Increase in number of events requiring interpretation from outside EU as business looks to new markets


Conference interpretation services in Scotland have seen an unexpected upturn in activity as bookers begin to explore the ‘beyond Europe’ market for the hosting of business events, according to one AV supplier which specialises in simultaneous translation. Fife-based AV Department Ltd (AVD) has observed a marked increase in opportunities relating to events stemming from emerging markets such as China; trade bodies and associations, in particular, are exploring the hosting of meetings relating to markets which might demand improved links in a post-Brexit environment.

However, short-termism is also holding back some clients from investing in conferences due to the uncertainty of the UK-EU negotiations, warns Mark Kisby, Managing Director of the firm, which has its headquarters in Dalgety Bay.

“Some clients are holding back on spending on corporate events to save money because of the uncertainty of Brexit and this has had an impact on the standard audio-visual side of hires,” he says.

“We are more the value end of this market anyway in support of the specialist areas we work in but even so we have noticed a shift in this area.” He adds: “There has been an increase in the number of events requiring simultaneous interpretation as agencies and businesses start to look beyond Europe for trade and partnerships, particularly in China. The size of the events has changed too; smaller single language systems are deployed as opposed to the larger EU meetings needing four languages or more as they have become more targeted to specific countries and topics.”

That change in style and size of meeting has also led to a change in the equipment the company is investing in, as well as a change in the logistics relating to staff and vehicles needed to support smaller and more frequent meetings. AVD may also be the only simultaneous translation service provider left in the Scottish conference market after Integrated Language Services (ILS), based at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, shut up shop earlier this year. Recent surveys have indicated almost a third of EU students report that they are now less likely to want to study in the UK as a result of the Brexit vote on June 23 last year; this attitudinal change may have already manifested itself in the decision by ILS to withdraw from the market.

AVD worked closely with ILS to ensure its client base could still be served in the aftermath of the decision and Kisby remains optimistic about the prospects for interpretation services. He notes that the market is changing and it will be a case of ‘riding the wave’ of inquiries coming in from new areas whilst trying to mitigate the potential loss of EU business going forward.

He adds: “In other areas business is good with continuing investment in new equipment. But basically, there is a lot of change going on and managing that change is a challenge in itself. We also expect this to be fairly short-lived peak in work and the trick will be to ride the wave while not leaving yourself over-exposed when the wave passes by. Hopefully by this time the larger association events will start to come back to the UK as a competitive exchange rate makes the destination attractive as they plan three to five years in advance. There is nothing like a change to attract them back to Scotland!”