– This feature was published in the August 2011 edition of Conference News magazine. Facts and figures were correct at the time of publishing.
It is often said you should never underestimate the power of PR and what better PR opportunity is there than, not one, but two state visits to a city in a month?
Visit Dublin says the May visits of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama to the city “helped to raise Dublin’s profile on an international level”. A spokesman for the convention bureau told CN: “The Queen visited two important business tourism venues throughout her visit, Croke park and the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD), giving news audiences around the globe a glimpse of the city”.
2010/11 has been a positive time for Dublin and Ireland’s business tourism industry. The opening of the new CCD, in September 2010, marked a new era for convention and business tourism in Ireland, according to then Taoiseach Brian Cowen at the opening ceremony.
“Tourism is a vital export industry for Ireland and is an essential part of the Government’s strategy for economic recovery and job creation,” he said. “The launch of the CCD, the world’s first carbon neutral convention centre, has provided all of those in the business of promoting Dublin overseas with a significant launch pad,” he added.
The purpose-built centre is able to host meetings for up to 8,000 delegates across 22 multi-purpose conference rooms, an auditorium and 4,500sqm of exhibition space.
In its first 10 months of operation the CCD hosted 87,000 guests who attended 280 events and by the end of 2011 the venue says it will have helped to boost the local economy by €60m. The 39th European Dialysis and Transplant Nurses Association Conference, the European Union of Geriatric Medicine Society Conference and the Globe Forum 2010 were particularly large wins for the venue.
According to Catherine Newhall-Caiger, Sales Director at the venue, 375 events have been secured at the CCD to date and there are 270 provisional bookings. “Based on the CCD’s success to date I believe we have played our part in helping to bring more conferences to the city, which in turn will help to increase Dublin’s International Convention and Congress Association (ICCA) rankings. (Dublin is currently in 32nd place)
Visit Dublin says meetings business in the city is faring well with bookings through the convention bureau very strong. “Hotels are reporting an upswing for 2011,” said Dublin Tourism’s Business Tourism Manager Miriam Kennedy. “If anything the recession has led to unprecedented value in hotels, dining and retail in Dublin. For visitors to the capital there has never been a better time to visit,” she added.
Newhall-Caiger agreed. She said: “Ireland has become very competitive over the past few years and Dublin hotel rates are among the best value in Europe.
“In addition, recent Government initiatives including the abolition of the €10 travel tax and a reduction in the VAT rate from 13.5 per cent to nine per cent for certain related goods and services such as hotel accommodation and restaurants, has also helped to make Ireland and Dublin a good value-for-money destination.”
The Hotels.com price index recently voted Dublin as offering the most affordable hotels in Western Europe and has announced 10 new routes and has a new hub at Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2. It is also offering special airfare rates to conference delegates travelling to the city and a new smart card integrated ticketing system for Dublin transport will be introduced later this year.
Other developments and initiatives in the city include: a delegate voucher book connecting visiting delegates with offers from restaurants, retail, tours and visitor attractions and a delegate discount on the Dublin pass, the official sightseeing card for Dublin.
Dublin Tourism launched a smartphone app in late 2010 for conference organisers and to be customised for delegates. It has geo-directional search functions to maximise time in Dublin.
As part of an agreement with the Irish Government’s Office of Public Works, the CCD has set out a five-year plan regarding the target number of international delegates that it will attract to Dublin.
The strategy has been to target high-earning associations in the medical, pharmaceutical and technology sectors where markets are generally stable, as well as national and international corporate clients. Newhall-Caiger said: “We are pretty close to reaching our year four numbers in our first year, which is extremely positive.”
Conference organiser MCI Dublin’s Director of Conferences Jean Evans told CN: “Dublin is right up there with the best when it comes to hosting any type of business meeting. Through massive infrastructural changes Dublin can now compete with the best.
“It may not be our most spectacular feature, but I always believe it is the walkability of Dublin that sets it apart. A delegate can stroll from one major tourist attraction to another, giving that intimate atmosphere so often lost in other European cities.
“Prices are dropping dramatically and we were always able to compete on quality against other nations, but in recent years there has become a clear understanding that we have to compete on price as well.
“The negatives? It can sometimes be a difficult city to drive around if you are not from the city, but I’ve been to Rome and I’d take Dublin any day!”
Visit Dublin’s top 5 venues
1. Citywest Hotel and Conference Centre Conference
A leisure and golf resort with space to cater for 2-6,000 delegates
2. Royal Dublin Society
A 42 acre complex with 23,000sqm of versaitile space in the city centre
3. Burlington Hotel
Four star luxury hotel with space
for up to 1,300 delegates
4. Aviva Stadium
Home to Irish rugby union and the national football team, can cater
for events for 2-2,000 delgates
5. Convention Centre Dublin
Has 22 multi-purpose conference rooms that can cater for up to
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