2012 kicked off with aplomb, with a spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks display that sent a clear message to the world that London was ready to stage a world-class event. Against a difficult economic backdrop, many agencies began the year with positive news, from BI Worldwide picking up a three-event contract with Toyota to P&MM Live reporting record turnover. Overseas expansion was a key focus, with WRG expanding in the Middle East, TRO in China and Australia, and Imagination in India.
Grass Roots saw a string of high-profile staff leave ahead of a reorganisation at the top, while the agency's former global head of events, Nick Bender, teamed up with ex-Universal Procon senior executives Mike Ford, Patrick Collins and Colette Murphy to launch Touch Associates. International Confex made its debut over at Excel London to mixed reviews from exhibitors and visitors while a new rival, The Meetings Show, controversially chose to announce its launch to market. But the presence of minister for tourism John Penrose at the show's opening day added some gravitas, and was a positive sign that the industry is gaining support at government level.
And C&IT launched its first 101 Ideas supplement covering the hottest tips and trends across technology, social media and more.
C&IT unveiled its fourth annual A List - celebrating 35 of the top agency players aged 35 and under - at London's stylish Corinthia Hotel. And once again the women ruled, accounting for 27 of the total. Former COI director of live events Simon Hughes set up his own consultancy, MCHA, and set the ball rolling for Eventia to merge with other associations. In April, C&IT held its inaugural European forum, welcoming agencies from across the continent. Amid a confirmed double-dip recession in the UK and as the Eurozone crisis raged on, C&IT's State of the Industry Report revealed that budgetary constraints are the primary challenge facing the UK events industry. Other key challenges outlined included short lead times, recruitment, and uncertainty around forecasting for 2013.
As June became the UK's wettest ever, the nation celebrated the very damp Diamond Jubilee Celebrations over an extra-long bank holiday weekend, setting the stage for the main event of the summer. RBS cancelled its Wimbledon and Gleneagles hospitality after an IT glitch left customers without service, and the Olympic Torch began its epic journey around the UK.
Eventia announced plans at its AGM to merge with IVCA (International Visual Communications Association), with a decision expected in early 2013.
The summer was dominated by London 2012, and fears of the soggiest-ever Games never came to pass as our Olympic and Paralympic athletes won their biggest medal hauls in the sunshine.
Corporates descended on London, with many of the Games' key sponsors and other brands using the event as an opportunity to engage with staff, clients and partners. P&G, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Cisco, EDF, Cadbury and New Balance were among the brands holding B2B events around London 2012, and C&IT covered all of these and more in our bumper Olympics Special September edition. Despite controversy over empty seats at sporting venues and some negative reports about poor revenues from London hotels and restaurants, the Olympic Games was largely a triumph and showcased the capital's event-staging prowess.
M&A activity in the agency sector stepped up a notch as WRG acquired Canyon and Capita Group acquired Expotel for £16m, while Richard Foulkes left Imagination after 30 years following a restructure. And the second C&IT Awards, which returned to the Natural History Museum, saw 450-plus industry movers and shakers celebrate the best B2B events work.
C&IT held its first Middle East Forum in Jordan in October. Motivcom announced a 30% decrease in profit before tax to the end of June 2012, but said it expects full-year results to show growth overall.
The industry reacted positively to news that from July to September, helped by the Olympic Games, the UK economy emerged from recession, growing by 1%, according to official gross domestic product figures.
Sustainability was also in the spotlight post-Olympics with Locog's ISO20121 gaining support among agencies - Logistik, First Protocol and Smyle have all adopted the standard (see p28).
C&IT also unveiled its furry friend Roopert the Kangaroo - help him find his treasure at www.citaustraliacomp.com for your chance to win a business-class trip Down Under. Follow Roopert's journey in his diary and check out The Work (both with this issue), - a collection of this year's best B2B events held in London.