London mayoral candidate, Zac Goldsmith is committed to supporting London as a destination for international events according to his campaign chair, Nick de Bois.
Speaking at International Confex at Olympia London on 2 March, de Bois suggested that Goldsmith appreciates the importance of welcoming international events to the capital and the impact they have on the city. “He will be committed to making London the number one international destination for congresses,” said de Bois. “Zac’s view is that what is good for the event sector is good for London.”
De Bois also spoke about the need for raising awareness of the industry and an increased focus on education. He asked that the industry pull together to work with universities and colleges to ensure the skillset that they require is included in courses. “It would be interesting to know how many businesses in the industry are offering apprenticeships now. We could be doing more,” he said.
De Bois added that Britain needed to be winning “a bigger share of congresses and shows. We are not dominating that market”.
Touching on the formation of the new Events Industry Board, de Bois said it could help to break down some boundaries with government: “We want government and our ambassadors out there selling,” he said. “The board now has convening powers,” he reminded, adding that EIB was “just the starting point; we need stamina to push through to our goals”.
He picked out successful sectors for events, in particular, as being Life Sciences, Hi-Tech and Skills but said the UK was still not bringing enough of other conference business in.
Asked by keynote facilitator Mike Lyons about student development programmes in the industry, de Bois said: “We need to be more ambitious.” And he issued a challenge to the sector: “Get together with colleges if you’re worried by the skillsets coming through.”
And de Bois was certain that the more industry explored the potential of events to affect the bottom line, the more successful their businesses would be. “The reality is that the more directors explore the potential of the sector, the better it is for the sector. We need to be competing as we have a fantastic story to tell.
“Company directors do get turned on by the message: Cisco and IBM are two companies that don’t really do much marketing other than live events and meetings. That’s a powerful statement.”