Making fun pay

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director looks to encourage and foster a more collegiate  sensibility among event industry professionals. I was listening to the roars of laughter during an anarchic after-dinner game at this year’s In The Rough and was wondering why do we do it? By ‘it’ I don’t mean raising money from a room full of event industry professionals, or even having a golf competition. I mean why do we, as an association, devote time and energy to events that, in many people’s eyes, don’t appear to have any obvious benefits beyond fun or fundraising? In the Rough 2015 was the biggest ever, with 94 competitors and 130 guests at the evening dinner and prize giving, with representatives from across the whole industry in attendance, sponsoring tees and providing all important event support and sponsorship. Although a well-polished process on the organisational front, In the Rough requires thought and preparation into making it happen, both on our part and that of everyone involved. Even attending an event like this is a considerable investment in time, so the success of this year’s event is a testament to the infectious enthusiasm it generates. But when there are so many pressing ‘hard’ business issues and industry developments that an association like ESSA deals with on a daily basis, from providing help navigating new legislation or developing international business links, why commit resources to ‘soft’ association activities like golf days?This is a question I hear none too frequently. The answer is simple, ESSA has a role in contributing to a spectrum of platforms where the industry has an opportunity to engage with itself, both within and across sectors, and it’s important to remember that the benefits that spring from events like these don’t go directly to the businesses and people attending. In The Rough does provide a great networking opportunity, but the wider benefits to the industry as a whole are, in my opinion, much more significant. By developing and building the popularity of an informal day for the event industry, like In The Rough, we are trying to encourage and foster a more collegiate sensibility amongst event industry professionals. The events industry is fast moving and competitive, and it’s one of the roles of a trade association to create a bridge between competing businesses to ensure they have the collective voice required to shape their industry and guard against threats. With the events industry being such a big tent, associations like ESSA need to foster cooperation and develop common purpose with other trade bodies too. The process of building an ever more cohesive, united industry has to happen on many levels to stand any chance of success. I believe that despite operating on an informal level, events like In The Rough are important factors in creating a sense of shared fate and fortune not only among ESSA members, but also between them and their peers in the organiser and venue sectors. I’m not a person given to bandying about terms like ‘holistic’, ‘interconnectedness’ or even ‘propinquity’ (love a thesaurus), but they are the qualities I want to see growing through events like In The Rough. The connections between individuals in different businesses and sectors across the industry help bind the industry together when it needs to coordinate itself in the face of threats or challenges. ‘Soft’ events like In The Rough help to ensure those connections aren’t just between the usual suspects, but given the informal and open nature of the event, connections are much more easily made across the barriers of competition and mutually exclusive interests, connections that simply wouldn’t happen in a day-to-day business environment. This article was first published in the September issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
Andrew Harrison
Posted by Andrew Harrison
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