Paula Kelsey, of Cloud 9 Event Management Ltd, and incoming chair of the Alliance, looks forward to the year ahead. Firstly a very Happy New Year to all of the members, suppliers and event professionals around the globe. The Alliance has changed beyond all recognition – from what started as an informal conversation on a beach in Portugal whilst attending a SANA Fam Trip in 2016. and an initial launch event with just 12 agencies, the hard work of the Board and Members, has seen us start the year with over 60 members, and at the last count, a collective spend in excess of £61m on MICE.

A New Year provides a great opportunity for a new start, and whilst we’ve made a significant impact on the industry already, the challenges ahead, especially given all of the uncertainancy surrounding Brexit, are being met head on by the Alliance, with lots of new roles and opportunities for members and suppliers alike.

Nick Milas, our original chair,  who has worked tirelessly on the Alliance since its inception, is leading an initiative along with fellow Board Member, Nicola Miller, to engage with with suppliers and to further develop partnerships which are mutually beneficial, and Chris Walls from Events2 is taking up a new partnerships role, designed to give smaller independent agencies a voice in the wider industry.

There is also a new charity committee currently being formed and we have lots of ideas about how to disperse the funds we raise, to benefit the industry and with our membership very much in mind, We remain a not for profit organisation, but with thanks to the generous support of industry suppliers, all of our events have returned a profit, and we want to invest this in both good causes and educational benefits for members.Martin Ellis and Sylvain Boutellier are already bursting with ideas for the year ahead, some of them simple, and some a little more challenging.

We have plans for our first annual conference in September of this year and we will be asking members to help shape the content and programme, so that everyone involved can engage with topics that are relevant to them. We also want a committee to help organise and structure the event so volunteers very welcome.

Kerry Walsh from Hatch Events joins as Vice Chairman and in addition to organising the already legendary and irreverent AIEA New Years Honours, also brings some great ideas to help develop the Alliance during her tenure before stepping up in to the Chair Role in 2021. Sally Clift from Choice Locations and Ellis Salsby, are heading up the new membership system to simplify the process as well as looking at additional benefits which we can bring to the membership. We’ve already enjoyed a number of events at the AIEA including the inaugural Carnival which Jo from ACE Bookings has kindly agreed to arrange again this year, and combined with some additional member events we have a pretty packed schedule ahead, right through to Christmas 2019 where Layla from Mabrouka is already on the case!

With so many events planned in 2019, we are also going to be giving the website a bit of a makeover to make the listings a little easier to see, and this combined with SLACK, should make information much more accessible for everyone, including suppliers who want to communicate directly with members or engage with our events.

We are not expecting members to attend everything we are planning, no one has that sort of time. We are though expecting members to get more involved. We have some new roles available, encourage cluster events, and we want to hear exactly what members want from their membership. Sharing knowledge and information has always been at the heart of the Alliance and one of the pillars of the organisation, but this is an ever changing industry and we all need to stay well informed and well educated.

As Hotel and Venue ownership and representation continues to change or consolidate, its vital that we keep up to date and ahead of the game – and we remain stronger together. Our collective businesses are all unique, but they all share a common passion for professionalism and best practice so education, engagement and expansion are the key words for my vision for the Alliance in 2019. I wish everyone a prosperous year ahead.