Crisis or Opportunity - the Exhibitions & Events Inustry in 2012

13th December 2011

The outlook for 2012 in the UK is a mixed bag with many fears over the state of the economy and eurozone crisis but also some positive aspirations for the Olympics and the resulting effect upon our economy. Here is an overview of how these turbulent times could impact upon the exhibitions and events industry in 2012.

Recently, Ocean Media, organisers of the UK Venue Show and Event Production Show, provided a good news report after research was carried out amongst 3000 show visitors. The research indicated that budgets would increase by 10% year on year as end users and agencies seek to capitalise on 2012's world focus.

The Event Production Show, along with sister exhibition, the UK Venue Show has seen demand for attending up year on year. Exhibitors are also commensurate with the demand for events in 2012 with Event Production Show seeing an increase in demand for stand space up by 10% year on year.

The Britain for Events campaign gathered momentum through the latter part of 2011. Prime Minister David Cameron officially endorsed the campaign, swiftly followed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, who spoke at the opening of World Travel Market about next year's “World Tourism Summit coming together to discuss the power of events" and "new ways of looking at event tourism in the future".

These statements follow endorsement for the Britain for Events campaign from John Penrose MP, Minister of Tourism and Nick de Bois MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events (APPG). Furthermore, there will be an increased injection of resource for the industry with business tourism identified as one of the areas that will benefit from VisitEngland’s successful bid for £19.8 million Regional Growth Fund.

The money will be used on a three-year project entitled, ‘Growing Tourism Locally’. The campaign will capitalise on next year’s once-in-a-generation events like London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, The Diamond Jubilee, the Cultural Olympiad, and the Torch Relay. These events will act as a catalyst to showcase the whole of the country on a global level.  

Chancellor George Osbourne's Autumn statement provided a rather dismal picture for the growth of the UK economy over the coming years, with the 2012 forecast revised down to 0.7% from 2.5%. However, a recent article: Austerity or Opportunity, cited some positive factors for the industry in the statement. The £250m support package for energy-intensive firms, £500m for scientific research and £5bn new infrastructure spending could have positive effects on the event industry. These sectors are substantial users of events and exhibitions and there could be added business from them.

In terms of public events, there will be a trade-off as consumer spending once again is hit, however, the prospect of more domestic holiday taking and daytrips could see an upturn in attendances at cultural, music and festival events.

The Autumn Statement pointed the way to more support for small and medium size enterprises, with a credit easing programme, £1bn business finance partnership to raise money for medium-sized firms and a Regional Growth regeneration fund to get £1bn in extra funding. Many of the small and medium size enterprises in the UK are service providers to the events industry or showcase their products and services at live events, so could benefit well from these measures.

With added emphasis on exports and inward investment this could all be beneficial to the events sector.

What is certain is that the events industry could be a major contributing factor to the growth of the UK economy in years to come. In a recent article showcasing his support for the Britain for Events campaign, Kevin Murphy, CEO ExCel London explained the impact the events industry has on our economy: “Every organisation that chooses to bring its event to the UK delivers an average economic impact of £15 million for its local economy, meaning just 10 more events held in this country would generate £150 million. That would pay for 7,000 nurses in our hospitals, 6,000 more teachers in our schools or 5,000 more police officers on our streets.”

The Events industry's job is to continue to show that live events provide the best and most effective platform to market products and brand messages. With a worldwide focus in 2012, the events industry has an unrivalled opportunity to showcase the UK's expertise and creativity and promote Britain as a world class destination for events.