How is the crisis affecting the role of the event manager in companies? This was the main issue answered by three expert organizers, Mayte Sabone from Lilly laboratories, María Ángeles Sierra from Siemens and José Luis Lanchas from SAP Global Events EMEA at a round table organized by MPI (Meeting Professionals International), the largest association international of professional companies of events and meetings, and moderated by Óscar Cerezales, president of MPI.

The current economic slowdown has inevitably led to the reduction, to a greater or lesser extent, of the budget that companies allocate to their events and the need to redefine their strategies in search of greater profitability. “In our case, we have chosen to diversify and make smaller events, going from events of 200 people to acts of 30 to 50 people,” explained María Ángeles Sierra. Mayte Sabone spoke about the reduction in the number of attendees or the duration of the event, while José Luis Lanchas highlighted the maintenance of the most general and consolidated events and dispensed with the repetitions that were usually made of such events.

Mutual benefit

In relationships with suppliers, we choose to keep the same companies, and try to find the mutual benefit. “In times of crisis, we negotiate with the suppliers we already have, adjusting budgets for both parties through different actions, such as maintaining rates of previous years,” said José Luis Lanchas. For his part, Mayte Sabone said that, “we must take advantage of the market moment to renegotiate contracts with the final suppliers, such as hotels and airlines.” Ángeles Sierra highlighted the need to “look for synergies”.

Renegotiations aside, the key is to maintain the level of quality of the events despite the reduction of budgets. “We ask above all for flexibility and for suppliers to understand our needs,” explained Lilly’s event manager. “The negotiations in the budget are much more intense. But our goal is to lower the budget without lowering quality, and it is achieved! “, Corroborated María Ángeles Sierra from Siemens.

Cuts

Regarding the main cuts in the organization of events, the person responsible for SAP events highlighted a lower investment in the ‘nice to have’, in those elements that they like but that are dispensable, such as corporate gifts or lounge networking areas, as well as in catering. “Before each game was not looked at in detail, now more attention is paid to everything.”

In choosing venues for events, the quality of the infrastructures continues to prevail but the selection criteria also change. Lanchas stressed that, in the case of internal events, “has changed dramatically, especially when we talk about incentives and business trips for workers: it has been cut to the maximum but people are very mentalized and it is accepted to hold these events in the same offices or on nearby sites. “The Siemens event manager stressed the need, now more than ever, for headquarters staff to be as collaborative as possible:” It’s not about abusing, but about everyone doing their job. In these times of crisis, this trend has been changing and the staff is much more helpful. ”

A positive crisis?

There is no harm that does not come well, and the same will happen in the sector of corporate events. The current crisis will serve, in the opinion of the three experts, to restructure and adjust the market, with the closure and merger of companies and the maintenance of the most consolidated. “There will be more professionalism. The companies that are left will have weathered the crisis because they will have known how to see the advantages and adapt not only in prices, but also to the new trends. In 2010 there will be more powerful and better prepared professionals, “said José Luis Lanchas. For its part, Maria Angeles Sierra de Siemens stressed that the role of the event professional will be reinforced: “In these times of crisis, each one has to do a job, sales have to sell and we have to organize, therefore,

The hotel group Meliá bet again for MPI, giving the spaces of one of its most emblematic hotels, the ME MADRID. After the session, which received a record attendance of more than 150 professionals from the events sector, the guests enjoyed a drink and networking at the ME Midnight Rose.

MPI (Meeting Professionals International) is the largest international association of professional event and meeting organizers. It has 23,000 members worldwide. The objective of MPI is to promote the professionalization and promotion of the event organizers’ sector and it is the largest networking forum among its members. MPI aims to: 1) increase the corporate and professional recognition of those responsible for events; 2) encourage the exchange of ideas and professional experiences among its members (networking) and 3) ensure the ongoing training of its members.