How EEMA Is Leading The Way In Overcoming Event Industry Challenges In India

The treasurer of EEMA and Founder & MD of Vibgyor brand services discussed the recent initiatives taken by EEMA


In this interview with BW Applause and Everything Experiential, the treasurer of the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) and founder and Managing Director of Vibgyor Brand Services, Ankur Kalra discussed the association's role in representing the event industry in India, the Music Licensing Initiative to simplify the process of obtaining music licenses, and the Technical Certification Body's collaboration with the Audio-Visual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA) to address the lack of skilled technical personnel. He also highlighted the initiatives he has undertaken on behalf of EEMA. Here are edited excerpts from the interview. 

Can you tell me about the music licence initiative at EEMA?

Music is an essential element in any event, and when it is played at a public event for commercial purposes, it is legally required to pay royalties to the song's owner. However, the current process of obtaining music licenses is problematic, as there are too many organisations involved, leading to confusion and disputes. The aim of the Music Licensing Initiative is to streamline the process and simplify it to ensure that the prices are rational and within international standards. The central body's goal is to ensure that obtaining a music license is easy, approachable, and commercially viable. They support the payment of royalties to rightful owners but want to rationalise the costs, simplify the process, and eliminate any exploitation, harassment, and involvement of multiple bodies. By doing so, they hope to create a fair and simple way to obtain music licenses, avoid legal hassles and ensure compliance with the law.

During your recent North Executive Committee meeting, a hotel advisory committee was established. Can you explain what it entails and why it was created?

Our organisation has been closely collaborating with the Federation of Hotels of India, which serves as the central body for hotels in the region, on various initiatives. As hotels play a crucial role in our ecosystem, with approximately 80 to 90 percent of organised corporate events taking place in hotels, we must understand each other's challenges related to aspects such as music licenses and venues.

To achieve this, we have formed a hotel advisory committee comprising representatives from most hotel brands, which are primarily owned by seven chains. Currently, we have five of these chains on-board and are hopeful of getting the rest of them to join. The goal is to gather representatives from the event industry and the top chains to address issues on both sides and identify solutions. This includes exploring ways to increase business for event agencies at hotels and improve processes such as payment terms and setup time.

Currently, hotels have varying policies, such as requiring a certain number of room bookings before providing a banquet hall. Therefore, we aim to standardise offerings and create mutually beneficial policies, such as providing discounts during lean seasons when halls are empty. We hope to receive the hotel's calendars to identify empty days and utilise them to generate more revenue for both parties, even with a discount of 20 to 40 percent. The committee comprises of the leading director of sales from each of the top organisations, which collectively control hundreds of properties.

What is the objective of the Technical Certification Body in collaboration with AVIXA?

The lack of skilled technical personnels is one of the major challenges faced by our industry, especially those who can competently manage various aspects of our events. When we hire technical equipment for an event, such as sound, lighting, LED, screens, projectors, etc., we rely on the vendor to provide the necessary personnel. However, we often face the issue where the equipment is of good quality, but the operator is not up to the mark. This can jeopardize the entire event, which could be worth millions of rupees.

The challenge lies in not just specifying the type of equipment required, but also ensuring that the operator is competent enough to handle it. To address this issue, AVIXA has partnered with the Technical Certification Body to provide certification to technical personnel who can run events smoothly. The certification process will involve workshops and training, which will equip employees of vendors or freelancers with the necessary knowledge and skills to operate technical equipment. By hiring EEMA-certified professionals, clients can be assured of their competency and expertise, ensuring a successful event.

Can you outline some of the initiatives you have undertaken to benefit the event industry, such as your collaboration with MakeMyTrip?

As the Treasurer of EEMA, I have spearheaded several initiatives. One such initiative is to procure music licenses. Another initiative is the partnership with MakeMyTrip. We recognised that travel is a crucial aspect of our business, and many of our members make travel bookings for their clients. The sheer volume of travel bookings made by our 800 agencies is staggering.

There are two types of travel bookings that our members make - for their staff to attend events and for their clients to attend events. To streamline this process, we approached the CEO of MakeMyTrip, Rajesh Magow, and requested certain benefits for our members beyond their top-tier program. By consolidating our spending through MakeMyTrip, we could avail incentives and special features that were not available to other customers. This would result in increased profitability and convenience for our members, and in turn, MakeMyTrip would receive high volumes of bookings on their platform. By offering our members extra discounts of 2 to 5 per cent, we could create a mutually beneficial partnership that would benefit the entire event industry.

The event industry is currently thriving and contributing significantly to the economy without any government support. What will happen if the government offers support?

In my opinion, recognition, and support in the form of soft loans and a reduction of licenses would be helpful. We don't want the government to interfere with our operations; we just need them to reduce unnecessary complications and barriers to doing business. It would be great if the government could open up infrastructure for commercial events. Our country has many beautiful monuments and archaeological venues that could be utilised for events, just like in other countries. To achieve this, we need three things: industry recognition to access financing, a reduction in licenses to a single window clearance, and opening up of infrastructure for commercial events. This will benefit the entire country in the long run.

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