To ensure industry-friendly policies and budgets, corporate event planners frequently face the challenge of demonstrating their value to CEOs and elected officials. Tunnel vision with a narrow focus on one's own industry and niches can result in missed opportunities and perpetually "re-inventing the wheel."
There is much to be learned other industries when looking for models to communicate value. For example, there are important lessons to be learned from the equestrian industry. There is some overlap between the equestrian and events industries as event planning skills are needed to ensure the success of equestrian events ranging international competitions, show jumping and polo events to leisure and trade shows with major equestrian components (e.g. Toronto's annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair).
Here are some of the lessons that event planners can learn from what can be considered to be a niche player in our industry.
Longevity Through Transformation by Re-inventing Yourself
With the emergence of the automobile and tractors, the equestrian industry easily could have disappeared like many other industries before it. Instead, it has successfully transitioned from being a major player in the transportation and agricultural industries to becoming part of the athletics and leisure industries with some niches in travel and events. As the meeting and events industry faces challenges, there is encouragement to be found from this experience.
Tack shops that have survived have evolved into luxury emporiums providing riding apparel, helmets, saddles, harnesses, and other equestrian equipment and supplies for pleasure riders who were willing to pay a premium price. The luxury Coach handbags by Hermes are actually scaled down versions of bags that were originally invented for saddles.
Many event planning businesses are also undergoing transformation in order to thrive in a changing environment. For example, in 2008 and 2009, a number of factors led to a sharp decline in demand for incentive travel. Some Incentive travel providers were able to ride out the storm by shifting their focus to local incentives and events. Fortunately, incentives are making a comeback.
Just like the meeting, travel, and events industries, the Canadian equestrian industry has had to prove its values. It has responded by releasing a number of landmark studies that can be used as templates by the event planning industry.
- State of the Industry at a Glance [PDF] Download
- The Economic Contribution from Horses [PDF] Download
These documents include an analysis of census data as well as many charts and tables to highlight and quantify the indirect and direct benefits that the horse industry provides.
- The economic contribution from the horse industry exceeds $19.6 billion annually
- The horse industry contributes more than $19 billion annually to the Canadian economy
- The Canadian horse industry supports more than 154,000 jobs in Canada – one full-time job for every 6.25 horses in Canada
Event planning associations could use a similar approach to providing data for the media and to equip members with the information they need to speak convincingly with executives, election candidates and elected officials about the value of the industry.
The next time you are in search of an approach to compile and present data to build a business case for the industry or corporate events in your own organization, take a look at what other industries are doing. The templates and models you need may be just a few mouse clicks away.
Photo Credit: Executive Oasis International