The Future of Work: Specialty Agencies for Complex Event-Industry Projects

Part 3

By Michelle Bruno
August 29, 2023

This is the third and final article in a series about the event workforce and the potential of outsourced skilled labor.

Using independent contractors is an effective way to scale a workforce temporarily. Talent-sharing agencies and freelancer marketplaces make it convenient to acquire these high-level, ad-hoc experts quickly. However, some organizations want the flexibility of an on-demand workforce and need a more robust level of commitment and services. Specialty agencies and consultancies address those needs.

Agencies and consultancies differ from independent contractors in some ways, even though both are manifestations of outsourced labor. Contractors are individuals who offer their experience, intellect and tools of the trade for specific tasks or functions. Agencies or consultancies—many of which employ a mix of full-time employees and contractors—are companies that provide an array of human resources, intellectual property, agency-owned software platforms, experience and management infrastructure for complex projects.

Benefits of event-industry agencies 

Why workers contract with agencies says something about the value of agencies to event organizations. Contractors, especially in the tech sector, want to strengthen their skillsets working for a variety of clients and nourish their “intrapreneurial” spirit inside a supportive community, says Barry McDonald, vice president of sales at event-technology consultancy BW Events Tech.

Working with multiple clients helps agencies build a knowledge base of strategies and tactics they can offer clients with similar challenges or use cases:

"It's gratifying for a client to know you're not reinventing the wheel with every project. It also means you can respond quickly to their requests,” McDonald says.

Agencies inside the event industry are masters of a niche within a niche. “We are not technologists. We are event technologists,” McDonald explains. “There is a difference between a technologist who works on a tech stack inside a corporate organization and someone who understands the impact of technology on the flow of an event.”

Event-industry consultancies, especially those focusing on technology or strategic marketing, are technology-forward but technology-agnostic. Because they focus on client objectives and KPIs and not specific platforms, they are experts in a broad spectrum of technologies—mobile, cloud or AI—and solutions, from Cvent to LinkedIn to HubSpot.

Agencies bring collective resources to a project. It’s part of the agency’s DNA to maintain a stable of outside consultants—specialists in their field—to work on client projects. “Our consultants are the ‘plus’ in DAHLIA+Agency,” says Dahlia El Gazzar, tech evangelist and idea igniteur of the firm. In combination with agency resources—the agency brain trust, association memberships, training, software and agency leadership—contractors under agency management can add value to a client relationship in ways that a freelancer the organization hires directly cannot.   

Agencies can provide continuity to a client. If an agency-affiliated employee or independent contractor leaves the company, the agency can maintain project momentum by shifting resources or bringing in someone from the “stable.”

In the risk-averse environment of events, agencies can help move organizations in a desired direction for which they may need more expertise or resources. Revamping, customizing or supporting a company’s event tech stack or implementing a new digital marketing and data analytics program are two initiatives often requiring third-party staffing and capabilities.

Agencies and the future of work in events

Having access to a specialized labor force can have a significant impact on the event industry. Agencies can provide the strategic foundation and experienced talent for tackling new business models, launching new (perhaps niche) events, designing more creative conferences or implementing more advanced technologies, improving the industry’s performance and competitiveness.

Agencies can provide the talent needed for the event industry to stay ahead of the technology, data analytics and attendee experience curves—to name a few—while organizations retool, reskill and recruit to address the demands of digital transformation, changing customer preferences and potential risks and disruptions.

Agencies, freelancers, and independent contractors are part of a formula for reducing the stress of working in an industry with immutable deadlines, long hours and “do more with less” mandates. A healthier industry attracts more, better and younger talent that can help sustain and enrich it into the future.    

Interested in how DAHLIA+ can fill the expertise gap on any of your upcoming projects? Reach out.

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