Andrew Harrison, Director of The Event Supplier and Services Association highlights the importance of making your voice heard in a changing industry.

When thinking about how The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has responded to the pandemic, I recollect the months leading up to it, when we were all blithely unaware of the changes to come. At the time, we felt we were making great progress on our campaigns, serving our members well with benefits, and engaging positively with the industry and the press. We had recently launched a flock of new services, spearheaded by the first specific events industry accreditation with a raft of future modules to enable members to show their credentials as ‘the best in the sector.’

Then the world as we knew it was shattered, and since that point onward we have been fighting on all fronts to keep our members informed, advised and supported, to press the government for sector-specific help, and to seek clarity on how and when we can reopen the sector. Our investigation into why our members were struggling to access their targeted support reached a national level, both in the press and in central government. What we have learned doing this for the last 12 months feels like it could fill a book.

As we begin to leave the pandemic behind us, and the event industry tentatively returns, the ESSA Board revisited our 10-year strategy in October 2020. The last 12 months, if nothing else, helped bring a level of clarity not afforded to the association in the previous 13 years. Revisiting our strategy during the middle of the pandemic might have appeared crazy to some, but we believe it has allowed us to take advantage of the unique conditions presented to us and forge ahead with greater investment in key areas for the future.

At the start of the pandemic it quickly became clear that the event industry would simply be one of many business sectors clamouring for support, and while we supported every attempt to raise awareness of our own industry, we were discovering a need to invest significantly more resources into strengthening relationships with stakeholders, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and relevant All Party Parliamentary Groups.

The future of member representation by ESSA is going to be wider and stronger, with our firm pledge to spend time, money and resources developing the slew of governmental and non-governmental relationships created during the pandemic. In the last year, we have established our voice in the industry when speaking to the government, even helping to change policy advice to councils holding on to relief money and releasing funds to businesses in need.

We are here to be a clear and consistent voice for the event supply chain, speaking to other sectors, other industries, government and ourselves, and we’re calling on all event suppliers and service providers to consider what ESSA membership can offer them. Take an active role in the future of the event industry, which is being reshaped for a post-pandemic world now, and join us.