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Mia survey reveals ‘pressing challenges’ for business events

Supply chain issues, increased operational costs and staff shortages are heavily impacting the business meetings and events sector, according to the Meetings Industry Association (mia).

The latest survey of venues revealed nine in 10 venues currently have vacancies, with more than three quarters seeking waiting staff, and almost half holding vacancies for receptionists, housekeeping and kitchen staff.

On average, venues reported a loss of over a third of non-UK workers from the start of the pandemic, which has been led by challenges presented by Brexit and applications to the EU Settlement Scheme closing at the end of June.

Although organisations are currently experiencing a 17.5 per cent decrease in the size of their workforce compared to pre-Covid levels, which is a positive shift from the 57 per cent reduction recorded in July, fulfilling vacancies is proving difficult for many as pay rises, bonuses, and further non-financial incentives have become rife as a means of attracting and retaining talent.

Additionally, 90 per cent of venues have reported increased operational costs, with more than half highlighting ‘substantial increases’. This includes rises as high as 10 per cent in F&B, energy, salary, and recruitment costs, with most forecasting further increases over the next quarter.

To compensate for the reported increase in costs, almost half of venues have increased their F&B rates, while a third have increased their room rates.

Steve Jones, chair of the mia, who presented some of the latest findings to tourism minister Nigel Huddleston at the association’s Ignite conference, said: “While it is encouraging to see employment levels return in the direction of more recognisable levels, we cannot ignore the pressing challenges that many venues are experiencing as the sector gets back on its feet.

“We are still only at the start of our road to recovery, and in a circular sector such as ours it is critical that we continue to liaise with government to protect all businesses within it. It is evident that venues are doing all they can to support with staff shortages as demand levels begin to incrementally increase, and we continue to communicate and address challenges such as these in any way we can.”

To view the full research report, which has been shared with the government’s Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, click here.

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