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Supplying the change

Charlotte Gentry, CEO of Pure Events and newly-appointed EVCOM chair, says it’s time the way we meet suppliers is revised 

Does the format of speed dating industry suppliers at forums work for you, or would you rather engage in more content?

I was recently at a summit and was fortunate enough to fly in for one night to speak on a panel discussion about the pros and cons of working with events agencies, and then the following day again I was on a panel discussing how to produce the best working environment as an agency. I was therefore spared the ordeal of meeting endless suppliers in between the main plenary sessions.

The content at the event was very good, and for me the highlight was listening to Suzie Imber, the phenomenal astronaut, who told us that space was to become the next incentive destination and that it was between Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to get us there… for the bargain price of about £250K.

However, I did have many conversations over the course of the 24 hours with fellow agency leaders who felt that perhaps the format of these events is now out of date. People don’t want to be forced to meet endless suppliers that they are likely never to use in the future but would rather network, share ideas, join workshops and engage in another way.  

It is understood that it is the suppliers who pay to exhibit at these events that fund them to exist, however, surely, we could alter the model to adapt to our changing world? Whether you are an agent or a corporate, do you feel these supplier meetings are beneficial? What would you prefer to experience? 

Also, I think it’s fair to say that perhaps these events are a great forum for event deliverers in agencies and corporate teams, and perhaps our industry associations should continue to produce them for this demographic. These people are still learning, building knowledge and are actually delivering on the ground.  

However, when you have a mixture of agency owners, leaders and mid-tier deliverers, everyone wants something different and the feedback I have had recently when talking to people at these forums is that they are unlikely to ever use or see these suppliers again, so it feels like a waste of time.  

On the flip side, from the supplier perspective it’s unlikely they will really benefit from these meetings, or they might get one enquiry from the entire event, so is it worth the money? 

Is it not better to maximise return and time and ensure that the right people are attending the right events so that everyone benefits?  

I’d be interested to know; how could we reshape these events to move with the times? Any ideas welcome as I’d love to be a part of this evolving process.