Lou Kiwanuka, managing director of EventShaper, looks at how the industry can become better prepared and more efficient.
Like most operations teams, we have our fair share of time-restricted tenancies, some easier to handle than others. The frequency of these in our calendar means that we regard them as the new norm. But this isn’t an article begging organisers and venues for more time, this is an exploration of what we could do if less time were available across the board.
As an industry, we need to ask ourselves if the way we are doing things is the most effective and efficient way – or is there scope for change?
Time to operate vs time to plan
When our operating time is cut, the operations team must plan. . The same principle applies to space. When both are cut, we currently need fairy dust. The broad brushstrokes of planning have been sufficient to date but it is time to get our pencils out. Efficiencies in our systems and processes can generate time and, more importantly, flow.
Looking at the key areas of planning for a tight tenancy, we have found that time spent digging into the detail of the following areas has paid off:
- Quality of labour and supervision
- Micro scheduling
- Floorplan design
- Early submission of plans
- Increased rigged elements
- Alternative scheduling of core services
- Control of plant equipment
And that’s just to mention a mere handful of factors without progressing further into aspects of the supply chain and onsite dynamics.
“The organisers won’t pay for that” is a standard response but if we continue down that path where will we end up? Why would we dismiss the possibilities so swiftly and on what basis? Reductions to tenancy budget lines could go to the bottom line or they could be used to effectively manage the event. That is a decision the organiser should actively make – not an assumption that is made by others.
Examine the positives…
There are, of course, issues that need to be overcome: there will always be someone who is last in, there are costs associated with increased planning, floorplans need to be designed not only with the politics of whose stand is bigger but also with scheduling in mind. Let us first, however, think what the positives might be.
Could we redefine how we operate, increase our efficiency, create more shows, create more jobs, and create a more vibrant industry that people want to work in?
Or are we destined to increase pressure, put up with the status quo, wonder why we struggle to keep people in our industry? Do we think that one day we will find the time that is currently evading us?
Looking for the difference
There is not going to be one answer from one person or company so if you want to redefine what is possible then our industry associations are the perfect place to head to with your ideas. If we can’t say that we have explored all the options and tried everything possible, can we really say that we can’t build shows safely in the time given?