Business is Going Outside

May 2022

Speaking to one of our partners at the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA), he used the phrase ‘business is going outside’ as part of a wider discussion we were having on the fortunes of our industry in 2022 and looking onwards to 2023.

It’s a lovely phrase as it sums up so much of what we are looking to achieve as an association while also articulating the value of what we do. There is no doubt that, starved of the economic, brand and cultural value that derives from face-to-face meetings, brands are looking to return to events with more gusto than ever before. Be it corporate hospitality, sponsorship, activation, or just retail, brands can smell consumer’s pent-up desires to go outside after so long shut in – and they want to meet them there.

Brands are smart, they understand the value of meeting their audiences in relaxing, creative, and memorable locations. It could be a festival, a sporting event, or some pleasant hospitality, but people associate the memory with the brand that helped create it. One of our good friends at NOEA always quotes her love of events as the act of ‘building worlds, and letting people walk through them’ how can this not have power.

This could be a fantastic summer for brands and their consumers, for those running events and the many businesses and people that go into creating them. It will be a welcome return to form for an industry that is ready to show just how much it has been missed by everyone.

However, we do need a word of caution. This is a tender industry, hammered by two years of financial uncertainty and debt. It has lost a huge amount of skill, businesses and talented individuals who won’t be coming back. It has also lost a lot of the materials that would usually make up the infrastructure of an event. Boring things like trackway, fencing, marquees, and the like. The industry has much to sort through if it is going to show its best self to the brands and sponsors that help to finance it.

There will be winners. Those events who work collaboratively with their supply chain, keep them onside, incentivise them to create loyalty and do not squeeze them to retain unfair margin. The flip side is also true, major suppliers picking the most fiscal events they want to work with and ‘dumping’ long standing relationships with often smaller events. These will be a risk for both parties, but most importantly the spectators attending the events.

For what it’s worth, NOEA is advocating for caution, responsibility, and transparently across businesses throughout outdoor events. We’re doing our best to work within the industry to attract more talent, get them trained and give them productive and worthy careers. We’re trying to support up and coming shows as well as the long-standing relationships that have built some of our most long standing and established events.

Business is coming outside and we’re encouraging professionalism and ethical behaviour across the industry. Within NOEA we have a membership which is defined by its high standards, you don’t get to be a member unless you can prove you operate ethically. So, for those looking to get involved in outdoor events, look for a NOEA member or, better yet … become one.

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