A prominent agency executive has called on the events and entertainment industry to adopt new technology to streamline their processes and bring business practices into the digital era.
Caleb Bush (pictured above), managing director of George P. Johnson (GPJ) Australia, reckons there is still some very old school thinking within the events industry.
“Whilst some agencies have rapidly adapted to the ever-changing marketing environment, I think the events industry is probably behind the eight ball generally on [new technology] in the age of experiences,” he said.
GPJ was an early adopter of A.C.T.A (Associated Celebrity Talent App) – a blockchain-based, peer-to-peer app that launched in late November and is set to revolutionise the way agencies source and book entertainers, MCs and speakers.
Transparency is key; with the removal of intermediaries, A.C.T.A ensures agencies avoid common pitfalls when procuring talent through a third party.
With hundreds of celebrities and some of Australia’s biggest names in music, comedy, media, sport and television, A.C.T.A enables clients to browse, communicate, contract and pay talent and their official representative directly via their secure, Ethereum-built blockchain platform.
Big names such as Sophie Monk, Megan Washington, Robert Whittaker, Jimmy Barnes, Paul McDermott, James Mathison and more are already listed on the service.
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A legacy agency with over 100 years under its belt, GPJ has offices all around the world, producing over 250 experiential events every year in Australia alone for clients such as L’Oréal, IBM, Toyota, Amazon, National Australia Bank, and QuickBooks.
“Of those 250 events a year, I’d say 90 per cent of those have some form of entertainment or engagement that’s required, whether that’s a speaker to talk on a specific topic, a band to entertain, or a combination of both,” Bush explained.
According to an independent study conducted by A.C.T.A, celebrity appearances at Australian corporate, private and charity events total an estimated $336 million of the $4.4 billion value of the local events and entertainment industry.
There are between 30,000 and 40,000 events that require talent every year in Australia and a talent pool of 2,700 celebrities including actors, musicians, comedians, top speakers and elite sports stars.
Furthermore, booking the right talent, especially finding those with a specific skill set, is significantly time-consuming work.
And if finding an AI-expert-in-a-haystack (and their manager) wasn’t difficult enough, there’s nothing to ensure they will be available, that their booking price is reasonable, and that there’s no conflicting relationship with another brand.
“Talent’s schedules can change on a dime,” Bush said.
“The other challenge is from a contract perspective. If someone comes along on the same date with a better offer, unless you have all your ducks in a row, it’s quite easy to lose that performer.
“Getting all that information to present to the client is a significant amount of work. The reason that A.C.T.A is such a good service is it houses all that information in a central portal, so it makes our lives so much easier.”
He cites a recent pitch presentation in which GPJ used A.C.T.A to “cut 15 to 20 hours of work” otherwise spent lining up performer options.
By using the app, GPJ also knew the talent’s pricing and alternative availability in case the date of the event was changed.
Bush said the accessibility of information not only keeps the client happy, but also makes entertainers’ lives easier.
“Talent don’t like getting calls to ask their availability, and at the end of the conversation you say, ‘Oh, by the way, we haven’t actually won the job yet,” he said.
“It’s a waste of both party’s time – but at the same time, presenting good talent options could be the difference between winning and losing a job.”
While the idea of A.C.T.A is not globally revolutionary, it is the first time the concept underpinning apps like Airbnb and Uber has been used to streamline event services.
“I think this app really meets the market – there are no other companies who are able to make the booking of talent a smooth and easy process like this,” Bush said.
“By saving time and money sourcing talent through A.C.T.A, we can spend more time focusing on the client and finding other ways that we can add value as an agency, always ensuring the experience is connected and flawless.”