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Is the event booking model fit for purpose in the Covid-19 recovery?

From Monday 17 May events are back. But will the events booking model as we know it return?

It’s just one of the great uncertainties that faces the business event sector. Monday 17 May marks the next milestone in the recovery of the business events industry, with indoor events of up to 1,000 attendees or 50 per cent capacity resuming – and that is undoubtedly a cause for celebration. The gradual and planned easing of restrictions, combined with the successful vaccine roll out is a huge driver of confidence among meeting and event planners.

However, confidence is one thing; cashflow is quite another. And if you’re an agency, cashflow is potentially a real problem right now.

I spoke to one prominent name in the sector recently who said that if they ran an agency, they wouldn’t bother unshuttering their business before they absolutely had to. Because with the outgoings it takes to win business, combined with the time it takes to get paid for your services, it simply doesn’t make financial sense. Better to keep staff on furlough while you can.

A cynical view, maybe, but it does illustrate the issue rather well. So, is a change in the model on the cards? Michael Begley, CEO of venuedirectory.com, thinks it ought to be. He is urging meeting and event planners to support their agency colleagues by sharing the wealth earlier in the process.

“The business event booking model means that agencies are often the last to receive a fee from a booking, despite being the first in line to receive the initial enquiry”, he says. “This adds to the strain on an already fragile agency community with many professionals currently furloughed or redundant.

“I’m calling on venue event and meeting planners to support their agency colleagues by sharing revenue received prior to the event with all relevant parties. With most venues offering very flexible cancellation or rescheduling terms, they can plan ahead with confidence.

“Agencies are a vital part of the wider business events ecosystem and our industry needs to join forces and work closely together – supporting each other – to ensure a smooth path to recovery and a bright future.”

So, should the sector change the way it shares revenue with agencies in the Covid-19 recovery? I want to hear from you on this, share your comments with me on pharvey@ntmllc.com

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