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The trouble with attracting talent to events

The meetings and events industry is booming, driven by pent-up demand and a renewed value placed on in-person connections. However, attracting and retaining industry talent remains a challenge. 

UFI’s latest Barometer survey shows that over half of companies in the exhibition industry are planning to increase hiring in 2024.

A total of 52% of polled respondents said their numbers will rise while 45% said they would keep their workforce stable this year – and only 2% were looking to reduce their workforce.

Despite this optimism, recruiting talented event professionals has not been smooth sailing. We highlight the top challenges facing the industry ⤵️

1. The Exodus Effect 🏃‍♂️

 The pandemic triggered a mass exodus of seasoned event professionals. Many sought stability in other sectors, while others were simply burned out by the industry’s relentless pace. This created a significant knowledge and experience gap. Companies now struggle to fill critical roles, which can make it tougher to deliver more value-driven events.

2. Experience Drought ☀️

The industry isn’t just grappling with the loss of experienced professionals; it’s also facing a drought of entry-level talent. The “experience drought” presents a catch-22. New graduates and professionals from other industries find it challenging to break in due to the perceived need for experience, while companies struggle to find candidates with the necessary skills and fresh perspectives.

3. Skill Shortages 🧑🏼‍💻

The events industry demands a diverse skill set. Project management, budgeting, negotiation, logistics and technological proficiency are just a few of the essential skills required. Finding individuals who possess the right blend of hard and soft skills like creativity, communication and the expertise to address client needs while managing vendor logistics remains a challenge.

4. Compensation Conundrum 🫰

Beyond the skills gap, the industry faces challenges when it comes to attracting talent with competitive salaries. The demanding work characterised by long hours and unpredictable schedules often doesn’t translate into commensurate compensation. This disparity can be a major deterrent, especially when compared to the stability and potentially higher earning potential offered by other sectors.

5. Retention Riddle 🤔

Beyond attracting talent, retaining it is equally crucial. There are numerous issues like work-life imbalance and burnout factor due to long hours, unpredictable schedules and the constant pressure to deliver flawless events.

6. Brand Perception Predicament 🌠

The events industry often battles stereotypes of being fast-paced, stressful, and lacking long-term career prospects. This perception can discourage potential candidates from exploring the diverse and fulfilling career paths available within the industry.

7. Diversity Dilemma 🤵🏿

The events industry needs to work towards greater diversity and inclusion. This includes proactively attracting and retaining talent from historically underrepresented groups to foster a more equitable and representative workforce. Challenges include unconscious biases and implicit stereotypes that can hinder fair hiring and promotion practices as well as homogeneity in top leadership.

8. Training Woes 🧑🏼‍🏫

Continuous learning and skill development are essential for success in the rapidly changing events industry. However, many companies lack the resources or structure to provide adequate training opportunities for their staff. This leaves employees feeling unprepared and unstimulated, impacting their engagement and loyalty.

9. The “Gig Economy” Mentality ✒️

The rise of freelance and contract work within the industry can contribute to a lack of long-term commitment. While this flexibility attracts some individuals, it also creates a transient workforce with less attachment to the industry and its companies.

Investing in event technology automates processes, boosts efficiency and reduces workload for organisers. Learn how these digital tools will impact the events landscape in 2024.

 We hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful. At ExpoPlatform, we want to help you build better events and communities. Please get in touch and ask for a demo here. Thank you 😀