VisitScotland Business Events celebrates its thriving ambassador community with INNOVATEFORUM

VisitScotland Business Events marked the first anniversary of its INNOVATETHENATION talk series with a special event examining Scotland’s national ambassador programmes. INNOVATEFORUM – held on 4 October at the Lighthouse in Glasgow, Scotland’s national centre for design and architecture – highlighted the success of the INNOVATETHENATION series over the past year and how the role of the conference ambassador could develop in the future.

Representatives from each of the Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow Convention Bureaux participated in a panel discussion looking at the evolution of Scotland’s ambassador programmes, the benefits that association and academic meetings can bring to the country and how the business events industry in Scotland can benefit from opportunities in these sectors in the years ahead.

The discussion was moderated by Neil Brownlee, head of business events at VisitScotland.

Speakers at the event included Aileen Crawford – head of conventions, Glasgow Convention Bureau, Amanda Ferguson – head of business tourism at Convention Edinburgh and Graeme Mackay – Ambassador Programme executive at VisitAberdeenshire. They were joined on a panel by conference ambassadors professor Richard Russell – Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Dr Richard Reardon – Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Karen Wares – Scientific Programme committee coordinator, Infection Prevention Society.

The panel agreed on the benefits of working collaboratively between academic bodies, convention bureaux, venues and hotels so that the strongest bids possible could be put forward to win Association conferences. Aileen Crawford revealed that 40-50% of Glasgow’s Association business wins now involve an ambassador from the relevant sector.

Other topics of interest included: the importance of social events outside the conference agenda for networking and relationship development; how association conferences help to deliver inward investment and research development as well as economic benefit; and how conferences are increasingly looking to engage with “remote” delegates – those who do not attend the conference itself, but stay engaged with its content. Karen Wares revealed that an 800-delegate event had inspired nearly 10m engagements on Twitter.

Launched in October 2016, INNOVATETHENATION – part of VisitScotland Business Events own ambassador programme – brings together experts, influencers and the next generation of innovators in a series of engaging events held throughout the country. These networking events celebrate key sectors in Scotland – including Marine, Film, and Robotics – to explore the latest trends and how business events can help to grow networks and the industry as a whole.

Rory Archibald, business development manager for VisitScotland Business Events, said: “We were delighted to host INNOVATEFORUM this week and to be marking one year of our successful INNOVATETHENATION series with such an interesting discussion, on the landscape of Scotland’s ambassador programmes, with city convention bureaux and ambassadors from some of Scotland’s key sectors.

“Events are crucial to advancement in any sector. When Business Events are held in Scotland, not only do we welcome international delegates from far and wide, but we also shine a light on the incredible work being done collaboratively in a particular sector right here in Scotland. Such events offer opportunities for inward investment and strengthen our position as a centre of excellence on the global stage.”

Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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