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June 19, 2009

Izania Downie:Great idea, but mammoth task

A summit has been proposed for UK events industry associations to be held on Monday 21 September 2009 to “champion a collective voice for the industry”. Eventia’s chief executive recognises the need for associations to work more closely together, but stresses the difficulty of successfully achieving this.

I think it is a great idea to get more lined-up strategy and actions between the industry associations. We have been working and talking with a number of the key players over the last 18 months or so to work out how we can align ourselves more closely without losing focus for our individual members.

In my experience, it is going to be a very hard task to create an umbrella that truly represents all fragments of our industry, but it is something for which, for the sake of us all, we should put aside individual agendas and try to make this happen.
One voice
Of course there already exists the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), which operates for the purpose of lobbying government under one voice. However, this doesn’t take into account the many other activities we undertake, such as education, training, networking events, awards, etc.

Furthermore, as it is backed by VisitBritain, it doesn’t take account of outbound events (a significant part of our members’ business), and, therefore, the issues surrounding these, which are very important to us and no doubt to some of the other associations.
Past failures
My concern over this initiative is that the task ahead is a mammoth one – I hope people don’t underestimate what it will take to make this happen.

In the past, various associations, including ours in its former guise of ITMA, have tried to create something similar, and for many reasons, no one has ever been able to pull it off successfully.

Time and money
The biggest task facing any association is financing and resource, and a task such as this requires a huge amount of both. So, especially in the current climate, where the focus for any business is very much on revenue-generating activities, will the industry put its money and time where its mouth is and, despite best intentions, will they be able to?

I certainly hope so, but it does remain to be seen.

I applaud the effort of Duncan Reid to pull this together. I certainly hope he hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew. But, if anyone can do this, I believe he is better placed than most and I will support him fully in his efforts.

Izania Downie is the chief executive of events industry association Eventia

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