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01/2014

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The HBAA has extended its venue membership with conference venue, The Auction House and Kensington Close Hotel.

The Auction House is a conference, events and wedding venue based in Luton. The venue offers a selection of meeting and conferencing solutions in spacious rooms, equipped with facilities to accommodate any business needs.   

Available rooms include, the Main Suite for up to 700 delegates, the Sun Suite and the Amber room for smaller conferences. 

Kensington Close Hotel has renewed its membership with the HBAA for 2014. Kensington Close Hotel in London is an elegant property situated in one of the most sought after areas in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

With 12 newly refurbished versatile and stylish function rooms, including three executive boardrooms to choose from Kensington Close Hotel offers the ideal venue for your conference or event in Kensington, central London.

Conference and event spaces on offer can accommodate from 2 up to 250 people, facilities include the latest in audio visual equipment and lighting and a dedicated and experienced events team to handle the event from initial enquiry until the day of arrival,

Both The Auction House and Kensington Close Hotel will now receive all the benefits that come from holding an HBAA membership, including unrivalled networking opportunities, training as well as support to achieve personal, professional and innovative development.

All members of the HBAA sign and adhere to a Code of Conduct as part of their membership agreement, which forms the backbone of the relationship between venue and agent members striving for best practice within the sector. 

 

One of the UK’s leading providers of team building experiences, Off limits Corporate Events has become the latest company to join the HBAA’s supplier partner programme.

Working as a provider of professionally delivered team building activities, Off Limits Corporate Events offers a wide range of outdoor and indoor tasks, bespoke events, evening entertainment and themed activities for the corporate market. 

The company has many innovative packages that offer fun and unique team building experiences for clients. For over 12 years they have run the popular ‘It’s a Knockout’ package, where clients can use all the authentic props, costumes and inflatables used in the original BBC It's a Knockout TV show.  This year Off Limits will be launching ‘Totally Wiped Out’ containing elements of both It’s a Knockout and Total Wipeout for an incredibly entertaining and morale boosting day.

Off Limits has previously worked with the HBAA on its annual Golf Classic and Activity Day, where non-golfers were treated to a range of outdoor activities including laser clay shooting and rage buggies.

Martin Stephens, Director of Off Limits Corporate Events, said “It’s a privilege to be part of the HBAA and a partnership that enables us to gain a greater insight into our industry. It also opens up a large number of business connections for an industry that is often a difficult area to gain access to.”

“The HBAA has an extensive programme of networking events and the annual dinner was an excellent opportunity to connect and communicate with industry leaders.” He added, “Although we are in the early stages of the partnership, we have already seen interest from several HBAA member venues and agencies and we are looking forward to building new client relationships in 2014.”   

The strategic partnership initiative was introduced in 2013 at the start of the last membership year, to create greater opportunities for members and organisations wishing to align themselves with the meetings and events industry. 

The HBAA are looking to develop long term partners who will make the most of the unique networking opportunities the association offers. Other strategic opportunities with the HBAA exist for suppliers wishing to work with the agency and venue community. Those interested should contact the HBAA Executive Office for information – executiveoffice@hbaa.org.uk

The rise in London hotel rates in 2013 has been cited as a major barrier for the events sector, according to a number of key industry players.

Following the news that London experienced an increase in hotel rates in 2013, making it the second most expensive city in Europe, behind Zurich, a number of event industry figures have spoken out.

Mike Utton, director of Emu Events, said: "We are currently pricing up the cost of delivering a major event in London and Berlin for a client, and it looks as though we will opt for Berlin because the cost of five-star accommodation in Berlin is less than half the price when compared to London.

"As an agency based in the UK, it would be much easier to deliver a London-based event and we'd like to sell England and the UK to our clients, but the cost of hotels is a major challenge."

Five Hats International's chief executive David Wardman agrees that London is outpacing itself. He said: "We struggle to place business in London because of the prices, so to hear that prices rose in 2013 isn't good news. We understand that London is a popular destination, but there is only so much elasticity in the market before business occupancy begins to suffer.
"London is competing with other cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome and Berlin, and London is outpricing itself. There is a range of accommodation for the C&I market in London, but good quality four-star hotels with meetings space are limited."

Alan Newton, director of consultancy ARNinternational, believes that the London Olympics has created a "bubble of false demand". He added: "I suspect hoteliers will say rate rises are a simple case of supply and demand and, after a number of difficult years post the financial crisis, they can't be blamed for making hay while the sun shines. However, rate rises have to be measured so as not to deflect interest to the competitively priced competition in Europe and further afield.” 

Tracy Halliwell, director of business tourism and major events at London & Partners, admits that high prices will "deter" some events where budget is a primary issue, or where a particularly high volume of rooms is required, as London does not have the huge convention hotels found in other destinations.

Halliwell added: "That said, London is an unrivalled destination and many event planners rate London as a top destination for return on objective compared to similar events held elsewhere."

 

The conference and events arm of Loughborough University, imago, has been awarded the Investors in People gold standard.

With 180 employees across four venues, Tatjana Walker, front of house manager at Burleigh Court, said the benchmark had been a team effort.

“The Investors in People framework has always been an essential external benchmark which exhibits imago’s commitment for growth, support and engagement of every member of our team," she said.

"Over the years it has become quite clear that our people are our success. Their contributions and dedication has enabled imago to grow and go from strength to strength.

“It has been a team effort involving members from all areas of our business and a real journey which makes this gold award all the more important. Through this accreditation we have improved our business processes, communication and most of all staff engagement in establishing and embedding best practices in everything we do."

Emma Boynton, head of sales and marketing at imago, added: "Excellent customer service is central to everything we do, and our success depends on staff consistently providing the best level of care. By investing in our staff and working to the Investors in People framework we can help our staff grow and achieve their full potential."

The National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull has submitted plans to develop a new 250-room hotel as part of a multi-million pound investment that will enhance the venue's conference facilities.

As well as a new hotel, the museum's existing conference and exhibition facilities will be restructured and improved, including the expansion of the courtyard area.

The National Motorcycle Museum said in its planning proposal that in order to make effective use of the conference venue brand, new hotel accommodation has to be available. It added that the investment is wholly reliant on the revenue generated from the conference business itself.

The proposal also states that the new hotel will be utilised as a conference and meetings venue alongside the museum.

The venue already operates two off-site hotels, however it is believed that neither are able to provide the level of conference accommodation required.

Last year The National Motorcycle Museum recorded a 7.5% rise in turnover from its events division and a 10% increase in turnover is predicted in the first quarter this year.

The HBAA dinner has been labelled a great success by attendees who flocked to the Novotel London West on Friday 10th January, for the highlight of the association’s event calendar. The dinner, attended by a record number of HBAA members, was praised for the location, food and entertainment value by guests, who offered their feedback via a post-event survey. 

Both the food and location were considered to be a hit by attendees, with 88% of responses commenting positively on the catering and quality of service. 

Sarah Monk, group national account manager at Redefine BLD Hotels commented, “Fabulous event, from the moment we walked through the door to the moment we left in the early hours. Great staff, great service, great format, lovely food - great menu too by the way!! Looking forward to the next HBAA event already. Fantastic kick off to 2014. Well Done.”

HBAA chair, Chris Parnham and executive director Juliet Price were highly praised for their hosting skills, presenting a fast paced and exciting evening for all attendees. Marcus Angell, managing director of Silverdoor Ltd said, “The energy and enthusiasm of Chris and Juliet was abundantly evident, and the event was significantly better for it. Well done all, you made it the best of many that I've attended so far.”
Michael Hodgkinson national sales manager at Menzies Hotel commented “The feedback I was personally hearing during the evening was very positive and it was excellently hosted by Chris Parnham!” He added, “Entertainment was excellent which was clearly what the audience wanted with almost nobody leaving the room until after the entertainment had finished!!! Well done to all involved in putting the event together.”

Other guests pointed to the entertainment as a highlight of the evening, with particular mention to the specially devised version of TV hit Pointless, as well as a compilation of rousing West End musical hits performed by The Westenders.

“I thought the Westenders were amazing”, said Joni Nelson key account manager at IHG, “the quiz was a great idea as it encouraged everyone to interact around the tables.”
Feedback from new members was extremely positive, with Ellie Jones, business development manager at Alton Towers commenting “Well done HBAA for organising such a fun and entertaining event for us to mix further with other members and gain a wider insight into the HBAA, still being relatively new to the association.”

New member, Homerton Conference Centre’s sales & marketing manager, Gail Horan added “I thought the pre-dinner drinks for newcomers was excellent and allowed me to find out more about the HBAA and facilitated an introduction to a relevant agency - many thanks.”

The change in the format of this year’s dinner was applauded by guests, with an astounding 95% stating that they preferred the new style of the event over that of previous years.
Nicola Miller, director of Lime Blue Solutions stated “A much better format and pace of event compared to last year. Really well done as a lot of thought and organisation obviously went into it”
Nicola’s sentiments were shared by Hayley Ricketts, national account manager for Marriot Hotels, who added “The format of the evening was the best I have ever experienced at a HBAA Annual Dinner. A big well done to the team!”

The annual dinner was an excellent start to what’s set to be an exciting year for the association, with 2014’s strategy in place to increase agent membership, produce more training opportunities for members and continue the growth of the association’s presence within the wider live events industry.
 

 

Center Parcs is now taking event bookings at its new site in Woburn Forest, which will open in October.

The events wing at Center Parcs' new Woburn Forest site will cater for up to 800 delegates in a theatre-style setting and 680 delegates for a gala dinner.

It will also offer an array of indoor and outdoor team building and incentives packages.

The new meetings and events wing accompanies the site's 75-bedroom hotel and 625 luxury forest lodges.

Daniel Whittemore, head of corporate sales for Center Parcs, said: "We are extremely excited ahead of the opening of our brand new venue.

"We are eager to introduce the facilities to current and potential clients who have not had the experience of having held meetings and events with Center Parcs."

Woburn Forest is Center Parcs’ closest site to London, which is less than an hour away by road, rail and air links.

2014 is set to be a strong year for consumer and business spend, according to Markit's chief economist Chris Williamson, who spoke at an MPI Learns event last night (21 January).

Event planners welcomed Markit's 'optimistic' economic forecast for the UK events industry at an MPI Learns event last night, which took place at the Cafe Royal hotel in London.

Williamson presented a wide range of data on the UK economy and applied it to the UK events sector.

Key points included:

  • There will be business events growth in 2014. However, it is impossible to predict beyond the next 12 months.
  • The UK is experiencing a broad-based upturn across all sectors. There is growth in manufacturing, services and construction.
  • A 'feel good' environment currently exists where uncertainty is at its lowest level since 2007.
  • Consumer spending is to rise by 2% in 2014.
  • In 2013, on average, 8.3% of a company's marketing budget was spent on events. Direct marketing is the biggest growth area.
  • The UK is experiencing the fastest growth in employment for 15-plus years.
  • Skills shortages are most widespread since the 1990s.
  • Pay growth has been subdued, although starting salaries may start to revive.
  • In the services sector, the weakest areas of growth are hotels, restaurants and catering. 

Williamson said: "Business-to-business service providers, such as accountants, are doing well, but the weakest growth is in the consumer-focused parts of the economy, which is why I think that anyone talking about a consumer-led recovery hasn't got their facts right."

Richard Parker, director of Healthcare Strategy at Zibrant, who attended the MPI event, said: "Bringing in an economist to make sense of complicated data and applying it to the meetings sector is of great interest and it was good to hear an optimistic vision for the industry in 2014. 

"The growth predicted for the events sector is modest, but there is a genuine cause for optimism in all aspects of the economy." 

The 2014 Business Travel Awards took place last night at a glittering gala ceremony, which was held at London’s famous JW Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel.

More than 1,300 guests attended the awards ceremony, which celebrates the achievements of the industry's leading players who have performed outstandingly within the sector.

HBAA members were recognised at the event, with The Best Sales Account Management Team award going to Accor, as Malmaison walked away with the Best Small Hotel Company and Mercure took the Best Midscale Hotel Brand.

Top comedian Omid Djalili was this year’s celebrity host, and there was also live entertainment from the Company Performance Ensemble, the Siren String Quartet and Star.

 

The HBAA is pleased to welcome the Wrightington Hotel as the latest venue to join its continually increasing list of members. 

The Wrightington Hotel is a 4-star hotel and country club based in Wigan and located within short traveling distance of Preston, Manchester and Liverpool, making it the perfect venue for a conference or business event.

The hotel’s dedicated conference venue can accommodate up to 150 delegates, with spacious and versatile meeting rooms ideally suited for board meetings, seminars, training sessions and presentations, large or small.

The venue includes recently refurbished suites offering a modern, professional environment with excellent facilities overlooking the Lancashire countryside.  

Being an HBAA member will bring several advantages to the Wrightington Hotel, including unrivalled networking opportunities with the many academic venues, hotels and sporting stadia included within the HBAA’s list of domestic and international members.

All members of the HBAA sign and adhere to a Code of Conduct as part of their membership agreement, which promotes an open and mutually beneficial platform for conducting business. The Code of Conduct forms the backbone of the relationship between venue and agent members. 

The continual membership growth of the association only goes to strengthen the HBAA's staple role for developments in the industry. 

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