Post-Brexit, Can the U.K. Remain an Event Base?


By Lane Nieset

Will the U.K. continue to act as a home base for large-scale European events after Brexit? That question takes on particular resonance with the UFI European Conference 2019  scheduled to take place in the U.K. just weeks after the Brexit target date of March 29.

Titled “The Organisers’ Future: Challenging Business Models,” the UFI event will be held 15-17 May in Birmingham at the new VOX Conference Centre.

Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director/CEO, recently told Exhibition World that UFI “made the decision to take the event to Birmingham after the U.K. announced its intention to leave the European Union. In this way, participants will be able to have their own, firsthand experience of a post-Brexit Britain, if the country does ultimately leave the union in March 2019.”

As the industry’s first international conference in what looks to be a post-Brexit Britain, the event “will focus on what’s in store for organisers in Europe and beyond,” UFI says. It aims to show the impact of changing trade patterns and new alliances as well as addressing the ongoing changes in digitalisation and in the events industry’s operational models.

Kathryn James, managing director at NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions, which is hosting the UFI event, told Conference News last year that the “U.K.’s position in the global events industry and its evolving role in the European political and economic landscape have made the mutual desire to bring Europe’s largest meeting of international event industry professionals to our shores even stronger. … This is a great opportunity and reinforces our role, at the heart of the U.K. events industry, as one of Europe’s busiest exhibition centres.”

With Outsourced Events reporting that some in Europe believe Brexit will make the U.K. “an outsider” destination for Europeans, much like the United States, others counter that events such as the UFI conference will show how much strength the country still has when it comes to attracting and hosting global gatherings.