By Tracy Halliwell MBE, director of business tourism and major events at London & Partners.
As 2015 draws to a close I’ve pulled together my top 10 highlights across the city from the last year and looked ahead to what’s to come in 2016.
1. London welcomed a record-breaking 32,773 cardiologist, the highest delegate number in the event’s history, with the launch of the London Heart Trail along the South Bank. The London Heart Trail, that was created to coincide with the five-day European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress at Excel, was launched by the energetic cast of Annie Jr. at the end of August. Prime locations along the route included City Pier and the London Eye, which featured heart-shaped trees to guide participants.
2. 2015 was the busiest ever year for conferences and events at Excel London which saw a host of association and corporate events welcome an impressive uplift in delegate numbers. The European Wound Management Association (EWMA) saw a 17% increase in delegates, EuroPerio8 reported a 25% increase in delegate numbers, the Association for the Advancement of Technology saw a 47% rise in attendee numbers, while HPE Discover also enjoyed impressive attendee numbers at their London event.
3. London Technology Week returned for a second year running with 43,000 attendees from over 80 countries, 228 events, a globally trending hashtag #LDNTechWeek reaching over 33m people, 12 international delegations, and global media coverage worth £26m. The third instalment is due to return in 2016.
4. The first ICCA ranking showing the cities and countries that hosted the most international association delegates, as opposed to meetings, placed in London fourth, with almost 90,000 delegates (89,969). London is also now in sixth place for the number of events hosted.
5. London was named the most popular city stand at IMEX Frankfurt, with 650 meetings pre-booked with stand partners and convention bureau representatives, an increase of 32% since 2011.
6. We discovered that just 39% of event planners are creative thinkers despite the majority believing they have a creative approach to their work, following new research to launch our Love the Event & Love the Experience campaign. We also learnt that just 27% of event professionals believe the five senses of sight, taste, sound, smell and touch are being used effectively by the industry.
7. Advertising Week Europe came back to London for the fourth year running and welcomed impressive delegate numbers, with 23,550 attendees across 209 events during the week.
8. London was home to some innovative and high-impact stunts during 2015, our top three being the Jaguar car flying over Tower Bridge, the ‘Arctic Circle Line’, which shocked unsuspecting Londoners with a life-sized polar bear travelling on the tube and the O2’s ‘Wear the Rose’ installation, which lit up The O2 every night during the Rugby World Cup with fan tweets beamed on the roof.
9. We won some fantastic new events for the city including Sibos, which chose London as the host city for its 2019 event, and New Scientist Live, which selected London as the host city for its 2016 event that will illustrate how science and technology improves lives, shapes society and drives economic growth. The International Marine Purchasing Association (IMPA) also renewed its contract with the Queen Elizabeth II Centre (QEII Centre), confirming it will continue to host its annual London conference at the venue until 2027.
10. London was named the number one destination for meetings in Europe by the American Express Meeting and Events Forecast 2016, an accolade that was echoed by Cvent, which named London the leading meeting destination in Europe.
Looking back at the year 2015 has been a blockbuster year for business tourism in London, underlining that out strategy to focus on the city’s sectorial expertise in tech, life sciences, the creative industries and financial services is delivering impressive results for the capital. The events that have chosen London over the last year have seen the city provide strong return on investment. Record delegate numbers have been generated across a series of some of the world’s biggest congresses and event throughout the last year, with the European Society of Cardiology, HPE Discover and Advertising Week Europe all seeing impressive visitor numbers.
We are hugely excited about the year ahead that will see some fantastic new and returning events arrive in the capital. A standout event not seen in London before is New Scientist Live that we hope will act as a catalyst for other leading events in the life sciences field to host their events at the same time. The return of HPE Discover and Advertising Week Europe is also great news for the city. Our focus moving forward will be to target events that match our clusters of expertise and inspire similar events o make London their destination of choice during the year ahead.
James Rees, executive director for conferences and events at Excel London, says: “We see 2015 as being a defining year; where London has truly come of age as a congress and convention destination. Working closely with London & Partners, Excel has hosted more ICCA-rated events than ever before, including the record-breaking ESC Congress.”
Diane Waldron, sales and marketing director at QEII Centre, says: “We’ve invested heavily in diversifying our events portfolio this year as part of our @12m renovation and rebranding project. As a result the modernised QEII Centre has already hosted the like of the British Thoracic Society, Aerodays, Topshop’s SS16 London Fashion Week show, 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign, The Japan Pavilion, the Labour Leadership Conference and the Global Law Summit.
With clever thinking outside the box, clever partnering and clever planning., we’re excited about what we can achieve in 2016 to keep demonstrating why London is at the forefront of world-class events.”