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Events customers bear cost rises

Peter Heath, managing director, Venue Performance, has yet to see an impact from cost inflation on demand in the sector.

“At the moment the sector is facing a very challenging time. Everything is flying at everybody all at the same time.

“You have the issues in the supply chain: the cost of food, the availability of food and the same can be said for people. You have what will be the end of the pent-up demand, that will probably come at the end of the year when venues stop allowing people to roll over delayed events.

“And we have this new ugly thing on the horizon with energy prices. At the moment it doesn’t appear to be hitting the events sector. I don't think events are going to be that affected in terms of bills, but there might be a long tail in terms of a fall in demand from companies planning internal events who find they just don’t have the money to put any on. As we know, when there’s a tough economy the first things to go are marketing, PR and events, because they are perceived to be a ‘nice to have’.

“People know that it’s a good thing, meeting face to face. Seeing your customers, your colleagues, your partners, your stakeholders, shaking hands or bumping elbows, how can that not be a good fit? But it's intangible, it’s hard to put a value on unless you can come back with deals signed.

“There is still an appetite for bookings, but they are slowing. The frenzy is abating. And things will calm down. At the moment the numbers are way above what they should be compared to before the pandemic.

“We are seeing prices rise, but we are also still seeing people paying them, because we are still in a period of huge demand. The danger is that everybody is getting used to this period of gorging, but it's not sustainable. Everybody needs to calm down a bit.

“We also need to get used to having less staff, which probably means that there is a need to invest a bit more in tech.

“If you're very smart, you will do some process investigation and realise that actually a lot of your staff were being paid to do lots if very dull tasks that computers should be doing - and would do better.

“One of these would be instant book, for example. So the small, simple meetings for 10 people should be 'click, credit card, click book, turn up, job done’. You don't have to phone people up, send emails, get requests for proposals, you could just do it through tech.

“A bit of investment will mean that you are then less reliant on manual tasks and processes, less reliant on junior people that cost time and money. Tech should be a saviour for the industry. Should."


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