posted on 13 july, 2015

What a lovely afternoon we had in the city in June!

Our host Alistair Turner led an interesting debate on brand Britain for our lunch at the fantastic Chiswell Street Dining Rooms last month.

Joined by a eclectic mix of event professionals from Nexim Events, Ashdown Academy, Classic Venue Solutions, Evolve Events, The Broadsword Production Group, DoubleDutch, Park Lane Events, The Business Narrative and Eventopedia.

To kick off the proceedings everyone was asked to explain how they got into the industry and what they love about it the most!

No real surprise that most of the table fell into events by accident, apart from one who’s mum seemed to have had it all planned out for her! One had a  background in theatre design, a couple had Art and Advertising degrees, but what stood out were the comments about what is truly great about our industry which included; no one day is ever the same, there’s a place and position for everyone, interaction with new people, and my personal favourite, the magic of creating something new and interesting and delighting a client!

Alistair got a few laughs with his introduction and comment that “you would not want me organising your event!”, you would however want him looking after your PR campaign, and he went on to explain the history of Britain for Events which he has spearheaded recently.

The main aim of Britain for Events is to encourage business, consumers and governments to engage in the industry.

People who come to Britain like to do events and Britain for Events work very closely with the UK government to support the industry, with Alistair explaining that there is a very engaged and interested group of people in government at the moment. There are also the events they hold with UK government and the All Party Parliamentary Group to add to the mix.

The 4th audience of the campaign is of course the industry itself and they work closely with associations such as EVCOM who as we know represent a good cross section of the industry. They are also relaunching, as anyone who attended the Meetings Show last week and follows this blog will know, #NEMO – National Events Month!

The group were asked what they would say to business about our industry and answers included; businesses need to realise the power of live events, there should be more focus on live relationships especially in the technological world we’re living in, the creative industry in this country is seen as a global leader, we should lock into the brand association of London and the visual backdrop of holding an event in the capital.

Social Media was raised, the biggest thing to have happened to communications in recent years and some of the very best examples of social media are directly due to an event!

Therefore should we not change the message we send out from “You should being having an event” to “This is why you should be having an event”?

The question came up on how we can make Britain more welcoming, after the UK was apparently voted no 130 out 136 countries for it’s welcome!

With this in mind what should we be saying to government to change this? Headway is being made with DCMS and conversations are also being held with the Treasury and Homeland Security particularly in regards to a special events visa, trialed for the Commonwealth Games, the visa is available as long as the event is international, pre-authorised and a minimum of 2,500 delegates.

However, what if your event is bringing 400 of the most senior people in a specific industry to London or the UK how do you approach that?  The special events visa is a start but we still have some way to go.

Another topic that was discussed is red tape when pitching for business, not just for the big corporations but the smaller businesses and the freelancers in the industry as well. It was agreed that we need to lobby government more to raise the tax threshold for placing and holding events and encourage everyone to back the campaign.

Procurement was discussed, it was agreed that whilst we do not have a very positive relationship, our Industry the same as procurement, is still maturing and professionalising and rather than demonising should we not campaign with good examples of how procurement has had a benefit to the industry.

The challenges with procurement are not always about cost and we should also be saying “This is how we manage events, don’t stop me engaging with my customers”.

A fantastic lunch and interesting debate with an extremely topical end as our next lunch, this coming Friday with the Conference Doctors will centre more around the procurement debate!

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