Speaking at the recent FRHI Global Meetings Exchange in Monte Carlo, Kate Scully, travel adviser at oilfield services company Petrofac, said: "Forget procurement, the new enemy is compliance,"
She added that complying with regulations on things like data protection and the Bribery Act is now her biggest challenge. "Agencies are going to need to up their knowledge in this area for the larger corporate clients."
Zibrant chairman Nigel Cooper said: "I can see data protection and data security being more of an issue.
This is where regulation is going to apply massive costs to our industry."
BI Worldwide operations director Shaun Casey agreed: "We are a larger agency and we do spend a huge amount of money and resource on ISO 27001 for data protection and ISO 9001 for quality. But it's more than just expense, you have to have the resource to manage that as well."
The increased focus on compliance, and the financial costs associated with it, has led some in the industry to question whether smaller agencies are as equipped to deal with it as larger agencies. "We are seeing some corporates saying we can only deal with AMEX or CWT because they are the only ones that can provide this on a global basis," said Cooper.
"And if Zibrant is starting to be squeezed on some of these issues, how is the ten-person agency - which has been the backbone of our industry - going to survive, because they can't afford the costs?"
Yvonne Beatty, who recently launched her own small agency, Tapestry Events, agreed that meeting requirements can be an issue for small agencies. "But that doesn't mean small agencies can't be compliant. I deal with the pharma industry and need to ensure the services we offer are in line with The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)."
She added that being compliant doesn't have to be a huge financial burden, and in some cases, services can be outsourced.
Click here to read the full Big Debate, which asks whether smaller event agencies are as equipped to deal with compliance as larger ones.
WHAT THE TWEETERS ARE SAYING...
@carolinegeorges Why is the assumption that big agencies are better equipped to deal with compliance than small?
@ChillisauceCorp Always been a priority, just more important than ever to be vigilant. Preparation and procedure is key
@teamspirituk Not bigger, but a different challenge on every event. Delivering so many, there's always something new to consider.
• For more breaking news and in-depth features, sign up to C&IT Magazine's daily Newstracker here