NOTE: It was my honor to be inducted as President of the ISES NY Metro Chapter at our Big Apple Awards on June 29th in NYC, on a night when we honored 4 Hall of Legends (Marcy Blum, Walter Rauscher, Debra Roth, and Francis Tedesco), and handed out 20 event awards. I’ve been asked to publish my speech that night, as I outlined several trends coming together right now that are defining the event industry.
Good evening. This is a unique time in the special events industry, driven by the confluence of several key trends.
The first trend is the increased competition for jobs in our field, as a result of a maturing industry. 20 years ago, when I told people what I did, they would look at me and say, “Yeah? You can make a living planning events?” Over the years we’ve fought for the need to have events professionally managed. We now have dozens of colleges offering degrees in event management, and event planners are featured in movies and tv shows.
This broad acceptance has attracted tens of thousands of new people to our field, which is wonderful. However, it also puts pressure on those within the field to increase their education and grow their skill set in order to advance their careers, and set them apart from this influx.
The 2nd trend is the ability of social media to change the cost dynamics of events. Traditionally, events were a high-touch, high-cost marketing vehicle. Very impactful, but very expensive on a per person basis. Now, however, social media enables organizations to leverage that same event spend to a dramatically broader audience. The same $100,000 spent on a 500 person event, now has the potential to reach 500,000 people via twitter, blogging, facebook and youtube. This is made even more meaningful by the fact that traditional marketing platforms are being tuned out. With DVR’s, satellite radio and ipods, typical advertising commercials do not have the sway they used to.
Which brings me to the third trend: the fact that event planners and agencies are now often the lead player in a marketing campaign. Traditionally the ad agency would lead, followed by the pr firm, followed by the event firm. Now, the event itself is often the lead element, and pr people are brought in to spin it. Event professionals now have greater opportunities to drive overall strategy than ever before.
With events now taking the spotlight comes greater scrutiny from higher up the food chain. The 4th and final trend is the need to demonstrate the value of our events, the ROI. We need to start talking more about what our events accomplished than what they looked like.
In short, it is a very exciting time in the events industry. At a time when many industries are dying, ours is moving center stage. But we need to up our game. We cannot remain static, or others will eat our lunch. Whether it’s a more aggressive newcomer to the industry who competes for a job, or an advertising agency that launches an in-house event services capacity, we are in the big leagues now, and all this increased opportunity comes with increased competition.
ISES NY Metro stands ready to help you meet these challenges. With more diverse educational programs than ever before, we will continue to develop unique and targeted program content to meet the changing needs of our industry. We have, and will continue to, partner with numerous other associations and organizations to make our events broader and more vibrant.
In today’s environment, it’s also critical to have the broadest possible network of contacts, and ISES is an outstanding vehicle for this. We will go out of our way to find out what our members are looking for, who they want to meet, and what kind of career or business guidance they seek, and we will work very hard to deliver on that.
Our theme is going to be “ISES: we take care of our own.” If we can aggressively drive that culture, and build a community where we all help each other achieve our individual and collective goals, the value of an ISES membership will become self-evident, and our ranks will grow virally.
ISES can do many things for our members. The one thing we cannot do is read minds. You need to tell us what you do, what your goals are, and how you think our chapter can better serve those goals. (It’s like the gym: just paying for your membership won’t get you into shape. You need to go there and participate.) We want you to join us, and help chart our chapter’s course for the betterment of our industry. If you do that, I promise we will be there to help you succeed in this unique and exciting time in the special events industry.