Event Essex’s new Business Development Manager, Brett Smith, recently attended Essex County Council’s High Street Business Summit at Hylands House in Chelmsford. Cllr Kevin Bentley and Cllr Lesley Wagland OBE, amongst many other Essex business owners, spoke about Essex County Council’s plans to level up the economy post-pandemic. A significant part of the day was dedicated to understanding the challenges facing high streets and other Essex businesses, including those in the hospitality sector and, thinking about ways that the road ahead can be navigated.

“It was very interesting to hear experts discuss the ways in which spaces could be used in the future, they touched on concepts like ‘Gather’ and ‘Sook - Adaptive Retail Spaces’  as examples and, explored the way in which customer wants are evolving, why this is, how the council is responding and, the route that businesses in the hospitality sector might take to enable them to evolve, adapt and thrive.

A lot of meetings and events are now held on Zoom; people have adapted to this, and this has resulted in the hospitality industry evolving. It’s not necessary to meet in person anymore or travel as much. Going forward, when people meet it will be more because they want to, for the purpose of gathering, for the social, cultural aspect and, for the deliberate experience created. A lot of meetings are convenient to facilitate on Zoom but, the fact is, in person events are great for team bonding, staff morale, celebrating and keeping the work experience engaging and exciting. I think that meetings of this kind will be increasingly important for morale and mental health the longer the ‘new normal’ of heavy Zoom use continues.

My biggest take away was an exciting one. Many of the challenges that businesses face are things that Event Essex are already finding solutions to. Event Essex is all about being able to use different spaces that the University of Essex has to offer in creative, innovative ways. We have so many different, dynamic indoor and outdoor spaces that would allow businesses and the local community to be creative and think outside the box with their events and, create something truly exciting and memorable. It's left me with a lot of food for thought.

Larger companies wishing to treat their staff could, for example, easily book the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall with get a guest speaker or performer to entertain or motivate their staff. Or, for a reunion or family gathering with a difference we have other impactful spaces that could be used as a venue for a memorable experience; Essex Business School is a fantastic space with its winter garden and zero-carbon building.

One of the biggest challenges discussed was the very real and definite challenge of climate change, sustainability and how businesses in Essex will need to respond to this problem to survive. This is an obstacle for a lot of venues. Customers have a conscience and expect the businesses that they support to demonstrate that they have a conscience too. The University of Essex has a robust sustainability plan and is extremely mindful of its carbon footprint. This is perhaps the thing that has impressed me most in the short time that I have been working here. I believe that by choosing Event Essex and the University of Essex, businesses can demonstrate their responsible choices by supporting a venue that is equally, if not more committed to supporting the climate and ecological emergency.

Overall, Essex County Council’s High Street Summit 2021 was an insightful event. Even better was being there in person with so many other Essex business owners and stakeholders and, I look forward to the next one!”

Contact Event Essex today to speak to one of our skilled Event Coordinators by emailing eventessex@essex.ac.uk or calling 01206 872358.