International Confex Keynote: How did an £84bn UK sector become invisible?

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International Confex Keynote: How did an £84bn UK sector become invisible?

Mash Media editorial director Martin Fullard chaired a Keynote session at Day 2 of International Confex at ExCeL London, with panelists Shaun Hinds, chief executive, Manchester Central; John Sharkey, executive vice-president, ASM Global and Rick Stainton, founder and group executive director, Smyle Group. They answered the big question: ‘How could an £84bn industry be overlooked in the pandemic?’.

So, why had the UK government ignored the events industry, Fullard asked the panel?

Hinds suggested that there was “no understanding or appreciation of what the events industry is because our industry is so diverse and fragmented,” Because of this, he said the industry had been “really decimated”.

Sharkey added that the situation meant we needed the “facts and science” of our industry and how it operates.

Stainton said the One Industry One Voice lobby group which he helped set up, had filled an important role here. He said: “It aims to bring everyone together so we are quoting the same numbers. You cannot engage with Government at senior levels without credible data. This begins with people breaking down barriers and sharing insight.”

Considering the terminology of the events industry, Stainton suggested there was a clear division between mass gatherings and events. “The events industry delivers organised audiences, meaning there is a huge professional network around the people coming together.”

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