Business tourism is the major driver for Sheffield’s hospitality sector. The latest full year statistics show the sector to be worth £106m to the city and delegate numbers at their highest level since 2008.
Sheffield has long shed its image as a heavy industry steel fortress to the exclusion of other sectors and has built a new image as a modern and exciting place – a different kind of city with a real character and unique sense of the outdoors.
The Sheffield convention bureau, part of Marketing Sheffield, is back from a few years in the wilderness, and now part of the city’s investment and growth organisation at Creative Sheffield. There is also a new strategic approach in evidence; the bureau is now working with the universities to grow international business, which is already strong in certain sectors.
The city’s ambassador programme celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017. It has delivered more than £20m in event bids over that time.
The bureau team has set itself a goal of establishing initiatives to support ambassadors and find the new wave of talent. And, across the board, the city is strengthening links between industry, investment and conferences.
And there have already been some exciting investments from McLaren and Boeing in the city, which should deliver exciting times for corporate meetings.
On the association side, the bureau tells CN: “It’s all about knowledge hubs. Research shows us that we host a higher proportion of association-based conferences than the national average and we want to grow this.
“The specialisms within our universities and hospitals open up a wealth of research-led conferences that we are targeting.”
Sheffield venue vibes
Sheffield City Hall continues to lead the way for conventions in the heart of the city and works closely with key city venues – Cutlers Hall, Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel and Spa, the Winter Garden (a temperate glass house in the heart of the city popular for welcome receptions) to offer a ‘family of venues’ in the compact city centre area.
Two events taking advantage of this mix are BOFAS (British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society) bringing 500 delegates to the city in the autumn (the city has a manufacturing reputation for excellence in producing orthopaedic products) and the global Horasis China Conference, which will bring 300 Chinese business leaders to Sheffield in November (using Mercure, City Hall and Chatsworth for main sessions and Cutlers Hall and Sheffield Cathedral for two gala dinners). It will be a two-day programme identifying business opportunities and development approaches.
Sheffield’s universities are also at the forefront of development. The University of Sheffield’s Diamond Building (pictured on p55) is a £81m project that is a world leading engineering structure with seven large lecture theatres and event spaces, which 500 delegates from the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technologies in Europe will visit later this year.
The University is also about to open its second hotel, available to delegates. In addition to the existing 38-bedroom boutique Halifax Hall Hotel, a new 80-bedroom hotel, the Jonas Hotel, opens on 1 August.
The University’s conference managers operate meetings and events for up to 1,250 delegates in a diverse range of venues including The Octagon (the universities’ largest space), Inox which boasts eight flexible conference spaces, The Edge and the Firth Hall.
The University will be hosting a number of prestigious events throughout this year including the “Special Olympics” in August when over 3,000 athletes will be based at the universities’ Endcliffe site. The “Youdan Trophy” football tournament returns in July for the third successive year bringing young footballers from all over the world to the home city of the sport. The recent news that both Boeing and McLaren are opening new facilities at The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is a testament to the importance of developing working relationships with partners to the university.
Sheffield Hallam University also has a new building, the Charles Street building near the train station. It has an atrium, theatres and breakouts.
And at the big venue portfolio SIV Events over 1,000 sporting, business and entertainment events are set to take place in 2017. SIV Events comprises Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, the English Institute of Sport Sheffield, iceSheffield, Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield Arena and the Scarborough Spa.
6 things for delegates to do out of hours:
1. Get Outdoors. One third of Sheffield lies within the Peak District National Park, which offers outdoor adventure and rural escapes. The city also has the world’s largest bouldering wall.
2. Chatsworth. One of the UK’s treasure houses. Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth is 14 miles from the city centre and, in June, it welcomes the first ever RHS Chatsworth.
3. Run Routes. Delegates can take advantage of the newly launched city run routes. There are 11 colour-coded trails marked in seven parks and woodlands across Sheffield.
4. Beer. Sheffield lays claim to be a real ale capital, with 400 different beers available in the city’s pubs. The city’s breweries turn out more than 1,000 different beers a year.
5. Hang Out. The Kelham Island area has just been voted the 8th hippest hangout in the UK by Travel Supermarket even beating Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
6. Sheffield Theatres. The largest theatre complex outside of London also hosts the World Snooker.
…and 6 quirky spaces:
1. The Chimney House. Situated in Kelham island, the meeting room is one of the most creatively designed boardrooms. Think reclaimed wood, sumptuous seating and the gorgeous private dining for up to 80 delegates.
2. ROCO. At the helm of an explosion of creative spaces available for hire in Sheffield, ROCO is a creative co-op that has transformed three beautiful listed Georgian town houses into some cool space and, arguably, the best rooftop terrace in the city.
3. Red Hall at Magna. A more intimate space at the colossal former steelworks. Can host dinner for up to 150, receptions or product launches.
4. Ecclesall Woods. Fancy a timber framed meeting room with a log burning stove in the middle of the woods (but actually just minutes from the city centre)? There are two rooms for up to 50 delegates and you can also try your hand at some woodcraft teambuilding. www.sheffield.gov.uk/discoverycentre
5. INOX, University of Sheffield. Contemporary conference space comprising seven flexible rooms (50- 60 in each) spilling out into a relaxing contemporary lounge space. www.withus.com
6. Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Take your delegates into the wild just 30 minutes from the city centre. Where else can you host a meeting with panoramic views over the African plains and then break for a stroll to see a Polar Bear. Fantastic summer barbecues, indoor and outdoor space for up to 300. www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com