The sky’s the limit as airport venues diversify offering for organisers

Airport venues revamp their image to offer meeting spaces that nestle underneath the supersonic wings of Concorde to retro kitsch spaces. Fiona Keating reports.

As airports continue to develop as integrated, mixed-use developments – the aeropolis concept – their importance for meetings and events will continue.

It’s hardly rocket science that airports and their adjacent surroundings make effective venue and meeting spaces. Delegates can fly in and simply walk to their hotel or venue without having to wait for taxis or public transport, which can add another hour or more to their journeys. Another key benefit is minimising the carbon footprint if you have to get on a plane.

It’s also a very convenient hub if a corporate event is calling in delegates from the four corners of the globe.

So far, so simple. The difficulty lies in getting away from the idea of airport venues as soulless, vast chasms without any character. And this doesn’t come cheap; hence airports and hotels ploughing millions of dollars, yen, sterling and euros into making this an attractive offering.

The Concorde Conference Centre at Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport offers a slice of aeronautical history. Delegates are seated under the wings of Concorde G-BOAC, once the pride of British Airways. Guests are able to board the Concorde as part of the event.

The Concorde Conference Centre, <br>Manchester.

The Concorde Conference Centre,

The venue’s main hall is 1,600 sqm and has a maximum capacity for 700 diners. There are two meeting rooms – Alpha Charlie Suite and Avro Suite. Equipment available includes projector screen, projector, plasma TV, DVD player, flipcharts and free Wi-Fi access.

Hannah Howson, events manager at Incentivise, a Warrington-based agency, recently organised an event at the Concorde Conference Centre.

“The client wanted a quirky venue. They didn’t just want to go to a hotel that had a massive ballroom to sit in all day. They wanted somewhere central in the UK. With it being at the airport, there were really good transport links”

“It’s easy to get to and there are large hotels in the surrounding area. The event was to inform employees of what was going on in the business and was attended by 300 guests. The current CEO was retiring and the event was an opportunity to introduce the new CEO.”

Hilton London Heathrow Airport, connected to Heathrow’s Terminal 4 via a short walkway, has taken the adage ‘Life’s a beach’ to heart, to create a little oasis. Newly opened, its beach terrace, which can now be used to host a meeting or to include it as part of a conference package.

The hotel’s facilities include 15 meetings rooms and a large suite which can take up 350 people for a drinks reception, with a dedicated foyer area for breakfasts or buffet lunches.

The hotel also has its own lawn which can be used for team building activities or for anyone who wants to exercise during breaks.

“The hotel has many options available and being able to host a drinks reception or food at our beach is already proving really appealing,” Jurgen Sutherland, the general manager said.


James Collins managing director of CMC Marketing, recently held the Bestway Development Awards, Seminar and Trade Show at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport for the second time.

James Collins.

James Collins.

 What was the purpose of the event?

I organise the event on behalf of the Bestway Group, which is one of the UK’s largest suppliers to independent retailers and caterers, attended by 250 people. The aim of the event is to bring together independently owned retailers with some of the biggest suppliers such as Coca Cola, Heinz, Nestle.

Why did you choose the Hilton London Heathrow Airport?

The hotel had everything we needed, with the added bonus of it being easily reached from central London for our attendees. That fact, coupled with great car parking and of course being at the airport should anyone need to fly in, made it the perfect choice.

Why are airport venues a good option for event planners?

The Hilton London Heathrow Airport was particularly good for us not only because of the facilities it has but, as previously mentioned, because of the ease of getting to it. It is really appealing to get out of central London so easily and that is definitely a huge plus.


JFK – MCR Development, the developers of the $265 million TWA Hotel on the grounds of New York’s John F. Kennedy International have one mission – to hark back to the nostalgic days when flying was glamorous. Guests at the hotel, which opened in May of this year, can check in at the same counters that were originally used to check in passengers for TWA.

Swedavia – a Swedish state-owned company, which owns and operates ten of Sweden’s busiest airports, has recently completed the Office One complex in Stockholm, a 10-story, 15,000 sqm building adjacent to T4 and T5.

Switzerland – the Radisson Hotel Zurich Airport opened in May 2019, following a reconstruction and rebranding. The hotel will be the second Radisson-branded property to open in Europe – and the first in the German-speaking region.