How do we Level Up the sector? Northern eventprofs have their say | Meetings & Incentive Travel

How do we Level Up the sector? Northern eventprofs have their say | Meetings & Incentive Travel

Levelling Up was a key theme of the Conservatives' 2019 election campaign, with former prime minister Boris Johnson calling it the "defining mission" of his government.

The aim is to give regions that have been left behind a chance to catch up through investment, skills and greater regional powers. Much of the focus of Levelling Up has been on the North of England, with the region traditionally portrayed in contrast to the affluence of London and the South East.

So what does Levelling Up mean to the events sector in the North? And what does new prime minister Liz Truss have to do to make it work? We asked eventprofs from across the North for their thoughts. 

“The North has traditionally been seen as the poor relation in the events industry, but not only does the North now house the head offices for some amazing brands, but it offers some stunning world-class venues and northern agencies which now have both national and international brands on their books and are proving that they can compete equally with other global events agencies.

“With the growth of remote working and communication tools, location has become unimportant. Given that the events industry contributes an estimated £70 billion to the UK economy it deserves to be recognised as a key industry.

“Coming out of the pandemic northern businesses need access to both strategic and financial support to encourage growth, alongside investment into good transport networks that allow greater connectivity nationally. This will encourage greater northwest opportunities for talent through support of northern organisations which will in turn allow northern event professionals to find fantastic opportunities on their doorstep further boosting the region."

“To us, Levelling Up has a couple of meanings. Firstly, we see it as an opportunity to shine a spotlight and elevate the status of locations and the supply chain across the north – helping us be considered for opportunities which may have previously been weighted towards London and the south.

“Level up also happens to be one of our brand values. This is our focus on going beyond the expectations, listening to our client’s needs and then elevating and levelling up every element – so it’s always top of mind for us.

“It’s about having a seat at the table. Thinking outside of the box, whether it be for event locations, companies, thought leadership and more – and considering the fantastic opportunities across the North. The more the government can lead the way, bring events and have a presence in the North, it will help ensure that eventprofs, venues, and suppliers outside of the South East are included and considered. 

“It's also important to ensure the government are committed to promoting the North, as well as London, to inbound international events – and marketing reflects the diversity of destinations across the UK.”

“We’ve seen several ambitious proposals submitted within the last few months that will transform numerous constituencies in the Leeds area alone. It’s an exciting time for Yorkshire.

“The UK Infrastructure Bank is now based in Leeds which can only be a good thing. They’re responsible for helping tackle climate change, to meet our nation’s 2050 Net Zero target, which is something we’re passionate about getting more involved with. Their second objective is to support local and regional economic growth through better connectedness, opportunities for new jobs and higher levels of productivity. It’s great having the hub of that in Leeds.

“It's exciting to see that Leeds is home to a rapidly growing creative and digital sector with organisations such as Sky and Channel 4 leading the way. The refurbishment of iconic hotels like the Queens, and new arena developments on our doorstep, such as Manchester’s Coop Live, are providing much-needed improvements to our venue inventory. We expect Levelling Up to only add to this.

“Being Northern affords us the privilege of operating in a less concentrated volume of agencies than in the South. We form lasting partnerships with our clients and suppliers that do not revolve around a pitch or a tender. We become an extension of their internal teams, nurturing working relationships that have lasted in excess of 15 years.

“The challenge we face is recruitment. A smaller concentration of agencies results in a smaller talent pool. Experienced professionals will always be enticed by the big smoke and with the surge in remote working, there is an opportunity to command a London salary without the expense of relocating to the south.

“We’re blessed to be on the doorstep of Leeds Beckett University, the UKCEM (UK Centre of Event Management). We’ve had numerous placement and post-grads that have joined us and, as a result of the right training and development, stayed as their careers develop.

“One thing you can never take away is our envious location between the Peak District, Lake District and many stunning coastal towns. With the rise of businesses looking to combine team building and CSR activities, it’s the best place to be. Ultimately, we will always welcome investment and look forward to what’s to come, but we’re already Yorkshire and proud.”

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