'It's about having a presence and a constant conversation with policymakers'

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TG resized Tommy Goodwin Photo Credit: Supplied

A Day in the Life of Tommy Goodwin, VP of the Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance, is spent explaining the importance of the events industry to policymakers. We ask him if they’re finally getting it...  

HP: Tell us about the Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance and how it was conceived. 

TG: The Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance is a brand-new advocacy association that was set up in early 2021. The alliance is focused on the relief and recovery of the face-to-face business events sector.  

We were established because the industry had an opportunity to do more talking to government and making sure that they were aware of the impact the industry has on the economy, employment and small businesses impact, and the potential it has to address issues like climate.  

It’s a platform that allows a variety of industry organisations to come together and with one voice, have a conversation with policymakers about what our industry does, and why it was important.  

HP: Are you seeing associations leverage the platform? 

TG: It's been gentle, but it’s been beneficial, and people are definitely engaged with it. It's really been very beneficial for people to have a single umbrella that says, ‘We represent all of this’ and ‘This is what we agreed the priority should be’ or ‘This is how you can help jumpstart economy.’  

HP: When do you see policymakers having that lightbulb moment when they understand the impact of events? 

TG: I think it's twofold. I think one is just providing people with quantitative data on what the event sector means, in their constituency or even nationwide.  

For example, you might be talking to a mayor of a city and you’re able to tell them about the economic contribution of an event and how many people are employed by the sector who, in 2020, would have been out of work. Then there’s connecting them to the broader impact of events. Let's say a Convention Centre is making an investment in certain things within the community that aren't necessarily connected to events, all of a sudden you start to see the connection points go off and the critical connective tissue gets formed for the policymaking community. 

HP: What do you consider the most challenging part of your role? 

TG: It's really the importance of having a presence and a constant conversation with policymakers. That's 24/7, 365 days. It can't be anecdotal. It can't be one-off because it takes a long time to achieve anything. The professional relationships you had may fall away at a moment's notice and you have to be out there just constantly communicating and constantly putting your point of view forward to drive that change.  

HP: So then, what do you find most rewarding? 

TG: For me, it’s when I see the impact of that regular ongoing communication with government officials and advancing legislation, when I see regulations show up in public sector priorities and when you're able to see the impact of what you've been able to communicate. 

HP: Do you have a typical day in the office? 

TG: First, I open Twitter and pray…  

There are three aspects to my typical day. The first being conversations like the one we're having right now, but with my board members, with my member Association, with CEOs, with show organisers, associations, contractors with those developed labour unions, venues - all the people the association works with. These conversations are about finding out what’s happening, and to what are their most pressing concerns now.  

The second aspect is meeting with policymakers and their staffs at all levels of government. These meetings might be to share stories of what the sector is doing, what the recovery looks like, what they can do, what's pressing in our world, and just keeping that dialogue going.  

The third aspect is the management of the association, the nuts and bolts. Everything from the marketing, the communications, the PR, and strategic planning to ensuring we have the partnerships and continue to support governance.  

HP: When you take your advocacy hat off, what can you be found doing? 

TG: I’m a pretty prototypical husband, a dad, I am a highly mediocre football coach. I’m a Lego builder and an absolutely terrible video game player. I do all that kind of fun stuff in attempt to make my seven-year-old son, either smile or laugh at me or with me. 

 

Holly Patrick
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Holly Patrick
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A desire to travel led Holly Patrick to the business meetings and events world and she’s never looked back. Holly takes a particular interest in event sustainability and creating a diverse and inclusive industry. When she’s not working, she can be found rolling skating along Brighton seafront listening to an eclectic playlist, featuring the likes of Patti Smith, Sean Paul, and Arooj Aftab.

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