Guest Column: “The menace of spot fixing is there in every industry”

Harish Babu, MD, Impresario Events says that every industry sees its share of ethics concerns, which need to be tackled to keep the industry in a healthy state

e4m by Harish Babu
Published: Jun 16, 2013 12:56 PM  | 4 min read
Guest Column:  “The menace of spot fixing is there in every industry”

The event planning and management industry has come a long way from being a nascent industry to one of the most promising sunrise sectors. The glitter and glamour associated with it attracts many new entrepreneurs. But the Indian event management industry remains a highly unorganised cluster. While every business industry comes with its own set of challenges and roadblocks, a transparent and bigger Indian economy underlines the need of creating professional and ethical yardsticks offering spaces for many blooms.

Most newcomers or people sitting on the fence usually associate the industry as a colourful segment with massive perks and glitter. The growing number of freelancers in the segment is testimony to the fact that a lot of people pull the trigger before understanding the dynamics.

The menace of spot fixing is there in every industry
Competition has grown manifold in the event management industry today. Many companies and agencies call for multi-pitching among top event management companies. There are instances where employees of the event management companies spot fix deals with the managers-in-charge to allocate them the final deal, irrespective of their proposals and ideas. The fact is that such spot fixed deals will be ultimately done based on the best plan presented by another company. Companies give out their best proposals, deciding on the themes and come up with creative ideas to help companies attain their goals and objectives. We can’t tell how many hours we spend putting together proposals for business we don’t get.

But remember, a good service previously offered is of course a token of assurance for maintaining a good relationship with your client.

The ‘monkey see, monkey do’
The ‘monkey see, monkey do’ attitude continues to be one of the biggest challenges for the event planning industry as a whole. The ‘borrowing’ of ideas is still a hot button issue that doesn’t seem to have any grey areas when it comes to ethics. There’s little argument supporting the use of someone’s intellectual property.

Employee etiquette or the lack of it
Employee etiquette is one of the most fundamental factors for any industry to succeed. Sadly, due to a large quantum of independent perks, the line between professionalism and individual slips is a tight rope walk. Employees are creating their own nexus with vendors and hotels for individual perks and benefits, hence, many such luring offerings in the industry still exist.

You may ask what’s wrong in taking a complimentary spa offered to you at a hotel where you hosted an event, or in accepting FAMS and freebies. Yes, you’re right. But are the reward points yours, mine or ‘ours’? Of course, a well-deserved perk is ‘yours’. But some companies put employees’ points into a pool for celebrations in which all are involved. Also, FAMs are intended for people with potential business. “If you can’t give them the business, then you should not take a FAM.” Organisations should make their own policies in such matters and educate their employees not to use their position for undue personal gain.

Vendors tuning event planners: But can they offer the quality?
At many points, the event manager has to introduce vendors to the clients for discussions in connection with event planning. What’s damaging the quality of the industry today is the planner role played by vendors by approaching the clients directly with a lesser cost plans, bypassing event managers. The result is deteriorated quality of service for clients.

An event manager is not just a facilitator of venues and vendors. A good event manager or company is one who, with a creative mind, plan things in a cost effective manner, conceptualises it, backed by an experienced team, and refined through experiences and relationships. Clients need to understand this. The basic functionality of an event management company is to take along a number of vendors to successfully integrate the final output.

Challenges like these exist in every business and is unavoidable. But they are likely to hamper further growth of new companies in the industry. And these are never taught in any management colleges.

Even with all its logistic and industry specific problems, the event management and planning industry is currently stated at Rs 2,800 crore, witnessing a 20 per cent growth year-on-year. It has been estimated that event and entertainment management industry is expected to reach the Rs 4,375-crore mark by 2014. No doubt, the commercial aspect of the industry is in a healthy state, but the lack of professionalism and apparent perceptions of possible industry entrants can sound a death knell to all the good work of past years.

Harish Babu is Managing Director, Impresario Event Management Company

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