Midlands on track to win new business

Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire are both reporting rebounding meetings and events business on the back of some serious investment and, in Nottingham’s case, the re-establishment of a properly funded bureau

A growing list of conferences and events taking place in Leicester and the surrounding county includes the Federation of Small Businesses annual conference, CBI East Midlands annual dinner, the Labour Party Youth Conference, the annual UKSEDS National Student Space Conference and the UKinbound Annual Convention which brought 250 delegates in February 2015 to its national conference. Chief executive Deirdre Wells, OBE, hailed it as a success. “Not only were we able to welcome a large number of our members, but we were also able to share the news and celebrate 2014’s increased tourism figures. It was one of our most successful conventions to date.”
Looking forward, the city has secured the 2016 conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, to be held at the University of Leicester. More than 1,000 delegates from are expected to attend the event next summer.
Leicester will also host the Active City conference at Curve, 18-20 May 2016. It is expecting international delegates.
Other events secured for the destination by Leicester Shire Promotions and its partners include the Chartered Institute for Archaeology in April 2016 and the Local Government Association – Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference in February 2016.

Targeted approach

Helen Bevins, business tourism campaign manager at Leicester Shire Promotions says: “One of the keys to our business tourism proposal is targeting conferences, events and associations with a focused offer that is aligned with the subject of their event. We work with local venue partners to research and bid for these events.”
The Leicester and Leicestershire Convention Bureau can help organisers by developing social itineraries and helping with venue sourcing and booking accommodation for delegates. A partnership with train operator East Midlands Trains offers discounts of up to 60% off tickets for delegates.
If you are after a major venues in the area then Bruntingthorpe and Donington Park, as well as the modern Curve and Athena probably top the list, with the National Space Centre adding a novelty value.
The University of Leicester and Loughborough University provide good value and accommodate large numbers, and imago, Loughborough University’s specialist conference brand, offers choice within a dedicated environment.

New developments in the region include:
• Sketchley Grange Hotel and Spa, which has recently undergone a refurbishment of its conference facilities
• Leicester City FC Conferences & Events, which has refurbished its facilities for the new meetings season off the pitch
• City centre-based Mercure Leicester The Grand Hotel has been refurbished
• Leicester Racecourse has opened a new events space called The KUBE – a 700sqm building that can accommodate 650 cabaret-style and 1,000 theatre-style.
• The King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester can accommodate meetings in its King’s Suite – capacities are 80 for theatre-style and 120 for receptions
• Hinckley Island Hotel recently refurbished three new function suites
• The Woodlands is a new multi-million pound development comprising a venue, luxury treehouse accommodation and self-catering snugs, located in the wooded grounds of Hothorpe Hall

At imago, head of sales and marketing Emma Boynton says the past year has seen growth for all its venues.
“The Link Hotel has seen corporate bookings increase. We focussed the team on increasing the corporate market and have also developed the sport market, which has resulted in an increase in weekend group bookings,” she says.
Event management success stories Boynton points to include the Association of University Chief Security Officers, UKACC and The Royal Society of Chemistry’s ‘Electrochem 2014’.
“In the last year we’ve invested heavily in our broadband, increasing its speed to 200mps. This allows us to facilitate bigger events and accommodate the most challenging of AV requirements,” Boynton adds. She is also aiming to increase revenue by winning business which matches the profile of the University, particularly events organised by associations, not-for-profit organisations and those associated with sporting and disability organisations.
“Few places in the UK can offer the idyllic surroundings of the Midlands and boast leading venues capable of delivering excellence in the meetings sector which gives us a real advantage,” she adds.

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Conference News resides at the heart of the conference industry examining the issues affecting organisers, venues, destinations and suppliers. Published monthly, Conference News features the latest news, interviews and industry analysis from market influencers.

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