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M&IT review of the year 2018: Brexit, MeToo and the war on plastic

By anyone’s standards, 2018 has been quite a year.

The #MeToo movement, the war on plastic, commission cuts, fluctuating hotel rates, the Beast from the East, climate change fears, a vegan revolution and an unfolding mental health epidemic made it a time of great change for the meetings and events industry. And that’s before you even mention the dreaded “B” word…

Join us as we take a look back over some of the key stories that we’ve covered at M&IT over the past 12 months. (Trigger warning: may contain Brexit)

January

Marriott cut commissions paid to third-party meeting planners from 10 per cent to 7 per cent for all its US and Canada hotels, in a move that sent shockwaves through the industry

An expose of an all-male charity fundraiser at the Presidents Club in London shone a light on sexual harassment in the industry

TRO chief executive Keith O’Loughlin left the agency after more than 30 years

February

American Express Global Business Travel announced it was to acquire Hogg Robinson Group in a £400m deal

The QEII Centre looked set to be out of action for at least six months after MPs voted for Parliament to relocate during a £3.5bn refurbishment

The M&IT Awards charity auction raised more than £26,000 for industry charity Meeting Needs

March

The 31st M&IT Awards saw the best of the events industry battle through freezing conditions to come together for a stylish night of celebration

Attendance was down by around 2,000 at International Confex as the exhibition suffered from poor weather conditions

There was industry outrage after Hilton announced it would follow Marriott in cutting commission at its US and Canada hotels

April

The gender pay gap at some of the biggest agencies in the country was revealed after the government made firms publish data on the average pay difference between men and women

The organiser of the UK Rail Industry Awards apologised after the ceremony featured a mock terror attack

BCD M&E revealed it had increased its EMEA team by 500 per cent in two years as it aimed to become the number one agency in the region

May

A former Scotland Yard detective chief inspector said that the industry was not prepared for terror attacks and was too ambivalent about terrorism

Nick de Bois, then chair of the Event Industry Board, called on industry leaders to step forward and articulate pre-Brexit concerns

Private equity firm Rockpool bought a majority stake in Smyle, with Smyle management continuing to run the business and retaining a 40 per cent stake in the new group holding company

June

The impact of Brexit on recruitment in the UK hospitality and events industry was increasing, according to the HBAA

Graeme Barnett, senior exhibitions director of the IBTM events portfolio at Reed Exhibitions, left the company after 22 years following a restructure

IMEX organiser Regent Exhibitions saw turnover top £30m and operating profit more than double to £7.2m

July

One of the industry’s most brilliant and creative individuals, Chris Martins, died after a battle with cancer

There was anger as event production company iCO Event Services was wound up with debts of more than £64k – just six weeks after undergoing a rebrand

Nick de Bois stepped down as chair of the Events Industry Board to take up a new role as chief of staff in the Department for Exiting the European Union

August

HBAA research showed a regional divide in employment prospects, with hotels offering better packages than agencies for roles outside London

More than half of planners worldwide saw their budgets increase year-on-year, according to Cvent’s annual report

York-based Tailormade Conference Management ceased trading and went into liquidation with debts of £249k

September

London venues told MPs that they needed more support from government to help grow the industry in an evidence session in Parliament

Brexit uncertainty was causing a fall in UK conference activity, according to conference technology firm buk Solutions

The cost of fitting out its new London office contributed to a £300k drop in profit at George P. Johnson

October

The global business events industry was valued at more than $1 trillion by a research project unveiled at IMEX America

The Meetings Industry Association kicked off its #20percentless campaign with a roundtable discussion about the use of plastic in the industry

Conservative MPs had their personal details revealed by an error in the official mobile app at the party’s annual conference

November

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn budget met with a mixed reaction from the wider events industry

Drp boss Dale Parmenter called on the government to get off their high horses and break the Brexit impasse

The world’s largest hotel group, Marriott International, announced that the records of 500 million customers had been involved in a data breach

December

Hotels in the French capital looked set to lose around 10 million euros (£8.9m) as the main tourists areas of Paris were hit by violent protests

The Meetings Show and M&IT teamed up to launch Tomorrow’s Talent, a new initiative to champion young meeting and event planners

Brexit is the biggest challenge facing travel buyers in 2019, according to a Business Travel Show survey