MPs have already been approached by a lobbying group and sounded out by the BVEP. On 18 October, after the forthcoming general election has swept a host of new MPs into the houses of parliament, those with strong event ties in their constituency will be invited to the meeting.
Shadow tourism minister and Bournemouth East candidate Tobias Ellwood has already said that he would be interested in attending if, as is currently expected, he is elected and promoted to tourism minister.
"MPs understand Glastonbury... but they don't necessarily get large scale meetings or trade exhibitions," said Visit Britain head of business visits and event Simon Mills. "We are in the planning process for the lobbying campaign which will raise the awareness of the industry among MPs."
The BVEP and Confex claim to have the support of "practically all" industry associations in the venture, and said that MPs in locations such as Harrogate and Liverpool, with a large event business, would be targeted.
"The event industry is still relatively young, maybe 25 years, but growing fast," said UBM portfolio director and Confex chief Duncan Reid. "Look at Liverpool as an example. It had no ties a few years ago but now there is a convention centre and hundreds of meeting spaces that have brought money into the local economy."
Separately Reid said that Confex had experienced flat attendance on last year, but was pleased with the quality of attendees. The experiment in opening the venue late, until 7pm, to allow after work business did not necessarily bring in extra visitors, he said, but did allow visitors already here to congregate late in the day. On the opening day (Tuesday, 23 February) around 700 guests and exhibitors stayed late and congregated in the central hall area of the Earls Court space. Reid said the experiment could be repeated at Event UK in the autumn.
Next year's Confex will be moved to the later dates of 1-3 March to avoid clashing with half term.
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