Another Brexit deadline is just two weeks away, but whatever happens on Halloween, deal or no deal, uncertainty will continue to be felt within the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry.
Back in February 2016, four months before the Brexit vote took place, a C&IT snap poll of just over 40 event planners found that 73% of them opposed Brexit, with many believing it would stop Britain attracting new events. People seemed very worried that the UK would be seen as ‘an outsider’ destination for European companies looking to hold events here.
Three years on and this robust industry, which is worth a huge £41.2 billion to the UK economy, is still seen as a top events destination, delivering top-class, large scale events each year from Wimbledon to Ascot. While we remain ahead of the curve for now, what could be at stake after October 31st and should event managers be worried?
In the world of meetings, despite event managers facing challenges from GDPR, as well as the political instability caused by Brexit, the American Express Global Meetings & Events 2020 Forecast found that:
● The average meeting spend in Europe is expected to rise 2.1%
● Costs per attendee per day are expected to increase by 1.9%
● There are more meetings taking place than there is space available, so event managers need to make more of what they have while meeting ever increasing demands from delegates in terms of technology and experience
● By contrast, in North America, there will be a smaller 1.6% increase in overall event spend and meeting spend will fall partly to fuel an increase in incentive trips.
A potentially smaller market to trade with, plus a possible labour shortage, could cause disruption, but there is positivity within the industry and the general feeling is that if event managers continue to up their game and deliver high quality events to tight deadlines, then the UK can remain the ‘go to’ place for events.
Here are just some of the questions Brexit is bringing up…
Workforce: Free movement of EU workers could be restricted, and we all know how much manpower it takes to put on events. Will we lose skill sets and talent pools and how will we overcome this?
Going global: Brexit could open up lots of new opportunities for UK-based events agencies to do more around the world. As the research above shows, incentive travel is a growing market and places such as Oman are exciting upcoming destinations.
Travel: The impact that Brexit will have on travelling to the UK remains unclear, but could it make it less attractive to travel to? Closer to home, the possibility that major business could move out of London will make it harder for event companies to reach them.
Highly respected: While the British events industry is highly respected, we must continue to move with the times and ride out the Brexit wave by continuing to focus on our new workforce generation.
As Gerardo Tejado, general manager at American Express Meetings & Events says: “Meetings and events have cemented their place as a critical driver of communications, growth, and engagement for organisations of all shapes and sizes.”
Products and services will always need to be marketed and Brexit could open up lots of opportunities for new relationships, which is a big part of what our industry is all about.