In the run up to the opening of the Rugby Word Cup last month, tourism lobby group UKInbound called for the government to ‘acknowledge’ the economic benefits of inbound tourism, and build a strong national transport infrastructure.
As Crossrail and HS2 inch closer to becoming a reality, organisers stress that infrastructure programmes must dovetail with event planning and logistics.
Kate Braxton, director at event agency Jameroo, said: “As an event producer living in Maidenhead, I can’t wait for these projects to be completed. If they stick to schedules as we do, bringing train life, city life and park life together will be a wonderful asset. For city workers, a conference held within a 40-50 minute travel time will not just be considerably more cost-effective, but provide firms with justification for their investment in live events, which is often questioned. The Great Train Journey could also be a fantastic opportunity for brand experiences and teambuilding. Let’s hope they keep on track.”
Ellis Salsby, of Midlands-based Ellis Salsby Ltd, said: “We are very fortunate in this country as the majority of major conference centres and destinations are well served by public transport. The biggest problem faced by this country is the lack of capacity on some of the major routes into London, Birmingham and Manchester especially at peak times. Ageing rolling stock and expensive fares at peak times make event organisation a challenge in more remote locations.
“Crossrail will make a massive improvement to London’s accessibility but the fares need to be competitive to balance the improved journey time and greater convenience.
“The government need to keep a handle on the priorities. Is the increased journey time on HS2 and HS3 really worth all of the environmental and economic upheaval?
“Travelling to Birmingham from London on the Chiltern line is a breeze. Sensibly priced, reasonably reliable and some services are comparable in journey time to Virgin for two thirds of the price at peak time!
“The nation needs to look at what is working well and try to replicate it rather than focus on the highest bidder or financial gain.”
Rachel Hepburn at Vivid Event Group in Brighton said: “Improved transportation links across the country would affect events in a great number of ways. An increase in efficiency, comfort and reliability would make people more inclined to take that journey. In this age of digital efficiency, time is even more precious as the demand is ever higher for instant results across all forms of contact.
“Face-to-face interaction is and will always be the most effective form of communication. Live meetings add the human element to conducting business that no email, telephone call or virtual meeting can deliver. People buy from people and no matter how many proposals, websites, apps or statistical documents you look at, it’s meeting the person that makes the difference.
“Promoting events with efficient travel links would overcome the issues faced by any geographically challenged business or time-poor SME’s. Equally, larger organisations may feel more encouraged to sign off employees escaping the office if their travel time is reduced and thus meetings end up more productive.”
Jackie Boughton, head of sales at the Barbican, in the City of London, is looking ahead to launch of Crossrail and its expected impact on the venue’s international growth.
She believes it will boost the Barbican on the international market – not least because one station is on the venue’s doorstep.
She said: “The opportunity to grow the market for international large scale associations is what we are most excited about. We should have been promoting Crossrail for longer than we have, in order to create ease of accessibility awareness.”