Julian Agostini, Mash Media’s managing director, shares his ideas for getting the events industry back up and running. Do you agree?
You say you want a revolution?
I wrote a post on LinkedIn on Friday [16 October] calling for a fight back and it seemed to reflect how many of us are feeling, judging by the response and number of messages I received. Off the back this response, as promised, I have curated some suggestions forwarded to me and added one or two of my own ideas. They are radical suggestions which will require your support, but I need to know that you are you up for it.
First and foremost, why don’t we just get on with running events? The six-month ‘delay’ was only notional, but I worry we have made it all real. I seriously don’t think the Government knows (and I question whether they care) what we get up to. We have always cracked on without them and I suggest we do exactly that now. Let’s go to the Local Authorities and get their approval or, at least, establish with them what actions they would take against us or penalties we would face, if any.
We don’t hold many cards in our hand but surely the NHS Nightingale hospitals provide an opportunity for dialogue at least. Their provision, courtesy of our industry, should come with an agreement that the Government talks directly with our industry and recognises its plight. Should we not insist on this?
You may not like all these ideas, or any of them in fact, but please add your support or even your own suggestion, because we all want to change the world.
Julian Agostini (left), MD, Mash Media
Secondly, can we arrange for thousands of industry professionals to all email Breakfast TV on a designated morning so they are inundated with messages regarding the events industry? This would surely create a reaction and get us airtime, and ideally include an interview with an industry spokesperson to publicly make our case and to highlight just how recklessly our industry has been treated.
Another idea that has come in: can we get another country to subsidise events in order to help them pull out of the UK? We know the Government’s biggest fear is losing business to its international competitors, especially with Brexit on the horizon.
This would see another nation fund travel and accommodation for exhibitors and visitors. We all know that they would get a return on their investment if they get the exhibition to move. This would have the added effect that we might get some media coverage abroad as to our plight. Other nations might enjoy reporting on a story like this while our own media remains passive in their support of our industry.
Or how about we stage a mini exhibition and conference for the industry (either free of charge or at cost Confex) and see if the Local Authority or central Government attempt to shut us down. It would give us the opportunity to publicly demonstrate that events work safely. I think it likely they will leave us alone. Say about 50 stands and 1,000 visitors. The pilot events which ran in September, which were not public, were a success in the eyes of Government, so what is the issue here?
How about running a series of mini shows with the aim of restarting the industry in a small way? Say, 30 exhibitions of 30 people each? I’m sure ExCeL London would help host such a series. Multiple sectors could have their own mini events, and it would offer a little snapshot of what it used to be and insists on getting people face-to-face. This could be a great example of how we can operate.
Next, I obviously want to support our venues as best we can, but an alternative would be to take over a hotel, most are empty at the moment. Each room could house an exhibitor so no need for typical floorplan with excess spacing: everything is naturally socially distanced and within the law of numbers in a business meeting. A hotel with 300 rooms could hold 300 exhibitors, and a one-way route would keep things moving neatly. This could work very easily.
Finally, for now, and this maybe the most controversial idea, but how many suppliers and venues in our industry currently do business with the Government? Can we freeze them out in the same way that we are being frozen out? I assume the annual party conferences will have been booked for 2021. With whom? What if the industry truly united and everywhere refused these bookings until we get a proper solution? That would require real solidarity but if we don’t stand together and force the issue, we are all dead in the water.
Please add your own suggestions to the list. You may not like all these ideas, or any of them in fact, but please add your support or even your own suggestion, because we all want to change the world.
Let me know, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Main image: International Confex, ExCeL London, 26 February 2020. Credit: Aniseed Photo