Recent months have seen a number of mergers and acquisitions across the conference sector. Banks Sadler was acquired by American Express Global Business Travel, while BCD Meetings and Events took over Zibrant, in addition to a number of mergers between hotel groups.
On 25th September 2017, the MPI UK & Ireland chapter met at Royal Lancaster London to discuss what this means for the industry. With a presentation from independent corporate advisor and former CEO and non-executive board director at Grass Roots Richard Bandell, as well as speakers from across the trade, it proved to be an informative discussion on the challenges facing the event industry.
Ideally, mergers should bring advantages for both the corporation and the customers. Mergers allow brands to expand their reach, with greater geographical areas being covered thanks to this extension. An acquisition can allow a company to experience a growth which would usually take years to achieve.
However, there can be disadvantages. It often takes time for venues to build their image and their relationship with a client. If this is swept away in a merger and acquisition, both sides can lose out. Event planners often like to seek out unique conference venues, rather than one which conforms to a brand. As Richard Bandell says: “Whether you’re an international hotel group or a boutique agency, the demand for the unusual is still there.” And perhaps this is where the unique and unusual of HCCE venues can help buyers?
The trend for acquisitions and mergers is likely to endure, but whatever the size of your events company, the advice of Richard Bandell is to invest in people. “In the future, if they lose what makes the event communicate, they will lose everything. What are you going to do about the people? They are your added value. Work really hard on the people, because it’s the people that are important.”