The Rubber Duck Factor. C&IT Blog April 2014

Creative Event Management
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The Rubber Duck Factor

By April 28 2014, C&IT Blog

When was the last time you found a rubber duck in your hotel bathroom? I have always thought a rubber duck was a brilliant little twist of fun, it shows the hotel cares and focuses on the little details. If the little creative details are delivered, you can often be assured that the larger details are also in hand.

Often, a cheeky rubber duck can be found in more boutique style hotels rather than large chain properties which says a lot about the value smaller brands have in the MICE market.

The rubber duck factor for me represents creativity. It shows an attention to detail that we all strive towards. Within Event Management and Destination Management creativity and attention to the large but, also small details is key when delivering extraordinary event management and Clearwater Events, is of no exception.

As an event industry, we are creative bunch and the portfolio of events showcased at the many award dinners is testament to that. But, what about the bread and butter events that we all deliver? Are these just as creative? It seems creativity is a huge buzz word right now, but isn’t creativity a given – an expectation?

Being an industry veteran, I remember when event management required creative forward thinking months in advance. When I started, we didn’t have email and online delegate registration. Registrations were via fax, and the fax machine would spew out hundreds of registrations over a week most being unreadable. We didn’t have mobile phones that worked overseas and operations schedules and planning were completed on huge sheets of paper with a pencil and rubber. We didn’t have the quick tools we have now to deliver an event.

Events required skill, detailed planning and trust between clients and supplier. We had to think creatively as we didn’t have the tools to deliver instant answers. Events took time to plan, yet, our events were delivered with precision, accuracy and creativity. And many, if not all had the rubber duck factor as we had time to be creative.

In this modern age of instant communication, you would have thought that creativity would be the most simplest of skills to grasp? As we would have more time based on modern tools to focus on the creative elements of the event.  Yet, we are selling creativity as if it’s something new.

I think event management has taken a huge step back in recent years. From my experience, it seems that the time pressures put upon an Event Manager are growing to almost unthinkable levels. It’s not uncommon for a modern Event Manager to be managing a double-digit portfolio of events many with tight timelines and strict guidelines and pressures. Now this may seem achievable, but lets just think about it…

You’re an Event Manager working for company x. You have 12 events to manage. Your email inbox sees 100’s of emails fly in weekly if not daily from your internal team and clients, most starting with “can you do”. Add to this the short lead times and guidelines that need to be followed – does an Event Manager have the ‘time’ to be creative?

With this type of pressure, how can an Event Manager be creative? Their main concern is to try and not sink with the volume of work and to clear the ‘can you do” emails by the end of the week. I often hear that creativity is key to event delivery. I totally agree, my belief is that Event Managers should not only think out of the box, but have the creativity to build the box. However, with the pressures and sheer volume of work that Event Mangers face, creativity can become a low priority.

If we are really honest, this issue is something that many larger agencies face, yet clients flock to them as they believe larger agencies equal creativity. Large doesn’t always equal creative and when looking for the rubber duck factor, it often the smaller, boutique event management agencies that can deliver.

So before you fire off that next “can you do” email or complain about lack of creativity, think for just a minute about your team.