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North of England: Price ‘an advantage’ over London venues

Organiser of the Business Visits and Events Focus North conference, John Gallery tells M&IT why the north of England offers the meetings and event industry value for money.

Can you identify current and emerging trends in the north of England?
There are increasing levels of activity-based event offers at venues. For example the combination of hotel accommodation and meeting facilities with specialist outdoor activity services. Venues such as Oulton Hall Leeds, Rudding Park, Hazelwood Castle all have such facilities to complement their conference offer.

The new Grantley Hall near Ripon in north Yorkshire opens this summer with new offerings that will add more high-quality choice in the north of England. Improving quality across the board is in evidence.

How can you encourage meetings and events to leave London and come north?
Price is one of the advantages – delegates rates in London are mostly higher. Just one example, the mid-range Doubletree Central London is around £47 DDR; while in central Leeds it’s only £25.

‘Bleisure’ business is an area for growth where delegates bring partners to enjoy the many attractions in the north. There are many resort properties as well as city centre venues that are taking advantage of this trend. Some of the properties such as mentioned above are ideal for this.

Which are the major cities that have really taken up the challenge?
Manchester has developed its Meet in Manchester brand to incorporate the overall offer to conference and event organisers. It has attracted new large-scale conferences such as political party and union conferences.

Leeds and York are joining forces to develop the dual opportunities of the close proximity of the two quite different cities. York’s heritage offer put together with Leeds’ dynamic range of facilities and large capacity venues is a great combination.

DMOs (destination marketing organisation) are aligning their economic development ambitions with the events industry to create related activities in the sectors and industries that they are targeting for inward investment. York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have recently joined forces with Leeds LEP to achieve greater offerings and opportunities for business.

Do you feel the market is growing in the north of England?
The market is changing to meet the demand created by large-scale awareness events such as the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014 and the Tour de Yorkshire – now in its fifth year. Although not directly conference and meeting bookings, the world-wide coverage over several years has put Yorkshire and the north of England in general very strongly on the international sporting event map.

How are venue owners and event management organisations working together?
The destination management organisations in the north of England are focusing on the economic benefits events for the region. There are several activities in play using the VisitBritain Discover England funding initiative.

Some examples:

  • International market product placement, led by Real Yorkshire Tours DMC. In this project Real Yorkshire Tours DMC (destination management company), a new company launched by Leeds-based Real Yorkshire Tours and tourism marketing agency All About the Story is developing high-end, themed, experience-driven multi-day Yorkshire packages for international visitors who want insider knowledge-led itineraries. The project will target the Australian and US markets with an aggregate of Yorkshire’s luxury all-inclusive tourism products.
  • Manchester Musical Gateway, led by Marketing Manchester. This project exploits the appeal of Greater Manchester as a music tourism destination, assessing the city’s music ecology (venues, studios, heritage locations, etc.) and identify opportunities to promote Manchester as the Gateway to the North for music lovers.
  • Urban Collective and Renaissance Collection: Cultural Collections in the Cities of Northern England, led by Marketing Liverpool. This project will create culturally themed, bookable products across Newcastle, Hull, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool for audiences in near European markets – the Nordics, Germany and the Netherlands. These former industrial cities are experiencing a regeneration-driven cultural renaissance and the new ‘Collections’ will package up transport, accommodation, art, music, literature, theatre, dance, architecture, festivals and events that showcase the artistry thriving in the northern cities of England.
  • In Hull, the City of Culture 2017, one legacy is a Conference Champions programme to appeal to corporates to place their business in the city which, like Leeds and York is only two hours from London by train.

The Business Visits and Events Focus North for BVEP is organised jointly with The Tourism Society Yorkshire, Leeds Beckett University and The Conference and Hospitality Show.

The conference takes place on Tuesday 30th April 2019 between 09.00am – 12.30pm at The Calverley Building, Leeds Becket University, City Campus, Leeds.

For further information and to book a place at the conference, visit Business Visits and Events Focus North