What lies beneath some of events industry survey results?
We wrapped up the event industry survey recently, with a write up of themes from 30+ questions answered by 42+ MDs and CEOs – what were we expecting?
As a business that focuses primarily on scale-ups and SMEs we meet many companies that are growing fast – but even so, we were surprised to see how bullish the response was with 83% of companies reporting growth in the last year or two.
To put it another way, just 6% of respondents had seen a material decline in their business. When we looked into this further, these companies were typically scale ups still reliant on a small number of events for their results (where the line between mega growth and decline can be affected by just one or two underperformers).
Underneath this data was the sense that the industry is still grappling with the balance between structure & process vs creativity & fluid ways of working.
Pureplay event companies clearly placed a premium on the processes underpinning their businesses. 80% of them defined their processes as well documented and/or closely monitored.
And from their reports of growth, it was clear that there was real merit in this – the data showed a strong correlation between closely monitored/documented processes and growth. Of those defining processes as well documented/monitored, 60% stated that their growth was “above industry average” or “excellent – industry beating”, the remainder stated their growth was average. None of these companies reported a decline in revenue.
Of the companies that described their processes as ‘Closely Monitored’:
- 35% said that they delivering growth of up to 115%
- 21% said they achieved growth of 115-125%
- 20% said they were seeing growth rates above 125%
- None reported a decline in revenue.
Of the companies describing their processes as “Well Documented”:
- 8% had delivered growth over 125%
- 23% said that growth of 116-125% had been achieved
- 46% pointed to growth of up to 115%
- 23% said growth had remained flat
- None reported declining revenue
So – what does this tell us?
Well, like any data set it can of course give information based on the specific question asked. The response does show that great processes, well managed, lead to sustainable growth. But what the data can’t tell us is about the flip side of that structure – whether that type of rigid process hinders or helps in the face of competitor disruption or changing market demand.
Perhaps what any business owner could take from this is that a durable structure and processes are a major factor in growth, but that you need more than this to ‘future-proof’ a portfolio. In fact, developing a high-performing structure could mean that you’re missing out on creative and original thinking – things that could well be essential if you’re faced with a sudden disruptor or change in market sentiment.
At VIA we focus on helping companies instil great process because we know that these help create sustainable businesses. Once through the first phase of launch, teams need to marry their entrepreneurial spark to a strong culture of performance and well defined ways of working together.
But we also encourage companies of all sizes to allow space around projects to encourage innovation challenges or the reinvention of what is ‘typical’. Growth needs good habits, but resilience requires the ability to flex, bend and bounce back with new solutions in the face of adverse situations. This is also what you’ll need to retain the very best talent.
We’ll keep sharing data points from the survey over the next few months. There will be more interesting data points that will require us all to think deeply – and your input and reaction to the survey is of real interest. So, if you’re an event-owner who’d like to see more of the raw data for benchmarking purposes, just let us know. Sign up here if you’d like to receive the full report.