Newsletter Issue 7 : September 2014


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Nick De Bois, is a conservative MP and the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events (APPG). Prior to his career in politics, Nick was the owner of the Rapier group, a full service agency specialising in exhibitions and events. Nick’s wife is now the Managing Director of the Rapier Group (which owns Hampton Medical Conferences). During his time in Government, Nick has been a passionate advocate for the events industry, we interviewed him for this month’s GCN newsletter.


What has been happening to raise the profile of the conference and events industry?
I’ve felt for years that the events industry in the UK has been misunderstood and misrepresented – its contribution to UK plc has not been recognised. Through the APPG and Britain for Events we’ve shown that events should be an integral part of the Governments “growth agenda” being part of the high value creative industries.

These bodies will champion events as a gateway to the UK, for major overseas organisations and companies to not just visit the UK for an event but it's an opportunity to demonstrate what the UK can offer on a permanent basis. Events are a window on the UK for every international business delegate.

We are challenging the Government to address some key issues which have been identified by the events industry as obstacles to success, such as;

  • Difficulties with visas
  • Air passenger duty
  • Uncompetitive rates on VAT for international businesses
  • Lack of infrastructure

The Prime Minister has hosted a summit on events, so all of these issues are now on the table and need to be delivered at a working level across Government, DCLG, The Home Office etc.

The organisations that you have mentioned don’t represent the B2B conference industry – how are they included in the process?
All of my previous career was spent in B2B events. A key part of the work Britain in Events has done, is highlight the fact that business visitors contribute significantly more to the economy than other visitors, this wasn’t previously clearly stated or recognised.

A lot of evidence was gathered by the APPG and Britain for Events from stakeholders in events in producing their enquiry report into the “Competitiveness of the UK Events Industry”

The events industry will pack a stronger punch if they speak with one voice – there are so many different associations representing different parts of the industry, that their message gets diluted. Other industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry have been more successful at lobbying government when they unified behind one cohesive association.

What is being done about the lack of large venues in London?
There is a gaping hole in venue provision for exhibitions and conferences in the west of London - we have Excel in the East and of course hotels but we need a big conference and exhibition centre in the west

I’d like to see the Mayor talking about an events centre in the same way a new runway is being discussed. Why can’t we have a new large venue on the way to Heathrow?

However, this is not just about London and National Government but also local Government. In theory now, if a region wants to invest in a conference facility they can do so with a mixture of private and public money.

The UK is not just a centre of excellence for running conferences in the UK but a great exporter of conferences. Can the Government support us in this?
Every arm of Government should be used to promote events oversees. Conference companies can access and use the FCO and UKTI when running conferences overseas. Every country now as a UKTI who, where relevant, can help secure visiting ministers or trade ambassadors to participate in conferences.

What about training and talent in the conference industry?
For the industry to raise its profile with Government there needs to be data on how many apprenticeships the sector employs – these figures demonstrate the contribution of the events industry to UK plc.

The lack of skills in the UK is quite shocking. My old company whilst lucky enough to have a very good team on board do struggle to recruit the right level of skills and expertise. I’d like to see every company working in the events industry to work with colleges and universities to develop courses and if necessary, put their hand in their pockets, to fund the kind of training that will bring the right talent with the right skills into the events industry.

I was interested to read about the Graduate Conference Academy, as we need to bring in as much talent to the industry as possible and letting graduates know what the industry is about is important. Even if they go away thinking conferences aren’t for me – that is progress as there is nothing worse than going through the time and investment of hiring people, to then find out, the industry is not for them.

On a personal level, how different do you find politics to the events business?
I miss business terribly, in business you sink or swim with your ideas and decisions, there is no one else to blame and you can start and finish something. There is a positive “can do” attitude.

When you are a legislator, as I am in Parliament, you really have to use all your powers of persuasion and can have enormous influence, but actually you cannot require anything to be done  - you have to get consensus and that needs stamina and patience. But you can really change things that matter – I’ve been involved in changing legislation on knife crime and adoption, voted on life and death decisions and that really counts.

I’m in a very marginal seat, so the question is would I go back to business if I did lose? I’m not sure ……

Nick de Bois is speaking about the APPG’s work on events and new developments from Government at this year’s Conference Summit on 5th December 2014.


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Sales Manager – B2B Events Customer Insights – up to £40K base £90K OTE, London

Sponsorship Sales Manager – Retail Shows – Up to £40K base £80K OTE, London

Head of Sales – Events and Media - up to £60K base plus commission, London

Head of New Markets - £DOE plus profit share, London

Conference Development Manager – up to £40K plus profit share, London

Lead Conference Producer – International Energy Sector Events – up to £34K base £64K OTE – London

Senior Delegate Sales Executive/Manager – up to £30K base £50-£60K OTE, London


event marketing summit
We have been delighted with the response to this new event with over 140 people already signed up to attend. It is taking place on Friday 3rd October at The Mermaid. See agenda and who's coming.

gcn talent
Our new recruitment arm GCN is flourishing with a number of successful appointments being confirmed over recent months. If you are interested in finding out how we can help get the right people through the door to your company then visit GCN Talent.

graduate conferencce academy
There are two Conference Academies, providing free intensive training to carefully selected graduates, this Autumn – 7 – 10 October and 25 – 28 November. If you would like to come along and meet the graduates or are looking to take on a graduate visit Graduate Conference Academy.

gcn venue search
We have recently started a new venue search partnership which allows you to benefit from preferred rates with many of the venues who host and support our events. The GCN Venue Search division is headed up by Andy Jeffrey. Visit GCN Venue Search.

conference summit
We have recently announced the agenda for our 4th annual Conference Summit. The Conference Summit is the most established and recognised annual meeting of leaders and senior executives in the commercial conferences industry, attracting 180+ attendees annually. See the latest speaker panel.


Global Conference Network Salary Survey @014

The Global Conference Network Salary Survey 2014 consists of 13 questions and should take no longer than 5 minutes for you to complete.

All responses will be treated with the strictest confidence by the Global Conference Network and individual responses will not be released to any 3rd parties.

The results will be revealed on 5th December at the Conference Summit 2014, taking place at etc.venues, 155 Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street, London.

A report will then be sent to all survey respondents on 5th January 2015. This survey will close on 21st November 2014.