Small businesses key to success in 2014, says HIC Director

The Director of the Harrogate International Centre (HIC), Simon Kent (pictured), has launched a New Year push to grab a share of the region’s smaller events market in 2014.

Kent has said he wants to attract more intimate events, such as board meetings, seminars and focus groups, from a sector which has traditionally been dominated by the region’s hotels.

The HIC has a reputation for staging major conferences and exhibitions but Kent has a New Year resolution to “open new markets” for the venue by attracting smaller events from Harrogate itself and neighbouring York and Leeds.

“This is going to be a tough market to break into because our region has a large number good of hotels and they are usually the first choice when businesses want to host seminars, AGMs or corporate hospitality,” said Kent.

“To open this new market our strategy is not only about competitive pricing of our smaller rooms and halls but also selling our expertise.

“We have skilled technicians, caterers and event co-ordinators here with years of experience in providing the wow factor and that’s something unique to dedicated event venues like HIC.

“It’s also a prestige thing,” Kent added. “We want owners of small and medium-sized businesses to feel proud to be welcoming their clients or staff to a major international venue like ours.”

Since taking the helm at HIC in 2012, Kent has targeted raising the local profile of the venue and strengthening links with regional partner industries such as accommodation, transport and leisure.
“Hopefully we can also start to capitalise on the local links we have been building,” he added. “For example, all delegates at HIC events can now get 25 per cent off their food bills at a range of restaurants and cafes in town.”

The end of 2013 saw HIC take on two new full-time sales managers, while a third is set to join this month (January).

Kent told CN: “2014 is going to be a very busy year for us and we need to capitalise on that. We have the opening of a 107-bedroom hotel attached to the centre this summer. At the same time HIC will host the world’s media as they come to cover the Yorkshire leg of the Tour de France here in Harrogate.”

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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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