Conference and events manager
University of South Wales
Face-to-face events are back and the Wales events industry is once again upbeat.
Wales went fully to alert level one recently (July 17th) and the Welsh government has announced plans to bring Wales to alert level zero on August 7th.
This August 7th date has been music to the ears of all those working in the events sector in Wales, especially those in the commercial events sector, who work indoors to organize conferences, events and events in Wales. awards ceremonies, networking events and exhibitions. From that date – as long as the current health situation allows – there will be no more limits as to the number of people who can meet in public places or during events and it is expected that the rules of physical distancing will also be lifted. So all conferences and events can resume.
This is what the industry has been waiting for for 16 months!
It was a difficult time for this sector. Many freelancers I know lost all of their work plans and ended up working in retail; event management companies and audiovisual companies were forced to diversify in order to survive; many experienced and qualified contacts were made redundant; and suppliers to this sector, such as photographers and caterers who once had full books, had to rely on grants and loans to get through this period.
Everyone in this industry is ready to get back to work.
And it’s not just the delivery side of the industry optimistic about the return – many customers are also excited to plan their next event. In the University of South Wales Conferences and Events team, we have seen our inquiries increase tenfold over the past few weeks and our conference center room booking schedule is filling up rapidly for the remainder of 2021 .
But, we must remain cautious as we enter the new phase of the pandemic. We cannot ignore the fact that we are still in a pandemic and cases have risen sharply in recent weeks. Fortunately, thanks to Wales’ successful vaccination program, this increase in cases has not translated into large numbers of people falling seriously ill or requiring hospital treatment, but there is still a risk that this third wave could again harm our industry.
It is therefore now the responsibility of organizations and businesses to put measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A new requirement, announced by the Welsh government, is that all organizations and businesses must perform a COVID-19 risk assessment for their event, to determine what reasonable measures need to be in place to ensure the safety of workers, customers and visitors. Then, they should provide information on the risks and mitigation measures identified in this risk assessment to their employees, to ensure that everyone is aware of the actions in place.
At the University of South Wales, we are reviewing the mitigation measures we will put in place for conference and event delegates to keep everyone safe and to instill confidence that we are a safe place for the COVID. We have also implemented a customer charter which is sent out before each event, explaining what we will provide as an event location and what we expect from our customers and their visitors.
Since the pandemic, I have worked alongside Jill Manley of the Celtic Collection and Sophie Morris, Managing Director of Worldspan, to represent the voice of the events industry within the Event Industry Wales Advisory Group, alongside of the Welsh government and ministers.
âThere is no doubt that concerns remain about a safe – even gradual – return to live events. Trust is a real problem. But the general consensus among clients is that they want – and even need – to meet. And with the continued success of the immunization program, confidence returns. Just watch the crowds at Euro and Wimbledon. You can see the need to meet, collaborate and celebrate is real, but there are always risks, and we need to do proper risk assessments – this is a shared responsibility across the board. ‘industry.
âIndividuals, for their own personal reasons and whatever mitigation measures we put in place, will need to be reassured for some time. And that’s OK. We respect that. But we see that they are in the minority; we’re seeing demand for face-to-face events returning – some with a hybrid option – but many will only come back face-to-face. The appetite is there. The desire is real. Confidence returns. “
The events industry must now put measures in place to keep our venues and events secure, so that customers feel confident to return to events face to face. We can then rebuild this once thriving industry, as it offers vital contributions to broader business development and to the economy as a whole.