BVEP - Business Visits and Events Partnership

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BVEP Blog

It's All About All of Us

By Simon Hughes - The other day a friend of mine who is a brilliant marketer commented on some research he'd seen. In the annual flurry of predictions and trends that we're deluged with at the turn of the year, he'd come across some that identified how effective live and experiential events were when compared to other traditional channels.

So far, so good. But when it came to predicting trends on marketing spend for 2015, he was amused to see that this proven success did not subsequently translate to increased budgets for live activity. Spend predictions tended to gravitate towards digital – the internet of everything – with the proliferation of challenges and opportunities across many different platforms creating a real sense of dynamism and innovation. His challenge to me was simple – what are you lot in the world of events doing about this?

There are any number of answers to that question and across all the partners involved in supporting the BVEP plenty of good new initiatives, sharing of best practice and collaboration that we could use to show just how dynamic and innovative we are. Couldn't we? As heartening as it was to hear MP Nick de Bois endorsing the progress that the sector has made at Confex last month, his plea to the industry to "dig into their pockets" to fund a single lobbying group rang an alarm bell. The collective good that the BVEP has managed to deliver to date is entirely based on the goodwill and collaboration of the partners. Yet all around us there are other communication and marketing channels that are investing heavily in both professional promotion and government lobbying in order to ensure that their members reap the benefits.

For all the good work that the BVEP undoubtedly delivers on behalf of the sector, our reliance on the voluntary time and effort that the partners put in and the small annual subscriptions that fund the most basic (but brilliant) administrative support does us no credit at all when we look at the competition. For example, recent research carried out in the States by Consumer Watch found that 15 leading technology firms had spent a combined £76.9m lobbying US politicians last year. Consumer Watch director John Simpson put it rather neatly when he said; "Policymaking is now all about big bucks, not big ideas." Despite the far more restrictive lobbying rules that exist here in the UK, a quick scout around the various sites that record UK domestic and EU lobbying spend reveals the usual suspects (finance, oil, tobacco, accountants) as well as any number of trade associations that have both a clear focus and the funds to protect and promote the interests of their members.

Of course maintaining our profile and making our voice heard does not require huge sums of money – but it does require time to develop strategies, the resources to draw on the wisdom of the crowd we represent and a clear focus on the agreed aims and objectives for the partnership. This is why the proposal to hold a strategy day next month is such an important development in the history of the partnership. Across the sector we are genuinely brimming with great examples of dynamic, innovative and (dare we say it) digital developments that are fundamentally changing the way we work. Our task is to ensure that we use the new and exciting opportunities that the transformation of communications is undergoing to spread the word more effectively than ever before. It is all about all of us spreading the good word.