Over 50 event planners attended the inaugural Event Connect event on 11 July at the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Event Connect attracted a line-up of industry big-hitters curated by Jackie Mulligan, enterprise fellow at the University.
Keynote speakers Emma Cartmell were founder of the Conference and Hospitality Show and Nick Tinker of Crowd Compass. Panelists included Fay Sharpe, VP of BCD Meetings and Events and Mark Saxby, executive director of C2Events, Paul Cook, from Planet Planit, Elizabeth Conboy, sales manager for Manchester Central and Gee Mann, founder of iBookedin.
Organisers hope the event will roll out into a series of events.
Cartmell’s keynote provided insights on business strategy in turbulent times, telling her own journey of founding her business in 2008.
The Panellists discussed the challenges in an environment which has included political instability, currency fluctuations, data regulations, social media, events ROI, Brexit and potential talent shortages and marketing.
Data regulation, another challenge, was also viewed as an opportunity, with fewer emails and cold calls potential leading to a resurgence of more face to face networking events to build relationships.
Mulligan added that Brexit had resulted in different opinions that showed positives and negatives: “Positives included better value for inward bound business with the low pound but challenges included talent in particular in hospitality. One of the most poignant remarks was that it is important to remember that we are Europeans, just not necessarily in the EU.”
Big pointers for venues for the future, Mulligan said, was the importance of selling a destination rather than an event, venue or hotel.
Nick Tinker provided a rapid tour of four tech trends identifying low cost and more elaborate ways technology could be used to engage participants and gather data to better inform strategic decisions. Gee Mann presented his iBookedin platform for venues and buyers.
Shaun Litler, head of the Events Management course at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “I am really pleased with this great start for our event connect series that builds on our successful annual conference to provide more networking and educational opportunities for regional venues and planners. We aim to continue the series so that both the University and industry can better understand each other in terms of educational, talent and research needs.”