In today’s digitally flooded commercial era, the event industry is gaining recognition across the world at a rapid speed. But besides this fact, it is shocking that such a glorious industry is portrayed as the most complex and unorganized above other industries. The reasons may be countless.
As the genre is set to surge towards new heights, there are a lot of issues that need attention from the government as well as various regulatory bodies/authorities. Addressing such issues co-founder and Director of Wizcraft tries to shed some light in his recent interview with Vanita Kohli- Khandekar, Business Standard.
Presented below is the interview of Sabbas Joseph in Business Standard, wherein he addressed his views on various problems faced by the event industry and expressed his key concerns on necessary skill-sets required by an individual to become a full-fledged event professional.
“The events sector is organized but the environment is disorganized”
Unlike other media segments, events is still considered a disorganized, fragmented business. Please comment.
The BTL spend by the five marketing groups(WPP, Publicis and others that control a bulk of spends) is about ₹80 billion. You could add another ₹20 billion for direct spends. That is the events industry. The top 30-40 percent of companies control 180 percent of the business. All the big firms have offices in multiple cities, businesses are headed by qualified, trained people. We are competitive, aggressive and we work with licences and are accountable and pay our taxes. So the sector is very organised but the environment is very disorganised. There is multiple licensing, copyright laws are written and rewritten, and banking, finance is not available because we are not an equipment- based business. We did an Arijit Singh concert in Gurgaon- It took 7-10 permissions from different bodies and each was dependent on the other. So the challenge is how you manage in the shortest possible time. Therefore predictability is not there.
Now in Delhi they have started online licensing which is a big relief. It is the only city this has happened and the credit goes to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and to the lieutenant-governor. If the Delhi example can be replicated across states it solves 50 percent of our problems.
The film industry took more than 100 years to value IP. So the value of the IP of events is questioned. We have to give bank guarantees for government jobs. So it is a very capital-intensive business.
Where is Wizcraft now?
In 2017-18 we had a top line of ₹5 billion. Of this activation brought in the bulk at ₹3 billion, our IP(intellectual property) events brought ₹1.5 billion and the rest came from weddings, special projects (like events for state governments, Commonwealth opening ceremony et al) and PR. Activation (below-the- line brand events and corporate events)is the most profitable part of the business. IP events are a risk; on a good day you can make 100 percent profit and on a bad day you can be down by 50 percent. But our IP events (the ones we own) have helped showcase our work better. IIFA(an annual event celebrating Indian films in an overseas location) allowed us to experience big stars, corporates, government . (IIFA has been held in Amsterdam, Macau, Yorkshire, and Tampa Bay among other locations) As a result when those governments want to come to India we are their partners. IIFA is not an entertainment event but a business event because Indian films have grown in areas where IIFA has been held. It is a bridge that connects India to the world. Now we are taking South Indian cinema there, there is the Global Indian Music Awards or GIMA. We have ventured into sports 18 months ago. We are working on the National Badminton Championship among others. Welcome to New York is the first film we co-produced. We are getting into rural activation, digital content creation. We are the most integrated BTL agency and are looking for an investor that will help us take Wizcraft global.
What offers hope?
The fact that the government is unable to do events without the event companies helps in the realisation that something needs to be done. Different government departments realise what we go through since the government is thinking about events. This is a very event-friendly government not just at the Centre but across the country. Every government programme needs an event – Make in India, an app, a food festival. So government departments are more events-friendly.
What are the big challenges in scaling up- is it capital, talent….?
We are at the beginning of the journey in the growth of this industry. Capital can be found. It is manpower and skill development that is an issue. Events are a very people-intensive business. Wizcraft alone has 480 employees and every year we hire between 2000-3000 freelancers for the 900-1000 events we do. Usually event management is taught in mass communication schools or as brand management courses. It requires mass media skills, plus culture/ creative understanding/operational/executional skills and the ability to manage it all. However, most of the learning is on the job. I am on the Media and Entertainment Skills Council- which is promoted by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry with financial support from National Skill Development Corporation. We are working at trying to get the skills this industry needs approved and to start courses designed around these skills. Eventually schools/institutes will be set up to fund the training and internship of people in the (certified and approved) skills that this industry needs so that event management is not just about learning on the job.
Through the interview, it is clear that the event industry has tremendous potential for growth at both national and international platforms if the right skill sets, manpower and support is provided.