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£30 billion industry faces ruin over winter months

The outdoor events industry, which provides entertainment for millions each summer, is on the verge of collapse following the lockdown this year, according to the Events Industry Forum, the organisation that represents the sector.

Already some 50 percent of the full-time workforce have been made redundant and another 25% will lose their jobs when furloughing ends at the end of this month (October).  In addition, thousands of freelance operators and part time employees have had little or no income this season.

In all outdoor events employ some 589,000 people, according to research by Bournemouth University carried out in 2019 and generate over £39 billion in spend, much in local community businesses around the locations where events happen.   See

The Events Industry Forum has made a direct appeal to Government for a period of targeted financial support as fears grow for businesses large and small the length and breadth of the country that rely on outdoor and indoor events for their survival.

Representing a wide range of events familiar to many such as Agricultural Shows, Firework displays and music events, the Forum has highlighted the fact that all such events rely on a common supply chain supplying basic infrastructure seen at all such events.

Whether it be public address systems, security, fencing right down to portable toilets, companies providing these items have undergone a devastating year. Without some support these businesses will not survive which will threaten the viability of events for 2021 and beyond.

“What we are asking for is a time limited support mechanism to cover the basic overheads of these businesses until the next season,” says Jim Winship, Secretary of the Forum.   “Compared to the funding of other industry sectors, a relatively small amount is needed to secure the future of this sector until the next season.

“Many businesses in this sector are small independent companies, or even sole traders, and we know that some support covering the winter period from November – March would on one hand guarantee their survival and the preservation of Britain’s vibrant events programme, but if properly focused and time limited it would not present the Treasury with a huge cost. Given the Gross Valued Added of this industry is estimated at £30billion, the £151 million support we estimate that is needed to keep the sector going over the winter is small compared to the contribution we can make to rebuilding the economy in the long term.

“Outdoor events are widely recognised as being a factor that will help the UK’s recovery.   Economic impact research shows that many outdoor events bring considerable revenue into businesses around them, from hotels and restaurants to shopping centres, all of which need help.   Furthermore, the research by Bournemouth University shows that these events make a positive contribution to community spirit – something we are all going to need as we come out of this pandemic.”


First live event staged in New York City as etc.venues partners with NECTR

The events industry of New York City came together live and virtually for the first time for many months when New York City’s first hybrid event ‘The Future is Now’, took place at etc.venues’ 360 Madison Avenue as a result of a partnership between etc.venues and event agency NECTR.

19 event professionals were at the venue in person (within the maximum limit) and more than 300 from all across the country joined in virtually to hear engaging discussions by three panels of industry experts moderated by Christina Matteucci of David Beahm Experiences on key current issues.

Topics included; How to Make Safety Guidelines Work; Navigating through a Virtual & Hybrid World and Building Community and Celebrating Creativity.

Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company and National Co-Chair of the Meetings Mean Business coalition who was at the venue in person said: “This is a remarkable event. We believe this is the first live event for the event industry here so it’s a critical moment and I’m really happy that it is happening. I’m sure that what we are going through now will make us better for the future. Events are a critical part of the recovery of New York City.”

Lauren Longest, Co-Founder of NECTR said. “NECTR, a female led event agency is committed to connecting brands and consumers through creative strategies and thoughtful storytelling. Our mission was simple; to have a live conversation about where we are today, where we’re going, and how we can all get there safely.

“As a community of problem solvers, innovators and creative thinkers, we came together to share insights to motivate and inspire our industry. We were lucky to have three esteemed panels of peers collectively discuss real-time solutions on adjusting and adapting to live events as we now know it" Longest added.

Fiona Macpherson, vice president, business development at etc.venues New York said “Hybrid events are for the short term the future of the industry until we can return to unrestricted live events. We knew from the successful pioneering activities of our London based team how best to run them safely and we were really happy to work with NECTR to showcase them. Having now received enquiries and bookings for meetings to take place this year, it’s great to see how this first event and the measures we have put in place have instilled confidence into planners to start booking again. We’re now working on a New York version of the UKickstart event which had a massive impact in the UK recently bringing the whole industry together.”

HBAA is spearheading a new campaign with a supporting member action group to rectify misperceptions of government rules and build confidence to kick-start the meetings and events sector.

‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart 30’ (#MSMS30) has been created after new HBAA research revealed there is confusion over the number of delegates allowed to attend meetings in England – currently 30 – which is preventing planners from having the confidence to book and organise permitted meetings.

The survey’s respondents, of which 38% were from the corporate sector; 31% from charities and 31% from a mixture of Government, Association and Education organisations, also expressed continued worries over safety. In total, 71% had concerns over employee and delegate safety. 

Some 65% stated they will only run online meetings and events in the foreseeable future. Almost all of the other respondents said that they will organise virtual or hybrid and will leave it to the delegates themselves to decide whether to attend in-person or online. 

The responses not only showed confusion over government guidance, but also a lack of understanding and confidence in the measures taken at venues.

As well as building confidence, the ‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart 30’ campaign will concentrate on communicating and supporting government regulations, which currently allow meetings of up to 30 people to take place in England, as well as highlighting the level of safety and flexibility of contractual terms and conditions at all venues involved.

This is a ‘free to participate’ campaign for both the venues and the agencies that promote them, and it does not suggest reducing meeting or delegate rates as the survey confirmed that price is not a barrier to booking. The campaign aims to provide facts, drive confidence and showcases that booking these permitted venues offers delegates tangible assurances.

Guy Mason, Managing Director of Brief2Event, said: “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the business meetings and events industry in an unimaginable way. The confusion in the marketplace regarding permitted numbers is stopping planners from having the confidence to even contemplate any sort of meeting or event.

“Venues, organisers, delegates and councils all need to know permitted delegate numbers as soon as guidance is announced or changes. Daily we are arguing with venues that are given false information from local councils regarding numbers of delegates. With more than 70% of all meetings being for 30 delegates or less, clarity is essential. This HBAA campaign is leading the way to rectify perceptions and get the industry back up and running.”

Michael Begley, managing director of, which operates a Safe Meetings database, said: “Our database showcases over 20,000 venues that have implemented comprehensive Covid-safe policies and procedures so there is a vast choice of Covid-secure venues nationwide.”

Lynn Fraser, Sales Director of Village Hotels, stated: "Village Hotels is delighted to be part of the Meet Safe, Meet Smart campaign. Whilst it is far from 'business as usual', we are proud to offer a safe place for our guests, delegates and clients to meet and work. As you'd expect, we've had to adapt and we've undergone some big changes over the last few months.

“We've reviewed every step of the customer journey, from a booker and a delegate's perspective and we've adopted a host of new measures from enhanced cleaning regimes, new room layouts, virtual showrounds and new food packages - all with the aim of keeping our clients, guests and teams safe. We have to try and get back to some kind of 'normal', albeit a different one than we're used to, and we're committed to making sure our clients feel safe when dealing with us and have confidence to book."   

Adrian Mickleburgh, Regional Service Delivery Manager of Ancala Water Services, commented: ‘’We are a company that supplies MOD and associated sites with the main utility to allow it to function. Our business function depends on being able to run meetings and training. Covid-safe measures in hotels ensure we are comfortable that these environments are safe and workable.’’

James Honeyman, Regional Manager of Lantei Compliance, said: “Running meetings and training is essential to our business. How we can train using Zoom as trainers and trainees need hands-on learning?

Juliet Price, Consultant Executive Director HBAA, said: “It is clear from our survey that there is a long way to go in terms of customers understanding and appreciating how compliant the vast majority venues really are when it comes to Covid-19 protocols and also that the current government guidance supports off-site meetings for up to 30 people. ‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart’ aims to deliver on both fronts and drive confidence while demonstrating why people want to meet – and should meet – shoulder to shoulder – in line with the prescribed measures.

“There are many reasons why meeting in person is absolutely essential, from productivity to creativity, to positive mental health. However, we completely appreciate and acknowledge that that we must follow the government guidelines which are subject to rapid change, aligned to infection rates.

“Our industry must continue to unite to build customer confidence in resuming booking and attending small live business meetings, as these will pave the way for the eventual return of safe and secure larger live events in the future.”

#MSMS30 #HBAAfuturefit #wecreateexperiences

Full report is now available to download from HBAA’s website: please click here has announced that, to support the industry at this time, it is providing a free automatic 3-month extension to all venues distribution subscriptions.

As a further helpful initiative,, the industry leader with the largest data centre of venue information about the UK MICE industry, is introducing a new monthly perpetual licence

Michael Begley, managing director of explained “With many venues closed and cashflow tight but distribution still needed we believe this support is just what venues need at this time.

“In addition, the annual subscription model seemed out of step with venues’ needs and that was the key reason we took the decision to move all venues to a perpetual monthly model.

“Operating conditions have been challenging for all of us in the industry and with so many bookers relying on our data we felt we need to do something to support the venues and give the meeting planners the content they required. We were fortunate to secure funding to support us through this crisis and we felt the best way to use that was to offer support to the venues. This new perpetual distribution licence will help the venues with their cashflow and allow them to maintain representation through our distribution channels.

“We are committed to supporting the industry in whatever way we can, in our own way and in partnership with mia and HBAA to instil confidence in the corporate community that 30 people can meet safely at over 20,000 venues who have loaded their details on to our Safe Meetings database.

'Never has collaboration been so important; corporate buyers, meeting planners, agents, industry associations and the media have to work together to build confidence as people really do want to meet. There is no substitute for a real face to face meeting"

Barbican Business Events has launched a range of virtual, hybrid and socially distanced event packages for clients looking to use the leading arts and conference centre for meetings and events going forward.

The new offering includes three different levels of client branded and hybrid event solutions, titled Conversations, Connections and Visuals. These include everything an organiser needs to run a hybrid event with add-ons such as vision mixing, pre-event planning and a bespoke branded website for higher value event packages.  Further technical upgrades also include breakout spaces, additional cameras and technicians. 

The enhanced and adapted offerings are being delivered in partnership with the Barbican’s own expert in-house AV team as well as industry partners including AV provider Jacobs Massey and catering company Searcys.

As part of safety measures being introduced, delegates on site will experience a new style of catering provided by Searcys at the Barbican, focusing on high quality through a low contact ‘grab and go’ service, pre-packaged snack bags and bento boxes for lunches.

Clients will be provided with detailed information highlighting the venue’s new operating procedures, including social distancing and hygiene measures, advice on transport to and from the Barbican and the new catering options.

In support of its new event offering, the Barbican has achieved both AIM Secure and the Visit Britain Good to Go accreditations, two industry safety standards demonstrating that the Centre is following the official Government and public health guidance.

Jackie Boughton, Head of Barbican Business Events comments: “We’ve worked hard to provide our clients with the same high-quality business event experience they expect from the Barbican, delivered in new and creative ways.  As a world leading arts venue, which delivers high quality AV for a wide range of exhibitions, concerts and theatrical performances, we were confident we would be able to deliver something special when it came to hybrid events – it is great to see it come together, ready for delivery to clients across the coming months.  We are already seeing high demand for these kinds of events and I look forward to welcoming clients back through our doors in the future.”

Paul Black, Head of Business Events, London & Partners commented: “As London continues to evolve and develop its world leading digital and hybrid meeting offering, it is great to see another one of our key partner venues offering creative ways to support their clients.  The Barbican’s new offering is a great example of how we are increasing our broadcasting and technical abilities across the whole of the capital.  As a city appealing to clients from all sectors around the world it is vital that London maintains a diverse and flexible offering, of which the Barbican is a key part.”

Delegates have returned to Warwick Conferences with confidence thanks to the reassurance of strict guidelines and advanced technological offerings, as the events and hospitality industry starts to open its doors once more.

Social distancing measures, virtual meetings and hybrid conferences have allowed event organisers to provide peace of mind to those attending, allowing teams to come together in a safe and comfortable environment.

British Mensa, University of Warwick’s School of Engineering, Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW), Learning and Performance Institute (LPI) and Dan Bradbury are among the many businesses to have returned to Warwick Conferences since it reopened its doors to meetings of 30 guests.

British Mensa, the high IQ society, opted for the venue’s hybrid package to host its board meeting. With members situated across the country, it was the perfect opportunity to bring the team together and brainstorm creative ideas ahead of its annual general meeting.

Another organisation that chose to make the most of Warwick Conferences’ hybrid offering was Dan Bradbury, owner of a private equity group and business training company. Booking the tiered, horseshoe-shaped lecture theatre to run a mastermind meeting, the team had access to live streaming technology, with a handful of members attending in person and 25 joining online.

University of Warwick’s School of Engineering and ICW were also impressed with the new-look services. To launch International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists 2021, University of Warwick’s School of Engineering held a virtual taster event to inform all members of what to expect from the upcoming conference, with the support of Warwick Conferences. The venue provider’s Cloud Conferencing team ran an online technical run through with the conference Chair ahead of the event to ensure the launch ran smoothly, with over 150 women dialling in on the day.

The ICW took advantage of Warwick Conferences socially distanced spaces to bring a team together for training in person. Keeping in line with guidelines, the venue has set up clear signage, regular cleaning and sanitation stations.

The events and hospitality industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul Bartlett, Director of Warwick Conferences, expects delegates to continue to return with confidence following the initial feedback from customers. He commented: “We have closely monitored the Government’s announcements regarding the safety of the public and taken the necessary precautions to meet these guidelines, ensuring the protection of staff and delegates. Hearing the positive feedback supports that we have been successful in our efforts to reassure delegates, whenever they are ready to return.”

The team at Warwick Conferences has adapted its meeting spaces and packages on offer to ensure that groups of all sizes are able to carry out training and conferences, whether online or in person, safely. The venue provides organisers with options that adhere to social distancing including hybrid, virtual and safely-spaced physical events.

To find out more about how the Warwick Conferences team can tailor events to meet your needs visit:

arrangeMY are proud to announce the takeover of Tewkesbury based Gloucester Express Business Travel’s client base, following the decision to retire the company in August 2020. The acquisition will inject arrangeMY’s industry leading IT and online solutions to Gloucester Express Business Travel existing exceptional service and care.

Nick Scott Managing Director of arrangeMY said: "We welcome all Gloucester Express Business Travel clients into the ever growing arrangeMY fold. With 20 hugely successful years in business, Gloucester Express Business Travel Centre had built up a reputation as experts in the travel industry and we are only too happy to continue their incredible level of support. arrangeMY will continue the service led ethos while also adding significant value by offering the wide range of additional technology and services that we provide”.

Director Pauline Evans explained ‘‘in arrangeMY we have found a like-minded company that I have full confidence can assist our clients. It was important to me to find a company that offered a similar level of care and support. Even through these unprecedented times, arrangeMY have remained fully operational to support their clients, and so have made the transition period between agencies seamless.’’

Seal of approval from British Mensa

When Warwick Conferences re-opened its doors following the lockdown period, one of the first companies to return was British Mensa. The high IQ society not only held its first post-lockdown board meeting in the COVID-secure facilities, but also hosted its first ever virtual annual general meeting (AGM), for its 18,000 members.

Lifting apprehension

The lockdown period allowed Warwick Conferences to overhaul its services, launching both hybrid meeting spaces and virtual conferencing in August. With Government guidelines ever-changing, its team ensured its spaces met strict policies in order to deliver a safe environment for both visitors and staff.

One of the first teams to experience the new-look facilities was British Mensa. A long-established client, British Mensa invited its board of directors to take part in a creative brainstorm, offering the choice of meeting in-person or joining remotely. John Stevenage, CEO of British Mensa, said: “During the lockdown period, we had a number of online calls to discuss future plans, but we all missed the face-to-face experience.

“We’d been coming to Warwick Conferences for a number of years and were informed of the new-look facilities. Like anyone meeting for the first time after lockdown, there was some apprehension about returning to a face-to-face setting. However, as soon as we walked through the doors at Warwick Conferences, we all felt very safe.”

Socially-distanced hybrid meeting

Warwick Conferences’ team has been working diligently to update its facilities in line with the latest Government guidelines. From rigid cleaning processes to social distancing measures, it has produced a number of new processes to ensure a safe working environment for visitors and staff alike.

British Mensa utilised the new socially-distanced meeting rooms, which, according to John, resulted in an environment which led to an effective and creative experience. He explains: “It was the first time we had met in a face-to-face environment for five months, and it was great. As soon as we got started, we were bouncing new ideas off each other.”

Also utilising the on-site overnight accommodation, British Mensa was so impressed that it decided to arrange more regional meetings using the facilities at Warwick Conferences. John adds: “We could see how beneficial face-to-face team meetings were and want to ensure our regional offices can experience the same.

“The team at Warwick Conferences has clearly worked hard to ensure it is a welcome and safe environment. For me, it was great to be back and we are already looking forward to future plans to meet.”

New-look AGM

As well as being one of the first companies to utilise the hybrid meeting facilities, British Mensa was also on hand to debut Warwick Conferences’ new virtual conferencing service.

Combining Warwick Conferences’ award-winning facilities with its on-site technical broadcast team, the virtual service can support an unlimited number of online participants. Putting the choice in the hands of the delegates and speakers to dial in or attend in person, the facilities ensure global or whole-company events and conferences can still take place.

In a first for British Mensa, it decided to live-stream its AGM, inviting all 18,000 of its members to attend. The Board of Directors presented from the lecture theatre at Scarman, where its members could stream in via an online link. John commented: “We knew the probability of having a live AGM this year were low, and so we decided to plan for a virtual meeting which could be viewed by all of our members.

“We worked with Warwick Conferences and were able to plan and deliver the meeting in just eight weeks. We valued the input from the team, including adding polls and reports during the meeting, and were thankful we were able to join together as a membership during these difficult times.”

Warwick Conferences’ virtual and hybrid meetings are just two of the new services available, as it continues to welcome back businesses. For more information, please visit

Bristol hoteliers back calls to appoint a Hospitality Minister

Hoteliers in Bristol are adding their names to a petition calling on the UK Government to create a new Minister for Hospitality post to give their struggling sector a voice at the highest level.

An on-line petition calling for the appointment has attracted more than 20,000 signatories, including members of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA).

BHA Chair Raphael Herzog said: “It’s so important for our voice to be heard because hospitality businesses are always among the first to be shutdown, when more attention should perhaps be focused on other sectors, such as universities.

“Having a Government minister representing our industry could perhaps lead to less damaging restrictions being imposed on us, such as around meetings and events, weddings and the 10pm curfew.

“Most hotels have very good practices in place to keep guests and staff as safe as possible from the Covid-19 risk.

“We are managing the risk and monitoring it, ensuring they observe the ‘rule of six’ and regulations around face coverings and social distancing.

“Many hotel general managers have written to their local MPs asking for more support and for our concerns to be heard.”

He said the hospitality sector has been significantly disadvantaged by not having a dedicated voice at ministerial level.

“Having someone with specific knowledge about our industry will help the government to truly understand the full impact of the decisions they are making the restrictions they are imposing.

“It can be argued that the restrictions are disproportionate at the moment, when you look at Public Health England data for sites of multiple Covid-19 outbreaks over the past four weeks.

“This shows that the hospitality sector accounts for just four percent of these outbreaks, whereas the education sector has 36 percent, and care homes have 26 percent.

“Yet the restrictions, such as the curfews, seem to be clearly targeted at hospitality businesses, many of which are struggling to survive.

“More than 45% of staff in the hospitality sector are still furloughed and we have concerns about whether the new job retention scheme will be enough to protect jobs in our industry.

“Under the new three-tier system, people won’t want to travel to hotels in any area designated ‘very high risk’ but the hotels will still be open, with low occupancy, with staff in place, but with the Government only paying 66 percent of their pay.

“The UK hospitality industry is the fourth biggest contributor to the UK economy.

“It is responsible for around three million jobs nationwide, generating £130bn in activity, providing the Government with £38bn in taxation and yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

“It’s time for our sector to be treated fairly and given the support we need and deserve during these challenging times.”

Wyboston Lakes Resort has been recognised among the best UK conference and meetings venues by the hospitality industry’s CHS Awards.

The Bedfordshire-based conference, training and leisure venue has been shortlisted in the category for Best Mid-Sized Meeting Space, which is for venues with a capacity for between 51 and 499 delegates.

Now in its sixth year, the Awards will take place virtually on 27 October via Zoom and will include audience participation, live performances and cocktail making.

Louisa Watson, director of marketing at Wyboston Lakes Resort, said: “The CHS Awards are a celebration of fantastic businesses in a great sector that we call hospitality. It has been a very difficult year for our industry and it is so uplifting to be part of something so vital.”

Emma Cartmell, founder of CHS Group, added: “Now more than ever we should recognise and celebrate UK hotels, venues and event spaces. We’re facing one of the most challenging years and winters, after a perplexing summer. We need to rally together and find comfort in our wins and achievements within our sector and look forward to a bright future that we will have again soon.”


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