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That Was 2012

That Was 2012

Our World | On 20, Dec 2012

We’ve had a first snow, winter has officially arrived, Christmas is hurtling toward us and it’s at this time that every news channel, media publisher, accountant and business manager takes a look at what has been and forecasts what is to come. We are no exception! In the first of a two-parter, season finale to 2012, Our World will look back at the year the greatest show on earth came to visit.

It is impossible to review the events industry in 2012 without mentioning the Olympics. The verdict was unanimous with even the French and Australians saying we did a great job. From the Games Makers to Usain Bolt there were many stars contributing to an exceptional success, but in reviewing the events industry in I believe we need to look beyond this unique once in a life time event to see what else happened and what it might tell us about the future.

So, what was 2012 like minus the Olympics?

The short one word answer has to be “tough”. From venues and DMC’s to agencies and corporates, there has been a general consensus that 2012 has been testing. There are of course some pockets of startling success, but one could argue that these are easily counterbalanced by a similar number of startling failures. From high street to manufacturing, from office to living room and from Government to shop floor the tale has been one of making ends meet. The economy is flatlined, up one month down the next and against this background investment in marketing communications and events has been under pressure.

There is however plenty of evidence that the events, and particularly the travel industry, is more than holding its own. Airlines continue to buy new planes, open new routes and demand more airports and runways to cope with an increasing number of passengers. New hotels continue to open at home and abroad whilst others undergo significant renovation. And all this is not just in the bargain basement, as we have seen plenty of new 5 star openings and serious demand in business class. At the same time however the existing and new entrants at all levels of the market are under increasing price pressure causing margins to be cut and efficiency programmes to drive out costs – particularly people costs.

2012 is perhaps the year when normality was restored – (albeit a completely new normality) – and by that I mean there were fewer dramatic changes than the roller coasters of 2008/9/10. In this new normality the focus has moved beyond ROI and into a more opportunistic and need driven reality where decisions are last minute and based not on cost, but on affordability and impact assessment. Pre recession, if you could justify ROI you could often obtain budget, even if it was not scheduled. This has changed and discretionary spend is anything but discretionary.

At a recent international events exhibition many exhibitors were assessing the impact of not attending in future. The key questions were “what is the impact of not doing it”, “ if we have to do it, what is the minimum we can do it for” and “how could we do something different, less expensive and more effective”.

Perhaps 2012 will be seen as a year of change rather than a year of flux!

Nigel Cooper