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Brussels aftermath 'similar to 9/11' for events industry

Events veteran calls for industry to work together, with group sizes shrinking 25 per cent following terror attacks

Pictured: Linda Pereira

Up to 25 per cent of delegates are cancelling their trips following last week's terror attacks in Brussels, as an industry veteran warns the industry is entering the same "worrying" period that followed 9/11.

Linda Pereira, executive director of Portugal-based CPL Meetings and Events, said many clients were now afraid on carrying on with bookings to European destinations like Brussels, Paris and Germany.

Pereira said the Brussels terror attacks had been a tipping point.

"It feels a little bit like 9/11, with the post reaction we had then. I think people are just becoming depressed and losing their confidence," Pereira said.

"People are divided between not giving into terrorism or cancelling for the duty of care to their employees. Or they're changing bookings; instead of sending 10 staff they'll send three.

"We've noticed a 20 to 25 per cent drop in participation across the board. What I'm finding across all of Europe, especially with my American clients, is if they don't cancel, the numbers will drop drastically."

The industry veteran said the industry needed to acknowledge the dropping confidence from delegates in order to address it.

She said: "Something is happening and I think it's because there's no city-wide strategy, on how to react to these things properly. After 9/11 we learnt how to do that but we've gone back into comfort zone. London is terrible; we don't work as a team. We have multiple associations, multiple voices.

"In crisis management, one voice takes over - that's what we need. It worries me a lot because we forget the number of jobs dependent on our industry."

Pereira also argues that event professionals should lead by example.

"Social media is our best friend. Let's publicise as professionals where we're going and why we're going. It's about saying it's business as usual. It's important we talk the talk and walk it as well. We have to show our clients we're not afraid. I've registered for more business events because I want to set the example for our clients that it's OK for travel.

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