WOW Awards 2018 Host EEMA Dialogues on Roadmap Towards Improved Processes with Supply Partners

Business Events | July 12, 2018 | News

WOW Awards and Convention Asia

No one from the event industry is immune to the love shared between the agencies and the vendors, with each often involved in a war of words with the other. The problems of the vendor segment are manifold and yet, for the agencies too, it is not a cakewalk. During WOW Awards and Convention Asia, a team of vendors and EEMA agency members battle it out in a panel on the topic: 'Roadmap Towards Improved Processes with Supply Partners'.

With Sanjoy Roy - MD, Teamwork Arts, as the moderator the session witnessed a discussion between Avik Prabhu - MD & CEO, Showtime Group; Siddharth Ganeriwala - Director, Aura Integrated Solutions; Pramod Gaikwad - Director, ICE Global as the Speakers for the EEMA Agencies while Suresh Madan - Founder & CTO, Dynamix Media; Vibhore Khandelwal - Founder, Creative Factory India; Abhishek Mehta - CEO & MD, Scoop; Manish Mavani - Director, Sound & Light Professionals act as the Speakers for the Stakeholders.

Opening the session, Sanjoy highlights the fact that the discussion is more about finding the one common point for the agencies and the stakeholders. The session is not about dividing the teams into for or against but the idea is that there is some sort of middle ground established where not just the service providers and the agencies but everyone from the industry is able to work together, is able to build this space and make it a win-win for each other. 

India Vs International Standards

One of the most important sub-topics for discussion was the wide gap between the Indian and the international standards when it comes to the event industry. While 'jugaad' is more than common in our country, it often acts as a double-edged sword. Harping on the fact, Pramod Gaikwad discusses the lackadaisical Indian attitude to respecting its vendors and how, while impressive, it is proving detrimental to the event economy.

Pramod Gaikwad - Director, ICE Global 

"Primarily when working in a developed country, there is much more respect for an expert as an individual. Individual input is primarily driving the mindsets internationally. That is not the same in developing countries. Everything gets bundled up into a category. It’s a question of demand and supply. On the bigger side of it, it is all about the deliverables. Everyone delivers upwards. There is a professionalism and everyone is willing to pay for professionalism. 

In our country, the pressure mounts on the supply of the equipment on which you have to keep paying the EMIs or the loans. As far as clients are concerned many are ignorant of the impact of the quality. If it is available cheaper, then why not. Some years ago, there was the joy of creation in the corporate space. How can something be dynamically wow?

Also in India, in the relevant sense of the word, we have a lot of “jugaad”. If you go abroad and ask them to make a last minute change, they will be unable to. It simply cannot be done. But in India, even if you ask the technicians to make a last minute complete change, they will be up for it and by the morning, by the time the event is ready to roll, the set up will be complete with all the changes incorporated. 

The attitude needs to change. For vendor partners, there is a forum of EEMA ready to have a discussion, a go at each other and resolve. For event agencies, there is no forum to talk to clients."

Pricing and The Competition Within The Industry

The bone of contention is always the pricing in the industry with the vendors often not getting their dues with the agencies looking to cut margins to the bare minimum. Talking of how the pricing and the value often go hand in hand, Suresh Madan presents an interesting argument. On the other hand, Vibhore Khandelwal talks of how creativity might come at a price but the Indian industry is not ready to come to terms with the fact.

Suresh Madan - Founder & CTO, Dynamix Media 

"It is all about respect. It is always about the respect that we get from clients and we will not make programmers push buttons. We will add value to their productions. Brands recognise us and so they are willing to pay the right pricing for it. It is not like we didn’t have competition earlier. Even in the older days, there were many a player that offered cheaper services and yet we were overbooked, literally working 24 hours a day. The thing for the present is that part ignorance and part intent – ignorance is the difference between the good bad and ugly. The equipment stays the same but what goes on behind it in terms of the backend, skills, a lifetime spent reaching a certain kind of an approach – all that is value. And that’s the biggest difference."

Vibhore Khandelwal -  Founder, Creative Factory India

"We do innovate especially in the creative space that I work. Our clients and agency partners understand what we can deliver and when they understand the creativity I can provide, then they come to me. The cost is always an issue when we talk about it but then the focus is clear irrespective of the pricing. For me, I know I need to be creative and price it accordingly, but if I can go down by a small percentage, it is going to add additional value to that creativity and boost my market standing. It is a slightly confusing situation, a grey area but that is the truth of it. There are times when we get this and most of the times the value is appreciated and we deliver at the end of the day."

Siddharth Ganeriwala - Director, Aura Integrated Solutions 

"In my experience, the journey starts with value. A great value-add is the sole reason that the client has made the decision to come to us. But then because of the ignorance on the other side, the agencies are a lot of times pushed and either completely miss out on the same or tend to under-price the addition. So while value becomes part of the offering, it is not something the agency gets paid for. By the end of the day, the value really moves to the financial side where you can perceive what you are bringing on to the table."

The Internal Gaps

Unfortunately, there are a lot of gaps when it comes to communication between the industry pillars. Right from the planners to the executors, the lack of open discussion leads to multiple problems and aggravates the negative sentiments persistent. Talking about the same, Avik Prabhu talks of how the client looks at the overall picture of the delivery of an experience while behind the scenes, the battle between the vendors and the agency members continues. 

Avik Prabhu - MD & CEO, Showtime Group 

"I think the marketing guys still see us adding value. They are still engaging with as they are still talking to us and they are still making us deliver an experience. The devil out there is the procurement guys. Also, for strange reasons companies have decided that the procurement and marketing teams will not talk to each other. So while you send a cost estimate to the procurement, the creative estimate goes to the marketing guy. They are not allowed to interact with each other and then the procurement guys come up with a whole new list of terms and conditions for the creative side. I think the issue is about value."

Manish Mavani - Director, Sound & Light Professionals

"One of the most common problems that we face is the expectation for a universal price. We also don't get the luxury of time. For some of the biggest projects, even if the dates are decided 6 months in advance the agencies and vendors are roped in for the pitching only 15 days before. For the vendors, it is an extremely tight deadline as we do not have the time for the luxury to be creative at this point. However, the client demands have to be met and it adds a pressure on all parties involved. Ultimately, it boils down to the coordination among the members and the pricing expected."

The Power of No

The crux of the discussion boiled down to one simple question - Do agencies or the vendors have the power to say no or to refuse?

Abhishek Mehta - CEO & MD, Scoop 

"We have done this multiple times when we have rejected a project. We simply say that we are not the best agency or cannot provide the best solution for this and request them to find an alternative. However, many times in order to maintain relationships with the supply guys, we do tend to make certain exceptions. An ego massage with the clients does have to happen but we have stayed true to our ethos and ask the client to come up with alternatives if the demands are exorbitant in terms of timelines and achievability."

During WOW Awards and Convention Asia, a team of vendors and EEMA agency members battle it out in a panel on the topic: 'Roadmap Towards Improved Processes with Supply Partners'.

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