Trends in 2015

With the Rugby World Cup coming home next year, the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and Bristol awarded European Green Capital, VisitEngland predicts that sport, history and energy will have an influence on the meetings and incentives industry in 2015.

Next year will see the third largest sporting tournament in the world come home. Rugby World Cup 2015 will span England, with games being played in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds, Manchester, Leicester, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Gloucester, Exeter, Brighton and London, from 18 September until 31 October.   

Tickets for the big games are like gold dust and make a great incentive for corporates.  
Sandy Park in Exeter is one of the host stadiums and 2015 will see the venue double its capacity alongside a substantial expansion of its conference and banqueting facilities.

Other big sports news for 2015 includes a new Velodrome at Pride Park in Derby. Set to open in January, Britain’s fifth world-class 250-metre indoor track will welcome some of the biggest names in the world of cycling, as well as being able to cater for events. The arena’s main space has capacity for 5,000 guests and there is also a suite of multi-purpose rooms for breakout space or smaller events, meetings and conferences.

England’s history and heritage will take centre stage next year with two major milestones; the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death. There are four surviving original copies of Magna Carta and The British Library in London has two of them.

The library is offering corporates the opportunity to host out of hours events at next year’s exhibition – Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy. The library is also offering the MICE market private tours with curators, and the chance to take tours of collection items within the library’s vaults.

Churchill War Rooms and Blenheim Palace are likely to be popular choices among meetings planners next year. Located underground, Churchill War Rooms can entertain groups of 35 to 120. It’s from here that Churchill directed much of the WW2 effort, and the space is steeped in the atmosphere of a wartime bunker. The Harmsworth Room incorporates the original 1940’s electrical generator feature wall, and many of the objects on display are exactly as they were left when the war ended  in 1945 – down to the remains of a charred cigar.

A private tour of Churchill War Rooms offers clients an unparalleled opportunity to step back through history.  

Churchill War Rooms Director, Phil Reed OBE, is also available for pre-dinner speeches, and can even join delegates for dinner to reveal all about Sir Winston Churchill.

Blenheim Palace – Churchill’s birthplace- is recognised as Britain’s greatest palace. The World Heritage Site in Oxfordshire is available to hire for meetings, gala dinners, conferences and away days.

Green meetings
Bristol has been awarded European Green Capital status in 2015 – recognition of 40 years of pioneering environmental efforts, action and investment in the city. Corporates looking to tick the CSR box can host events at the award-winning sustainable venue, At-Bristol. The building features the UK’s only phase-change tank which, along with air source heat pumps, thermal wheels, green roofs and photovoltaic array, is part of At-Bristol’s cutting-edge environmentally friendly design.

Elsewhere, Low Wood Bay Resort hotel and marina in the Lake District plans to introduce a new technology designed to make use of natural energy stored in England’s largest lake. If given the green light, latent heat energy from Windermere will be used to power a new £4m glass-fronted convention and exhibition centre.

Unique venues
2014 brought conferences in churches and meetings in trees, and next year is no different on the unique venues front with magic gardens, prisons and secular chapels opening their doors.

Set to be an innovative and sensory experience, Hampton Court Palace has teamed up with a Chelsea-winning gardener to help plan its Magic Garden. The new space will provide a venue for evening events and will be available for private hire.

In the Cotswolds, an 18th century prison is opening its doors to the MICE market. Corporates can hire The Old Prison in Northleach for meetings and events – the Court Room accommodates 25 theatre-style, the prison café has capacity for 120 and there’s outdoor space for garden parties.

And in North Essex, Living Architecture, a company which specialises in creating holiday homes in modern architecture, has teamed up with FAT and artist Grayson Perry to build the unique House for Essex near Wrabness on the coast. The building is an artwork in itself and is designed to evoke a tradition of wayside and pilgrimage chapels. The building is set to open in March and will be available for exclusive hire.


Next year sees the country’s academic credentials go from strength to strength with a number of developments. The University of Cambridge’s Robinson College will open a new £5m seminar building in the summer, to develop conference facilities.

Elsewhere, refurbishment of the Examination Schools in Oxford is set for completion at the end of January. The rooms will be restored to their original colour scheme, similar to when the building was opened in 1880, and The Exam Schools is partnering with its sister venue the Sheldonian Theatre enabling it to accommodate events for up to 650 people.

Also in Oxford, the new Weston Library at the Bodleian will open in March. Available for private hire, the library will be a place for study and research using special collections from the Bodleian – one of the greatest libraries in the world.

Purpose-built venues
A world class Exhibition Centre and integrated hotel at Kings Dock in Liverpool is to open in September 2015. Exhibition Centre Liverpool will span 8,100msqm over three halls and will have a 200-room hotel, which will form part of ACC Liverpool. The venue will be capable of hosting large national and international exhibitions, conferences and banquets.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate will get a £10m overhaul when construction begins in July next year. The new exhibition and events space – Hall 1 – will increase space by almost 1,000sqm.

Hot destinations

As well as being host cities for next year’s Rugby World Cup, it’s set to be an exciting year for Birmingham and Manchester with both destinations seeing a plethora of developments come to fruition.

Birmingham: Birmingham New Street Station’s £600m redevelopment, set for completion in September, will improve access to the popular MICE destination and see annual passenger capacity increase to 52m a year. The redevelopment will transform the hub of the nation’s rail network into a 21st century gateway. Also in Birmingham, the £150m Resorts World opens next year. The UK’s first integrated destination leisure complex will include a 170-room. four-star hotel, 11-screen cinema, The Vox Conference Centre and a casino. In addition, the city’s accommodation sector will be boosted by 1,000 bedrooms. 

Developments including Park Regis Birmingham, a four-star, 300-room hotel, are set to open in the city, giving delegates even more choice.

Manchester: In Spring, a new purpose-built centre for international contemporary art, theatre, film and books will open its doors for the first time in Manchester. HOME will include a 500-seat theatre; a 150-seat flexible studio space; a 500sqm, 4m high gallery space; five cinema screens; digital production and broadcast facilities.

In April, Manchester will host two large medical associations during International Surgical Week. The Association of Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland and the European-African Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association will bring 2,500-3,000 surgeons to Manchester Central to discuss cutting-edge medical research, meaning the city will be a focal point for surgeons across the world during 2015. And, finally, a number of new hotels are due to open including Innside by Melia, a lifestyle business hotel brand with design-led rooms and up to date technology.

This was first published in the October issue of CN. Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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