations about how to get delegates to turn up earlier after a shut down – using insight and information – than we begin to break down these ingrained perceptions.
It won’t happen quickly. These are trends that started long before the pandemic and have only been solidified during it. But we do need to shake them off and I see it as part of our role to do this, not just for our venue partners, but most importantly for the client.
Until then, let’s see how we all do in this coming race for space. Good luck to everyone, but especially those that go early, we hope your bravery impacts positively on your event as well as your wallet. And if it does, share it with the industry, and others will do likewise. Maybe then we can slow down other space races.