Event essay: Why isn't this an industry for life?

Almost two-thirds (64%) of brand experience professionals surveyed in our #EventCareers research said they did not see themselves remaining in the industry. Why doesn't experiential offer a career for life?

Experiential careers: an industry for life?
Experiential careers: an industry for life?

A first glance of our recent #EventCareers research would reveal that brand experience marketers have it pretty good. The survey revealed that 63% feel positive about their career progression, 69% have a good work-life balance and business is doing well as 61% expect its workforce to grow in 2017.

However, delving deeper into the results, a slightly more gloomy picture appears. Of the 200 professionals surveyed, 60% do not think they are reasonably remunerated for what they do, 94% work more than their contracted hours – with a third working between four to seven hours overtime each week. In 2017, 69% will be looking for a new job, with 37% looking for more money. This could be a consequence of not giving 39% of the industry a pay rise last year.

Perhaps the most surprising statistic of the research was that 64% do not expect to remain working in the brand experience sector. So what’s going on? Is remuneration the key factor, or does the perception of the industry not actually match the tough reality?

Gerry Ellender, executive chairman of Pulse Group, says pay is only one of a number of motivating factors. "Recent research amongst our employees has shown that the type of work, ability to travel and flexibility in the role are also key contributing factors to job satisfaction and staying in an events career.

"Working in the industry has never been, and never will be, a normal Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm job. From my experience it is for these reasons that the majority of event professionals choose it as a career. The versatility of the projects, the diversity of people you meet, the on-the-job learning, the challenge of translating your clients brief into an experience that tangibly connects brands with their customers provides a sense of job satisfaction that is unique to this industry."

Michael Wyrley-Birch, TRO chief operating officer EMEA, believes the desire to change careers is widespread. "The sentiment is aligned with the landscape of society – it’s not unique to the experiential marketing industry. Modern culture has heavily impacted attitudes on the term ‘career’ and people are increasingly looking for a job which best suits them at different stages of their life. As people actively seek more variety, the concept of ‘portfolio careers’ is becoming more popular, with new and intriguing opportunities opening up to achieve a healthier work-life balance."

Lou Garrod, deputy managing director of Sense, isn’t surprised by the stats either. "I do not think people ‘burn out’ and walk away from the industry. I think the stats are a result of the lines blurring between event/experiential/real world and ultimately advertising. We’re already seeing the type of brief that requires a discipline neutral response so I can see why people may not think their future lies in ‘events’. It’s up to agency employers to move with the times and not lose their best people in the process. Training, engagement, opportunity exposure are all key."

James Barnes, planner and business development manager of Avantgarde, agrees: "The results could be due to the breadth of work you will experience whilst working at a brand experience agency which sets our potential career horizons wider than most. We are learning amazing transferable skills, which unlock other exciting possibilities in a huge variety of sectors.

"Personally, I think that you are lucky to find a career where just over a third of the people would like to remain doing their job until they retire."

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More: Eventographic: #EventCareers survey results 2017

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