The UK events industry finally received the good news last Friday that conferences and exhibitions will be permitted in England from 1 October 2020.
In his latest address, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that these changes must be done in a COVID-Secure way and would be subject to the successful outcome of pilots.
Industry associations responded positively to the news. Simon Hughes, Chair: Business Visits & Events Partnership, said in a statement: “While this news will come as a great relief to the entire events industry, we are still conscious that the sector will require significant support going forward, as it looks to rebuild and renew, and we will continue to engage with government to look at practical ways to ensure that our world class industry continues to thrive and support the UK’s overall recovery over the years to come.
“We also look forward to working with DCMS to ensure a successful outcome of the pilot scheme and will provide further updates to the industry as soon as we are able. Finally, we would like to thank the entire events industry for their patience, resilience and support that they have demonstrated over what has been an incredibly challenging few months, and we look forward to working together, with one voice, as we look towards the next stage of our recovery.”
Lex Butler, Chair, HBAA, also welcomed the news: “At long last, finally we have a date to work to and the uncertainty is over,” she said, but added: “we’re reserving our celebrations until we see the small print.”
Jane Longhurst, chief executive of The Meetings Industry Association (mia), believes the news was positive proof that the Government has been listening to the sector and understands that we can open safely.
She added: “We are currently awaiting the detail of the pilot events, but we do know they are to offer Public Health England the chance to test the industry’s ability to hold major events with large numbers of people. We also understand that the guidance will include the news that COVID-Secure venues can immediately open for events up to 30 people, which is a fantastic step forward.
“To ensure that we reopen and operate in a COVID-Secure way, it will be imperative that the sector follows the guidance when it is issued by Government as well as the mia’s Roadmap to reopening and operating safely.”
For an in-depth overview on the government announcement, check out Business events reopening: what you need to know on Conference News
So what’s next?
The government giving the go-ahead for live events is a huge step forwards, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to boost confidence and persuade corporate clients and the general public that events can be delivered safely.
During our micebook talks to Industry Voices event last week, a panel session featuring viewpoints from government, client, agency and the media on the reality facing the events industry, looked ahead at priorities for the next three to six months.
For Michael Hirst OBE, Events Industry Board Chair, the focus will be on helping government understand the role events can play in reviving the economy.
Martin Fullard, editor of Conference News and Mash Media editorial director, said: “Brands will be led by what their audiences want. We need to let their audiences know that live is the best, and that live events can be safe. The next three months for the industry have to be a PR campaign to really show the benefits of live experiences. If being locked up in our homes has taught us anything, it’s that we are social creatures and brands need to get out there and create live events and experiences to get their messages across. This novelty of looking into a webcam is wearing off very quickly.”
Fullard called on the industry to share stories and help get the national media onside.
CWT Meeting & Events Global VP, Commercial Ian Cummings agreed that PR is hugely important for the industry to move forward. “As an agency, we need to be doing a PR campaign to our customers and building confidence. The government piece is really important but it’s actually convincing our customers that it’s the right thing to do and its sensible and safe for them to host events.”
One Industry, One Voice, One Message
On Monday, BVEP’s Simon Hughes and CEO of Smyle agency, Rick Stainton, wrote an open letter to the live events industry, introducing a new One Industry, One Voice, One Message campaign and calling for industry support.
Published by Conference News, the letter thanks the “huge effort has gone into lobbying the government by our associations and key players” and those who have already supported the One Industry, One Voice, One Message mantra.
Under a One Industry, One Voice, One Message mantra, the campaign’s aims are:
- to reassure that we are the experts globally in safety measures, as well as creative, digital and sustainability
- to inspire by showcasing what we do, the lives our work touches & the projects we deliver
- to educate our contribution to the economy in employment, GDP, exports, our eco-system including young employment opportunities/range of jobs on offer
Read the full letter here and find out how you can add your support to the campaign.