The MIA (Meeting Industry Association) is the leading association for the meetings and events industry, helping members prosper in this fast pace industry.

Don't Stop...Rethink 2017

The Meeting Industry Association held their ‘Don’t Stop… Rethink’ conference, comprising of keynotes and panel discussions to stimulate delegates from the meetings, conference and events industry to make the most out of their current economic situation, and empowering delegates with the ability to act on the insights the sessions offered.

Don’t Stop… Rethink opened up with a look at the challenges the UK would face in the future. They focused on the impact of the American election, Brexit and the world economy’s subsequent state. The general consensus was that whilst these events may be disruptive for the meetings industry, the global market remains optimistic. UK growth is slow, but the meetings and events sectors are key drivers of activity, being part of the second large sector for employment in the country.

Rob Gordan then provided some insightful market research on venue enquiries, saying that, on the whole, enquiries across the board are at a similar level, with a conversion rate of one meeting to three enquiries. The University of Cambridge’s Robinson College commented that their enquiries dropped six months prior to the referendum, which they believe is down to Brexit and an increase in exchange rates, suggesting nervousness.

Q – ‘Assuming the Delegate Daily Rate is National, what is the effect for the provinces if you remove London from the data?’

The next session, led by Ciara Feely, tackled how you could increase conversions to book your venue by selling or engaging, transmitting or listening. Crucially, the four key areas to build trust with an event planner were identified: honesty, transparency, confidence and knowledge. Ciara’s overriding message was to hone in on making your sales pitches and branding less focused on what you can sell, but rather what the client wants to buy.

After a quick break for lunch, the afternoon opened with a session on social media and digital marketing. Mark McCulloch, founder of We Are Spectacular, encouraged the audience to take their strategy back to basics: determining who their customers are, what they want, and how they consume media. In order to stay at the top of search engines, websites now need to be reactive, creating regular, fresh content.

Q – ‘Opinion on multi posting to all social media accounts, as I find this lazy and frustrating. Each platform is different, right?’

Jeremy Jacobs then took on the contentious topic of ‘Life after Brexit’. The panellists highlighted the relevant issues facing the meetings and events sector, stating there was a need to bridge the gap between youth unemployment, and getting them into the industry.

Jeremy Jacobs then took the contentious topic of ‘Life after Brexit.’ The panellists highlighted the relevant issues facing the meetings sector, stating there was a need to bridge the gap between youth and unemployment, and getting them into the industry.
First and foremost, regarding Brexit we don’t know what is going to happen and what the implications are going to be – but we cannot be fearful. We need to choose to take this as an opportunity and work towards producing positives from it. It’s here, it’s going to happen and thus we need to adapt.

The UK is still one of the most attractive destinations to visit in the world for meetings and events. We offer some of the best culture in the world with a vast and varied population ,food and entertainment scene.

Secondly, employers also need to be more open to the Idea of utilising those who are somewhat neglected from the current workforce. For example, those who have special needs but who if given the right training are often highly capable. We are going to lose an element of our foreign work force who often fill roles within the hospitality industry so we need to widen our recruitment process to accommodate this.

Furthermore, education of the the younger generations is key. It is more important than ever to get schools and educators backing the hospitality industry as an attractive career route. The educators need the be properly informed of the breath of careers and roles available in the industry. There is an extensive range of positions extending beyond that of waitressing or bar work. This is something that isn’t done enough thus it needs to be marketed as an attractive option for both graduates and apprentices alike. The events and hospitality industry has created 1 in 3 jobs since 2010 so in an increasingly challenging landscape for millennials it is a extremely viable option.
Additionally, lobbying the government to make it a more attractive industry to work could prove highly beneficial. How?

  • Reducing the levels zero hours contracts offered
  • Improving payment packets
  • More reasonable working hours particularly for single parents
  • Good maternity care for new mothers

Greater numbers are needed within the industry to keep it successfully afloat as it is a massive part of the UK’s economy.

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