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Platform formerly known as Facebook: the week in events

Your weekly event industry news roundup from ExpoPlatform – Facebook heads towards the metaverse, global leaders gather in Glasgow and a report into the trade show industry in Asia.

The platform formally known as Facebook

Facebook is reinventing itself as Meta with a focus on virtual reality to better reflect how connections have evolved, according to the CEO.

Mark Zuckerberg announced a rebrand of his social media company while also revealing it would be pursuing the metaverse — a futuristic digital world. 

His 90-minute online presentation included talk about teleporting, holograms and communicating “across different layers of reality”. 

It was even claimed this metaverse will free people from screen addiction and enable more genuine human connection.

The event industry witnessed its own virtual transformation recently, but has seen a strong return to in-person experiences with digital enhancements.

This move will be interesting for organisers to see how this pledge from Facebook will impact our industry.

A declaration is made on the company’s about me page which claims “connection is evolving and so are we”.

Meta’s focus will be to bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.

The company has more than 10,000 people working on augmented and virtual reality projects in its Reality Labs division, while also planning to hire 10,000 more in Europe soon.

It has already committed to spend about $10 billion on metaverse-related investments this year.

Events industry at Cop26 for net zero pledge

The global events industry will be highlighting its commitment to a net zero emissions future with world leaders at Cop26 in Glasgow, it has been announced.

High-profile figures from our sector will be live at a session in the city on November 10 to deliver the pledge and highlight broad support from businesses.

This Net Zero Carbon Events initiative was facilitated by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) and supported by the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Read our complete guide to sustainable events here.

There are already more than 150 businesses from across the sector who are registered supporters, with a range of members from the supply chain involved in developing the pledge and executing the plans. 

Signatories to the pledge commit to:

  • Before the end of 2023, publish their organisation’s pathway to achieve net zero by 2050 at the latest, with an interim target in line with the Paris Agreement’s requirement to reduce global GHG emissions by 50% by 2030
  • Collaborate with partners, suppliers and customers to drive change across the value chain
  • Measure and track Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions according to industry best practice
  • Report on progress at least every two years.

Events industry leaders taking part in the session include CEO of UFI Kai Hattendorf, CEO of Informa Markets Charlie McCurdy and Bob Priest-Heck, CEO of Freeman, among many more.

This show at Cop26 will be available to view on November 10 at 3pm GMT, while the UN Climate Change Conference will run until November 12.

Asia’s trade show recovery to be held back way into 2022 – UFI

Restrictive quarantine and travel policies are likely to impact the recovery of our industry in Asia well into 2022, according to a new study.

The latest UFI/BSG report on the trade fair sector in Asia compares regional markets before and during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It estimates that the region recorded a 63% drop in net space sold in 2020 compared to 2019.

This was a drop of 24.5 million m2 in 2019 to approximately 9.1 million m2 in 2020.

Travel restrictions and quarantine rules were highlighted in the report as key reasons holding back future recovery.

Mark Cochrane, UFI Pacific regional director, said: “2020 and 2021 will go down in history as two of the most difficult years ever for event organisers.

“Although hopes are high for recovery into 2022, a number of factors continue to hinder a potential return to ‘normal’ – including new Covid-19 variants, government policies, vaccine rates and travel restrictions.”

Hong Kong was found to be the hardest of the large markets, with an approximate 95% drop in net space sold in 2020.

This weak performance is expected to be repeated in 2021 as Hong Kong’s borders remain essentially closed going into the fourth quarter of the year.

Year-on-year comparisons were also rendered “somewhat meaningless” by the onslaught of the global outbreak for the first time in the 17-year history of this paper.

‘Hard to imagine any big conference without virtual component’

Bestselling author Scott Galloway gave his views about the future of events in an interview about his new book.

The and professor of marketing at New York University spoke to PCMA to apply his insights on a post-coronavirus business world to events.

He said: “It’s hard to imagine any big conference now not having a virtual component.

“But at the same time, I think the most notable, iconic conferences will in fact bring people together because there’s fortunately just nothing like it.”

Scott added: “The big ones will have a thousand people in person, or 400 people in person and 1,400 online.”

UK Chancellor’s Budget ‘lacking event support’

Event and related industry leaders have reacted with calls for more support after the UK Chancellor’s Autumn Budget was announced.

Rishi Sunak’s plans include a 12-month discount on business rates for hotels, pubs and leisure venues, a reduction in air passenger duty for domestic flights and investment in transport infrastructure.

He estimates his measures amount to a tax cut of around £1.7 billion over a year.

The Chancellor said: “I’m announcing today, for one year, a new 50% business rates discount for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

“Pubs, music venues, cinemas, restaurants, hotels, theatres, and gyms.

“Any eligible business can claim a discount on their bills of 50%, up to a maximum of £110,000.

“That is a business tax cut worth almost £1.7bn.”

However, there was no sector-specific support announcements in his speech to the Commons on Wednesday.

This has led to industry leaders hitting out at the plans and calling for more resources to be directed towards hard-hit businesses.

Simon Richards, treasurer of HBAA Beam, was among those to speak out.

He said: “The Chancellor’s Autumn Budget statement includes many initiatives that are good news for hospitality and travel, but hard-pressed events businesses need more support.

“The 12-month discount on business rates for hotels, pubs and leisure venues, the reduction in air passenger duty on flights within the UK and the investment in transport infrastructure are valuable to the sector while the growth in the economy is encouraging.

“The news about expanding T Levels and apprenticeships is a potentially important contribution to help develop skills and encourage young people into the industry.

“But there was nothing that would directly help agencies and event service providers who don’t own properties and who are struggling to recover from the extensive impact of the pandemic.”

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