Farnborough International Exhibition & Convention Centre: Final approach

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The new Farnborough Exhibition & Convention Centre is not all about exhibitions and air shows, there are conferences to be had, too

The new £30m Farnborough International Exhibition & Convention Centre has taken shape over the second half of 2017. With the core structure now in place, the true scale of this new multi-purpose venue is becoming all the clearer.

In October CN was invited along for a site visit. A short blast down the M3 from west London was dealt with in little over 35 minutes; a timely reminder that, despite being in more rural climes, Farnborough really isn’t that far from the metropolis. Certainly, regular services from London Waterloo take but 34 brisk minutes. It takes longer to get from Paddington to Pettycoat Lane. The jounrey is quicker still by F16.

The new building is vast and visible from quite some distance away.

Entering through what will be the main public entrance, it is instantly clear that a lot of thought has gone into giving Farnborough a dedicated conference arm, rather than making do with any remaining available space.

The new building is dominated by the eye-watering 12,332sqm exhibition hall, but the conference section neatly takes pride of place, giving the building its charming external features.

There are nine conference and meeting spaces in total, the largest being the Inspire room on the first floor. Floor space measures 1,000sqm and in theatre style can accommodate 900 delegates. Directly beneath it is the Discover room. Although a near-identical footprint, it is slightly smaller at 850sqm and capable of holding 765.

A range of smaller rooms, including Pioneer, Navigate, Innovate, and Advance owe their names to the aviation theme, ranging between 290sqm and 140sqm and, Advance’s case, can hold up to 260 delegates.

The smallest meeting room is the Lloyd Boardroom. At 60sqm, it can hold as many 60 people in reception mode, although 20 will comfortably in boardroom layout.

A congenial feature of the conference wing of the building is the panoramic views it offers out over the airfield. You would be right to question the impact aircraft noise may have on your event. During my site visit, there were no windows, but I am assured high-quality soundproof glass – similar to that you find on airport terminals – will keep the rooms whisper quiet.

Farnborough has been lining itself up for its opening in spring 2018, and at the time of press already has five events confirmed.

At the end of 2016, live events full service provider GES won the contract to deliver key services to Farnborough. The venue and agency have enjoyed a healthy 20-year partnership already, and means that when the first event touches down next spring, all systems will be go.

Martin Fullard

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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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