Broadly speaking, competition is a motive force that propels business, but for the greatest effect it must be collaboration that guides and shapes that force. So it’s virtually compulsory for every trade association in the world, in the interests of its own members, to lead the call for collaboration.
After the AEV conference at The Vox in June, I was more convinced of both these ideas than ever.
We had several venue teams and directors in attendance, but there were organisers, venue operators and suppliers there too, on stage, and in the audience. I’ll admit to a small amount of bias here, but I felt we definitely succeeded in creating a conference that advanced collaboration within our sector, and at the same time gave venue teams and organisers view of events, and let organisers and suppliers see things from the venues’ perspective.
The effect was pretty remarkable. Eyes were opened on both sides, commonalities discovered, and the buzz on the conference floor was palpable.
Collaboration builds mutual understanding, mutual understanding leads to improved communication, and improved communication enables better collaboration.
Whether it’s on a personal level, or between competitors, very often the hardest part is getting this cycle started. But as the many members of our association and cross association working groups will testify, the time and energy invested in collaboration is repaid in practical terms through improved safety, efficiency savings, greater sustainability, and many other benefits.
Collaboration helps us, as an industry, direct our collective energies into improving and learning across all sectors and activities, rather than pulling in different directions or failing to address difficult and serious problems.
Collaboration is also helping us address how we attract new talent to the industry.
The evolution of the AEV HR working group into the event industry HR group has allowed us to broaden our horizons in attracting young people into exhibitions and events.
The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has commissioned a video, being put together with the help of AEV and Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) members to use as a promotional and recruitment tool.
I believe that industry collaboration is a necessity, not just on a formal structured level, but on a personal, social level too. Collaboration lets us gain a perspective on our industry by seeing it through the eyes of our customers, our partners and our competitors, and by keeping communications going at every level of our operations.
As associations, part of our role must be to open avenues of collaboration for our members, and encourage them to participate not just in their own success as a business today, but in the growth and the success of the industry that will sustain them in the future.
Editor’s note: This is a version of teh opinion piece featured in the August issue of EN. The digital edition is available now.