SPICE Issue 92 Autumn 2021

Page 28

Hot Seat

Starting strong The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has hit the ground running in 2021, meeting with government and advocating for the industry, writes chief executive Claudia Sagripanti.


“Our key focus is to restart the business events industry, build confidence in demand and support the supply chain via continued collaboration.”

28 Spice Autumn 2021

t’s been a bumpy start to 2021, with refreshed COVID outbreaks and sudden state border closures. My goal in writing this column is talk about what we can do and will do in 2021! Our key focus is to restart the business events industry, build confidence in demand and support the supply chain via continued collaboration. For the EEAA, in the advocacy and policy arena, 2021 will continue to be a busy year. The year kicked off with a very beneficial introductory meeting with the new Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan. The minister was very receptive to the needs of the business events industry, in addition to the Business Events Grants Program. The program is underway with Austrade announcing the initial Schedule of Approved Business Events, having received over 700 expressions of interest to date. The grant eligibility criteria has also been released, with further clarifications to come. The uncertainty around state border management has impacted business confidence generally and on our members’ events, as well as the organisers, venues and suppliers involved. We’ve called on the Federal Government to provide a nationally consistent policy to provide certainty and will continue to engage via our various channels. Over the last weeks, I’ve been connecting with the industry on a number of issues and broad subject matter. The good news is, many in our industry have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and with COVID-safe plans now in place, they can and will be running events in 2021.

For example, despite the changes in COVID restrictions in New South Wales, ICC Sydney are still able to run events and exhibitions under the current NSW Health Department guidelines. This is proof business events can happen, and can happen in a COVID-safe environment. Our job is to ensure we instil business confidence right across the event lifecycle – including the organisers, exhibitors, suppliers and, most importantly, the customers who attend. We’ve already kicked off our strategic thinking with a number of key initiatives. We are finalising our 2021-2022 strategy with a focus on getting the industry back on its feet. We will be rolling out the EEAA Sustainability Framework, supported by Business Events Australia in 2021, with a view to launch mid-year to “build back better’’. We’re also launching a Digital & Technology sub-committee, looking at the ways technology can improve engagement and experiences for in-person events. We will also continue the rollout of our Young Stars Mentoring Program as we remain committed to encouraging the careers of young leaders in the industry, and are also looking to champion women in leadership. Like the industry, the association has to continue to innovate and deliver programs and services that will help the industry to recover and thrive. Our board and I are very focussed on ensuring the association stays strong, connected and representative of a rapidly changing industry. n