I recently read an article that discussed the effect of Brexit on the meetings and events industry. The writer commented that, “Uncertainty around Brexit and terrorism will see European meetings and events spend remain flat next year, according to the sixth annual global and meetings forecast from American Express Meetings & Events. A ‘sense of caution’ is set to contribute to a decline in the number of meetings and the number of attendees per meeting – but there will be an increase in smaller meetings.”
So I began to wonder if Brexit really had a big impact on those of us dealing with special events. Thus I did one of my informal surveys by asking people in special events the following question. “Do you think that Brexit has effected your business and if so, how?”
David Jamilly, a Director of Theme Traders, had this to say. “Our sense is that the economic mood in the events industry has been somewhat unsettled since Brexit but trading has remained firm for us so far. From our perspective we have moved into a mode of consolidation as opposed to expansionary growth with a sense that there is much more yet to unfold on the global and local socioeconomic fronts. Uncertainty about currency and tariffs have affected all but the very elite although that is nothing new. There remains a constant downward pressure on corporate budgets with ever increasing expectation levels.”
This is something that I heard quite often during my research. There was often a ‘small’ downturn after the June result, but most companies said that the ‘downturn’ was brief and did not effect their bottom line.
Is there a downside? Well yes there is. One of the major worries is the cost factor presented by Brexit. According to Richard Groves, Group Business Development Director for Smart Group, “More worrying are the additional costs that are expected this year, some of which are due to Brexit. Because the pound is weak, imports are more expensive with wine prices expected to rise by around £0.30 per bottle after in-bond UK stocks are exhausted. In addition, food and drink prices are set to rise by around 11%. Clients are not necessarily accepting price increase in our markets, as their budgets do not reflect additional delivery costs.
Caroline Gardiner of Lucas/Gardiner, a catering company in Central London, echoes what Richard is saying. “Where I have seen some changes is in the cost of food. For example, dairy has gone up by over 10% and a lot of suppliers are blaming the increases on transport charges.”
There is a very real concern about budgets at this point …. both from those buying the service and those providing it. Many I spoke with said that rather then fewer events, there will be smaller events with tighter budgets.
So will Brexit effect the special events industry? I think Robin Parker, General Manager of Church House Westminster, said it best.
“My honest opinion is that it is simply too early to tell. The process hasn’t started yet, in fact the process to discuss the process hasn’t even started yet, so how are us mortals meant to understand what the effect is going to be on our
Mary Kay Eyerman
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