Standing still ‘not an option’ for business post-Brexit

Meetings industry delegates were told that “standing still is not an option” in the post-Brexit era during the opening of the mia Future Fit Conference in London.

Broadcaster and journalist Declan Curry was drawing upon his 25 years of experience writing about business, politics and the economy, before his opening address at the day of expert-led insights into the future of the sector at America Square.

Curry told the conference the industry should be watching the horizon and avoid the danger of “doing business the way it has always been done”.

He said: “We have an economy that is vigorous and attractive to the rest of the world. Even in the toughest of times, there are still opportunities for those that are nimble enough to get them.

“We should be optimistic as we have an immense thirst for business. Our skills, talent and creativity will make us more adaptable in a globalised economy driven by knowledge.”

The conference heard from keynote speakers on new technology, sustainability and the potential opportunities posed by Brexit.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the trade association, said: “What is clear, and what was reinforced and demonstrated by every speaker, is we have a huge opportunity to be both bold and innovative to drive business growth.

“We can’t just stand still. Instead, we need to embrace and take advantage of both the technological advances set to occur over the coming years and the opportunities presented by Brexit.

“At the same time, we have a huge duty to ensure that the sector takes its social responsibility seriously.”

During the annual conference mia chair Kay England revealed how it is calling upon the industry to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics by officially launching mia’s #20PercentLess campaign.

The Zoological Society of London’s project officer Rachel Shairp, who is a leader of the #OneLess campaign, affirmed her support for #20PercentLess.

She said: “Eight million tons of plastic are entering the ocean every year and once in the ocean it poses a major threat and starts to poison food chains including our own.

“Every part of the ocean is now affected, and once in, it stays there for a very long time.”

Food and beverage futurist, David Russell, explained why sustainability should be at the heart of creating effective event strategies and discussed the importance of ecological consciousness in food procurement, food logistics and guest services.

Atsushi Ishii revealed the exciting opportunities being presented by using technology to enhance human capabilities and how artificial intelligence can be used as a money-saving tool.

He also told delegates how his company, Connectome, is developing a ‘Virtual Human Agent’ interface that mediates communication with people.

On the same day mia held its 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM) where it was revealed that membership hit a record high, of 804 members, with income growing 11.8 per cent in the past year.

The association ran 28 events in 2018, including the first Destinations Summit and Sales HIIT, with a total of 1,118 members attending.