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APPG for Events told: "Time is running out"

Business meetings and events organisations will only be viable for another seven and half months, according to the latest industry research by the Meetings Industry Association (mia).  A study of almost 250 venues, hotels and suppliers, which has been presented to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events (APPG), revealed how 90% believe they cannot survive beyond the next two years without any additional Government support, after enduring average revenue losses of over £2,560,000 to date.

The association warns that even if the Government was to allow business meetings and events to proceed from April with limits to 50% of their capacity, 71% say it would take beyond 12 months to return to profitability.

As a result of such losses, the impact of Covid-19 on booking and enquiry levels and the Government support packages currently available, nearly three-quarters (74%) have had to reduce their full-time employees by an average 38%. For 13% – this figure has risen to between 81-100% of their workforce being made redundant.

Ninety percent of event businesses surveyed have utilised the Job Retention Scheme and currently, on average, 53% of the employees represented in the survey are on furlough. Of those, 81% listed operational roles (kitchen, catering, housekeeping) and 76% noted venue/event management staff are currently on furlough. Sales and marketing functions have also seen 66% placed on furlough alongside 39% of leadership roles.

When it comes to Government support, almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents have found it relatively straight forward to obtain business rate relief from their local authority.

However, 33% of respondents have seen their organisation rejected for Government support that they felt it should have been provided – including business rate relief, CBILS, local grants, bounce back loans. Reasons for rejection include having a rateable value too high, being a not-for profit organisation and not being classed as a ‘Hospitality’ business for eligible grants.

Eighty-three percent of the sector have made it very clear that an extension of the furlough scheme to the end of Q3 would be of greatest benefit, followed by a sector-specific recovery package (76%) to support corporate confidence.

Meanwhile, as a unique business-to-business sector, 65% would like to see the responsibility for the sector switched from the government’s department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to ensure its interests are correctly represented.

Fifty-six percent are keen for an extended business rates holiday to April 2022 and 55% would like to see the government underwrite events insurance to mitigate risk and stimulate corporate confidence and demand.  

Jane Longhurst (pictured), chief executive of the mia, described the findings as presenting a “very bleak picture” for the future of the business meetings and events sector.

“The headline results were presented to the APPG on Monday and they have been supplied with the entire findings report, which has also been share directly with the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS),” said Longhurst.

“These latest findings clearly demonstrate that with demand for the sector’s services severely threatened until restrictions are reduced and consumer confidence slowly begins to rebuild, time is running out for our sector.”

To download a copy of the report, visit https://www.mia-uk.org/COVID-19-Recent-Industry-Findings.