Nicky Upton: Can you buy time?

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Short lead times are now the norm. But at what cost? Nicky Upton, head of corporate events, Southern Parks, explains…

Is it just us or are lead times getting ridiculously short? And I’m talking one or two weeks for upwards of 250 guests. I thought it had gotten bad being two to three weeks but one to two is crazy. Of course, we can do it as we’ve proven several times recently, and have a list of suppliers that we work with that can turn most things around quickly, but at what cost? And I’m not just talking £££. Because everyone is fire fighting from the moment the event is confirmed, things inevitably get forgotten rather than efficiently planned. More calls are made because no one has the time to read information sent, details are compromised and big concepts can’t be turned around because there is no time. Sustainability is also put furthest down the list, as things have to be rushed to the venue and the organiser. Events teams focus entirely on the rushed event – as you’d expect.

With companies still shy of showing that they’re spending any money at all on events, shortened lead times probably won’t go away. As a result, everyone must be more proactive. It’s about buying time, giving the buyer access to the information they need in an easy to digest format with a price before they even pick up the phone. What am I referring to? Online tools that help you to plan your event and get a base cost before you even speak to anyone. Now why didn’t we all do that before? Because we didn’t need to, or we thought we didn’t. Event technology and online planners are the future and allow organisers to see exactly what they can do, for example, at that venue, which rooms/areas they can have access to and what that venue can offer. This takes so much time away from the organising and research process that it really does “buy time”. I wonder how many will pop up this year?

Merlin’s Southern Parks are – Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures Resort and Legoland