C&IT's biggest-ever Agency Survey offers a detailed insight into UK event industry as the credit crunch started to bite. James Thornton looks at the findings.
One subject more than any other loomed large over the responses to this year's C&IT Agency Survey: the economy. While new issues arose and longer-term debates continued, the underlying threat of recession was cited as the biggest challenge for 2008 (see p25).
This year's survey is the most comprehensive to date, both in terms of the areas covered and the number of respondents. Fify one of the industry's leading event agencies contributed (see full A-Z listing, right) to an exhaustive study. For the first time, this year's report includes specific sections on elements such as staffing - including salary benchmarking - and education, both of which proved such hot topics in 2007.
The longer-term issues remain of course. The debate over where agencies and clients are at with ROI, for example, this year centred on fees and transparent working practices. While the strategic importance of operating in this way was almost universally recognised, it has proved a double-edged sword for some as clients use this as a way of tightening budgets (see p18).
And while the subject of CSR may have some in the industry muttering 'greenwash', it is no surprise that it remains at the top of the agenda for a huge proportion of this year's respondents. However, just how much and how often corporates are making use of what is an increasingly impressive CSR offer by agencies has differed greatly (see p23). Linked to this are two of the sector's big initiatives: Eventia's One Future programme and the BS8901 sustainable events standard. Both came on stream last year and both elicited sharply contrasting reactions in the in-depth interviews that support the data.
In a series of detailed interviews, the views of some of the agency world's biggest players reflect what the statistics show - that the economy is the major concern going forward. For last year, most respondents at least reported decent performances and, when asked to describe the current state of the market, 42% of them described it as 'very healthy', while 58% opted for 'average'. As with last …