Event agencies divided over rising salary predictions

Event agencies are divided over whether rising wages will intensify the fight for the best talent in 2015, following David Cameron's recent call to give Britain a pay rise.

Event agencies divided over rising salary predictions
Event agencies divided over rising salary predictions

At a recent MPI Insights event, Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, suggested that businesses, including event companies, might have to start paying higher salaries in 2015, following the trend in the US.

And last month, Cameron said continued positive growth, coupled with falling oil prices and low inflation means businesses can afford to boost wages.

Event Marketing Association chair Richard Waddington, who was on a panel at the MPI event, said: "I think rising wages will be an issue in the UK. People feel more confident about moving jobs and there is a lot of head-hunting going on in the sector."

Mark Riches, managing director of First Protocol, agreed: "It's absolutely an employees' market. In London, for full-service agency and corporate planner roles, we are seeing wages increase and there is a lot of counter-offering going on."

But Andrew Deakin, director at Conference Care, argues that it is still an employer's market: "On average, we receive more than 100 applications for every vacancy and at least 10-12% of these are strong applications, enabling us to cherry pick the best."

Other agencies contest that company culture and non-monetary rewards are as important as salary.

Nicky Morgan, talent director at TRO, said: "It is a given that the monthly pay check is a motivating factor. But I don't expect to see rising wages intensify the fight for the best events talent. Let's be frank - those who are slaves to salaries probably haven't ended up in events. Creating a culture that is supportive, flexible and ensures scope for growth is hugely important."

Nick Terry, managing director of Top Banana, agreed: "The very best events talent will never be driven solely by pay, so the other elements provide the real battleground."

However, Riches countered: "Finding quality talent is hard and if you lose someone it can cost £6-7k to replace them. Yes, culture is important but it doesn't pay the mortgage."

C&IT asked six agency bosses for their views on whether wages are rising and how important salary is for attracting and retaining the best events talent.

These will be published online every day over the next week as The Wage Debate...

The Wage Debate: drp Group CEO, Dale Parmenter

The Wage Debate: It's still an employer's market, says Conference Care

The Wage Debate: Creating a supportive culture is key, says TRO


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