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Leaders must tackle perception issues for industry to grow, according to QHotels’ Event Profs Panel

Event industry leaders need to tackle the perception issues surrounding events, according to the rising stars on QHotels’ Event Profs Panel, who are concerned about the impact on future talent, as well as training and career progression.

Calling for senior industry professionals to do more to promote the industry, the panel would like to see more invested into training and developing junior members of staff and increased visibility within schools of event management as a serious career option.  

In the first of a series of round table events, QHotels brought a group of events professionals - each with less than five years’ experience - together to find out what’s important to professionals entering the industry.

Agency and corporate events professionals from PwC, Absolute Corporate Events, First Choice Conference & Events, Donaldson Davis, Compleat Conference Company, ArrangeMY, Brief2Event, Hilti GB, Gorkana and Porterhouse Medical attended the events.

The key findings
·         Perception issues proved to be the biggest concern amongst panel members, who were in agreement that the industry suffers an image problem, which can act as a barrier to recruiting the best people and sometimes result in talented and experienced professionals leaving the industry.

·         The panel believe a career in events is perceived as being as easy and something anyone can do.  It’s also seen as a profession for young people and predominantly for women. As a result event professionals feel they are taken less seriously than others.

“The idea of managing an event is the sort of job that has a stigma of being something you do when you are younger.” – Chris Whelan, PwC

“I was even asked ‘What’s your plan, for your career after events?’” – Lizzie Thomas, Brief2Event  

·         The majority of panel members ‘fell into’ events – only three out of 10 panel members studied an event-related course at university - and all agreed that on-the-job experience was more valuable than academic learning.

·         The panel agreed that higher-education courses need to be more relevant and that employers must invest more heavily in practical experience, especially for younger members of staff.

“Lower down you don’t get the opportunities for training and that’s when you are learning the most” – Chloe Hampton, First Choice Conference & Events

“When I first started out, in previous roles, nobody ever sat down with me and said, ‘here’s a five point plan’.” – Bethany Matthewson, Absolute Corporate Events

·      Panel members also believe more needs to be done by senior industry professionals to pass on knowledge and promote the industry as a skilled profession. 

“I wouldn’t have known you could study events management at University if I hadn’t spent hours searching on UCAS. It just wasn’t available to me. The perception of running events is party, party, party but really there is much more behind all of the smoke and mirrors.’– Hannah Hodges, Gorkana

  ·         Both agency and corporate professionals believe a career in events is not visible enough in schools and therefore isn’t a serious career option from an early age, resulting in a lack of understanding about what a career in events could look like.  

“All of us have had that moment when we thought, ‘hang on, I can make this a career’.  How do we make that happen sooner so we don’t miss out on good people?” – Chris Smith, DonaldsonDavis Ltd

QHotels’ Carol Hornblower and Kathleen Edwards led the round table discussions and shared their own experiences, advice, tips and lessons learned during their extensive careers in events and hospitality. 

Kathleen Edwards, QHotels’ Regional Sales Director, said: “The first round table event proved to be a huge success, not only as a networking opportunity for panel members but as a forum for sharing valuable opinions and ideas.   

“Over time we will use the insights to improve own service, facilities, apprenticeship and recruitment programmes to reflect what’s important to this generation but by sharing the panel’s views, we hope to help shape the future of events and start to address concerns by encouraging discussion and debate across the industry.” 

Panel member Bethany Matthewson, Venues Team Manager at Absolute Corporate Events, said: “I’m heading up a new, young team so it’s important for me to be involved to discuss how we want to shape the industry.” 

Barbara Vode, Event Organiser at Porterhouse Medical, added: “I’m still quite new, having started in January, so any opportunity for me to gain more knowledge is good for my own career and for Porterhouse.”

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