With more than 17 years of experience in the production and management of events, Imran Sadiq has acquired expertise in the fields of entertainment, public relations, marketing strategy, and marketing communications. He talks to us about event hosting and management in Cambodia, discusses the cultural differences to take into account, and gives advice to those interested in holding events in the Kingdom.
B2B: How has the events landscape changed and evolved since Live Wire first started?
Sadiq: We’ve been operating for 15 years now, offering event planning and management. We also offer production management services, AV equipment, and can even provide the performers. These are services that are hard to find in Cambodia. Often times, if you do find them, quality tends to be an issue. Since we started, we’ve seen a huge growth in new brands entering the country. Before, it was really only international companies offering these services, but now local companies are also entering the market. The quality of products, technology, performers and suppliers available has definitely increased over the years. I see this continuing to improve.
B2B: How have you maintained your edge in the market?
Sadiq: We have always offered quality and put on the best events. Our reputation ensures that we continue to get business with some of the biggest brands in the country. In Cambodia it is very easy to “cut and paste”, which is something we try to avoid. We encourage clients to give us more flexibility to come up with more creative events. If you do the same acts and have the same performers over and over again, people will get bored. You need to be able to do something different. This is a small city too, so many VIPs will go to the same events, and they don’t want to keep seeing the same thing all the time.
We also offer the whole package. We can provide videos, lighting, performances, sounds — you name it. Most companies do not do that. We likewise support other agencies execute events for their clients.
B2B: Does holding events here differ in any way with other countries in the region? Are there any cultural aspects that foreigners need to consider?
Sadiq: It’s important to have some basic idea of the local culture at these events. Even if you’re not Cambodian, you’re in Cambodia so you need to respect traditions and customs. For example, at the Hugo Boss launch, we included a blessing ceremony with Apsara dancers. Even when we bring in international artists, we try to fuse a bit of Cambodian culture into their performances. It still needs to have a local flavour.
I’d also ask clients for a list of guests. We need to know if there are any high-profile invitees — such as ministers — because we need to check what’s the proper protocol to follow when interacting with them.
B2B: What are the main challenges when it comes to organising and holding events in Cambodia?
Sadiq: Cambodia lacks variety when it comes to available performers, so we often have bring in those from Thailand and Malaysia. Some technical equipment are also not available in Cambodia, so we get them from Thailand. Fortunately, this is not hard for us to do so because we have partners in these countries to support us.
B2B: How do you market your business?
Sadiq: Word of mouth. We have been here for a while and are established. We hold good, quality events so our clients do our advertising for us through word of mouth. We also sponsor some events with partners, such as fashion shows, which get our name out there. We are also featured in the Yellow Pages and the B2B magazine. Through search engine optimisation, we make sure we rank highly in Google results. And, of course, let’s not forget social networks such as Facebook, which is big in Cambodia.
B2B: What type of events are your most popular?
Sadiq: Big companies and brands will hold at least one annual big party. We’ve organised Hennessey’s events for the last three years, and they require high-quality events. Launch parties are big now too. We’ve also done IBC’s (International Business Chamber of Cambodia) annual themed party.
B2B: What changes have you faced as a company operating in Cambodia in the last year?
Sadiq: The big thing has been the work permit issue. It’s good to have some kind of regulation for foreigners in terms of work permits and establishing a business. This year will be tough for some businesses, but these rules and regulations need to be followed. I had to get work permits for all my staff and myself, and make sure we follow all of the labour laws and company registration.
B2B: What advice would you give to someone wanting to hold an event in Cambodia?
Sadiq: Find the right event partner to execute it. It would also help to have been in the market long enough to understand the country profile, as well as the product placement in the country itself.
Maintain quality and choose who you work with carefully. We have taken great care in finding the right suppliers over the years, and they now know the quality of our work. We treat them as part of our own team, and we’ve fostered trust and understanding. That’s important.
Building trust with clients is also important. We’ve been working continuously with a number of them for some time now, and they trust us.