The benefits to event organisers of using larger, more established service providers are clear: Lower prices, a well-known and reliable name and a one-stop shop for services. But are we shooting ourselves in the foot by ignoring the many smaller independent companies competing for patronage?
As in all industries, intense competition between event service providers means smaller suppliers must be constantly at the cutting-edge of innovation just to survive. As a result, most of the pioneering developments are brought by them. However, if these smaller players are squeezed out of the market by larger companies offering lower prices or more economical packages with which they are unable to compete, the inventive solutions brought by small companies will cease to enter the arena, stifling innovation and damaging the industry.
If this scenario occurs, we will be stuck with a stagnant level of service from a smaller number of suppliers year-on-year, and as well as the variety we now enjoy, those competitive prices we presently take for granted will quickly disappear as the big boys gain a choke hold on the market – a ‘Tesco-isation’ of the event industry, if you like.
We may currently be getting a better overall deal from larger suppliers in terms of price or all-in-one packages, where certain parts of the product mix are thrown in for free, but quality can often be sacrificed compared to the smaller providers that tend to specialise in particular products.
For example, Showplans aims to actually increase the income of organisers by incorporating dynamic sponsorship and revenue-generation models into their products or providing high-quality floorplans that increase sellable space significantly compared to those provided by larger, one-stop-shop suppliers who throw in a quickly knocked together version as a free add-on to their more lucrative core services. Additionally, the cost of spending a little extra will be more than reciprocated thanks to the added long-term value brought in by a higher quality offering and more dedicated and individualised customer service a small outfit can provide.
This results in an improvement in the relationship with clients and subsequent retention rates. Things may seem rosy now, but perhaps in the longer term, organisers will see the detrimental effects of allowing larger suppliers to call the shots.
– Adam Jones is MD of Showplans.