In October 2019, before COVID came along and brought the events industry to a standstill, we started to really look at what impact business events have in Scotland and in the global community. What we saw was that business events have a huge impact on delegates and destinations, we saw that events brought about change, that events were catalysts for new ideas.
We asked ourselves; how can we change our messaging to reflect this? For some years now the industry has tried to discuss the benefits business events have in addition to the economic benefit, the so called 'beyond coffee cups and beds,' but struggled to explain exactly what this is. Some call it 'legacy', some call it 'impact'. What business events do for delegates, destinations and communities can mean different things to different people and there is not one set definition that encapsulates the interconnected benefits business events have across sectors, academia and in society.
Before COVID sprang out of nowhere, and as it fades and life begins to return to something approaching normal, climate change remains the most important global challenge facing our society. We, as an industry, are good at talking about sustainability, but we need to bring that conversation from the stage to impactful actions that make our events benefit the planet and the people who call it home. This goes beyond plastic straws, we need to take real action that can make the business events industry a leader in sustainable practises, act as a champion for change and an example for other sectors to follow.
Change is an opportunity
A word ran though all these thoughts and scenarios. Change. It's not a word or concept everyone likes initially. It's certainly not an easy thing to do. But by working together, making collaboration a way of life, change is an opportunity. An opportunity for all of us to create positive change in society by using the stages we build to share big ideas. We can be the change the world needs, with our spotlights focusing on the world's most challenging issues, and we can be the voice for positive change and human rights by directing our microphones to amplify the voices of those less heard.
Journey to change
This is the vision VisitScotland holds for Business Events. We know we can do so much more. We can help shape policy and show our governments and policy makers that the ideas and sparks they were looking for were there all along. This year Scotland plays host to COP26, the largest conference we will have ever hosted. The media attention will be fierce, and governments from around the world will send delegations to discuss the actions they need to take to ensure the planet has a chance to change and survive. Imagine if we could bring the same energy and the same determination to learn and change to other areas that affect us all, health, diet, transport, medicines, education and science, to name but a few. Business events have the ideas, now we need to be the change - this is the message we need to bring forwards to our partners, stakeholders and clients.
Change is, naturally, ever changing. It is a continuous journey and isn't always easy. But it is exciting and necessary, and we can't wait for you to join us on our collective #JourneyToChange.