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How Is BREXIT Going to Affect the Events Industry in the UK?

12 Mar 2019

March 29th is less than three weeks away and Parliament has no solid solution on how Britain will exit the EU. The political climate has sufficiently heated and become volatile to the point where it is not clear what’s going to happen in the country once the due date arrives. Uncertainty remains a running theme through both political and economic discourse ever since the referendum back in 2016, and the prevailing attitude is ‘wait and see’. Professionals in the event industry also await a resolution with baited breath, and for good reason.

The events industry has been one of the staple sectors in the UK, evaluated at £41.2 billion – and that is the number from the years after the Brexit referendum arrived at the Leave outcome. Then there is the conference sector, which hit the ceiling of £18.1 billion in 2017. In fact, the UK sits as the third most popular destination for trade events in ICCA rankings from 2015 to 2017. At first glance, it seems like there’s going to be little impact on the exhibit buying behaviors and popularity of the UK as a host for international trade events.

However, this data doesn’t do much to qualm concerns from professionals on the inside who fear the unexpected long-term and short-term impact on the events sector, and British economy at large. Gearing up to the inevitable deadline for Brexit, a series of polls has given insight as to what events professionals fear and think will happen once the UK leaves the EU. It’s not surprising to discover that event planners are firm in their belief the UK should remain in the EU, because otherwise the events already taking place in the country are projected to attract fewer visitors. There is also the fear that so-called travelling events will have no incentive to host in the UK. Another concern is with the potential relocation of major international businesses based in London in other European cities that are within EU.

Poll results show that:

  • 10% of businesses identify Brexit as their greatest challenge;
  • 26% of event agencies look to Brexit as the biggest problem facing the industry;
  • 56% of corporate event planners show concern for post-Brexit events.

Chief among the reasons for this mood are foreseen issues regarding the free movement of people, potential visa issues and fluctuating currencies that could destabilize their budgets.

International trade and international trade events go hand in hand, each influencing the other. The inability for the UK to participate wholly in the sector post-Brexit will most likely influence buying decisions on a cross-border level. The real potential of a No-Deal outcome poses additional stress and challenges. The verdict on the events industry is going to be disastrous, according to political commentator for the IAS, Damon Culbert, who estimated up to 60,000 workers losing jobs should free travel between the UK and the EU cease. A No-Deal Brexit would mean for the UK to direct its attention to countries outside the EU like the USA, where it would be in direct competition with the European Union. Not an ideal situation for all involved.

The events industry will have to make significant changes in their decision making process to be in a position to overcome post-Brexit challenges and avoid an advertising recession. The answer could lie in smarter solutions for marketing and on-site experience. One of the growing trends in recent years is cashless technology. You forego the stressful process of seeking out ATM machines and having to deal with a foreign currency.

Cashless is where events have been headed. The tech already exists as was proved by the 2000trees festival, which equipped every visitor with an RFID wristband that served as the only payment method on the premises of the festival and was compatible with every single vendor, bar and dining spot on site. Organisers reported it as a 100% success. Not only does going cashless ease the mind of visitors, but it can also assist in planning budgets in an environment where the pound sterling fluctuates.

Digitalisation and automation are the next concepts that event organisers need to adopt at every level to reduce overall costs and losses projected to arise from Brexit. Event marketing technology has grown sophisticated enough to reduce time spent advertising by automating the listing process on different event sites or social media channels. A process that until now has been done by hand and engaged a lot of human resources. Companies like Evvnt offer you an easy solution. You boost visibility, save time, minimize costs and engage fewer people in this process.

Social media heavily features in how companies operate and engage with their customers as well as business partners. Event organisers have no other option than to bank on smarter strategies to gain reach across all major social media apps. The other side of the coin concerns visitors’ ability to use social media during events. You want engagement online. You want tweets, posts, pictures and video streams. All this is possible through free and fast Wi-Fi. In the age where every piece of technology seems to be connected to the Internet, organisers can’t afford not to invest in strong Wi-Fi signal and connection.

We all have questions and uncertainties for the future once Brexit passes and we can only speculate as to the outcome. No one knows whether any of the things we have said so far are going to happen.

So we wait.

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