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July 5, 2010

Meetings and events industry gets economic and political wake-up call

The first two session at this year’s Summer Eventia, currently under way at Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference centre, took a fascinating look at the current economic and political climate in the UK and how it will affect the meetings and events industry.

The first keynote was delivered by economics heavyweight Dr Dominic Swords. Although clearly sceptical about the Government’s severe measures, and expressing concern that public sector events would decline significantly in the face of major cutbacks, he emphasised that small and medium-sized businesses were best placed to negotiate the fragile economy successfully.

“As long as meetings and events businesses don’t submit to the temptation to focus on sale and growth this year, they should make it through these tough times,” he told delegates. “Companies need to look at the changes and opportunities that are out there and react accordingly.”

As the recovery kicks in, Swords said there would be an increase in demand for meetings and events, but that companies will want to see a better return for their investment.

“There will need to be a behavioural change,” he said. “Digital technology will need to be harnessed to deliver more value, and companies may have to adjust their margins to gain business and succeed.”

Meanwhile, the following session saw former shadow tourism and sport minister and longstanding meetings and events industry supporter Peter Greenway underline the need for companies across the sector to support the Business Visits and Events Partnership’s Meetings Manifesto for Britain. This document was recently presented to the UK government to raise awareness of the importance of the industry and what the state could do to encourage growth in the sector.

“This is a strong, reasoned document that puts forward the case for the industry clearly to government,” he said. “But individual companies should also use it to engage with their local MPs to make sure their voice is heard.”

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