Host City: Hi Paul, we’re really excited about bringing Host City back to Glasgow in person on 15-16 November. How are you feeling about Host City returning to Scotland after 2 years hosting in the virtual world?
Paul Bush: I’m looking forward to the return of the first in-person Host City to Glasgow and Scotland where we look forward to welcoming so many international event owners, organisers and hosts together in the first time in two years. Virtual events have played an important role in that time, allowing us to all stay connected and share key learnings as we navigated our way through uncertain times, however, for me, nothing beats the experience of an in-person event and being able to meet face-to-face allows for great relationship building and networking in a more fun and social way.
Host City: The theme of the conference is “Face to Face with New Realities”. The world has certainly changed a lot since last year’s Host City event – what are the big issues facing you right now?
Paul Bush: Last time we met, we were operating in a climate of consistent uncertainty which had continued to push us all to work in different ways, developing a range of resilient responses, innovation, spirit and adaptation. While the last 12 months has seen the start of a return to a more consistent operating environment with the removal of Covid restrictions, other challenges remain. The increasing financial challenges now facing the sector, including reduced government budgets, rise in inflation and its affects on both the supply chain and on individuals facing the cost-of-living crisis as well as recruitment – both retaining and attracting staff to the industry, addressing sustainability and the role of events in supporting our health and wellbeing are the big issues facing the events sector right now.
Host City: On the sustainability question – for such an international industry, it’s tricky isn’t it, but perhaps we do have an opportunity to show leadership here?
Paul Bush: In our ever-changing world, the need to address our environmental impact is becoming more and more prevalent, and we all have a part to play both individually and as a sector. From an events perspective, the whole events eco-system is increasingly aware of its impact, including eventgoers, who expect events to be ‘walking the talk’ when it comes to socially and environmentally responsible practices in the planning, organisation and delivery of events. Creating sustainable events is no longer a nice ‘to-do’, it’s a necessity.
So, I do think the events industry across the world can take a lead role on addressing the environmental question as events themselves are hugely powerful in engaging the public in climate change through their programming, helping inspire and motivate people to make changes in their own lives.
Host City: And when it comes to wellbeing, how can event hosts make sure that their events really do help to improve their physical and mental health?
Paul Bush: Over the last few years, the social benefits of events of have become even more recognised, especially the sense of pride they help build, and the valuable contribution they make towards our health and wellbeing. The Contribution to Events to Scotland’s Wellbeing research that we commissioned in collaboration with the Event Industry Advisory Group and published last October highlighted how attending or regularly taking part, either as a participant or as a volunteer at an event, can help improve wellbeing while the chance to interact with friends and family is a key driver for supporting mental health. Therefore having a diverse portfolio of events that engages a wide range of people will ensure as an industry we are helping support peoples wellbeing and providing opportunities for shared experiences. Articulating this benefit is particularly important, especially in the current financial climate, if want to retain investment from both the public and private sector.
Host City: Our events sector has faced a range of challenges to say the least. What are you doing to support its recovery, and what role do you think events play in the economic mix these days?
Paul Bush: The economic benefits of events are widely recognised and now more than ever it’s important we continue to highlight them. Events support thousands of jobs, both directly within the industry itself as well as wider sectors including hospitality and tourism. Pre-covid, the 2020 UK Event Report highlighted a direct spend of £70bn in 2019 through live events and it is estimated that over £6bn of this could be attributed to Scotland.
Highlighting the value of the events industry in Scotland at government level as well as supporting the industry in Scotland to ensure its strong return has been a key focus for us. We have done this through working in collaboration with the Event Industry Advisory Group, through the Covid relief funding we have delivered over the last two years and through our regular funding programmes that have supported a range of major, national, local and community events this year, including The 150th Open, the Edinburgh International Festival and IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society Annual International Conference.
Despite the current economic challenges we are all facing, I do believe events play a vitally important role in our recovery.
Host City: On the bright side, it’s amazing to be able to stage face to face events again. After Host City you’ve got some great events coming to Scotland, not least the UCI Cycling World Championships next year. What are your expectations?
Paul Bush: Scotland is the perfect stage for events and in additional to our great range of annual events, we all have a number of exciting major events in the pipeline including The Tall Ships Races in Lerwick, Shetland, next July, 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships at Emirates Arena here in Glasgow, the World Orienteering Championships 2024 in Edinburgh, and the Orkney 2025 Island Games in addition to the biggest cycling event ever, the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.
We cannot wait to welcome the world’s best riders from across 13 UCI Cycling World Championships to Glasgow and across Scotland next year. It will be truly memorable not just for what happens across the 13 days in August next year, but also for our wider vision to inspire people to ride bikes and be a catalyst for change across Scotland, before, during and after the event. Whether it is for health, sport, transport, tourism, industry or events, we want everyone to be able to experience the freedom and joy riding a bike can bring to our lives. Our policy led approach to delivering the event ensures participation, inclusion and accessibility, and sustainability is the focus of our Hub and Spoke delivery model, and I look forward to sharing more on this and our preparations on day two of the conference when I will be joined UCI President, David Lappartient, for the panel session on new event concepts.
Thank you very much for your time and your support Paul; we’re really looking forward to Host City and the exciting times ahead for events in Scotland.
Paul Bush: Thank you. I look forward to once again catching up in person with colleagues from across the events sector for a great two days of discussion and debate at the Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow on the 15th to 16th November.
Register for Host City 2022 here: https://www.hostcity.com/events/host-city-2022/register