Host City: The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Driving and reacting to change’. Can you share some thoughts about how the events industry in Scotland is both responding to and proactively evolving in a rapidly changing landscape?
Paul Bush: Following the events of the last few years, we all find ourselves living in a new world that has seen us all having to drive and react to the change brought on by local, national and global events. The impact of Covid, Brexit and the global economic crisis have required us all to respond in different and innovative ways as these events impact on our industry.
The events industry is a dynamic ecosystem where adaptability and external influences are vital for success. We regularly have to respond to emerging trends and challenges, none more so than recently. In addition to the above, we are faced with change across a range of areas including technology, regulatory compliance, commercial revenue streams, funding landscapes, safety and security and consumer expectations. All of these are forcing the need to be more creative, flexible and to make some difficult decisions in some cases.
In Scotland, our national events strategy, Scotland the Perfect Stage, has ensured we have been well placed to respond to this rapidly changing landscape. First published in 2008, it has been the cornerstone of much of the country’s success over the last 20 years, helping us develop into a world leading events destination that has attracted and delivered some of the world's biggest events alongside supporting our enviable portfolio of annual events and festivals.
Our recent successful hosting of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships is just one of the many great examples of this over this time. Awarded to Glasgow and Scotland in 2019, we were the UCI’s choice to host the inaugural event based on the unrivalled success of our events sector at hosting world-class events along with our existing built and natural environment infrastructure that we had been developing for a number of years. Of course, with a mega-event of this scale we had to adapt, be flexible and respond to a range of global and UK challenges but our experience stood us in good stead to ensure we were not overwhelmed by them.
While we continue to face challenges, especially in relation to the events workforce and supply chain, the national events strategy has allowed Scotland to successfully establish a global reputation for excellence in event delivery that is supported by a strong and dynamic events industry that is able to respond to and evolve to the changing events landscape to ensure we continue to produce a world-class portfolio of sporting, cultural and business events.
Host City: There is currently a review of Scotland’s national events strategy ‘Scotland the Perfect Stage’ that will extend its term to the end of 2035. What were some of the key priority areas coming back in terms of response to the public strategy consultation which took place earlier this year?
Paul Bush: The strategy was last updated in 2015 to cover the period between 2015 and 2025. Following the wide-scale global challenges across last few years, now is the right time to review and update the strategy to provide a renewed strategic focus for all involved in any aspect of planning, securing, supporting and delivering events of all sizes in Scotland between 2025 and the end of 2035.
In March, the Scottish Government launched a 14-week public consultation to get views on the strategy. The consultation, which saw 102 responses to the online survey and feedback from more than 220 participants at the regional engagement and sector workshops, highlighted a number of key priority areas including boosting the economy and enhancing wellbeing and community engagement. These were considered to be the most important strategic priorities for events over the next 10 years.
Other priorities include ensuring there is legacy and clear benefits for the local community when hosting mega events as well as maximising skills development opportunities around them. A greater focus on equality, diversity and inclusion was also highlighted, and 61% of respondents also thought the events sector is an attractive place to work so again; this is an area where we need to continue showcasing the benefits of the sector.
Host City: Looking to the future, what does success look like for Scotland in terms of the refreshed strategy?
The national events strategy has already helped Scotland achieve so much. It has been the cornerstone of our success of the last 20 years, helping bring major events from the 2003 and 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards, the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2014 Ryder Cup, to the 2019 Solheim Cup, UEFA EURO 2020 and COP26. It has also supported the continued development of a range of annual events including the Edinburgh Festivals, Wigtown Book Festival, The Royal National Mod, and Paisley Halloween.
Looking to the future, success for Scotland in terms of the strategy will be ensuring we have a financially robust and sustainable events sector that delivers both significant economic and social benefits for the country. It will also continue to help showcase Scotland, its values and its assets to a global audience, while also contributing positively to the physical, mental and social health and wellbeing of its people and communities.
Few industries have the impact events do and in Scotland our events programmes drive collaboration, innovation and strong impacts against a wider range of Scottish Government policy areas. The key to continued and future success will be ensuring we better demonstrate the value and impact they bring, especially around sustainability, EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion), and health and wellbeing.
Events also provide a range of employment possibilities, and we therefore must ensure it continues to be an attractive sector to work in that fairly rewards its workforce with regards to pay, conditions, security and opportunities if we are to continue to be the perfect stage for events.
Host City: This is your 11th Host City, what are you looking forward to this year and what can people expect to hear from you?
Paul Bush: First of all, we are delighted to once again be a Global Presenting Partner for this year’s event. It takes a huge effort to attract, secure and plan a two-day conference of this scale so a special thanks to all those involved so far. Host City is always a great opportunity to meet with colleagues from around the world and share learnings and new ideas from the last 12 months, as well as look to the future.
Once again there is a great agenda across the two days with some really interesting topics being covered including AI, monetisation, sustainability, EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), and event delivery, all of which continue to be at the forefront of our thinking as an industry.
I look forward to seeing everyone in Glasgow at the Technology and Innovation Centre on the 20 to 21 November.
Host City 2023: Register here: https://www.hostcity.com/host-city-2023/register