Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
Breathe life into your events with expert knowledge
Andrew Harrison, director of the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA), explores how event suppliers can help make public sector meetings a success
Live events fulfil many functions, from bringing together large groups of people for learning and information sharing purposes, to raising awareness of issues or bringing customers and businesses together. If you’ve ever organised an event for local or central government, you’ll already appreciate what a complex business it can be. Whether it's a conference, service launch or internal staff function, you only have the one opportunity to get it right. You need to simultaneously choreograph all the services and supplies needed to make your event a complete success and ensure the guests or visitors know where and when to arrive. Then you have to be the ringmaster that brings it all together on time and within budget.
The larger an event is, the trickier it becomes to synchronise and organise its constituent parts. You can greatly increase the chances of your event being a success if your suppliers and service providers are reliable, trustworthy and have a track record in events, conferences or exhibitions. Event suppliers provide a range of goods and services that are by no means unique to their industry. Many other companies provide similar services, such as AV equipment hire or security services, but only a dedicated event contractor knows about the particular peculiarities and protocols of working at a live event.
Event suppliers aren’t just experts in their particular field, they also embed a great deal of general live event expertise into their businesses. That means they understand everything else that will be going on around them and will be accustomed to working in the event venue environment. They instinctively know, for example, that carpets need to be laid before furniture is delivered, or that AV equipment needs to be carefully packed away before the stages and sets are broken down. What may seem obvious and straightforward to an event supplier can often come as a surprise to a ‘standard’ contractor – and when you’re organising an event, surprises are generally unwanted when the clock is ticking down to the start of the show.
The Event Supplier & Services Association
The Event Supplier & Services Association (ESSA) is perhaps your best route to finding the quality suppliers and services for your event – whether you need 5,000 auditorium chairs or a simple pop-up display. We represent over 200 event suppliers and services nationwide that embody the highest standards of customer service, financial probity and excellence. They supply and install everything from giant projection screens and outsize graphic prints to coffee bars and digital signage.
Whatever kind of event you are organising, our members will be able to help. When you use an ESSA member, you don’t just get the goods and services they offer, you get the peace of mind ensured by the ESSA Quality Service Charter, the ESSA Code of Conduct and the ESSA Bond. The ESSA Quality Service Charter stipulates that our members will always carry out their work to an agreed specification and timescale and that all their work will be explained, costed and agreed. It guarantees that all materials will meet the required industry standards, and that their work will meet or exceed all standards regarding health & safety, sustainability and environmental responsibility.
Signatories to the ESSA Quality Service Charter will only deploy staff that are experienced and competent to fulfil their roles, and will always deal with your enquiries courteously. The ESSA Code of Conduct ensures that every member adheres to the highest standards of business conduct, ensuring they act in an ethical and efficient manner, in full accordance with the standards of the UK event industry. This requires them, amongst other things, to only undertake contracts which are fully within their capacity, experience and financial capabilities. Finally, the ESSA Bond protects you against the worst-case scenario of your chosen contractor going bankrupt and being unable to deliver the service you have asked for.
But there are more subtle advantages to using an ESSA member to help deliver your event. As an association we work hard to foster a genuine spirit of cooperation amongst our members, 90 per cent of whom are SMEs, and we create opportunities for them to share industry intelligence, best practice, and responses to economic and political factors such as Brexit or new legislation. Our members are genuinely engaged with the association, sitting on the ESSA board, as well as chairing sub-committees and forums on more specialist topics too. As a result, our members are keenly aware of developments and factors affecting every aspect of event contracting, and not just their own area of business.
Convenience and easy communications
This degree of shared purpose and cooperation becomes very important for customers who perhaps aren’t regular event organisers. Whilst the largest events, like civil service conferences, are brought together by professional organisers who know the event industry inside out, the occasional organiser within local government may not have the experience to avoid the pitfalls and common problems of organising an event.
For smaller events you may only need a few items of audio-visual equipment like screens or projectors, a few free standing graphics or a complementary coffee bar for your guests. It’s likely you’ll look to your immediate locality for suppliers for convenience and easy communications, but you may be better served by an ESSA member from further afield, because they will embody everything I’ve spoken about above, and will bring a level of industry expertise that a general supplier will lack.
One way or another, events are about bringing people face to face to communicate, and it is this that gives them a power that other media cannot deliver. However important or minor your event is, when you’re organising it you need to consider that you are in show business – and that means a certain amount of ‘razzmatazz’ is required.
Without a little showmanship, events of all kinds can end up feeling a little flat and dull, but dedicated event contractors and suppliers understand show business. They will be able to help you refine your ideas for your event, and suggest ways of improving its impact and creating a buzz amongst visitors and guests. With countless shows and events under their belt, they will be able to tell you what works best for your conference, exhibition, roadshow or other live event. They can explain why some features are non-starters whilst others can help turn a good event into a really great one.
Whatever the final purpose of your event is, it still needs to generate interest and engagement from your target audiences, and in an increasingly digital environment your event should provide them with reasons and opportunities to share their experience with their peers and professional contacts. Again, this is something that event professionals understand instinctively. They will be able to advise you on the most appropriate, effective and economical ways to create that sought after ‘wow’ factor to ensure your event gives the audience what they want, need and expect, as well as plenty of reasons to repeat and amplify the messages you want to send.