This week the British Parliament voted down the latest (and possibly last) deal proposed by Theresa May’s government to leave the European Union. Unfortunately, an already complex situation involving disagreements, not just between the United Kingdom and the 27 countries of the EU but also the four countries that make up the U.K., has not become any clearer or any closer to a resolution and may not be, before the original deadline of March 29.
So, what does that mean for meeting planners who have either already committed to an event in the U.K., or are considering booking a venue for a meeting there in the near future?
While the situation is not certain for Britain, here are three steps that planners can take to avoid any nasty budget surprises or travel hiccups for speakers and attendees.
- To begin with, take stock of the contract for the event and make sure these must-have clauses are included. Because the exchange rate for sterling, the British currency, has been pretty volatile for the last year it might be possible to lock in an advantageous rate with vendors now, which will help you save some money later. MeetingsNet covered the basics here and here.
- Most of the expected travel disruption to the U.K. centers around ferry ports and goods, rather than airports. If you are planning on shipping goods from Europe to your event, consider asking the U.K. venue to accept and store them before March 29, when customs problems could see them sitting in a container ship in port for four months. Find more shipping advice here.
- Attendees traveling to the U.K. from Europe can expect longer lines at customs and immigration if the U.K. begins treating EU citizens as foreigners instead of maintaining freedom of movement. Stretching resources at customs and immigration could also create longer wait times for travelers from the U.S., so investing in a service such as Blacklane PASS for U.K. arrivals can ease any disruption for your VIPs and speakers.
At this point, no one knows whether Britain will leave the European Union without a deal, ask for time to try to negotiate a new deal, or hold another referendum and forget about the whole thing. But whatever happens, with current exchange rates an event in Great Britain has never been more affordable.
For a deeper dive into how British planners are reacting to Brexit check out Outsourced Events' blog.