Moving forward

Liverpool Convention Bureau (LCB) is making huge strides forward and the city region is set for a big summer, not least as it hosts a global showcase for British Industry, the International Festival for Business (IFB), during June and July 2014.

IFB is set to comprise over 100 world-class events in the city and is designed to be part of the UK Government’s campaign to rebalance the economy and double British exports by 2020. Aiming to attract more than 250,000 visitors from across the world, the IFB programme is already vast with major events, conferences, exhibitions and a cultural programme. The festival will run for 50 days of events.

Emma Bellis, Head of LCB refers to Liverpool as a city with momentum looking to take things to the next level. “What other UK city could come up with the concept and organisation of a 50-day global business festival in 18 months?” she says.

LCB expects the legacy for the city and the UK to be substantial; attracting increased foreign investment and a growing contacts book throughout different industries. These contacts can be worked with in the future to bring their conferences and events back to Liverpool. Not least is the additional endorsement of the city in front of an international and influential audience.

Liverpool is definitely not standing still and LCB is aligned closely with Liverpool’s community of city visionaries at Marketing Liverpool, sharing the same ambition to continue the destination’s growth.
 Bellis joined the Bureau last year and was previously at Marketing Cheshire. She brings with her more than 10 years of experience working with meetings and events organisers.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to work with such a dynamic and globally respected city, and with a proactive and creative events community,” she says. “ACC Liverpool is setting new standards in the conference and events industry and is continuing to grow its facilities so we can fulfil the growing number of large event enquiries looking to come to Liverpool. Meanwhile, we have more and more hotel rooms coming on line, from budget brands to luxury independents; we have the breadth of product and the enthusiasm to suit any event of any size.” 

Bellis has arrived in Liverpool at the start of one of the biggest years yet for the destination, with the aforementioned IFB 2014 providing a fitting spotlight for both Liverpool and its events product. “IFB 2014 is a wonderful showcase of the city and the region and will underline the agility we have to host 50 days of events, of every shape and size. We’re ready to take whatever is thrown at us,” she says.

While new developments in Liverpool continue to garner the headlines, the more established venues within the city maintain their ambition. ACC Liverpool continues to expand its operation with Exhibition Centre Liverpool opening in 2015. The 8,100sqm, three-hall exhibition centre will be capable of hosting large-scale conferences, trade and consumer exhibitions, concerts and sports events on a national and international scale. Plans also include a 200-room ‘headquarters’ hotel.

In addition to seeing its new exhibition centre development take shape in 2014,  ACC Liverpool expects to see its market share from the corporate sector continue to rise this year. Corporates hosting events at the venue in 2014 include the return of Lyreco, Swinton Group and BBC Worldwide Showcase. Returning associations include the British Society for Rheumatology and NHS Confederation. ACC Liverpool will host the Undersea Defence Technology conference and exhibition as part of IFB and expects to welcome 20,000 delegates to the venue during June and July.

Venue developments

The University of Liverpool has invested £45,000 to update its AV and video conferencing facilities at its year-round conference building, the Foresight Centre, which offers 14 meeting rooms with capacity for 150 delegates. The university is also investing £14.25m in its Guild of Students building, which will be completely renovated and will have year-round meeting space available from summer 2014. A new halls of residence, which will add 1,400 double ensuite bedrooms to the university’s city centre campus, with a proportion available for conferences from summer 2015, completes the investment project.

Goodison Park, home of Everton FC, has earmarked 2014 as the year it introduces initiatives aimed at corporate clients. In addition to its Energiser package, which uses key elements used to improve players’ performance to inspire corporate guests, Sodexo Prestige, which manages catering and events at the stadium, is introducing a new Flexi Delegate package. “Flexibility will be crucial not only in retaining corporate clients, but attracting new ones,” says Sales and Marketing Manager, Jacqui Boyle.

There continues to be no let up in the number of new venues and event products open to meetings organisers in Liverpool. The Rum Warehouse, part of the city’s Docklands redevelopment, will open soon as will the Hilton Doubletree located in the city centre. Meanwhile the new Central Library of Liverpool opened late last year, as well as Southport’s New Cultural Centre, offering new cultural facilities for incoming business tourism, and adding another strand to a region made famous by its music, knowledge, art and cultural scene.

Over the last few years the city has hosted events including the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2012, becoming the first ever European host; Accelerate 2013, the UK’s first festival for high growth business; the NHS Confederation; BBC Sports Personality of the Year; BBC Worldwide Showcase; several Party Political Conferences; and the MTV Europe awards.

Bellis credits the personality of Liverpool in attracting a strong level of conference and event enquires. She underlines this ethic within the LCB: “Event organisers know what they want, they have a creative vision and they want the destination to activate itself to help them realise it. It takes a ‘can do’ attitude across the city, a characteristic we are renowned for here in Liverpool.”

Finally, Liverpool has a conference bureau worthy of the sum of its venues. The challenge now is to deliver the goods. Hard but potentially rewarding days and nights lie ahead in 2014.

This was first published in the February issue of CN. Any comments? Email conferencenews@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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