Mark Buist talks acquisition: 'You don't want to jump into bed with the wrong person'

Managing director of Penguins, Mark Buist, spoke to C&IT about the benefits acquisition offers a smaller agency in a competitive market.

Mark Buist
Mark Buist

What results are you seeing from the drp acquisition so far?

Having run the company on my own for 27 years, being part of something so established is very beneficial to us. We now have a management team to tap into, in addition to having access to their business and ideas.

For the company, there is a great benefit from being part of a bigger enterprise. Drp has a strong focus on training and personal development of its staff. This is useful for us in developing our own team through drp’s strong training programmes.

In terms of acquisitions, you don’t want to jump into bed with the wrong person, which we haven’t done. Despite what the media world is saying, there are exciting times ahead for the industry.

How does the acquisition affect Penguins' long-term strategy?

There is a great synergy that exists between the two companies. I wouldn’t have wanted to go into business with anyone else. Dale is a respected figurehead in the industry, and with this acquisition we can achieve what we want to, which is to be exceptional.

We have always had a list of core preferred suppliers, but when these capabilities are in-house the benefits for profitability are great and this creates a joined-up solution for clients. I am not saying we wouldn’t have achieved greatness on our own, but in a competitive marketplace you get to a certain size and in this uncertain climate you start to wonder if acquisition is the best route. In my opinion, this was the best decision for Penguins to take, as it has given us that diversification and range of services which improves our offering and makes us more competitive.

What are your plans in regards to pushing your incentive travel offering?

We are looking at providing a total solution to customers, not just incentive travel, in terms of reward and recognition and helping clients to engage employees. The UK has a lot to do to engage its workforce, and especially in this current climate, it’s important to make people feel supported by their bosses and management teams.

Rather than paying lip service to employees, companies must engage tham and make sure they have a strategy in mind. There needs to be a programme in place that people can be part of, which allows them to celebrate the success of the business they are involved in. By tapping into drp’s digital, print, and video offerings, we can provide these elements effectively for clients.

Are there any destinations you’ll be focussing on and what’s off the pitch list?

It’s unfair to specific destinations for me to talk about them being off the list. There are DMCs and hotels in areas that are now considered undesirable that are being hit hard, but we don’t want to say they are off the list. The world is changing all the time and we have to be aware of political situations and advise clients accordingly.

We are already tapped into drp’s crisis management programme, which gives us greater confidence. Giving our team that confidence to know how to deal with a crisis is an absolute imperative – they go on training and come back so energised. This goes back to what I said about training being of key benefit to smaller agencies.

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