The Events Industry - A Viable Career Choice?
Events and Hospitality: Still a massive industry
Recession or not, the events industry remains a huge business. Research released in March  by the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation showed that more than 1.3 million meetings took place in the UK in 2011, attended by 116.1 million people at more than 10,000 venues across the UK. These events accounted for a spend of just under £40 billion and occupied the equivalent of more than 6,000 football pitches.
Over half of the attendees came to consumer shows and exhibitions, nearly 40% attended conferences.
Information from the coal face
The research, the first findings from the UK Economic Impact Study (UKEIS) commissioned by the events industry, are the first such detailed figures about the UK meetings and events industry and they clearly show, according to the MPI, that “ours is a growing industry”. Further research to be released later this year will demonstrate “the critical role the meetings industry plays in the UK economy”.
There was similar optimism from trade association Eventia. Its 2012 UK Events Market Trends Survey (UKEMTS) research (the most recent available) analysed findings from suppliers and venues, as opposed to event organisers. It found greater optimism among venue managers, with 89 per cent expecting business in 2012 to be better than 2011. On the back of this, one in five venues were planning capital investment projects worth upwards of £100,000 in 2012.
The research suggested that the average attendance at events in 2011 was 80 people, a slight increase from 76 the previous year. Although the number of events held at each of the venues questioned (notably conference and training centres, university venues and hotels) was steady at 369, there was growth in the proportion of events hosted by companies – and a big fall in the proportion hosted by the public sector.
The report identified a key trend of clients wanting to save money, with ‘price’ and ‘value for money’ the single most important influence for choice of venues. Many spent less on catering, often organising events to avoid meal times.
Rob Allen, Eventia chairman, commented: “UKEMTS is a crucial barometer of what’s happening in the business events sector.”
Is events management still a good career choice?
So is events management still a good field of work to choose for a career despite the difficulties of recent years?
Amanda Murray from Capitol House Productions says yes:
“This is a really tough industry to work in. On the downside it involves long hours, stressful situations, making tough decisions, and manual labour – I have lost count of the times I have stood in the shower after a 20-hour day and wondered how I got the bruises and cuts on my body!
“That being said, I wouldn’t want to work in any other industry. It is massively rewarding. I like the daily challenge. Each day is different. One day I can be entertaining clients at The Oxo Tower for cocktails, the next supervising the install of a large awards event on Park Lane, the following back in the office to work on CAD plans and schedules. I met my husband and most of my closest friends through work. I love it.”
Kate Moore from Jolly Jesters, agrees:
“Every day it’s someone’s 21st birthday, engagement, silver wedding etc, and corporate clients also still want to put on events that outdo their competitors’ events – so the market is still there. You just have to grab the demand and then fulfil it.
“I’ve always thought that when a recession has troughed out it’s a good time to start up a business – especially in a feel-good service or industry – and even better if you can do it without borrowing money. Events management is the kind of business that doesn’t require a High Street showroom, so at least those overheads don’t have to be factored in.”
So how do you start out in Events Management?
When asked if they thought online training in Events Management, both Kate and Amanda agreed that studying events management online while working was a great way of moving forward in your career.
As those at the top – such as Sebastian Coe at the Olympics – have a real passion for the theme of the event, and sitting inside a university building for 3 years is no substitute for hands-on experience that can be backed up with up-to-the-minute information on the latest techniques and industry trends.