Host City Conference 2019 gathered VIP speakers from sport, business, and culture to deliver the message that the key to the future success of the events industry will be innovation and working together.

On the first day of the conference, around 300 attendees heard speakers outline the vision around the theme for the conference: ‘Innovate; Reformulate; Co-Create’. Among those invited to speak were Sir Craig Reedie GBE of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), David Lappartient, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), and Ian Reid, CEO of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

Keynote speaker Paul Bush OBE, director of events at VisitScotland, gave his address about three topics that he felt were significant within the events landscape this year: the growth of women’s sport, audience engagement and contingency planning.

Bush said: “The Women’s World Cup in France had 1.12bn TV viewers with an average audience of 8.1m for the final. Megan Rapinoe, the USA star, shone a light on equal pay, equality and diversity issues in sport.

“Are the Tectonic plates of world sporting event shifting, colliding or being totally reshaped? In my humble opinion the answer to all three is ‘yes’.

“The events industry can and should take the lead on gender balance, LGBTQ, BAME and disabled representation to provide that platform for more people, from the field of play to the boardroom.”

Chief executive of Glasgow Life, Dr Bridget McConnell CBE, spoke on the opening panel of the conference. McConnell said that it is important for event planners to work with and consulting with their local communities.

McConnell said: “Our watchword has always been ‘engage’ and that underpins the whole approach in Glasgow. That is crucial to our future success, and that includes not only with event organisers, but also with decision-makers, influencers, politicians and our communities.

“It’s usually taxpayers’ money that pays for a lot that we deliver. So, if they don’t see the relevance, embrace it, volunteer at events, or be inspired to take up sport then in times of increased pressure on spending of public funds there will be a big question mark over how relevant we can continue to be.”

CEO of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, Ian Reid, echoed that sentiment as the organisers reach out to find out what their local community wants from a Commonwealth Games.

Reid said: “We are really focusing on youth as Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe. So our sports programme will have beach volleyball and three-on-three basketball, while we want to introduce city centre hubs that work around that with DJs and live site programmes to resonate with a demographic that perhaps hasn’t always engaged with the Commonwealth’s sports programme in the past.”

Secretary general of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the Association of Winter Olympic International Federations (AIOWF), Sarah Lewis OBE, said: “From the context of co-creation in the six FIS ski and snowboard disciplines which are on the Olympic Winter Games programme, they have diverse characteristics and wide range of cities, resorts and venues. Co-creation and partnerships are different depending on locations. Some events take place in important capital cities.

“For example the next Winter Olympics is in Beijing. But we also have important events at small mountain resorts where there are more people organising them than live there. So, the model can’t be one size fits all. You have to find different ways of working together to achieve successful events. That’s the key.”

President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), David Lappartient, shared his experience of co-creating the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, the first to include all cycling disciplines competing together.

Lappartient said: “Having strong partnerships is fundamental. If you want to be a huge success everyone has to be on board. And we have been working together with Glasgow to really co-create this.

“Cycling has reacted well to this new vision. We have disciplines that are totally different. But all of them use a bicycle and they are proud to be part of the same event.”

Sir Craig Reedie of the GBE International Olympic Committee (IOC), spoke about the London 2012 Olympic Games and the legacy that it left behind.

Reedie said: “Figures produced six months ago showed that within the six boroughs surrounding the London Stadium since the end of the Olympic Games there have been 125,000 new jobs. I don’t know what the definition of legacy is but that’s pretty high in my book.”