Nicole Walker is CEO of Arinex and President of EEAA
Consumer confidence is the real question our industry is seeking answers to. At the end of the day the best way to increase this confidence is to lead by example and demonstrate that business events can proceed in a safe way. If the tennis and cricket can still run safely then why can’t Business Events?
Industry events such as Get Local in mid-February in Sydney and AIME in mid-March in Melbourne proceeding as planned rebuilds this confidence. There is still an overwhelming desire to meet face to face and whilst we have seen a number of postponements in recent weeks it is reassuring to see them only shift several months rather than a full year again. Now we need to focus on the safe delivery of the events rather than postponements and or cancellations.
I learnt so much in Barcelona last November exhibiting at IBTM World on the Tourism Australia stand. This was proof that large scale exhibitions can proceed in a COVID safe way. I am also excited to be attending the IAPCO Annual Meeting and General Assembly from 10 – 13 February in Rome, Italy. This will be the first opportunity for our international partners to come together since our last Annual Meeting in Vancouver in February 2020! The knowledge sharing and networks gained at a face to face business event is certainly a drawcard.
When will international borders open? There has been very little communication on this topic over the past few weeks. Omicron has distracted the government and the rest of us from the timelines and guidelines required in this area, however we work with long lead times and our industry needs time to plan. In order to do this effectively we need direction and certainty.
At Arinex we currently have nine International events scheduled from 1 July – 31 December 2022. Whilst some have already made the decision to go completely virtual, the longer we leave borders closed the greater the economic impact and the longer our industry will take to recover. We cannot wait until after the election to receive a roadmap for this integral decision.
The industry has been grateful to recent funding coming from a number of states to provide some confidence to event planners however is this enough to push through the challenges and deliver?