National day for meetings industry receives mixed response

A national meetings industry day for the UK could bring a "real and symbolic focus point" if implemented properly, say events professionals.

A potential national meetings industry day has received a mixed response from the events industry
A potential national meetings industry day has received a mixed response from the events industry

Yet the nearest equivalents the UK currently has are Confex and the year-round Britain for Events campaign, itself developed from National Meetings Week, last held in 2011.

Canada has an annual National Meetings Industry Day, held in April, which is backed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and led by eight MPI city chapters.

MPI UK & Ireland chapter president Samme Allen says that while Canada offers "a fantastic example of MPI chapters working together", there is an issue of resourcing. "It is definitely worth the UK looking at, but I think that we do have something that, while a different model, is working," she says.

According to First Protocol managing director Mark Riches, the UK events industry is "crying out for a real and symbolic focus point". He says a national meetings day would provide the chance to "deliver targeted communications, targeting key stakeholders and client groups in a sustained way".

Meanwhile, Capita Travel and Events director of meetings and events Anita Lowe said that increased opportunity for educational and networking events is "always a positive" but added that "in reality public opinion is far less important than the perception of procurement departments".

However, the value could be lost because of a "number of focal points which are new this year", such as the (MPI Foundation-commissioned) UK Economic Impact Study and the All Party Parliamentary Group inquiry, explains Eventia chairman Simon Hughes.

"It is an interesting idea and I suspect once we have got these activities out of the way, we can take a strategic view of the impact and whether we should visit the concept of focusing it down to one day," he says.

A national meetings industry day is welcomed by Britain for Events' spokesman Alistair Turner: "There is currently no single day devoted to the promotion of the industry in front of buyers and wider businesses. If the industry is hungry for such a day it is the campaign's responsibility to deliver it on behalf of its partners and supporters."

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