In my next blog I felt I needed to write a post to justify what I do at work. Most of my friends have trouble understanding exactly what I do all day. To them I seem to go from one luxurious destination to another; drinking and being merry on the way... Looks can be deceiving. Like a duck on a pond all looks tranquil on the surface, but under the water there's a lot of frantic paddling going on to keep forward progress. In a recent edition of a well-known industry magazine some ill-advised, ignoramus from a large agency questioned what us smaller agencies offer the world of events. Apparently we don't do anything all day and just go on FAM trips and, in their choice words, get pissed. When we're not doing that we're sitting around our living rooms (apparently we can't afford offices) in our lounge-wear whilst the multitude of commission payments roll in... Mmmmm, yes. I'd love it if that were the case. Unfortunately it's not. As an agent, I am a middle man between the suppliers/hotels/venues and my clients. I nurture these relationships on both sides, keeping in contact and making sure all parties are happy. When a client sends me an enquiry I use the knowledge at my disposal from meeting lots and lots of suppliers at lots and lots of exhibitions, forums and networking events. I pretty much know which hotel/venue/DMC/supplier works best for that specific brief. This is no mean feat given that I work on events throughout the world, not just in the UK. I provide them with a few options that fit that particular brief (not just give them every available place in a 30 mile radius), negotiate the rates to fit the client's budget and make sure the client is happy with what's been offered. If the client requires it I provide onsite management which ensures the event runs smoothly on the day. After the event a commission invoice is sent to the chosen venue and, hey presto, I get paid. It's a low risk business model that works for many agencies around the world. In a time when commission is seen as controversial word and bigger hotel chains are trying their best to phase it out, tell me, when I bring the business, why shouldn't I be rewarded?... Just a venue-finder? - I think not.
So, for my first entry into my blog I've decided to give an insight into what it's been like setting up a new company. In truth I don't know quite where to start; one minute I was thinking about it, the next I was registering my company at Companies House and given a company number. A certificate duly followed and that was that - easy peasy... er no. That was just the beginning of what I've found an arduously slow and laborious process. I still had to set up a company bank account, get VAT registered (probably the most convoluted process of them all), apply for a TIDS number, get a logo, an email address and business cards, aquire a domain name, build a website, familiarise myself with an accounting system and on top of all this informing clients and suppliers of what was occurring. There are no distinct set of guidelines to follow and advice that is given is, in most cases, fairly irrelevant. There have been times when my head felt like it was about to explode (this might seem overly dramatic but I'm sure there were times when the veins in my temples looked like they had a life of their own) but the term "light at the end of the tunnel" has never felt so apt. As I reach a point when most of the things listed above are now in place I can look back with a sense of pride. There's no going back now but I'm a positive forward-thinking person and going back was never an option.
In the month and a half since I started Elite Event Connections I've picked up a couple of new clients, won an award and pointed myself in the right direction to succeed in the future. With the aid of some fantastic industry friends, some of whom I collaborate with, I feel confident that things are going to be ok. Famous last words?... Nah, this is just the start of something good.
It might never be easy but anything worth doing with a passion never is, which makes it all the more rewarding.