Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for events, Nick de Bois MP, speaking on Day 1 of International Confex last month, urged the industry “not to lose momentum” and to keep talking to government with one voice. “Pack one big punch and you make a difference”.
The MP was reviewing the industry’s achievements in making its case in the corridors of power over the 12 months since he last addressed Confex visitors.
“I am a lot happier now. We were never heard at the table five years ago and now, over the last year, the government is working with industry to drive growth in this sector,” he said.
And, it was not just a matter of steady improvement in the UK. De Bois urged more joined up co-operation in the face of increasing international competition. “The reality is that when other countries bid for major events, they roll out the red carpet. We must get the soft power of government behind the effort to bring business in.”
Government also tended to focus on the spectacle of events and not on what goes on behind the scenes, he noted.
Asked about the approaching effect of the election on the industry, De Bois said he thought that, whatever the outcome, civil servants were at least now able to ensure some continuity for supporting the events industry. “We have fed in analytics to DCMS, which is then to report on its strategy to support the industry,” he added.
However, the APPG chairman warned the events industry must not be complacent and needed to up its game and “come to the table” with a louder and more united voice.
“You won’t get what you want if you don’t stand up. You have a lot to lose,” de Bois warned.
The MP also said the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) was the best available single conduit for talking to government and urged industry professionals to use it to make themselves heard on issues ranging from visas to other regulations affecting the sector.
CN asked de Bois what the current government was doing to improve superfast broadband speeds in the UK and in London in view of ambitious plans for a Tech City in the capital. He urged telecoms companies to do more to “help us lead” in events.
He also fielded questions on the Bribery Law and impediments to offering corporate hospitality at the Rugby World Cup. “Transparency,” he said was key in dealing with government on what he termed “complex” issues.
De Bois wrapped up with a call for the industry not just to stand up, but to back the BVEP with proper finance so that the meetings and events industry message could go out across the breadth of government.
This was first published in the March issue of CN. Any comments? Email: Zoe Vernor