What I’ve Learned in 30 Years in the Events Industry

A graduate of London University, Mike started in the corporate events industry in 1983. In 1989 he set up The Ultimate Experience and ten years later was instrumental in the creation of Concerto. We caught up with the man himself to find out more about what thirty years of experience in events industry has taught him. Words of wisdom.

Make as many friends as you can. You can never have too many friends in business, especially when you’re working in the notoriously unpredictable events industry. You never know what’s around the corner, and when you might need a little help from your friends!

Be honest with yourself. We’ve all faced a problem and immediately put our heads in the sand, particularly in this industry. Working in events means dealing with the unpredictable and sometimes you can think everything is OK when you know deep down it isn’t. The way our industry works, with advance payments, can sometimes distort the true picture, so take a step back and face the reality. It’s important to recognise a problem as it presents itself, rather than later on.

Be conservative, it’s better than optimism. Whilst optimism is always a good quality to have, the ability to evaluate risks in a conservative way will stand you in better stead. Under promise and over deliver - not a bad rule. Hire great people. This one goes without saying. In a business that revolves around people it’s imperative that your team is the best of the bunch. Hand-pick them, train them, enable them to progress in their careers and look after them!

Be ambitious. I don’t think there are enough really ambitious people in the events industry, and this needs to change. Those just starting out in the industry will have at least 30 years to grow and change, but only the truly ambitious ones with well thought-out, long term plans will reach the top!

Laugh lots. It’s easy to get carried away in business and leave your sense of humour at home, but working in events means that you cannot take life too seriously. I always say that today’s nightmare is tomorrow’s funny story - chin up! Strive for excellence. Ensure that every event you put on is that little bit better than the last, and don’t accept anything less than perfection from your suppliers. Working in event management means you have the right to be demanding of suppliers on behalf of your client. They’ll thank you for it, and ultimately your event will impress.

Don’t undervalue what you do. Within the industry there’s a problem of people doing things too cheaply, creating low cost packages which don’t deliver. This is troublesome for everyone concerned. Events companies face cost-cutting competition and suppliers suffer as a result. Deliver high quality events tailored to your client’s brief, and charge properly for them.

Make it easy to buy. Booking an event can often prove incredibly difficult, with venues offering so many different options and rates for venue hire, catering, power, H&S, insurance and much more. Keep it simple and your clients will find your events easier to buy. Concerto creates client-friendly packages which include venue hire, entertainment, food, drinks, AV and furniture, so all our guests need to do is concentrate on having fun! Of course this becomes more complicated when it comes to bespoke events, but having a multitude of different divisions providing services for all aspects of events at Concerto enables us to produce events in accordance with the most complicated of briefs, which are always easy to buy.

Recognise fate. The events industry is wholly unpredictable, so don’t be blind to random opportunities if they present themselves when you’re not expecting them - there’s always a place for luck in business. You don’t have to stick to a plan religiously if circumstances begin to change, you will need to adapt and change accordingly.