Venue staff battle the elements, but the shows go on

With the UK’s transport system again unable to withstand the recent snowfalls, many events have been hit by the knock-on effects.

In London, train and bus routes seemed unprepared as usual to deal with the wintry conditions, although The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre general manager Jonathan Byrne tells Conference News the venue’s central location in Westminster helped his and the supplier partner’s staff get to and operate as normal for two large conferences on 2 February.

“Stories of staff attempting several routes into work or walking fair distances kept us entertained throughout the day,” says Byrne.

“A small contingent from the areas where train services have been cancelled were not able to make it to the centre, however, the wonders of modern technology meant they were all able to log onto our systems from home and communicate with clients via phone and email.”

The centre also arranged local hotel accommodation for staff and a contingency meeting with all of the QEIICC’s supplier partners implemented plans to ensure the conference centre was fully served with audio visual, cleaning, portering, security and maintenance.

Delegates attending events were also able to get travel and weather news from the 42 digital screens throughout the building.

It seems Byrne and his staff are made of sterner stuff than some of the clients.

“Having addressed all contingencies and prepared ourselves to be fully operational, it is unfortunate,” says Byrne, “that one of our clients made a decision to cancel an event (3 Feb), however, we look forward to working with them to re-instate the event in the future.”

Up in Birmingham where the weather had been less severe than in the south-east, the Spring Fair has been battling the wintry conditions which saw travel disruption impact on the usually large visitor numbers from London and the south.

NEC sales director Michael Watton says the NEC team, however, was on the ball to make the venue as welcoming and safe as possible.

“Overnight on Sunday we tracked the weather forecast and our estates team put together a plan for ensuring that our footpaths, roads and car parks were gritted and ploughed. This enabled us to run our shuttle bus service to the car parks, and ease the travel for our passengers on site.”

Organisers were not disheartened and say plenty of business is being done at Spring Fair, with 3,000 exhibitors on show.

Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, Keith Harris and Orville and gladiators Spartan and Inferno all battled through the snow to attend and, (provided he gets the forecast right) Michael Fish was due to visit to support The Novelty Gift Company which is launching a new range of weather related magnets.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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