Live event professionals are experts. They know how to work with any budget, they save time by working efficiently and effectively, and they understand how to set the stage for the perfect experience. They design and deliver meaningful live experiences by harnessing the power of face-to-face interaction to evoke feeling and ultimately influence human behavior.
Unfortunately, the live event industry has struggled to make their professionalism widely understood as essential. A big reason for this is the commoditization of the industry, which leads to a perceived decrease in value by the consumer. If something is a commodity, it doesn’t matter which product or service the consumer chooses, so they simply pick the cheapest option. Choosing the cheapest option when it comes to planning a live event, however, usually equates to selecting untrained non-professionals.
The reason these non-professionals can win business and continue to threaten the value of professionals is because the barriers to enter the industry are so low. There are few regulations or professional requirements widely understood by end users. There is some education, but it can be inconsistent or not readily available.
Establishing a common language
The first step in combatting this misperception in industry value is being able to effectively communicate that value. Live event professionals know what their value is. They understand how humans interact, and they’re able to inject creativity and innovation into the events they design and deliver. But it’s difficult to communicate that value when there isn’t a common language to do so. Live event professionals grapple with the casual terms thrown around to describe their work, such as “party planner.” If live events professionals want to be seen as professional, they need a unified glossary of terms they can agree on. In other words, they need to define creativity in terms that make sense to those not in the industry. Live event professionals know that working in creatively involves a whole lot of problem solving, emotional engagement and strategy. That somehow needs to be conveyed to the eventual buyers of their services.
Obtaining meaningful endorsements
Another reason the industry hasn’t received the respect it deserves is that, especially in the United States, there aren’t direct endorsements from authority. In Melbourne, Australia, for example, the government invests in the live events industry, thus providing credibility to the profession. If the industry were more united, they could collaborate to educate governments, hiring managers and marketing departments about their value. They could create consistent education across the board. They could construct regulations and penalties to prevent infringement from nonprofessionals. This is no easy feat, of course, but is imperative if the industry wants to move into the respected ranks of other professionals.
Other industries have wrestled with this problem in the past: marketers, architects — pretty much any field that requires some kind of creativity. The internet and the subsequent ease of access to end users has made the playing field more difficult professional and passionate creatives, but the potential remains to unite for a greater cause. Live event industry professionals must stand together to build legitimacy and demand respect.