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Why has the events industry been forgotten during Covid-19?

Since the 4th of July, pubs, restaurants and hotels are legally allowed to open as long as they abide by certain rules like one way systems etc.

There has been a lot of planning and preparation that has gone into the events industry to try and get companies back on their feet. Unfortunately due to such uncertainty nobody in the entire industry knew what was going on.

The BVEP (Business Visits and Events Partnership) previously warned if the industry is not allowed to open up quickly it will put 500,000 industry jobs at risk. They believe the industry still needs extra financial support such as: a special extension of the furlough scheme, continuing business rates relief, commercial rent relief, or a delay of corporation tax. These are just a few suggestions that the struggling industry may need to stay alive.

Here is a breakdown of the direct spend within the industry using figures from 2019:

· Conferences and meetings – £19.9 billion

· Exhibitions and trade fairs – £11.0 billion

· Incentive travel and performance improvement – £1.2 billion

· Corporate hospitality and corporate events – £1.2 billion

· Outdoor events – £1.1 billion

· Festivals and cultural events – £1.1 billion

· Music events – £1.3 billion

· Sporting events – £2.3 billion

As you can see the industry in 2019 was worth more than £27 billion, this is quite a large part of the economy to just forget about!

What I mean when I say ‘Been Forgotten’

One of the main issues regarding the events industry throughout this crisis has been lack of identity. Since the 2012 Olympics the UK has been recognised as one of the leader’s in the event hosting world but the problem is the government have never appreciated the contribution to the GDP from our industry.

This being said the priority in lockdown was to ultimately save lives but when all other sectors were being dealt information like barbers for example the event industry stayed in the dark.

I believe the reason we as an industry have been forgotten is firstly because people completely overlooked live events. For example, people assumed live events were so easily replaced with virtual events that the government put us at the bottom of a very long list of industries needing help and information.

This not only affected many business decisions, it affected people’s livelihoods and many people were even made redundant. There are two reasons for this, the first being that due to lack of information, business decisions were made based on assumptions and other things like fake news. This means they may have been rash and not been the best decision but everyone in the industry was stressing due to the lack of information.

Another reason for this is the fact people thought live events were so easily replaced with virtual events. The problem is with virtual events is they just can’t keep the events sector growing like the way it was before lockdown. The main reason for this is because it takes one to five people to run a virtual exhibition but between one hundred and two hundred people to run a live exhibition. This means that about five in every one hundred people would be working and the other 95 would be out of work.

The problem is people are now understanding the benefit live events actually have to the entire economy. If it wasn’t for an exhibition how could you get suppliers, buyers, marketers, planners etc all in the same place creating business. Some people think virtual events are sufficient but they are only to an extent. It was as if the government thought about every sector that holds events but not the actual events sector.

People buy people, this is why live exhibitions are so important. Virtual events in my opinion have been a good way to maintain day to day running of events such as networking meetings etc because they are easily controlled. When it comes to the larger events I believe having a virtual aspect of the event is a brilliant way of increasing delegates but I believe people enjoy live events due to the social aspects, the food and definitely the alcohol!

Until about the 20th of July the entire events industry had had one update, it was that weddings could have up to 30 people. Since then the government have shed a small light on what the plan is regarding social distancing, large events, large business meetings and so on!

So I believe a major thing they mentioned in their announcement was that they aim to get events back up and running with social distancing in place by October. This gives a vague idea of when conferences and events will be organised for.

Another major announcement was that they hope social distancing will be eradicated by the end of November 2020.

This is just a small amount of information given to the events industry but it brings hope and forward thinking along with it. As a sector all we can do is look forward to the start of October and just listen out for any more announcements along the way!

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