EICC launches hybrid model as CEO eyes phased return of events

The Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has launched a hybrid virtual model to deliver client conferences as the venue plans for a phased return of business events to the venue later this year.

The ‘Make It Edinburgh Live’ offering aims to enable clients to run conferences and events entirely online or via a combination of online and in situ and its launch precedes what CEO Marshall Dallas believes will be a phased return to smaller scale business events at the venue later this year. The EICC closed its doors on March 18 in response to the spread of Covid-19 and has since been actively rescheduling conferences and events with clients for Q4 of 2020 and the Q1 and Q2 of 2021.

Marshall Dallas, EICC CEO, said: “Following extensive and ongoing dialogue with our client base, including over 100 UK and international associations and companies, what we’ve discovered is there is still strong demand for conferences and events taking place at the venue whenever that is going to be possible. In the meantime, which we hope will be the short-term, we have launched the hybrid virtual model for holding events as a bridge to that phased in return.”

Dallas added: “It’s notable that we are seeing this kind of phase-in approach in the business events sector in other countries, including Germany and China, in no small part, in spite of the inherent challenges, because of how big a contributor business events are to national economies. In the UK alone, the business events sector is valued at around £35 billion and while the impact of Covid-19 has ravaged the industry over the last couple of months, we know that business events can be an important driver in helping to reboot the economy going forward.”

The EICC has also been actively engaged with other industry players and stakeholders across Scotland, including VisitScotland, City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Hotels Association around strategic planning and one common theme has been around the need to differentiate business events from what are being described as “large gatherings”.

Marshall Dallas said: “As an industry, we have been highlighting that there is a clear distinction to be made between business events and large gatherings. In a controlled manner, in a sanitised conference venue environment managed by event industry professionals, we believe there is a safe way to phase conferences back in. What is paramount is that we continue to put the health and wellbeing of our people, our delegates and our suppliers first and, as you would expect, our team is continually monitoring the latest government and public health guidelines as we work on an action plan to get the venue back up-and-running.”