HBAA announces ‘a year of reflection and change’ as it focuses on regeneration

Lex Butler, HBAA chair

2020 will be ‘a year of reflection and change’ for the HBAA as it adopts regeneration as its theme for the year.

New HBAA chair, Lex Butler, founder and operations director of agency, Wolf & White, announced the plan to a record audience of 190 members at the association’s annual Kick Off Meeting at The Grand Brighton.

“We are in the final stretch of our current five-year plan. 2020 will be a year of reflection, where our key strategy is ‘regeneration’. A year ahead of change, movements and restructuring, making HBAA as relevant as possible to the needs of its members and the industry, will lead us well into our next five-year strategy in 2021,” she said.

As a first step towards implementing this, the association has created new roles on its executive committee including a sustainability chair, training chair, partnerships chair and NextGen chairs.

Butler added: “Our executive committee has expanded to ensure it is robust and future-fit.”

Regeneration was also the theme of the one-day conference. It was reflected in insightful sessions on developments such as Esports and Brexit as well as through engaging speakers such as Francis Gimblett of Taste the Vine and inspiring double amputee former soldier Micky Yule who is now a Paralympic powerlifter.

Esports: an untapped opportunity for the event industry

Esports, the world of competitive video-gaming, presents a vast and untapped revenue opportunity for the event and hospitality industry, according to experts who spoke at the meeting.

The session, titled Esports: An Industry Regeneration Opportunity and led by Alistair Turner of Eight PR, featured Cameron Vanloo, a lecturer on esports at the University of Northampton. He told the audience: “Esports presents a tangible opportunity for the event industry. In 2019, around 4,000 physical tournaments took place and attracted 454 million viewers. The UK is the fourth biggest consumer of esports in the world. Esports hasn’t seen its limit. Viewership numbers are constantly on the rise and are expected to reach 1.7bn in 2022.”

Johanna Byrane, head of business development at Twickenham Stadium, discussed her experience of working with the esports community and how Twickenham has become the official HQ of esports team Excel.

Vanloo also shared important insights for venues. He said esports events do not require standardised venues or large capacity spaces as most people watch online. He highlighted the importance of technology in delivering these events and pointed out that because gatherings are truly global, they do not run to the usual working day of 9 to 5.

Brexit: Recruitment ‘a concern for venues and hotels’

Discussing the new political landscape, political consultant and analyst, John Rowland of Cicero Group, confirmed that recruitment, particularly of low-skill workers, from the EU, could pose a long-term problem for the hospitality and events industry in post-Brexit Britain under the proposed new immigration rules.

Rowland said: “Brexit will increase friction in travel but not enough to put off short-term visitors as those staying up to 90 days will not require a visa. It could affect those coming to live and work in the UK.” It is not anticipated that Brexit will have a negative impact on event visitors to the UK.

The hospitality industry may need to foster closer relationships with UK schools and FE colleges to fill a potential staffing shortfall.

Lex Butler also confirmed that Buses4Homeless will continue as the association’s charity partner for 2020 and the Annual Dinner in the evening added a further £22,000 to the £36,000 raised by members in 2019.  

Molly Hookings
Author: Molly Hookings

Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: molly@eventindustrynews.com