Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) celebrated a successful year at its AGM last week, reporting a strong financial position, good membership retention levels, and several new talent and training initiatives.

ESSA director Andrew Harrison, along with the board, used the association’s annual general meeting to highlight key developments and achievements over the past year that are providing further support and value to members as the industry continues its post-pandemic recovery.

These include the launch, last week, of free Individual Student Membership with the aim of attracting and developing new talent into the industry, the introduction of 12 ESSA Individual Induction online training courses focused on health and safety, investment in dedicated public affairs services to support raising the sectors’ profile with government and a new sustainability module as part of the ESSA Accredited programme.

ESSA’s renewed focus on accredited members, training and education continues to add further value to members, enabling them to demonstrate their commitment to the highest standards and giving them a competitive edge with clients. Enquiries to use ESSA members via the member listings increased by 2000% over a 12-month period. The last year has also seen ESSA’s profile and its benefit to members continue to increase following the decision to invest in a PR, marketing and comms strategy and support.

Lou Kiwanuka, chair of ESSA’s board, shared that the association’s renewal phase in early 2022 was the most successful on record, and how without a dedicated resource to growing membership, it has matched and, in some cases, exceeded new member numbers compared to previous years. Lou added that she has been inspired by the number of members coming together under the ESSA umbrella to support a key body of work that seeks to lay out ‘ESSA’s Asks’ of the industry in redefining key areas of working practice that affect us all. A report on this will be released in the coming weeks, a defining area of ESSA leading, representing and taking the front foot. 

Delivering the financial report, treasurer John Robson revealed that ESSA ended the year to December 2021 with a pre-tax profit and held healthy reserves on the balance sheet, following a series of cost-saving measures during the pandemic.

“I’m delighted to present to you yet again a very strong financial position for the association. This is particularly impressive given that we were operating under a worldwide pandemic,” he said, adding that the strategy has now changed and “instead of tightening our belts in survival mode, we will be using some of our reserves to make investments during 2022.”

Looking at the year ahead, ESSA will continue to represent and raise the profile of the industry to government alongside its sister associations under the EIA banner via its recent significant investment in the services of a public affairs company. This autumn will see the launch and climax of a key body of this work in this area. Increased investment in sector research was also the order of the day and crucial to supporting our strategic objectives of ‘ESSA’s Asks’ manifesto for a better industry.

ESSA director, Andrew Harrison, said: “ESSA’s achievements in the areas of education, training and information over the last 12 months have exceeded all expectations. With a focus on leadership, representation, recovery, strategy and inclusivity, our proactive and dynamic board, alongside our amazing working groups, has been extremely successful in identifying need areas and pushing ideas forward towards fruition in line with ESSA’s objectives, goals and values. We are on the cusp of launching two exciting new initiatives and continue our work to improve upon “what does good look like” in key areas such as health and safety and the welfare of those who work within it. This sharp focus on driving greater value has been reflected in our success markers which show that ESSA’s renewal phase during early 2022 was the most successful on record.”

Concluding the AGM was the appointment of the new ESSA board members which saw Jason Stead, Executive Vice President, GES - EMEA Exhibitions, Hannah Jardine, Business Manager, Ignition DG and Dan Edwards, Group Operations Director, Skyline Whitespace re-elected for a further term with the addition of one new board member, Garcia Newell, Regional Business Development Director - Fairs and Events Europe at DSV Fairs & Events.

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