Over the past few months I have spoken to many companies who have told me that they are perfectly fine with their Investor Relations / PA looking after their roadshows. And they are absolutely correct, these people are eminently qualified to do so. But once I have spoken to these people, it seems that, what is being overlooked, is the impact it has on their day to day work – suddenly everything has to be put on hold whilst they spend a whole day trying to book meetings, venues, flights, trains, cars, hotels, restaurants etc.
It doesn’t stop there, once everything is booked, I defy you to find me one roadshow that hasn’t changed significantly at some point from inception to close. The majority of changes need to be actioned there and then, everyone involved need to be kept in the loop and all of this whilst trying not to drop the ball on either the roadshow or their every day duties.
Throughout my time as a coordinator, I have come across everything that could go wrong, and all of this has a huge knock on effect on the whole roadshow – cars not turning up, flights cancelled or delayed, investors forgetting to diarise the meeting, wrong addresses; you name it, it has happened. I have even had an analyst from Hong Kong call me at 10pm to tearfully announce that she had been arrested at the Dutch border. And who can forget the tale of the banker with the rather upset tummy discovering that the toilet on the private jet was nothing more than a hole under one of the seats and a curtain to pull around; unfortunately this curtain was unable to save any of the other passengers, most notably the client’s CFO, from hearing everything that was happening.
At worst, you need to be able to jump into action with a quick fix; at best you should have checks in place to foresee and avoid most issues. I recently read about how a client was left stranded due to a taxi strike in London, which brought the roads to a standstill. The coordinator’s immediate response was to ask if they would mind riding bicycles. Whilst an amusing anecdote, and presumably was recounted to show “out of the box” thinking, I was pretty appalled by this response. A) Taxi strikes don’t spring up out of nowhere, this is something they should have known about beforehand; b) recommending bicycles? In a city with one of the best underground train systems in the world? The effect was that the story left me cringing. My point here though is that a good coordinator would have either recommended rejigging the schedule to avoid London on that day; set up the schedule with the clients knowing full well that they have to take the tube throughout the day; or book a meeting room and get the investors to come to them. Three easy fixes that do not involve bicycles.
Then you have the fun of roadshows where more than one bank is involved. I have heard many stories of one bank trying to undermine the coordinating bank; but thankfully have only had this happen to me once: somehow the presentations mysteriously disappeared from the car. I only hope that the culprit put them somewhere safe, rather than hurled them into the nearest bin. One of my US colleagues had all the cars cancelled from the airport pick up in NY. Not the end of the world as it was 11pm and they didn’t have any meetings to race to, but it did lead to absolutely furious clients. It did make me wonder about the relationship that they have with their car company, as I know that the company I use would never cancel a car on the say so of anyone other than myself.
And that neatly leads me onto the subject of having vendors that you trust 100%. It is actually pretty difficult and time consuming to work your way through some of the dreadful service providers out there, before you come to one that is near enough perfect. What really doesn’t help is the procurement practices in many companies, where you are only allowed to use x car company / hostess company etc. as they are £2 an hour cheaper than the far superior provider. In these cases you really do get what you pay for. It is so vitally important to have the utmost faith in the companies that you are relying on – you need to know that your driver knows not only the city, but also where the investors are based. You need to know that your AV company will ensure that your group presentation runs without a hitch. You need to know that the telephone company who are running your global investor call aren’t going to mess up and leave your CEO speaking to thin air (yes, this has happened to me – damn procurement!). This knowledge can only come from years of experience and networking.
Being responsible for roadshow logistics is a classic “no upside/significant downside” situation.
And to end on a light note, here is the private jet story because, true or not, it’s too fabulous not to propagate (warning: not suitable for the easily offended)