For many NOEA Members, if you’re reading this, you may well be outside already, in a field, taking a well-earned break from an event production, one of few you will get this summer. The events industry is back, at its intensive best, and the pressure is on. I wish you all the very best of luck.

However, as I do so, I’d like to take this forum as an opportunity to address a subject that has increasing relevance and real importance. It’s the simple need for us all to do good business and, well, be nice. It’s not a hard, 80s style, business visionary piece of advice. It doesn’t rhyme very well and there isn’t a TED Talk in it. But it is important. In fact, its possibly the most important piece of advice that NOEA will be giving this year.

It’s an area we’ve touched on before, and one that we have become increasingly concerned about. Fiscal pressure on events is creating a schism between those on the ‘buy’ side of event businesses, and those on the ‘supply’ side.

It’s understandable too. This is an industry still trying to balance post pandemic books, it has the spectre of weather, disease, and regulation forever hanging over it, and people are scared. They want security. At the same time, there are bad actors on both sides. There are regular horror stories of events being let down by suppliers at the last minute, of companies not being paid. It’s tough, and its feels like it is getting tougher out there.

Understandable yes, acceptable? No. Within NOEA we see too many examples of good, to accept that bad business is OK. We see events rightfully prizing their partnerships with their supply chain, above all other priorities. We see those partners working collaboratively on timing, access, and, yes, price. We see open and honest conversations happening. We see the dropping of words like ‘supplier’ completely. This is the way it should be, and I don’t see any excuse for it not being so.

It’s not just about doing the right thing. It’s about good business, quality business, effective business. To become a member of NOEA you need to have these ethics, and they are tested. But we’re also seeing both sides of the divide coming to NOEA and asking for us to put this idea of good business at the centre of our messaging in 2024. They see it as critical, and they’re right.

So, as we descend into, what could be, one of our most successful years in the events industry for some time. I really hope we maintain our values and our ethics, especially when they are being so sorely tested. I hope we can play the long game with our partners and build respectful relationships that solidify when things get tough, not crumble apart.

It will be difficult, but there are no longer any excuses. This industry cannot afford to eat itself; it needs to look after its own.