What's Floating Around

6 August 2018

Fam Header Pink

Welcome to another week #EventProfs and seeing as it’s starting to really take off, we thought we should take another look at the fabulous #Famtastic, which is a new initiative from Cloud 9.

A little over a year ago, there were some stories doing the rounds about a number of regular faces within the  industry, who relentlessly turned up for events, without any business it seemed, although this didn’t seem to stop many of them from downing as much free bubbly, munching their way through endless canapés and pocketing as many freebies as possible. Whilst many of them are perhaps on the fringes of the mainstream event industry (a quick online search reveals most of the serial offenders – although we didn’t recognise any of them), it’s easy to understand why agents (and freeloaders so it appears) can be seduced into thinking this is acceptable behavior.
Even the small event agencies such as the team here at Cloud 9 Towers, are swamped with invitations on a daily basis and on average we estimate between 50-80 a month as the norm. From breakfast events, to showcase parties and dinners, from learning lunches to full blown fam trips and if you do even the slightest bit of work internationally, then once you are on the radar, your invitations increase the opportunities for global fams multiply. Factor in the Trade Shows, Roadshows and Forums and before long your diary could be that full that you actually won’t have time to deal with any of your clients at all, swiftly ensuring that you become one of the dreaded freeloaders.
Education remains a top priority for all event buyers and it’s much easier to sell and recommend a venue to your client base if you have had personal experience, so how do you identify the balance between continually improving your industry knowledge and justifying your acceptance to the latest invitation?
The majority of event professionals have this down pat and try to only attend those events where their professional development will be improved – some of the larger agencies operate a very fair rotation system so should someone attend, then the entire agency will benefit from that individuals knowledge. As much as a lovely free trip to Mexico, Thailand or Argentina sounds, the likelihood of providing an R.O.I. for the suppliers who have issued the invitation might well be low, especially from our agency. The other side to this argument is that if you do pick up a new client who suddenly decides that one of these destinations is a priority, they are more likely to be reassured by your personal experience.
When it comes to fam trips, we know that a vast amount of time and effort is invested by suppliers to come up with innovative programmes to encourage agents and buyers to attend and once you factor in flights, the costs can be significant.  Yet still there are the inevitable last minute cancellations and no shows and whilst we all do have the occasional genuine crisis which prevents us from attending, it’s seemingly acceptable to some, to register or confirm attendance, only to pull out or decide not to go – especially if something better has come up. Some suppliers and organisations are great at making sure that those who have agreed to attend, do actually attend, irrespective of floods, plagues of locusts or even simple train strikes, and will canvass you relentlessly to make sure you arrive – on time and ready to go, and this to a certain extend pays off as their cancellation rates are low.
However, the number of events you attend where you see endless unclaimed delegate badges is common, and this must be terribly frustrating for those who have spent time and money organising the events, the financial implications aside. Yet suppliers are not in a position to chastise the no shows too harshly as they risk ruining business relationships so the system of a cancellation fee for some hosted buyer programme’s at least guarantees an audience.
Many of the larger organisations also qualify buyers to ensure that they have legitimate business and are indeed worthy of an invitation and there are also some organisations who grade agents based on their buying activities, from A to D, with the A list being top of the list initially for any invitations – and we have all had those invitations that arrive with only a week or a few days to go, when we know that the take up from their original guest list has not been as good so you either have to develop a thick skin or do the decent thing and politely decline.
There has been a meteoric rise in one or two social media platforms for the industry and these are highly beneficial for suppliers, who can jump on recommendation requests for venues, but for agents looking for a balanced view of the opportunities available to them, there are so many sources of information that identifying where you should be investing your time, has been tricky. In a new initiative Famtastic has recently been launched as an online diary of all of the latest industry events and opportunities, and not only should it enable suppliers to try and schedule their own events without clashing with other mainstream industry events and competing for an audience, but it should also help buyers make an informed choice.
 It also lists, amongst commission offers and other useful resources for agents, a guide on etiquette for fam trips and as many of us will have witnessed unsocial able behavior at fam trips, maybe essential reading for some. Most agents are respectful. polite and engaging when on these trips, but a small minority let themselves and the industry down with their tardiness and antics, much of it alcohol related.  So, if you do get a minute, do please check out Fantastic.Rocks as it’s well worth a glance, but to end, we’ll bring you one of those stories that could be an industry urban legend or indeed a fact. The story goes that a certain individual was on a very glamorous fam trip abroad and had been enjoying complimentary flights, executive transfers, a sumptuous suite and extensive hospitality.
After one too many glasses of free fizz, a business card was produced showing the agents organisation  N.S.C. The owner of No Such Company (with no such business and no such clients) was promptly checked out the hotel, taxied back to the airport and dumped with the return flight cancelled. A little lesson to us all irrespective of fact or fiction…..
 Have a great week everyone!