Chief Executive of the Meetings Industry Association (mia), Kerrin MacPhie, outlines the group’s future plans in the face of the industry’s latest challenges.
Since taking leadership of the mia in November 2021, Kerrin MacPhie has remained ambitious in her scope to help the events industry stay open-minded as it builds a stronger future in the wake of the pandemic. Keeping a liaison with the government’s department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the mia Chief Executive has meanwhile upheld an advisory role with the Events Industry Board and Business Visits and Events Partnership.
Together, these dual efforts have helped raise suggestions to the government on directing events industry growth across the UK. By delivering primary research and hosting new senior leadership roundtables, it’s clear that one key challenge centres on current pressures in the catering sector.
“Exploring different ways to attract and upskill new recruits to the sector will play a big part in combating workforce depletion and retaining staff levels,” said Kerrin. “At the same time, we need to deal with the rising costs and reduced availability in the supply chain, which has often resulted in a chef’s choice or menu of the day situation for delegates due to the unguaranteed deliveries on food items at events.”
As industry professionals rekindle old connections and meet new faces for the first time through live events, the need for consistency in face-to-face meetings is also high on Kerrin’s agenda: “While in-person meetings are now back, the continuation of remote work and the opportunities to watch recorded sessions or attend virtual events means the need to be present is no longer deemed necessary like before. Yet meetings are where innovation happens and ideas flow, so we need to remind delegates why being present in the room is so much more beneficial than watching a recording.”
Despite moving forward amid such current issues in the sector, Kerrin still remains optimistic for the future and firm in her belief that 2022 is a year for opportunity in the industry: “Time and time again we have shown that our highly professional industry can, and will, continue to adapt regardless of what happens in the wider world. We’re always busy behind the scenes on several initiatives to support our members, while committed to providing clarity in addition to championing best practice in the industry.”
“Meetings are where innovation happens and ideas flow. We need to remind our delegates why being present in the room is so much more beneficial than watching a recording.”
Recently joining forces with Exceed Global Learning, mia has also extended its educational offering beyond its busy events schedule, offering a range of certified training courses to support those new to the sector while providing professional development of those in managerial positions. Over 200 courses are now available covering areas such as general management, human resources, and revenue management, alongside workplace health and safety, sustainability, and digital transformation.
“The idea is to help increase the skills, confidence, and productivity of those working in the sector,” said Kerrin. “We’ve made the courses readily available via our website, which professionals can access on any device and, more crucially, at a time that’s completely convenient to them.”
By working closely with its strategic partners, mia has also supported the wholescale sustainability efforts in the industry while protecting the future for smaller venues as they progress.
“We’ve continued our healthy relationship with Green Tourism by supporting our members with education in sustainably- minded events, with full access to a whole raft of measurement tools allowing everyone to meet the new Green Meetings standard.” said Kerrin. “We’re also working with another strategic partner to extend a tailored AIM accreditation to give confidence and quality assurance to those booking business meetings and events in smaller properties such as inns, private dining restaurants, boutique hotels, golf clubs, and stately homes.
“The more we invest, refine, and develop our industry, the more powerful and secure we can be going forward. It’s certainly been a busy few months since I took the helm at mia last year, but there’s lots more to come further down the pipeline.”
To find out more about the mia and the benefits of membership, visit Mia-uk.org