Consolidated and credible data is critical for the UK treasury to understand the true economic value of the business meeting and events sector, says Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston.
Speaking during his opening address at the Meetings Industry Association’s Ignite conference last Thursday, he said the government was committed to working closely with the sector as the UK emerges from the pandemic.
He said: “We want to work closely with the sector to ensure it is set for the future. We want it to be ambitious in its sustainability, offering quality careers for young people across the country, as well as being a sector that makes data-driven decisions.
“On this point, I do want to commend the mia for their work in developing the miaTouchstone data platform as this is exactly the type of information that we value as we look to build a more detailed data picture of the UK event and tourism sector as a whole, and I’d encourage those members and indeed non-members who haven’t done so already to take a closer look at it.”
Taking questions from delegates he stressed the importance of the sector providing unified data to government. He said: “It empowers me to have meaningful conversations with the treasury about the size and scale of the sector and how important it is. Fragmentation causes real problems dealing with the relationship between government and business.”
Adding to this, he said: “The integrity of the data is key and that is why the mia and other industry bodies are so important. The more you can come together and get that data in a comfortable format, consolidate it as one informed industry voice, the better it is for the sector and enables me to do my job better as well.”
Following Nigel Huddleston’s address, a series of pioneering futurists took to the stage to deliver the programme, which was designed to demonstrate how the sector needs to respond and evolve to recover. Highlights included inspiring sessions from multi-generation expert Dr Eliza Filby and business anthropologist Lucia Laurent-Neva, as well as FutureFoodService’s Simon Stenning and German Convention Bureau’s Matthias Schultze.
Adeptly drawing attention to sustainability, Green Tourism’s Scott Maclean discussed the drive to net zero revealing a new strategic partnership with the mia will be announced in the new year to champion standards.
Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association, said: “This was a highly insightful and inspiring day offering new ways of thinking that business leaders can now take back to their own operations. What is clear, and was reinforced and demonstrated throughout the day, is the importance of data and we have a huge opportunity to provide the exact collaborative insight that the government requires to demonstrate the value and impact of our sector to the economy. And, we can do just that, if the sector engages with us and uses our new business intelligence platform miaTouchstone.”