Conference News December/ January 2022 - Page 8

8 Association comment


Des McLaughlin , HBAA board director , writes about the power of business events and the importance of government support
he vast and diverse business events industry has an integral role to play in the UK government ’ s recovery plan , but continuing government support is vital to overcome its staffing issues .
In recent years , the business events , accommodation , and meetings industry has earned a prominent profile in government as a key driver of economic growth and societal development . We all understand the sector ’ s core value is to facilitate and support vital exchanges in the areas of corporate , professional , academic , and social development .
In the face of fresh challenges brought about by Covid-19 , business events must remain high on the government ’ s agenda . Why ? This industry is a crucial vehicle for driving forward the government ’ s Build Back Better plan . While it ’ s a significant sector in itself – worth £ 84bn and employs 700,000 people – it can and must be utilised strategically to deliver recovery , transition , and revival for every UK sector .
Not only that , but events also enable collaboration and innovation , education and knowledge transfer , relationship building , business growth , and accelerate progress . Many sectors have been forced to rapidly adapt during the pandemic and events are fundamental for supporting such change and transformation . They also impact communities and leave a long-term legacy , as well as boost the local economy of the event ’ s host city or location .
Business events take place in highly controlled and structured environments , with rigorous health and safety policies , often with a Covid-safe accreditation so they can provide reassurance to those with natural concerns around Covid security at events . Testing , contact tracing , mask-wearing , and any other measures can be easily implemented . This helps to make them safer than a generic mass public gathering . Because of their economic role , they are also a necessity .
Governmental support To keep the world of events moving forward , funding , financial relief , and governmental support have been paramount and will continue to be vital until client confidence is fully restored , and the recovery of the industry is complete . That may well not be until later in 2022 .
“ Clients need to have confidence when booking and this can only come from a cohesive government policy and leadership ,” says Simon Richards , HBAA Treasurer and
Des McLaughlin
managing director of Convenus .
The HBAA , soon to be known as beam , represents 300 UK member organisations , including more than 200 hotel groups and venues and 90 agencies . Since March 2020 , many previously viable SMEs have either closed , made many of their staff redundant , or have struggled to survive through no fault of their own . This is despite welcome valuable initiatives such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme , business rate relief , and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ( better known as furlough ).
Some 20 months on , the fragility of events and business tourism has been underlined once again by recent measures introduced in the wake of Omicron . Supply chain issues persist , and the effects of Brexit are still being worked through .
There are challenges around credit , too , particularly for smaller booking agents that rely more heavily on meetings and events www . conference-news . co . uk