Exhibition News November 2018 - Page 69

COLUMN: JULIAN AGOSTINI The house always wins The MD of Mash Media wonders how the industry’s insurance companies could be more creative with their offering T he other night Liz and I started to watch some mockumentary called ‘I Do…Until I Don’t’. Something like that. Anyway, the premise was that a divorcee was embarking on a project to prove that marriage is doesn’t work. It was pretty lame, and we didn’t stick with it, but it did prompt a discussion that the stats for marriage seem to get progressively worse each year. More than two out of three marriages fail, and you can be fairly certain that within the ‘successful’ third there are countless arrangements, unhappy souls or restless partners too scared or perhaps lazy to cause any disruption. If weddings were a manufactured product on the shelves they would have been withdrawn years ago but, somehow, the principle has survived and people continue to pursue the unlikely dream more in hope than expectation. It’s bizarre that with all the incredible sophistications that the human race has developed, the fundamental fabric of society continues to be ruined by the arrangement that underpins it and clearly, for the most part, doesn’t work. This causes pain, heartbreak, upheaval etc. but on we go regardless. Instead of adjusting the offering in some way, or searching for other suitable solutions, we plough on with marriage and get ourselves better prepared for the fall out…just in case. 50 years ago, the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement would have been laughed at as ridiculous. What’s the point of getting married if you are already planning how the divorce plays out? Now, it’s second nature of course and who is to say that this particular merry-go- round won’t get even crazier? How long will it be before there is an insurance policy that protects you against the financial thump of a divorce? I would imagine that the premiums would be fairly high for some ‘couples’ but, perhaps, those who have a second attempt would get more favourable rates. What do the stats say, I wonder? After all, insurance is based on “It’s quite comforting, in a way, that insurance companies are successful” probabilities is it not? Much akin to odds offered by bookies, in fact their roles are pretty similar when you boil it down. Insurance is a gamble after all; the brokers, or rather the underwriters, are forever gambling on a positive outcome, while offering to pay out for a reversal of fortune. It’s quite comforting, in a way, that insurance companies are successful. We want that, surely, as it suggests that, in the main, outcomes are positive; the world isn’t so bad and punishing after all and the brokers will certainly know that detail more than most. I fully appreciate the principle of insurance; it makes so much sense for a happy existence. For example, I could never understand why people would bet on their own football team to win, especially when the World Cup comes around for instance. If we win, the money is very much secondary and if we lose it’s a double hit, so where’s the upside? Much better to insure against the defeat perhaps, so the pain is dissipated in some way? Of course, we are now a gambling society 24-7 it would seem. Everybody seems to be a member of one network or other and every sporting occasion is enhanced with a little flutter. It’s actually astonishing how much money is going through these businesses. If you need a barometer just look at the amount of advertising on TV which is about gambling; quite frightening but it shows a very healthy market. As we know, the house always wins, so not a bad business to be in, and they are all getting more and more creative. This is surely an opportunity, therefore for the insurance companies to capture the mood of the nation and get creative with their offerings but this doesn’t seem to have happened in our industry, which is a pity as I think there would be a healthy uptake. The list of insurables is quite long and would be very attractive for the organiser and exhibitor alike, such as: • Visitor numbers…let’s start with the obvious one! • Pre-reg conversion rates • Walk-ins • Seminar numbers • Re-book numbers That’s just for starters, but each of these categories opens up further opportunities. For example, visitor breakdown – so particular types of visitor sliced vertically by sector or horizontally by job function. Once you begin, the permutations are endless and exciting if you are an insurance broker…you would have thought. This would also enhance the organiser’s offering. Many a potential exhibitor falls by the wayside at the point of booking because they want guarantees that the market owner simply can’t provide. “We don’t know exactly how many COOs, MDs, FMs (insert job function here) are coming, but why not take out our insurance policy, we are that confident.” It would create many interesting conundrums as well. Let’s say, for instance, that an organiser took out insurance on their visitor number at 10,000 and due to unforeseen circumstances, only 9,300 turn up. Not many organisers would make that claim as it also alerts the otherwise happy exhibitors to a shortfall! So, the house (insurance companies) wins all ways round. That’s the opportunity, but it will require innovation from the companies that serve our market. The gauntlet (a much better film than the one that started this rant) has been laid down. exhibitionnews.co.uk | November 2018 61