I loved Liz Sheppard-Jones’
attitude in her recent blog on the regeneration programme for Croydon. She was
honest about the challenges they face, and one of the key things in their
favour is her enthusiasm.
Many of the top 10
conference destinations in the UK today have achieved their places thanks to
the major regeneration that has taken place and business tourism has been a big
part of that helping to attract further inward investment and generating growth
Think back to Birmingham in
the 80s (if you were born by then), the area where the ICC is now used to be
very run down and Birmingham bore little resemblance to the city you see today.
Yet the need to change the economy from a manufacturing base to service
industries helped make the case for the NEC originally and subsequently the
ICC, and the venues in their turn have helped transform the local economy.
Manchester was not always
the vibrant, hip city it is now nor was Glasgow -who remembers the slogan Glasgow’s miles better when actually at the time it wasn’t?
One major factor that
helped change all of these cities was the presence of a champion. Someone who is
a figure of authority and yet puts their head above the parapet, pioneers
change when everyone else is sceptical and can see beyond the present to how
things can improve. Someone who through the sheer force of their enthusiasm carries
everyone else along. (and let’s not forget being articulate, intelligent, charismatic
and forceful helps) A great example is Sir Bob Scott. He was originally involved in Manchester’s
Olympic bid and his refusal to admit defeat meant he went on to win the
Commonwealth Games in 2002, and he later
got involved in Capital of Culture in Liverpool and subsequently the Olympics
And that links nicely to
that other factor that acts as a catalyst for regeneration – major events. The
legacy of the Olympics 2012 is yet to be seen but the legacy of the
Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Capital of Culture in Liverpool is there
for all to see, including new venues and changes to infrastructure that enable
them now to attract major conferences.
I have been lucky enough to
work on developments in these cities and meet some of these champions. With all
our current convention centre developments we advocate the city gets a champion
as early on in the process as possible.
So Liz, find yourself a
champion – your enthusiasm will be infectious in recruiting them – and then get
them bidding for major events.
Any comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org