By Anne Jamieson, CEO, Saxton Speakers Bureau

Businesses across the industry have had their cash flow and revenue streams eroded – from ticket sales and venue hire to memberships, sponsorship and government support. As we all pivot to a new, virtual world, the expectation is that costs should be lower, which further drives down revenues. LinkedIn is full of free events and offerings. So many that I often find myself overwhelmed with my pointer finger exhausted from hitting delete.

Everything about our remarkable, diverse, a little chaotic (okay, a lot) and up until now highly profitable industry, employing 10s of thousands, is in a state of disarray.

Our sector will continue to be decimated without a health-led response that seeks to address these issues. Many more businesses will collapse until this occurs.

The events industry was the first to be affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all research indicates that we will be the last to recover. We are at a critical juncture for the events industry. The sector has been largely overlooked by the various rounds of industry-specific funding or grants programs that have been announced at state and federal levels. Whilst the Federal Government providing a $50 million support package for the events industry is welcome news, it will be interesting to see who will benefit from the fund and if it will support the full supply chain impacted by cancellations. Communication from the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) specifically references space hire, design, travel and accommodation, but what about the talent, photographers, AV and countless others in the supply chain?

If these businesses that make up the events industry are not supported now, the industry will not be in a position to restart when permissible.

It seems so long ago that I sat down with Ant Hampel and Jen Trethewey to do The Event Sessions interview. The world has changed even more since then, and with Victoria in continual lockdown it makes it incredibly hard to be optimistic – but nonetheless we are.

Zoom and virtual events are absolutely reinforcing that we have this inate desire to meet in person, which I believe will be stronger than ever after being locked away for so long. For me it’s the networking and catching up face-to-face with the unexpected collegue, sharing a coffee or a drink or two and just simply catching up and meeting someone new.

As Vera Lynn sang – “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

Bring it on!