The London 2012 Olympics have boosted the number of incentive events being held in the capital by around 40 per cent, according to London & Partners.
Speaking at a roundtable session organised as part of London & Partners’ Motivation Month, Barbara Jamison, L&P’s head of business development for Europe, said: “From an EU perspective, particularly from Spain and Italy, London was seen as simply a business destination. They would come in, have a meeting and fly out again. But with all the five star hotels and new restaurants opening for the Olympics it’s changed the perception. At the same time it is no longer acceptable go to places like Miami so London is opening up to new markets as an incentive destination.”
“We’ve seen a 40 per cent increase in motivation events from the EU. Most of the events have an Olympic theme. McDonald’s held an event with Pestana Chelsea Bridge where they held a mini Olympics in the park and we’ve just had an enquiry for 1,000 people from Sweden for something similar.”
Jamison added that the challenge was how to keep the momentum going post-Games. This, and the future of incentive events generally, was discussed by a panel made up of incentive buyers and suppliers and chaired by M&IT’s editor, Rochelle Long.
Paul Miller, MD of Spectra DMC, said the Olympic Park Legacy Committee should be making more information available about how the Olympic venues can be used for events.
“The legacy is something we need to think about,” he said. “We’re planning events up to 2015 and it’s frustrating because we have clients asking ‘what can we do at the venues after the Games?’ and I have to say ‘I don’t know’. We’re not ready as an industry.”
David Hornby, strategic director at event agency Smyle, added that London should look to China to bring in super-sized groups.
“There was an Amway event with 17,000 Chinese delegates; that’s the kind of business we should be looking to attract,” he said. “One of our most helpful exports is we’re the owners of the mother tongue – the international business language.”
Graham Burt, formerly with Grass Roots and now a freelance consultant, said the capital’s challenge was to keep reinventing itself and respond to the different needs and wants of different generations and cultural groups.
Other panel guests included Silvena Rowe, chef at Quince at The Mayfair Hotel; Rob Holden, British Outback Adventures and Events; Hugo Slimbroeck, MCI/Ovation Brussels; Kieron O'Shea, MotivAction; Allison Summers, SITE US and Lynette Esposito, Pestana Chelsea Bridge. A further report will appear in M&IT April.
Pictured: The panel of guests at the roundtable event