Kim Benjamin
Dec 1, 2017

Why the agency model is in flux

The pace of change is forcing the industry to take a good, hard look at itself.

Why the agency model is in flux

Hyperconnectivity—where everything and everyone is plugged into the internet 24/7, has transformed the way people interact and communicate with each other and how they engage with brands. Consumers —increasingly time-poor and impatient, are craving and demanding deeply personalised, seamless experiences anytime and anywhere.

Put simply, producing a product or service is no longer enough. This move towards an ‘experience economy’ is having a significant bearing on the future of live communication and brand marketing. 

It begs the question of whether the marketing and events industry needs to reinvent itself—and how—in order to remain relevant in a hyperconnected market.

Darren Chuckry, managing director at Uniplan Hong Kong, says that agencies need to continually stay connected to the market and the industry while conducting ongoing research around the globe into how new technologies are being realised and incorporated into experiences.

“The pace of change and disruption is happening so fast that it is difficult to keep up with all the new developments,” he says. “Experiences are what people increasingly use to define themselves across social channels. Take a spin through your social feeds and you’re more likely to see a friend’s trip to Angkor Wat or pictures of their baby on the beach in Tulum versus photos of a Louis Vuitton bag.”

Lisa Hopkins, senior director, event solutions design and strategy at BCD Meetings & Events (M&E) says that agencies should be open to embracing change within the industry.

“There is more onus on agencies to be able to speak to the latest in innovation, but also to be very aware of what is happening in the world,” she says. “This reinforces our position as a consultant and advisor to a customer but also makes us an invaluable partner.”

It’s a view shared by Zoe Cheng, director of business development at Singapore-based X2 Creative. “The agency model is changing, it used to very specialised but nowadays it is important to have a variety of different talents and thinking holistically and integrally to add value for your brands and clients,” she says. “It is not only an event experience we are creating, for example we can also help them to think of ways to get return on investment using specialised online to offline tracking tools.”

As Hopkins outlines, embracing hyperconnectivity through live technology or live experience is not simply about overloading on everything digital. She says the power and value of face-to-face interaction should never be disregarded. A more sensible and commercially viable approach, she advises, is to look at both things in collaboration, not isolation.

People business

For event agencies, ensuring their workforce is equipped with the right skills will also become increasingly important in a hyperconnected world.

And with the pace of technology and digital connectivity only set to get faster, it is critical for agencies to build a network of experts around them that can integrate and work collectively as a group to help connect all the different elements that make up a complete experience.

It’s not just about hiring great event managers, says BCD M&E’s Hopkins. The changing nature of the business events industry is being increasingly reflected in the type of people agencies are looking to hire, be it creative web designers or social media gurus to support customers’ event marketing needs. This opens the door for people with these skills to break into the events industry.

“Training and education are critical to help build the new talent for tomorrow,” adds Uniplan’s Chuckry. “However, most of the time this comes from real world experience and trial and error. You can read and study but until you put it to use it’s hard to gain the experience necessary for success.”

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