As the green shoots of recovery for UK eventprofs start to flourish, events industry consultant Chris McQue calls on the MICE industry to support the Global Arms Race…
Dear Meetings & Events Pros of Planet Earth,
Test-event results have been deemed a success; demand to ‘get the troops together’ is returning; we are clawing our way to 90% double-vaccination & herd immunity; as I write, Sterling is at a 3-month high v Euro and the dollar remains stimulus-strong. Good signs yes, but is this explosion of hope well-placed or commercially naive? Solid economics or wishful thinking? A ‘Roaring 20’s’ demand bubble that we just know will burst; a stream of summer soap-sud spheres that promises much but hardly clears the fence?
The simple truth that there’s ‘No Wealth without Health‘ is something that the industry gets in theory – but doesn’t really. In this business, Little Britain just cannot go it alone, but neither can the US, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, South Africa or even China. No-one can.
It’s the Global bit that’s missing from the postulating posts and the round-and-round, part-furloughed ‘Eventprof’ webinars that aren’t getting anything done to tackle the problem quickly or deeply enough. Even putting ethical and humanitarian considerations aside, this industry cannot ‘build back better‘ until we get the whole world vaccinated – and the politicians are just not moving quickly enough. The Cornwall G7 pledged just 1bn vaccinations and completely missed the 11bn WHO target opportunity; the UK has slipped from being a global leader on genome sequencing and vaccination development to one content to return to domestic ‘Brexit Party’ issues, defending the cut to foreign aid while new infections go through the roof – here, there and everywhere. Leaving it all to ‘uncommon sense’ and imposing business-busting U-turns at the 9th hour. The Biden administration is facing blocks to progress in Congress alongside Republican state vax-hesitancy and has conceded that it will not hit the 70% target any time soon. EU countries are finally getting their vaccination acts together – and hanging onto perfectly-chilled, plentiful stocks; even planning autumn booster campaigns while Covax is not getting the support it needs.
The undeveloped world, meanwhile, has less than 1% of vaccination levels seen across Europe, UK & the US. Without the technology, infrastructure, supplies or local expertise, sub-Saharan Africa is at an emergency danger-level that is hardly making the news. More-transmissible, vaccination-resistant Covid variants are emerging in South American countries such as Peru where the ‘below radar’ crisis shows how the poorer countries of Planet Earth are heading for human disaster. That’s before we get onto Yemen, Ethiopia, Syria or Afghanistan. It’s a similar story in so many other countries – from Indonesia to India, Nepal to Cuba.
Although we relish throwing off ‘live shackles’ for home soil events and dive deeply into immersive new-tech to join up regions, many agencies, trade show & exhibition organisers have traditionally enjoyed much (often most) of their revenues from inter-continental, experiential projects deployed outside their own countries. We really are a global industry – so let’s start talking and walking like one. As new variants rise and fall, cross-border B2B events will also ebb and flow and, at macro-level, the chaos will continue. Surely, enlightened self-interest alone should be enough to bring this sector together and see beyond the point that No-One (or No Business!) is safe until we’re all safe?
So, what can we all do?
Fortunately, some pathways already exist and our sector has always had a collective human spirit that shares, supports, survives and spurns nationalistic myopia.
- We can get behind a determined campaign from ‘slow newsroom’ Tortoise Media: https://www.tortoisemedia.com/file/arms-race/
- We can create our own online media forum that leads global Meetings & Events industry collaboration on this vital issue
- We can encourage everyone across the world of Live to ‘Go Give One’: https://gogiveone.org/
- We can continue to demand that our governments get the link between global health, climate change and economic rebuilding at the heart of the COP26 agenda; at the G20 in Italy; and again next spring – to start properly ‘Levelling Up’ across the undeveloped world, as much as at home, wherever that may be
- We can influence one of the biggest segments in our sector – Healthcare, to see the issue, see how much we care and to continue donating supplies & expertise to the places and people that need them
- We can get the message into every audience of delegates, every corporate, B2C & public sector event we manage from this point forwards
My hope is that the MICE media barons and major agency leaders will get behind this campaign to support the global ‘Arms Race’. To bury our heads in the sand now will not further the lot of truly international events. It will certainly not help those across the globe now facing a crisis that we may only be starting to compute.