A year ago, my 32-year-old, mother-of-two aunt announced that she planned to enter the event business. With a simple Bachelor of Arts degree and many high-society contacts, her areas of focus were to be weddings and birthday parties.
At the time, of course, I snickered and made several uncomplimentary remarks. You won't catch me laughing now.
My aunt executes an average of three events a month (and that's during the lean, non-wedding season), takes a healthy 10 per cent cut of the event cost and can build a small hill with all the jewellery she has bought for herself in the past year.
She is representative of the 40 per cent of the event management industry that continues to be the unorganised sector (comprised mainly of homemakers), her success demonstrates the huge leap the industry has taken in recent years.
"The proliferation of TV channels and newspapers mean that advertisers have begun to opt for experiential marketing (event management) instead. You connect with the consumer through an event, and you're likely to get better and quicker results through events than through traditional advertising," said Sabbas Joseph, co-founder of Wizcraft, currently India's largest event management industry.
According to a recent report published by Price Waterhouse and Coopers, the live entertainment segment alone is poised to grow at 20 per cent in the coming years. Insiders like Devraj Sanyal, Chief Executive Officer of the events and production house Percept D'Mark, peg the growth rate of the event management industry at 30 per cent. "The boom began in the 1990s with the opening up of the economy and took off in 2002," said Sanyal. "It's only going to get bigger as consumers become more and more discerning."
A lot of the industry's recent success can be attributed to the fad of reality television. "Almost 40 per cent of a TV channel's content is non-fiction. Reality shows, dancing and singing competitions all fall under the domain of event management. It is a huge opportunity for us," explained Wizcraft's Joseph.
There's keen international interest in the fledgling Indian event management industry, another factor that's nudging its growth graph upwards. "A key reason for growth is the influx of international brands," said Brian Tellis, Chairman of Fountainhead Events.
In the last year, global mega-brand WPP has bought over Roshan Abbas' Encompass Events, while Interpublic group has invested in Lintas India. Network 18 and Viacom have entered into a joint venture to create Viacom 18, an entertainment and event platform. Tellis believes competition will only make things better. "It will increase professionalism and creativity in our industry," said Tellis.
The future only promises to be bigger, better and brighter. "As long as brands need to communicate to the new, discerning consumer, there is no place to go but up," said Sanyal.