The results of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) Events Industry Referendum Impact Survey, released 17 November, have identified four key event industry priorities for consideration during the forthcoming EU exit negotiations.
Talent, tariffs and trade emerged as the big issues in the research, the BVEP said.
Drawing on responses from a range of event industry venues, suppliers and contractors, the survey found that 62% of respondents identified their number one priority (by some way) as safeguarding trade. Eventprofs were keen to see a reduction in uncertainty and increasing engagement with new markets.
The second highest consideration reported was reviewing existing legislation in order to ensure future business can be conducted efficiently (16%). The third most important issue was investing in UK infrastructure to improve Britain’s competitive position in the global market (12%).
The fourth priority was investing in people in order to manage the impact of changes to foreign worker status in the UK (9%).
Britain’s reputation as an events destination was another major interest for survey respondents including: the potential perception of the UK as protectionist and unfriendly; damage to the UK’s reputation for being a modern international leader and trendsetter; and the danger of European conventions stopping the inclusion of the UK on their rotation patterns.
The survey also highlighted opportunities that have emerged since the EU referendum result. The fall in the value of sterling was cited as an opportunity for some businesses, although this was offset against projects being delivered in Europe where margins were being eroded due to the exchange rate.
An increase in domestic business was cited by some respondents, particularly in relation to the need for additional conferences and meetings required by clients to help support SMEs face a more competitive trading future.
BVEP’s report points out that the questions raised by Brexit are compounded by the already wide range of issues and considerations that affect the events industry. As well as a lack of hard data on the events industry from a single recognised source, these include: workforce issues; aviation capacity; regulation; and specific initiatives such as the Tour Operator Margin Scheme (TOMS).
However, the report suggests that there is an opportunity for the industry to reposition itself as a broader trading nation and also that the future success of the UK events industry is inexorably linked to the longer term impacts on the key industrial sectors it serves.
Where the automotive sector succeeds, for example, so too will events such as product launches, dealer training session, trade shows and consumer experiences.
Calling on the events sector to help prioritise the key issues for government in the forthcoming EU negotiations, BVEP vice-chair and report author Simon Hughes (pictured) said: “Having identified the wide range of touch points that could affect our industry, the next stage is to identify a specific ‘Brexit Manifesto’ to make sure events are taken into account in any positioning of UK plc.
“Over the next two years or so, we have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the links between events and international trade. This is a chance for all event professionals to be seen and heard, while the government’s agenda is firmly focussed on protecting and enhancing our global reputation for business.”