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Tracy Halliwell of London & Partners
London is a top-tier city
Re the findings in 'London tops European capitals for event costs': We are always keen to see new market research and we do support any insight into how London’s overall business offering can be as competitive as possible. However there is a question over the cities which have been selected and used in the comparison. London is a major global city which in terms of scale, size and offering can’t really be compared with the smaller European destinations such as Budapest and Zagreb.
London is a first tier conference destination. With that status and offering comes a reflective price tag. London is well connected, offers an array of choices and activities which you just wouldn’t get in a lower tier city. London’s status and cost if matched towards other global world cities such as New York, Barcelona, Paris and Hong Kong.
The benefits London offers as a top choice for business bringing their event to the capital are abundant and far-reaching and certainly tip the scales in terms of experience versus cost. Opportunities include ease of access to the city saving valuable business time and budget; the huge choice and scale of hotels and restaurants to suit any taste or purse – with over 110,000 rooms and 8,000 restaurants it is a buyers’ market – and London’s attractiveness as an event destination: recent statistics have shown booking in London can increase your delegate numbers by 15 per cent. This was more than demonstrated by Cisco Live coming to ICC London ExCeL which attracted 40 per cent more delegates when hosted in London than the previous years in Barcelona.
We also know that usual savvy business planners coming to London heavily research their events and activities and take advantage of the range of accommodation whilst also using free assistance from London & Partners as the CVB. We also know that events planners take advantage of London’s vast array of special offers and often use good value and reliable travel options – which many of the other cities may not have.
London also has a vast range of activities, events and iconic venues in London which are low cost or free including the majority of our world-class museums, Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Southbank and Borough Market – in fact London offers over 250 free attractions in the capital, making it a fantastic value-for-money destination and give each and every visitor a great return for their investment.
Tracy Halliwell, Director of Business Tourism and Major Events at the CVB for London, London & Partners
Jennifer Jenkins of ABPCO Chair
'Free' Wi-Fi - mind the gap
The letter in the April edition of M&IT regarding free Wi-Fi not living up to expectations highlights that there is still a communications gap between some venues and conference organisers regarding what exactly is available in terms of a free level of Wi-Fi access. No doubt there are examples of expectations of Wi-Fi service not being met, or perhaps not defined from the outset. Improving this mutual understanding between venues and organisers is precisely what we at ABPCO aim to address with our white paper in conjunction with Max Wifi, developed as part of our Conference Cloud campaign.
I agree with the the need to deliver an appropriate level of service and Wi-Fi access to your conference delegates, something which is only possible when there is an understanding of requirements from the outset.
Venues do need to be clear on what their level of 'free' Wi-Fi covers and to investigate when the service falls short of expectations, but conference organisers also need to be clear on what the expected demands on the system from their delegates might be if we are to avoid disappointment.
Mark Dodds of Roythornes LLP
Don't rest on your laurels, London
If I were a London hotel conference organiser I would be a little concerned after reading the May issue of M&IT.
The figures on event prices across Europe ('Super savings on the continent') would make depressing reading as surely any event organiser worth his or her budget would have their work cut out justifying spending 50-100 per cent more on an event simply to host it in London?
We then had Ben Moore’s useful feature on England’s Heartland which showed just how quickly the regions are catching up in terms of the venues they offer, accessibility and of course pricing.
Are London venues resting on their laurels? We all remember the trebling of prices during the Olympics which turned many hotels into empty shells for two weeks. The City hosts some spectacular venues and options but the inevitable pressures on event teams to manage their budgets may mean a re-think on pricing and/or service is required.
If they don’t take this threat seriously the capital could wake up and find itself priced out of the market which would be a shame for such a fine city with so much to offer.
Frank Macaluso of H & A Motivation
Re. news story: 'Hotel sales staff must raise their game or get left behind', says McLaughlin
Completely agree with Mr Roots. Airline sales reps went to the wall years ago. Hotels still have them but long ago I ceased to understand why. First of all they are in love with the email and hotels employ sales people who have a phobia for personal and telephone contact. Personal relationships are a thing of the past. Since most cities have four top rate hotels that are as good as each other we used to pick the chain with whom we had the best relationship in their UK office. Now, none of the hotels bother to keep up and couldn't care less, but of course will bluster otherwise - but I have countless examples of it. It won't be long before hotel sales reps go the way of the airlines. There is a point to them but they all make themselves redundant through their anonymity. Frank Macaluso - H & A Motivation
Mrs Lisa Winterton of Distinctly Different Days
Mrs Wendy Greenhalgh of One Great George Street
Mr Roger Calvert of RYC Associates
John Fisher of Fisher Moy International (FMI)
Over-marketing and over here...again
You can tell the IMEX silly season is here again. A colleague reports he has received 278 emails since the appointment 'opportunities' facility opened a few days ago. Fortunately they have all gone automatically into an 'IMEX folder' with the result that they will remain unopened until the exhibition is well and truly over. Another great marketing, own-foot shooting triumph for the hard-pressed, ROI-obsessed exhibitors.
Mark Dodds of Roythornes LLP
If you’re a specialist, specialise
What a great success story interview with Myfanwy Quine of Mvision Events in M&IT April edition. Her clear focus on what matters to clients and flexible business model is something we can all learn from.
One of the most telling parts of the feature was towards the end where Myfanwy talks about the sectors she is targeting for growth – sectors where she already has demonstrable skills and knowledge. How many of us has actually sat down and looked at the sectors we service and which we believe are growth areas?
All too often firms panic and look to grow their whole portfolio rather than focus on either what they are good at, or where the real growth is. It may surprise some that as a law firm we have done the same and now have a clear strategy focusing on our key competencies and client sectors. This provides us with focus and clarity and makes sure our limited resources are being spent in the right direction.
Look at it from your clients’ point of view. Would you rather be called by someone who is a big name in the events industry who ‘is offering some good deals at the moment’, or someone who has already run events in your sector, knows your target clients as well as you do and comes forward with intelligent comment and advice about how they can help you to grow your business?