Events Procurement: The professionals are the answer, but transparency is key

“The events and conference industry has grown in leaps and bounds in South Africa over the past few years. In light of this, organisations will, at some point, need the services of an Events or Conferencing Company who can assist with services ranging from conceptualisation, design, and marketing to operations,” Lou-Marie Radyn, Managing Director of Red Shack Events, told SmartProcurement.

As an organisation, you might have a creative team on board, or even a marketing team, but from an operational point of view, your organisation will need the assistance of an events company. This is especially true in light of the fact that the successful handling and coordination of operational requirements depends on the success of any event.

Looking at the global economy, many organisations are going the in-house route, to save on the expenses or even cutting back completely. Going the in-house route is an option, but unfortunately certain services will need to be outsourced. These services can range from attendee, communication, participant, site and technical management.

“Referring to a book I read over ten years ago, it was stated that big corporate organisations in the US were starting to streamline the amount of permanent employees by doing away with certain departments, e.g. recruitment. The reason for this line of thinking was that when an organisation had a position vacant they would get a recruitment company to appoint the best candidate for the position. This was done instead of having permanent recruitment staff where the company would have to pay the employee a salary for twelve months of the year, whether the service was available on a month-to-month basis or not. It therefore does not make financial sense to employ someone permanent, when they are not functional 100% of the time. Looking at events, organisations might only require the services once a month or once a year. It all depends on their needs,” Radyn continued.

Some organisations might employ a marketing or public relations officer, who is required to double up on different functions within the organisation if an event needs to be planned and executed. This could work for small in-house events but when you take your brand out of the office to the public domain the level of professionalism should be of the highest standard. To accomplish this you need professionals who can add value and enhance your corporate image and brand to the level that you would like to see it in the market place. This can only be accomplished by using professional people, with a great track record and the required knowledge.

Through experience it has been noticed that many organisations especially do not understand the logistics side of events. Some might think ‘how difficult can it be’ whilst others might argue ‘let the professionals deal with it’. The questions you should be asking yourself is ‘what will the cost implications be and should we commission an events company’?

When commissioning an events company, simple rules for contracting should be followed, such as:

  • Get references and investigate the organisation’s policy on service delivery, terms and conditions, and transparency.
  • Investigate what commission percentages the organisation would add to, or receive from, other subcontracting services, e.g. accommodation, venue rental, décor, technical support, etc.

From a procurement point of view, value for money, service delivery, as well as savings are key. The commissioned events company should provide you with original quotes obtained from their sub-contractors and add on the negotiated commission percentage as agreed on by both parties. This will largely depend on the budget of the event.

“Over the past couple of years I have dealt with many organisations where they manage only some aspects of the event, which, in turn, leads to many challenges due to a lack of continuity. Some examples include: The venue is not suitable, the gifts does not tie in with the theme set, the database is outdated, double booking of entertainment equipment, insufficient power supply, weather conditions (outdoor events), etc. A clear brief thus needs to be compiled with regards to the objectives of the event. Every single aspect needs to be addressed in detail. Organisations do not always think of all the behind-the-scenes activities that goes into creating, planning and executing an event. Not being aware of all the activities can lead to unforeseen expenses,” Radyn concluded.

From a safety and security point of view, organisations need to look at various aspects. These can range from electrical compliancy, structural compliancy and public liability. Generally, organisations are not aware of certain requirements and certificates that need to be issued, prior to an event taking place. Planning and execution is thus one of the most fundamental components of planning any event, whether a conference, cocktail, product activation, year end function or awards gala dinner. Consequently it is crucial to ensure that objectives are met at all times, from a company brand point of view and, most importantly, from a financial point of view.

Article submitted by Lou-Marie Radyn, Managing Director of Red Shack Events.

Lou-Marie Radyn can be contacted at the details below:
Cell: +27 82 804 7555

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