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A couple of weeks ago I headed up to Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester to attend Major Events International’s (MEI) annual UK Event Summit. The content was as thought-provoking as it was interesting. There were panels and presentations that looked at everything, from the current state of the industry and best practice to really good advice about staff retention, audience engagement and sustainability.

Highlights for me included the panel discussions on The Future of Live Events, with a panel of industry experts that was made up of Jon Drape, Engine No 4; Craig Mathie, Bournemouth 7s; Eric Stuart, UKCMA and Becky Stevens, Hybred Consultancy (drafted in at the last minute, who was a great addition). As someone who’s fairly new to the outdoor event world but now completed my first summer it was good to hear about the challenges being faced across the board. Something Craig said particularly struck a chord, ‘The industry is good at dealing with urgent problems rather than important problems. We need to be more sustainable, look after our people and promote the value of the industry. People will always want to get together but if everything that sits behind that has a more positive social impact then that’s a really positive step forward.’

The How to attract and keep the right workforce was also excellent. It was really interesting to hear about Emirates Old Trafford’s approach to attracting permanent chefs away from agencies, the venue has become more flexible, allowing chefs to work mornings or evenings rather than putting them on a rota. They were also doing some interesting work around engaging with temporary staff, from showcasing the benefits of working there to making them feel part of the team. This was echoed by Utrac who reiterated that it’s an employee’s market at the moment and that personal time needs to be valued.  Whilst the team behind the London Marathon are changing cultures and have a new way of thinking to retain people.

Other stand out sessions included the Operational Best Practice panel with Bev Ward who was Bid Consultant (Host Cities) for The FA on the Women’s Euros and there was a fantastic case study from Silverstone’s head of sustainability, Stephane Bazire.

Overall, the sessions were informative and it was great to hear from so many experts in their fields as well as meeting up with several of our clients and supply partners.

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