WyBoston Lakes

Martin Cairns, MD of Beechwood Events and board member of The Event Supplier and Services Association, believes the pandemic offers event suppliers a once in a lifetime opportunity to build back better.

With the pandemic (hopefully) receding behind us, and an 18-month hiatus on events coming to an end, the industry is poised to restart, and our members and the industry face a wealth of obstacles ahead. The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) intends to take the lead on member challenges as they arise. The whole
landscape is now quite different to 2019, after 12 months of shutdown. Supply chains have been broken with businesses closing or moving markets. Redundant contractors and suppliers have started up as freelancers and sole traders, and large stockholdings have been split up and sold off.

ESSA has recognised this shift, and recently the membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of the board’s plan to change our long-standing membership structure
and create a space for smaller businesses, freelancers and startups under the ESSA umbrella.

We will be focusing on urgent problems like the lack of prompt payment and the challenge of uniting talented and skilled event professionals with new opportunities
in the industry, and not losing them to other creative sectors. In some ways, the pandemic has given us the chance to introduce new conventions and expectations, and we will be exploiting this ‘reset’ moment to create greater visibility for our members.

We must also lead on Brexit. Once again, for all its destructive power, the pandemic has given us an opportunity to restart our businesses, in many cases from scratch, and
reset our posture towards Europe. This could mean minimal or non-existent changes for some members, and substantial changes and investments for others. Since 2016 we have been providing advice and resources to our members in increasing detail.

As the pandemic (hopefully) passes, the economy still faces fallout, and our industry will be no exception. We face a number of clear hurdles: recruitment, unemployment,
supply chain health, payment speed and Brexit to name a few, and many more yet to make themselves felt. ESSA is determined to take the lead on addressing these
challenges using everything we have learnt over the last 14 months.

Like it or not, the pandemic has given us a moment to change everything – but we cannot effect those changes as individual businesses. But by coming together as an
association, and leading the changes collectively, there is so much we can achieve for the benefit of not just our members but the whole industry.