Salary survey: Bleak house

This year's Event Salary Survey was again carried out with ESP Recruitment, and confirms suspicions that industry professionals who claimed to have had a good year in 2009 were probably telling porkies.

Salary survey: Bleak house
Salary survey: Bleak house

Variously, promotion prospects, bonuses and salary increases are all down. Staff retention was not so much a category to be measured, but a miracle.

Such doom and gloom is usually accompanied by a message of things looking up. But you'll have to visit Trendwatch (p16-17) if you want any rays of hope, and to get ESP's expert opinion on the results. The stats for this year's survey create a bleak landscape that Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens would have been proud of. Read on if you dare.


Across the industry, prospects for promotion have slipped significantly. Respondents to the survey were asked to rate their chances of moving up the ladder out of five (with one being 'hopeless' and five being 'excellent'). In the past three years the mean result has been around the 3.15 mark, or just above average. This year it slipped to 2.85 - not great, but significantly less.

There was also a clear decrease (an 11 per cent fall to a quarter of the sample) in people who think their best chance for promotion is to stay with their current firm.


The reasons haven't fluctuated hugely. There was a five per cent rise, to 13 per cent, of people looking for a better package, a reflection maybe of promotion prospects being stifled. Redundancy, perhaps surprisingly, only rose two points to 14 per cent. Happily, there was also an increase in people who left their last job to join the event industry - outsiders still find it appealing.


In a sector essentially based on sales, bonuses are a large part of an event professional's salary. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the survey said they did not receive the bonus they expected last year, up eight per cent on 2008. The three previous years' figures had stayed fairly constant, highlighting how difficult 2009 was.

Financial constraints abound, then, and this is demonstrated further by the fact that only half of the industry had a salary review in 2009. In 2008 that figure was 65 per cent.

The percentage salary increase for those who were lucky enough to have a review makes depressing reading as well: 80 per cent of the event world received a rise of three per cent or less, up from 48 per cent the previous year. In 2008, 14 per cent of staff received a pay rise of more than ten per cent. Last year that figure was just five per cent.


Money, essentially, is what increasingly motivates them. Back in 2006 one third were motivated by finances, but that slipped to 15 per cent in the past two years. As a result of the recession and bonuses falling, though, the figure is back up to a quarter.

Interestingly, for the fourth year running no one is motivated by good training. Is this a damning reflection on levels of training within the event industry?


A total of 42 per cent of respondents suggested there were no changes in workforce levels in 2009, which is a good sign given the strain the industry was put under. One third saw their workforce fall by up to ten per cent and a few, nearly three per cent, saw it plummet by 40 per cent or more.


Quite positive, finally, but not for 2010. Most professionals seem convinced 2011 will be a bonanza year, but 2010 will continue to be tough. A quarter of respondents believe we are in for 18 months of consolidation before recovery. Only a meagre three per cent think budgets will recover fully in 2010, so those bonuses and salary rises will have to wait a little longer.


The beacon of hope for all is the London 2012 Olympics.

It is interesting, therefore, that 38 per cent of the industry say they are not getting involved in the Olympics at all. Happily, 18 per cent are already putting together a strategy for involvement.

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