Are Temporary Event Staff Always Readily Available?

In a recent survey of meeting planners, over 58% of respondents claimed they were concerned with the availability of On-Site Professionals (OSPs) as event dates drew closer. That, however, means almost 42% were not concerned. Why the split in industry attitudes?

GCG Event Partners has been securing its clients’ OSPs throughout the US for 17 years. Recently, we have begun surveying industry professionals to learn more about OSP hiring trends and attitudes.

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Percentage of Meeting Planners Concerned About On-Site Professionals' Availability

More Lead Time Leads to More Qualified Personnel

How far in advance should or can On-Site Professionals be ordered? As a company that secures OSPs within the event staffing industry, we always recommend that planners hire their event staff as soon as possible. There is a big difference when comparing booking someone’s time vs. ordering a product. Unlike products, people’s schedules tend to fill up rather quickly. Every city and town across the country has a finite number of people who have the qualifications and professional know-how to work at and/or manage events. The closer an event date gets, the smaller that number of prospective hires becomes. Not only will the pool of people be smaller, but they will most likely be less experienced as well.

I’m going to use a football analogy to illustrate this concept. Let’s say you are in charge of a team’s players or personnel. You have a couple months to plan for an important game. If you act now, you can secure an experienced professional like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback. If you wait until a few days before the game to find a quarterback, you’ll likely be left with someone who is less proven or experienced. Granted, sometimes those new and inexperienced people end up being great, but is it worth the risk that they may not be? If it were me, I would want my quarterback to be someone that has played in big games before. The same concept applies to meetings and events. Experienced and proven players lead to more successful outcomes.

So how well is this concept understood in the industry? In the same survey mentioned above, over 54% of respondents believe the quality and caliber of available On-Site Professionals is adversely affected when not enough lead-time is provided to secure event staff. We were surprised, however, to learn that almost half of the meeting planners surveyed believe they can hire equally qualified temporary event staff with short lead times. From GCG’s unique position, we know it can be possible for planners to secure qualified on-site personnel with short lead times, but it definitely becomes a more difficult task and results are not assured. While we do have success with last minute requests thanks to our vast network of event professionals, we caution our clients against this approach whenever possible because we then need to dig deeper and recruit to fulfill last minute openings.

How Does a Planner Minimize Last Minute Staff Requests?

There are many organizations that don’t address their event staffing until everything else is planned. Unfortunately, in some instances it’s even unavoidable. For example, planners often want to know attendance numbers before they secure staff for an event, but those numbers typically aren’t known until the event date gets close. Suddenly the planner finds themselves in a time crunch. What can be done in that situation? Here are some suggestions:

  • Look at similar events from the past to see how many OSPs were needed.
  • If at least one person is needed onsite, place that order early to ensure there is a strong lead on your team.
    • More staff can be added later if necessary.
  • Discuss the cancellation policies of the company you are working with to make sure you are aware your options.
  • Know the rush charge policies of the company you are working with so you have an idea of when you have to place your order to avoid extra fees.

Industry Trends for Ordering On-Site Professionals

In a recent survey, 32% of respondents stated they look to secure their staff 3 to 6 weeks prior to an event. Not all events are the same, and this was also reflected in our survey. Over 35% of respondents said the actual time frame to order temp staff varies depending on the event itself. This may bring into account the size, scope and geographical location of the event. Larger events in metropolitan areas may necessitate preparations for hiring well in advance of the event. Then again, an event in a more rural setting where the number of onsite professionals in the area is limited may also require hiring with more lead time. It is important for Meeting Planners to factor in what is relevant for their situation.

If you prefer to think about things in terms of the planning stages rather than time, just under 20% of planners who responded to our survey said they order event staff as soon as they have the date and venue location. When the planning process allows, taking this initiative ensures the best chance of securing the most qualified On-Site Professionals.

Waiting to Order Temp Staff Increases Competition

Between planners waiting until they have attendee counts and planners claiming that requesting additional personnel was one of the final steps of their process, over 30% of survey respondents are holding off on securing personnel. This leaves them at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts, aka, competitors.

Have you ever thought of other meeting planners as competitors? In terms of securing On-Site Professionals, they are. There is a mind-boggling number of meetings and events happening at any time throughout the year. As these events are being planned, many will require additional staff support.

Specifically, if you’re planning an event or trade show that will have a lot of companies represented at the same time, don’t forget those other companies will be looking for freelancers as well. If possible, try to act sooner to secure the more experienced and qualified professionals on your team.

Summary

The best time to request On-Site Professionals for an event is as soon as possible. So much work is involved with planning an event. Find the most qualified personnel to help ensure your plans and your vision come to life. Thinking ahead and acting as early as possible is the best way to make that happen.

Paul Cunningham is the Marketing Manager at GCG Event Partners where he has been happily employed for 7 years. Originally in a sales position, he has learned many different aspects of the company and now enjoys sharing his insights with others interested in GCG. You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn here.

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