‘Bigger opportunity for events outside London’, says BVEP’s Hirst

With ExCeL London having transformed into the 4,000 bed NHS Nightingale hospital to treat coronavirus patients, what does this mean for events in the capital?  

We caught up with Business Visits and Events Partnership chair Michael Hirst, who shared his thoughts on what could come from ExCeL London being out of action to the event community for the foreseeable future.

“If London can’t welcome as many events, there will be a deficiency but there’s a bigger opportunity for out of London premises to look at events that would have gone to London and this is part of the governments’ other policy of levelling up, can we actually manage to get some of those events into the regions.”

However, Hirst pointed out that the UK has “phenomenal facilities” in second-tier destinations such as Brighton, Bournemouth, Telford and Birmingham.

“If London is short of capacity, London & Partners and Visit Britain will be doing their best to retain business and push it around the country.

“One of the positives coming out is that I think we’re getting greater recognition for our industry. The other positive is the collaboration and working together that we are seeing especially amongst the representative’s trade bodies that look after the different sectors of the industry.

Hirst added: “The working together has been enormous, the sharing of best practice, the sharing of guidance, the pooling of resources when it comes to “we’ve all got that issue, let’s go together and talk with one voice,” it’s been very heartening.

“Often the use of trade associations are questioned but the use of them has been to have got the impact, the feedback and the responses working really well as an industry. There’s been a phenomenal push to get this industry to the front of the queue.”

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