Insight: Issue 118 | Wed 11 Jan
Hello 2023. We’ve been expecting you…
Hey, there are some great things about the number 23. Michael Jordan. The lowest prime number consisting of consecutive digits. The 2007 Jim Carrey cinematic masterpiece The Number 23… But there are none so great as the year were the events world is going to absolutely smash it – and we’re here, full of new year’s beans, to give you the juicy details from this glorious little industry of ours. 2023 style. In the meantime, here’s our favourite Number 23 taking a sneak preview of this week’s bulletin….
To kick the year off we’ve got; Live events to boom in 2023 despite cost of living crisis; NEC joins AIF and AFO as part of Events Diversification Strategy; Agiito to offer wellbeing ‘hubs’ at events and conferences; Visibility matters – tech’s role in diversity and inclusion; and six simple steps to make your event as accessible as possible.
Live events to boom in 2023 despite cost of living crisis
Widespread double digit inflation. Reduced household spending. Despite the odds, it looks like it still might be a strong year for the events industry.
It seems the hunger for live experience is showing no signs of relenting, and according to AEG Europe executive vice-president for global partnerships Paul Samuels, this mirrors what happened when the 2008 financial crisis hit.
“During the 2008 financial crisis there was never a drop in ticket sales – or food and beverage – at the O2. People felt a holiday abroad was too much of a big-ticket cost but they still wanted a night out, to see friends, and use that as a release. We are predicting that will be the same case with the cost of living crisis.”
In many cases ticket sales are exceeding pre-pandemic levels, with premium-priced experiences including major sporting events and live concerts seeing booming demand. In light of this, AEG have reported the best seats in the house at the O2, costing upwards of £400 pounds, have seen a 49% increase on that of 2019’s sales.
Unfortunately, due to factors such as staff shortages, spending constraints and untested venue assessments, insurance risks are on the rise as well.
Fingers crossed 2023’s gonna be a corker.
NEC joins AIF and AFO as part of Events Diversification Strategy
Say hello to the newest members of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) – NEC Birmingham!
The move is part of the venue’s events diversification strategy, and by way of it’s 387 acres of hard-standing ground and 59 acres of woodland, has it’s sights set on hosting more festivals in the future. The NEC already have major outdoor offerings such as Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival 2022 and 2014’s Slam Dunk fest under it’s belt, and now the organisation is looking to bring a greater mix of live experiences to the Midlands.
AIF CEO John Rostron looks forward to working with their newest members:
“Not only does it demonstrate creative thinking from NEC Group, it also points to the value of AIF as a resource to businesses connected to the festival industry, alongside the promoters themselves.
“We look forward to working closely with the NEC, carving new opportunities for both the venue and our festival members, and promoting the interests of the sector more broadly.”
Agiito to offer wellbeing ‘hubs’ at events and conferences
In partnership with social enterprise charity Eventwell, Travel management and events specialist company Agiito is bringing wellbeing “hubs” to events and conferences. Designed to provide a “gentle escape from the rich and often overwhelming environment” of busy events, the hubs are equipped with dimmed lights, noise-cancelling headphones and books and in many cases trained mental health first aider to offer assistance amid the hustle and bustle.
The consideration of attendee mental health is a huge priority for the industry nowadays, and the so the inclusion of Agito’s wellbeing hubs is a massive leap forward in improving support.
Helen Moon, Eventwell’s CEO, gives some detail:
“We wanted to be more than an organisation providing training, we wanted to create something that was preventative and actionable.
“We wanted to develop a service that’s bespoke to each event and puts real support in place. The hubs are transformational, with delegates needing just 10 minutes for the brain to be refreshed.”
Louisa Delay asks why doesn’t the tech sector reflect the same diverse individuals it is made for? In an article in Conference News, she talks to technology experts Mark Martin, founder of UKBlackTech and Julia Streets, executive producer of DiverCity Podcast, about how to drive the focus of the tech industry towards diversity, equity and inclusion. In the interview, they touch on the sector’s current and future landscape, breaking the issue down into three main talking points.
Bridging the gap
Hiring from under-represented backgrounds has been a driving focus for the events industry, meaning for a wider scope of diverse talent, outlook and expertise. Delay asks UKBlackTech’s Mark Martin how this is being reflected in the tech sector.
Recent data suggests that there are Black technologists moving into the sector, but unfortunately “at a very low rate,” which means there is an “untapped talent pool”. He explains how UKBlackTech strive to bridge the gap between that disconnect.
“UKBlackTech wanted to be that platform. We work with universities to connect young people to the tech talent pipeline, we work with start-ups to improve and enhance their innovation, we work with corporates, in terms of supporting their staff internally and externally, by having that digital transformation discourse,”
Through her DiverCity Podcast, which aims to “shine a light on positive progress, call out areas requiring further focus, and offer ideas to help drive change”, Julia Streets pinpoints 5 key things that need to be addressed to have an impact on the sector in terms of DEI. (Have a ganders at the article for more detail)
Corporate culture and leadership
Enlightened middle management leadership
Hiring and retention
Role models and allies
Networks and intersectionality
These will lead to tangible benefits that come with the consciousness of representation and DEI.
Unfortunately, some current tech on the market feeds in to the continuing inequality that exists in the sector and society as a whole. For example, technology such as facial recognition systems like the passport security that struggle to pick up darker complexions highlight the issue. Martin urges for change within the industry that can improve the situation.
“Not only do we want Black technologists to help prevent this, but we also want them to get a lead on it too, in terms of pushing for equal and equitable change. But we must get there without tokenism or the superficial stuff.
“Imagine if we did give Black technologists the space and platform, imagine what new ideas they can bring into the UK to increase the innovation, to increase the growth and ultimately increase the country’s GDP.”
Julia Streets concludes that despite “it’s an exciting time,” and “ awareness around DEI has never been higher and it’s not going away.”
Six simple steps to make your event as accessible as possible
Looking to make your event as accessible as poss? Managing director of the healthcare division at ROAR B2B has some handy tips for the industry.
So what does accessibility mean for event organisers?. Well, Clarke defines it as ensuring that no one is excluded from an activity due to a disability, meaning fair and equal access to all.
In the UK, there are currently around 14.7 million people living with a disability, and as that accounts for one fifth of the nation’s population, that’s a pretty large proportion of prospective attendees.
He breaks down what can be done to make your event as accessible as possible into 6 steps (We’ll summarise them for you) :
- Including members of the disability community on steering groups or advisory boards for direct and invaluable feedback
- Include questions regarding disability on reg forms to help plan in advance
- Make use of sign language interpreters, subtitles in theatres and hearing loops
- Always include image descriptions in social posts
- Consider wheelchair users when designing floor plans and theatre layouts
- Provide guidance in advance to assist with travel plans
Although this list isn’t definitive or applicable to all scenarios, it provides as a useful tool when considering how to make your event accessible to all.
First issue of the year done and dusted….
Tune in again next week for some more event based ponderings.