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Signed, sealed and delivered: eventprofs react to the Article 50 notification

Theresa May kicks off two year countdown to Brexit

Pictured: Britain's ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow delivers the formal notice of the UK's intention to leave the EU to European Council president Donald Tusk

Following the momentous first step towards extricating ourselves from the European Union we asked some of the industry’s top players how they reacted to the news. Needless to say it’s a mixed bag of opinion. Please join the conversation and let us know your perspective on the events. You can add your thoughts to the comment section below or email us directly at:

Steve Garvey CEO, EVCOM

"Triggering Article 50 is a major milestone, but our industry has had time to adapt to the Brexit process so it's a relief finally to get negotiations started. EVCOM's members have stated clearly they don't want uncertainty and they do want to promote their services to international markets. There are questions to be answered over the movement of goods and people, taxation, tariffs, and government support for trade promotion outside the EU. EVCOM members are open for business, ready for the challenge and looking forward to working with our international partners, whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations."

Richard Waddington, chair of EMA

“Whilst there is a lot of uncertainty around Brexit, we are currently seeing an increase in event activity as companies are hosting events to engage with clients to discuss implications, and reassure markets that it's business as usual.”

 Frances Green, MD, Green & Pleasant

“From a business perspective I was hugely concerned in the lead up to the Bexit vote and took the step to pay all our outstanding Euro suppliers early. This saved the business a significant amount of money due to the subsequent FX implications for the Sterling. Looking forwards I am looking at ways to diversify our business; to ‘future proof’ it against any ill effects that Brexit might have on our industry as we’ve already seen two of our top global clients see their UK marketing budgets slashed as a direct result of Brexit . The events industry has had at its heart the free movement of people for 4 decades (nearly as long as the industry has formally existed) and so I am genuinely concerned for its future, certainly in the short to mid-term.”

Helene Kemsley, chairman, Avenue Events

Many companies have been adversely affected by Brexit, due to the uncertainty of the impact on our economy. There is a tentative atmosphere creeping in which may well affect our strong pipeline of events moving forward. This is worrying. However, we remain optimistic that the events industry will continue to function and grow; we all need to maintain a positive attitude and support the government in their task.”

Rick Stainton, MD, Smyle

“We’re not having any major conversations with clients about Brexit, it’s not coming up at all. The government negotiations don’t start until October, and until “Breality” starts to become clear, we won’t see any impact – and even then it might be positive.”

Chris Parnham, MD, Absolute Corporate Events

“It’s not a project that is good or bad, but rather the execution of said project. If our government manages the next two years well, and brokers a mutually beneficial and collaborative deal with Europe, then this could be a very positive first step. If not, then this could be the beginning of the end, for ours and many other Europe-dependent industries.”

Alan Newton, co-founder and COO, Eventopedia

“There are both challenges and opportunities so we need to establish resilience and focus on the positive. The government needs to provide as much early clarity as possible on issues, such as work permits for EU nationals, as we - in the hospitality industry - rely heavily on imported workers, and labour shortages are already being voiced as concerns in some sectors as migrants return home due to uncertainty and the weaker value of sterling.”

Nigel Cooper, MD UK, BCD Meetings and Events

“I am very calm and comfortable. There is a long way to go before we know what the deal looks like.
We’ve lived through some significant economic and political changes in the last few years, this will be no different”

Kim Myhre, SVP and MD at FreemanXP EMEA 

"The effects of Brexit haven’t been felt by us so far, with international brands’ interest in the UK as a location to host their events continuing to rise - we’re in fact busier than ever before, delivering a wide range of events for global technology clients. Initiatives such as the Paris-London Business Welcome Programme, announced just today, highlight that relationships between the UK and EU countries, as well as the wider world will continue to prosper, which will no doubt mean continued growth for our industry." 


Alex Hewitt, chief executive, AOK Events

"Over the next two years we prepare for a weaker Pound against the Euro, though it will hopefully strengthen as the Prime Minister agrees our Brexit deal with Brussels.  During that time at AOK Events  will anticipate for more inbound events to the UK from Europe, with companies taking advantage of the weaker currency here in the UK. Conversely, we anticipate a small drop in overseas events from our UK clients, due to potentially more expensive travel out of the UK - though we imagine this will be offset by the significantly cheaper hotel prices still available in mainland Europe."

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