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EICC makes key hires ahead of next phase of growth

EICC grows association sales team to build on record 2017 and recent success with international market

Pictured: Lyndsey Rafferty, Aaron McKeen and Elaine Miller

The Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has expanded its association sales team in response to a marked increase in business in the last year.

2017 was a record year for the EICC with delegate numbers up to almost 100,000 delegates and approximately 200 conferences and events. Both UK and international association business has soared, with the latter now equating to around 60 per cent of the EICC’s association business. Economic impact for the city also increased to around £55 million last year.  

“We don’t approach associations in a traditional way,” EICC chief executive Marshall Dallas told M&IT. “As a venue we tend to dig deeply into each association. The research we’ve carried out has been extremely useful; the three new starters are there to ensure that the research is being converted into sales.

“We have made these hires to reflect not only the increasing number of association conferences that we are attracting to Edinburgh, but also with an eye on stepping up our efforts to attract even more association business to the venue. We already have a great team in place and the new positions are about our desire to further improve our skill sets as we prepare for our next phase of growth.

“We had a record year last year and in 2018 we’re hoping to do the same again. We’ve got a bit of work to do in the last quarter, but I’m quietly confident.

Lyndsey Rafferty joins as associations sales manager from Conference Partners, Elaine Miller joins from Marketing Edinburgh as associations business development manager and Aaron McKeen has been appointed associations researcher. Also in the team, Ekaterina Alison steps up as interim head of associations business development.

“We’re back where we should be in terms of the business mix,” added Dallas. “There’s been a number of things that we have started to feel the benefit of. We’re starting to see a number of significant trophy events come to Edinburgh, such as TED events. We’ve secured that because we have an invigorated partnership approach as a city.

“Four years ago it was pretty disjointed, but now my sales and marketing team are enjoying quality partnerships with some of the other city venues, such as the Royal Yacht Britannia. We’re much more joined up as a city.”

Dallas added that the venue had seized the chance to get to grips with Brexit and was redoubling its efforts with markets further afield.

“We’ve not been frightened off by Brexit,” he said. “We’re known as being bold and flexible – for European associations we contract in Euros – we’ve got a much more flexible approach in terms of contracting generally.

“We’ve also doubled efforts with markets further afield, we're much more active with American markets, especially New York, Washington and Canada. I was over in China, there are large corporates that are willing to travel over to the UK, and Scotland now has a direct flight from Beijing to Edinburgh.”

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