General Election 2015: Event profs welcome Tory win

The event industry has reacted positively to the new Conservative majority government, citing the party's proposals for business and economic consistency as appealing factors.

David Cameron's Conservatives win the 2015 General Election (@David_Cameron)
David Cameron's Conservatives win the 2015 General Election (@David_Cameron)
The Conservatives recently set out a new event strategy as part of the coalition government, which can now proceed into action. The report compiled by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport included plans to create a Business Visits & Events Board and encourage stronger political support for the industry.

The party's election manifesto highlighted the positive impact of high-profile sporting events, such as the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the World Athletics Championship in 2017.

It also pledged to create greater links with the US National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, and underlined plans to support a Great Exhibition in the North and develop a world-class concert hall in London.

"One less thing to worry about"

However it is the Conservatives' approach to supporting business that has pleased event professionals.

Julian Pullan, president EMEA of Jack Morton worldwide and number one in the Event 100 club, said: "[The election outcome] is a great result for UK business and the economy in general, bringing further much needed stability. The events industry can only benefit."

Economic stability was also highlighted as a positive factor by Brand & Deliver's managing director, Ben Gallop. "The election result provides certainty," he said. "The sentiment for a Conservative majority is already evident in the markets, with a strengthening pound and positive activity in the markets."

He added: "A positive financial market equals confidence, which means events, so often seen wrongly as a luxury, are likely to be moved up the priority list for brands. In short, it's a good thing."

Mark Stringer, founder of PrettyGreen, said he expected any other result to put breaks on the speed of industry growth. He explained: "My personal belief is that a change in government would have slowed down economic growth due to the uncertainty of what a new government would look to change. There would have been a reluctance to commit to longer-term activity, without knowing what these changes might be.

"In some respects, with a Conservative majority we can all just focus on the task in hand and future growth, without the worry of uncertainty. Many business owners and clients I know are breathing a sigh of relief as it feels like there's one thing less to worry about."

A warning of austerity

However Simon Hughes, vice chair of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), commented that the Conservatives' wider monetary and international policies could negatively impact the event industry. "A Conservative government does mean a continuation of austerity and cuts in spending," he said. "This will inevitably hit the UK events industry and the income many organisers gain from local or national government-related projects.

"We should also be wary about international business, specifically European-inbound events. We know that corporates do not like instability and any referendum on Europe will be an issue in keeping these events secure."

Hughes added that BVEP are relying on the new government to promote VisitEngland further, and join forces with other countries to present Britain as a desirable choice for international event organisers.

Meanwhile, Simon Burton of Exposure, told Event he thought the result "won't make a blind bit of difference" to the industry.

Hopes for the future

As David Cameron prepares to reshuffle his cabinet without Liberal Democrat support, event professionals are hoping Conservative economic policy will continue to service entrepreneurism and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

"I'd like to see the government really focus on looking at how small businesses can be supported, encouraged and incentivised to grow," said Stringer. "Driving SME growth is seen as a priority, but currently it feels like the things on the table are token gestures, rather than tangible benefits that truly help."

Gallop commented he would welcome a relaxation on how personal tax is applied to incentives. He explained: "Good incentives are not a jolly, they are a solid talent retention mechanic."

The Brand & Deliver managing director added: "If the Tories are what they say they are, they'll make the UK more inviting for global brands to operate in, by making business in the UK simple, cost effective and inviting. This includes an airport solution that competes with Europe so we stop seeing international events going to France and The Netherlands due our under-invested infrastructure."

Pullan also hopes for support to carry out business abroad. "Forex stability is important for us as we work in a very international field, so any measures which achieve that are very welcome," he said.

"The GREAT campaign is doing great things for all UK business. I hope we will see further investment in it."

More: Nick de Bois loses seat in General Election

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