'We haven’t played our cards yet' - Share your thoughts on Brexit

James Heappey, MP, and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for UK Events identifies three big Brexit-related issues for the UK events industry.

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn
brexit-new-resized.jpg

Speaking at a Meetings Industry Association EU roundtable discussion (sponsored by EN’s sister title Conference News) at Church House in London last night (11 October), Heappey recognised the need to push the industry’s voice with ‘soft power’ and believed the three main Brexit-related issues for the events sector to lobby on were:

  • The ability to recruit and retain staff
  • Easing access (including visa questions) for international business people from emerging markets to come to the UK
  • The potential threat to UK companies accessing the industry supply chain in the EU post-Brexit

He has called for the UK events industry to line up with the hospitality lobby and concentrate on these issues, when talking to government about the challenges of Brexit.

 

A panel of industry leading figures took part in a lively discussion, as part of the mia’s ongoing campaign to ensure its members are best equipped to maximise business opportunities and minimise the impact of Brexit.

 

Mia chief executive Jane Longhurst opened the roundtable with a call for the industry to keep communicating over the implications of Brexit and to keep the issue firmly on the agenda.

 

 

 

 

Chairing the roundtable, Jeremy Jacobs asked the panel whether reports of exports rising six per cent in September and of the positive effects of the falling pound for exports had created any bounce or bubble for the events sector.

 

Heappey said the markets hadn’t reacted to the full implications of Brexit yet: “We haven’t played our cards yet and I’m not sure the long-term macro implications are good.”

 

Tracy Halliwell , director of business tourism and major events at London & Partners, said London had seen a 40 per cent jump in enquiries for events, although admitted some of that was domestic demand.

 

“London is suddenly not such an expensive destination,” she noted and there were some reports of bookers from abroad looking to lock in payments at the current more favourable exchange rate.

 

Jonathan Morris, commercial director at The King’s Fund in London, was not so bullish, reporting a 10% drop in business at the venue in recent months, post referendum.

 

And Dale Parmenter, group CEO for the drp group, said that although there were stories of foreign banks thinking of removing staff from London, four major financial institutions that his agency worked with were ramping up their events, at least in the short term.

 

Diane Waldron, sales and marketing director at the QEII Centre, noted enquiries had reason at her venue 10% since the June vote, although she admitted: “Clients are expressing concerns. Beyond that, it is more of a ‘wait and see’”.

 

Heappey reminded the panel that the UK was the fifth largest economy in the world and said he was sure banks weren’t going to quit London.

 

After much discussion on staffing issues for the industry, the visa situation and security implications of taking back control of UK borders, the panel’s consensus was to look to the positives and to ensure Government heard the voice of a united industry which should be sharing experiences and information and concentrating its lobbying fire on the three key issues identified, with staffing issues in general and short-term contract staffing for hospitality in particular, the number one concern.

 

As Parmenter said: “We should be looking at opportunities and playing up our strengths, not the downside.”

 

Halliwell added that the industry’s voice had got a lot stronger of late: “We do have a voice now and people are listening, including the DCMS. And our sector does underpin economic growth.”

 

Waldron added: “We need to shout about the value of the events industry and of knowledge sharing. It is not just about money.”

 

“If the visitor offer is so compelling, then it buys out some of the risk of Brexit,” noted Heappey, who urged efforts to keep the UK as a destination of choice for events.

 

“The industry needs not to lose heart, although the worst of the economic consequences is still to come,” he said.

 

Heappey again stressed the importance of the meetings and events sector to work closely with the hospitality industry on its input to government in order to stand out. “Every sector will seek to tweak legislation to its own interest and it is important, therefore, not to lobby as sub sectors.” The industry, he advised, should also consider getting the services of a professional lobbying agency.

 

The MP’s final words of advice: “See the opportunity and have a plan to navigate the situation."

 

 

[A full report on the mia roundtable will be published in November’s Conference News magazine.]

James Heappey is set to speak to the debate on Brexit and the tourism industry, on 12 October in parliament. Coverage available on the Parliamentary Channel.

 

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

Lights up

As Showlite celebrates its 25th birthday, founder Paul Wicks looks back on the company’s history and reflects on the industry.

Waste not, want not

Soraya Gadelrab, portfolio director – food, drink & packaging at Fresh Montgomery, on the organiser’s partnership with charity City Harvest.

Eventcity to host Digital Kids Show

Manchester has been chosen to host a line-up of famous YouTubers in November, as part of the all-inclusive family day out Digital Kids Show.

Elsewhere on EN

Eventcity to host Digital Kids Show

Eventcity to host Digital Kids Show

Manchester has been chosen to host a line-up of famous YouTubers in November, as part of the all-inclusive family day out Digital Kids Show.
Successful 2nd outing for ChileCare Expo Manchester

Successful 2nd outing for ChileCare Expo Manchester

On 16-17 June, Childcare Expo Manchester opened its doors for the second time for its return at EventCity, welcoming 1,686 visitors to the venue.
Messe Frankfurt records highest ever result in 2016

Messe Frankfurt records highest ever result in 2016

Trade fairs are still going from strength to strength in Frankfurt 777 years after the first event of this kind was held there, with sales of over €650m planned in 2017

The Showlite Heroes

Most read Stories

Building emerald cities

Building emerald cities

From Malaria to Blenheim, through to UBM, Jane Risby-Rose – the 20-year story of her yellow brick road industry journey.
Come to Confex and be inspired

Come to Confex and be inspired

The exhibition and events industry is all about the power of face-to-face, the art of exhibiting and networking with old friends and new, which is why EN would like to personally invite you to attend International Confex to learn more.
5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

Looking to the future and learning from the past at AEO Forums 2016.

Latest News

Eventcity to host Digital Kids Show

Eventcity to host Digital Kids Show

Manchester has been chosen to host a line-up of famous YouTubers in November, as part of the all-inclusive family day out Digital Kids Show.
Successful 2nd outing for ChileCare Expo Manchester

Successful 2nd outing for ChileCare Expo Manchester

On 16-17 June, Childcare Expo Manchester opened its doors for the second time for its return at EventCity, welcoming 1,686 visitors to the venue.
Messe Frankfurt records highest ever result in 2016

Messe Frankfurt records highest ever result in 2016

Trade fairs are still going from strength to strength in Frankfurt 777 years after the first event of this kind was held there, with sales of over €650m planned in 2017

Latest Galleries

London Dungeon Lates

London Dungeon Lates

The London Dungeons has launched a unique nighttime experience with the theme of the seven deadly sins. The adults only tour includes seven themed food offerings and a range of themed drinks.
This Morning Live

This Morning Live

Tens of thousands of fans descended on the NEC on 18-21 May for This Morning Live, to see talent from ITVs award-winning daytime programme arrive in style.
Ideal Home Show Scotland

Ideal Home Show Scotland

The Ideal Home Show return to Glasgow for its 70th Anniversary on 26-29 May, introducing the all-new Eat & Drink Festival to Scottish fans.

Latest Opinions

National mourning

National mourning

Mark Blair, divisional director of InEvexco, considers the insurance implications of the death of a monarch.
David's Inferno: The comfort zone

David's Inferno: The comfort zone

In the first of his new series of monthly columns, Cvent’s senior marketing director David Chalmers says it’s important to break out of the comfort zone.
Show or tell?

Show or tell?

Roopi Woodall, marketing manager at the QEII Centre, asks if the art of conversation on social media is dead – and how to engage with audiences if that’s the case.