New Government Guidance for Events in England Published
The government has published new guidance advising event organisers how to hold an event safely now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. The new advice suggests that many of the safety precautions which were used throughout the pandemic are continued. In the guide, planners are advised to continue to display an NHS QR code for customers wishing to check in using the app, to help reduce the spread of the virus. The document also suggests that customers are advised to wear face coverings, though this is no longer mandatory. Other advice includes putting a communications plan in place to ensure relevant information on COVID-19 measures is communicated to attendees before and during the event and issuing a code of conduct. The guidance also explains the legal powers that local authorities have to prohibit or restrict an event. Local authorities can stop or restrict events using the Health Protection Regulations 2020, provided that the authority is responding to a serious and imminent threat to public health and the cancellation or restriction of the event is necessary in order to prevent an outbreak of the virus. In addition, the actions taken by the local authority must be proportionate to the risk the event proposes. The advice also indicated that local authorities should not issue blanket bans on events, and that if there are concerns about an event’s safety, they should contact event organisers as a first response.
A virtual meeting held in May saw the launch of the Meetings and Event Support Association (MESA). MESA founders say that its aim is to support innovation in the events industry and to create a community of companies to work together and bring new ideas to fruition.
MESA’s Steering Committee is comprised of five patron members: Danny Stevens, CEO and Founder of fielddrive; Felix StroudAllen, CEO and Founder of CrowdComms; Jelmer Van Ast, CEO and Founder of Conference Compass; John Martinez, CEO and Founder of Shocklogic; and Sébastien Braun, CEO and Founder of idloom. MESA intends to fill the gap left behind by the Meeting Design Institute (MDI), which stopped its membership aspect earlier this year. The association has already held membership talks with former members for MDI and received a positive response.
HBAA Calls for Event Planners to be Flexible In Facing Staff Shortages
The Hotel Bookings Association Agency (HBAA) has called for event planners to exercise flexibility when it comes to service level agreements(SLA): “Many venues and businesses in our sector are opening and ready for business. However, the length of lockdowns, furlough hangover, redundancies, Brexit-related workforce departures and visa issues plus the lack of contracted bookings has led to significant numbers of people leaving key positions, resulting in a severe shortage of staff across the sector,” HBAA Consultant Executive Director, Juliet Price said. With staffing an issue across the industry, the HBAA is advising event planners to be flexible about the service they expect from businesses and venues. “The staff shortage adds pressure all round and has an impact on SLAs. It is vital that planners are open to temporarily adjusting SLAs during this challenging time and important for event organisers to understand that communication channels and response times may vary.”
Survey Provides Insight into Event Industry Thinking
The third edition of etc. venues biannual survey has shown that 72% of events organisers are planning to hold in-person events this year, and that 39% are planning to hold one in Q3, while 33% are holding one in Q4. The research shows the value that the events industry places on in-person meetings, with 83% of events professionals saying they value them more now than they did before the pandemic. However, 68% of respondents still think hybrid events will be more common now than they were before the pandemic. This number is down from 73% of respondents in December and closer to 67% when surveyed last year. Adam Simpson, Director of Marketing at etc. venues, said: “The innate belief in live events among event planners is rising to the surface and the necessity of virtual events is beginning to fade now that restrictions are being lifted. After benefiting from virtual and hybrid events out of necessity during lockdown, there is a clear recognition that whilst virtual was good, it is not nearly good enough and many planners are keen to return to live events very soon.”
Calls for Event Sector to Take Earlier Action on Climate Change
A special event ahead of COP26 involving representatives from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UK government and SME Climate Hub, saw calls for the UK events sector to be proactive in working against climate change. The meeting discussed the importance of the sector showing evidence of action ahead of the global conference on climate change, and presenting a proactive industry taking on its responsibilities. Speakers at the event included Sir David King, former UK Government permanent special representative for climate change; Miguel Naranjo, Programme Officer at UNFCCC; and Andrew Griffith, the UK’s netzero business champion for COP26. Andrew Griffith commented: “This is a really brilliant opportunity to show the world that we are the solution, not the problem, and that we can build a real crescendo of momentum to give all of our leaders around the world the imperative to act. One of my big asks is for every business to set themselves a target, make a pledge, take some action, and the best way is to use the Race to Zero. If we do it now, it will amplify and resonate greatly.”