November 22, 2021 | By Stu Katzen
It’s November – almost the end of the year. Lockdown is over, as is JobSaver; restrictions are easing and according to the government, everything will be back to normal in a month, come December 15.
Yet business events are still in crisis and the event agencies that work with corporates to deliver their events are still going under and struggling to find funds to keep their business running.
As I look across our southern border, the Victorian Government has ratified a system to support corporates and producers of events over $20,000 that are stopped or have reduced numbers due to COVID-19. I salute both the Victorian Government and Save Victorian Events (who lobbied and pushed the state government for this) for instituting the insurance system so fast and incentivising corporates and producers to run events with a safety net.
We recently approached both the Federal and State Treasurers asking them to talk to our sector, to work with us to find a solution for funding and incentives to get the business events industry up and running. They both declined.
We are asking government for a short term JobSaver/JobKeeper system to keep our doors open, an Australia-wide insurance scheme to protect our clients (like Victoria has just put into effect) and recognition and definition of who we are and that as an industry we are in distress and urgently need help.
The NSW Government claims it has helped the NSW events industry to the tune of $530 million in its latest “save events” plan. This plan allocates $250 million to be spent on vouchers encouraging people to use accommodation through NSW. That will not directly help our sector.
Then there’s $60 million dollars to be spent on aviation attraction – also not directly for events and will not provide immediate help to our sector.
We were a robust and integral industry delivering $35.7 billion to the Australian economy through business events. We are currently delivering nowhere near that.
Our state and federal governments do not recognise us as a sector. We have been included in “events” but, as we know, that encompasses so many other sectors it’s ludicrous to assume we are all the same. We are a specific sector delivering mostly corporate events, we are accountable to our clients and we are not always affiliated with any oversight body like Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) or the Professional Conference Organisers Association (PCOA).
Government has allocated funding to events, however that funding is not getting to the right people. The small agencies that make up most of the market and deliver much of the revenue are getting no support, no direct funding and no recognition from state or federal government that we exist as a standalone sector.
The contractors to this industry are also not receiving any help. Many have left to find work elsewhere. We have seen these issues with the hospitality sector and the inability for many restaurants to open due to a lack of qualified staff. The events industry is in the same situation.
Apologies for the doom and gloom, but the industry we all love and work in, is in peril and the powers that be are claiming they are supporting us, yet as SMEs, we are not getting that help.
We – a group of event agencies from Sydney’s Northern Beaches – have spoken to our local federal member, Zali Steggall who has been amazing in her support of us, however we need your help as well.
The best way to help all of us is to contact local and independent members and both the state and federal governments and let them know what is happening.
Please email your local member and both the State and Federal Treasurers and let them know we are an industry in distress and whilst we do understand they are busy with COVID-19 and recovering the health of the economy again, we need help, their funding is not getting to us and that we also need to be recognised as an independent sector of the events industry.
Please let them both know that our industry is watching, and elections are looming.
If any of this is ringing true for you and you want a voice, please email me and add your name and voice to our group in our effort to engage with the state and federal governments to ensure our industry does not perish.
We need a loud voice that speaks for our sector of the industry. Tourism and hospitality each have a very loud voice. The nature of our industry has meant we do not speak as one. We don’t have the luxury of being fractured anymore.
If we want to move forward and flourish, we need to speak as one and far louder than we are doing.
If this all sounds scary, it’s because it is!