Is the answer to the salvation of our events industry in the formation of a supplier’s association?


Is The Answer To The Salvation Of Our Events Industry In The Formation Of A Supplier’s Association?

If you’ve ever been to an Indian wedding, you’d know why its often preceded by the term ‘Big Fat’. The only agenda that seems to be on the minds of the family members is to make the do as bold, as memorable and as ostentatious as possible (sorry bride and groom, you aren’t important enough). Between the ‘ladki walas’ and the ‘ladke walas’ there is the florist, photographer, the tent contractor, the DJ, the performers, the caterers, the valet guys, the waiters and these are just the bare minimum. The list grows longer as the purse strings of the financer loosen. From Russian dancers to hot air balloon rides to helicopters showering flower petals on the venue, the possibilities are endless. One would think of it as a perfect example of organized planning. Well, think again.

“In the events industry, the suppliers or service providers are the most disorganized lot”, says Chetan Vohra of Line Communication. “What seems to be the outcome of a harmonious coordination is actually the work of a deranged segment of service providers struggling to stay afloat in a red ocean. Accepting multiple bookings on a whim, pulling several sleepless nights in a row and a surprisingly irregular pricing structure is the direct result of fierce competition amongst each other. As there is no governance on training and development or maintenance of standards, health and safety hazards are common, approach towards work is casual and output is often negligible. In light of the situation, there have been talks within the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) for the development of a suppliers association”, adds Vohra.

Ankur Kalra of Vibgyor is of the view that a supplier’s association might seem like the quicker and easier solution but the question that we need to ask is whether this is the biggest challenge we’re facing? He believes that while there is no denying that it will be a firm step in the right direction there’s little reason to believe it would salvage the industry from all the issues it’s facing.

He says, “A good suppliers’ network is the backbone of the industry and a reliable association to bank on would be half the battle won. Fly by the day operators in the events space will be kept in check as will be those offering sub-standard ad-hoc services. A noticeable improvement in quality, delivery and accountability will come with a suppliers association, but will all this be enough? A good event management agency is an aggregator of great suppliers but the fact is that it is more than just that. Several other factors come to play and counting on a suppliers association alone would be oversimplifying the solution. Truth is that suppliers are an easy target for resting the blame of a largely disorganized and unstructured events industry. The association will be a step towards the right direction but its success will ultimately depend on how we use it. A degree of scrupulousness and transparency in our dealings will help extend the benefits of a suppliers association to our business and will bring more credibility to the industry. Otherwise what’s to stop clients from taking their business to this very suppliers association? The value that we add to their services must be met with fair practices and self-regulation at our end as well.”

“Imagining a suppliers association in the Indian context may be highly unlikely for at least the next 10 years”, states Rajiv Jain of Rashi Entertainments. He believes that not only will it translate into a lot of effort but the segment itself may not be mature enough to accept such an association. He continues, “In fact they should not even be called suppliers, they are our partners. Event management companies earn from them and that is the general rule. If their basic demands are readily met, I don’t think they are capable of raising any major concerns. They are an autonomous group and thats the only way they know of operating. An association would mean a waste of time”.

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