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February 27, 2009

Jeremy Garbett:New challenges, new demands – and we need a new approach!

The former managing director of Jack Morton Worldwide is back in the UK from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he headed up the restructuring, relocating and repostioning of Dubai-based agency Action Impact. Here he reveals the reason for his return, comments on the Middle East, and explains why he believes the events industry must change to meet the new demands of both clients and the economy.
I took a personal decision to return home as we are expecting our first baby and wanted to bring the child up in the UK. However, the experience over the past year of working in the Middle East has been terrific, and I've enjoyed seeing at first hand how the region’s vision is developing.
Frankly, the UAE has still got some way still to go in the communications field, but despite the global downturn, the buzz and clients’ expectation levels are still dynamic. Action Impact is perfetly poised in its new HQ to continue its good work in the exhibition and installation sectors.
Meanwhile, back in the UK…
Although I’ve only just returned these shores, I’m busy talking to clients and fellow industry colleagues to ascertain the market.

Clearly there is still opportunity, but it needs the fundamentals applying like never before, such as:
– Understanding the audiences
– Offering innovative thinking
– Showing value in everything you do

And that’s not just in terms of costs or tactical delivery, but also in terms of thinking through and integrating the work with other elements of the client’s programme.
The mother of reinvention
In the retail sector, clients, as ever, patently want their goods and services marketed efficiently, but now with more understanding of their potential customers, marketed with more speed and with more punch.

The public's hard cash is king, so live event agencies need to understand sales promotions and the retail sector in a far more comprehensive manner in the work they do.

Government and the public sector also provide excellent opportunities to display clever thinking. I feel the time could be ripe for smaller agencies to really step up their offer and put forward flexible, fast, high-quality thinking, but at a reasonable cost base.

The current freelance market, too, offers a wealth of world-class talent and experience, so it’s time to utilise that skill set when it really matters.

Challenging times? Absolutely. But there are still opportunities out there if our industry can change and re-invent its approach.

Jeremy Garbett is an expert in live marketing and communications

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