Collaboration and unity throughout the meetings and events industry shone through as 1419 event professionals, including 305 in person at twelve venues, came together nationwide for UKickstart, a major industry event initiated by Adam Simpson, director of marketing at etc.venues and supported by twelve industry associations.
There was great encouragement for the industry and a positive outlook from the keynote panel which featured Nigel Huddleston MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS); Nick de Bois, Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board; Tracy Halliwell MBE, Director of Tourism, Conventions and Major Events at London and Partners and Simon Hughes, Chairman of BVEP.
Questioned by Calum Di Lieto, editor of C&IT, Nigel Huddleston said; "The events industry may have been undervalued in the past but that is not the case now; the industry has a real voice in government." Later he also recognised the professionalism of the industry and the safety procedures that venues have implemented when he commented that “The pilot events have shown that you know exactly how many people are coming in and venues are equipped to deal with new safety measures. The industry has done a great job on developing the guidance for reopening.”
Michael Hirst, Chair of the Events Industry Board tweeted “Really positive vibes from #UKickstart live event today. #eventprofs confidently raring to go.”
In an audience poll by Glisser asking what positive legacy to the industry has come from the last few months, ‘collaboration, together, unity, community and supportive’ were the most popular answers, a view backed by the panel.
Adam Simpson, leader of the UKickstart event and director of marketing at etc.venues said: “The joy of those who came to the many venues showed how much live meetings and events have been missed, and the commitment of the whole united industry and DCMS recognising that we are ready to run safe live events as soon as possible was clearly evident.”
Earlier a panel including Rick Stainton, founder and group executive director of Smyle; David Watt, CEO of CI Group and Chetan Shah, founder of micebook.com with a video contribution from Lex Butler, founder of Wolf & White and chair of HBAA gave an agency perspective on the impact of the pandemic experience and on how to kickstart events. Responding to questions from moderator Martin Fullard, editor of Conference News, the agency leaders explained how they had adapted their businesses to the financial realities and what they offer to clients to use digital and broadcasting technology to create first class virtual communications and now hybrid events.
After Rick Stainton provided a clear insight into the aims and development of the One Industry One Voice campaign behind which he has united many agencies and associations, Rick and David Watt both highlighted the need to instil greater confidence in the safety of events at the C-suite level of clients so that events, even in the UK only, can start to take place.
For many participants this event was their first opportunity to meet face to face and enjoy the irreplaceable experience of attend the first major meetings industry event since before lockdown.