Skip to main content


You are: home > news archive > 01/2018

Grass Roots officially launched their 2018 Meetings Industry Report at a drinks reception at The Lanesborough Hotel in London on Monday the 15th January.

Attendees at the event included senior members of the meetings and event industry from Deloitte LLP, Deutsche Bank, Estée Lauder, KPMG and Morgan Stanley, along with hotels and venues including AccorHotels, Corinthia, etc venues, ExCeL London, LHW, MacDonald, Marriott and Principal Hotel Company.

Grass Roots’ 2018 Meetings Industry Report provides readers with a mix of articles, surveys and analysis on current and future global and regional trends in the meetings and events sector. It also features interviews with leading industry experts and provides information on the best venues and cities in which to hold events.

David Taylor, Managing Director of Grass Roots Meetings and Events, commented:

“We decided to relaunch The Meetings Industry Report after it became clear that even in today’s digital news age clients were still keen to receive the annual report. They also told us that they wanted the report to continue as a written publication rather than just as a download.”

“Interestingly one of the key findings from the report is that there is a real drive from clients for greater global consolidation from suppliers. Our recent merger with BCD ensures that we are well positioned to meet with these demands as we will now undoubtedly benefit from a greater geographical presence. Our primary goal remains the same though - to continue to be the market leaders in providing strategic meetings management and delegate management solutions. “

“I would also like to thank all our clients and suppliers who helped us with the research and particularly those who took time out to be interviewed."

The Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report was produced in collaboration with the Travel Intelligence Network, led by Mark Harris, who commented:

“We were delighted to be invited by Grass Roots to revive the Meetings Industry Report. We believe the report is needed just as much today as it was when we pitched the original idea back in 2007.”

 Copies of Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report can be ordered or downloaded at





The Radisson Blu Hotel in Birmingham is sporting a stylish new look following a comprehensive programme of refurbishment, with investment totaling £3 million.

Work to transform the city center hotel began at the beginning of this year.  Now complete, all 211 of the hotel’s guest bedrooms boast a modern and contemporary feel.  Each room has been upgraded with new beds, bedding, carpets, curtains, lighting, soft furnishings and the addition of sleek new furniture, including the famed Radisson Blu ‘signature chair’.  The bright and spacious bedrooms are dressed in grey, white and cherry red, with bold wall décor further cementing the stylish and modern feel.  In-room technology is enhanced with the addition of Apple smart TV’s, and the hotel continues to offer the Radisson Blu brand’s signature fast and free WiFi.

To add to the overall transformation of the hotel, the public areas and lobby have been fully renovated and the bar and restaurant are sporting a sleek new look.  Meanwhile, the hotel’s fitness suite has also been expanded, with new Matrix equipment throughout.

The restaurant has had more than just a new look though, with Collage, an exciting new British brasserie with a twist, now open.  Collage offers an array of delicious British dishes, all prepared with prime ingredients, whilst the Chef expertly combines traditional flavors with modern cooking methods.  From sumptuous steaks and smoked haddock kedgeree to a classic British cheeseboard; in the world of Collage, the theatre of service and unforgettable dishes are the order of the day. 

Renowned as one of Birmingham’s strongest destinations for Meetings and Events, the Radisson Blu’s refurbishment has also seen upgrades to the 10 meeting rooms.  As well as a décor refresh, new technology has been installed in every room to enhance the meeting experience offered by the hotel.  Barco wireless click share is now available, and with new super-sized flat screen TV’s on the walls, guests can quickly and efficiently connect their laptop or device to the screen.  Larger meeting rooms and spaces offer multiple screens on the walls and presentations can run simultaneously around the room.  The speaker systems and digital signage of each meeting room has also been upgraded, creating a truly modern meeting environment for guests.

“We’re so excited to be able to unveil our new look hotel, the investment has made a huge difference and really stands us in great stead to be able to compete as one of Birmingham’s leading hotels.  With our superb location, stylish product and fantastic team members delivering our unique Yes I Can! Service, I feel really confident the hotel will go from strength to strength in the coming months and years” says Hina Simpson, General Manager, Radisson Blu Birmingham.

The Radisson Blu, the tallest tower in Birmingham, is a famous landmark in the very heart of the city.  Located beside Birmingham’s New Street station and across from the Bullring shopping center, the hotel is the ideal base for those on business or leisure.


Butlin’s Conference and Events has joined the HBAA, the leading association for the events and hospitality industry.

The HBAA has more than 300 member organisations including over 80 agency and 225 venue members who work collaboratively in the accommodation, meetings and events sector.

Butlin’s Conference and Events, with resorts located in the coastal towns of Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness, can provide stunning backdrops for large scale events.  From their large-scale entertainment venues, theatres and meeting rooms through to the use of their fairgrounds, themed restaurants and outdoor activities, the resorts really are an Event Manager’s playground.  The resorts have successfully run events for up to 1,600 delegates, and have hosted clients such as Holland & Barrett, Argos, Sainsburys, Virgin Atlantic and Sony.  

The HBAA drives, promotes and models good business between its members. It champions best practice, ethical working and sound commercial judgement, making HBAA membership the mark of quality assurance for the sector. It operates a Code of Practice which assures best practice between agents, hotels and venues.

Ellie Jones, Agency Sales Manager, said “I am a huge supporter of the HBAA and what the association stands for within the MICE industry.   Having been both an agency member and venue member in my previous roles, there was no question about signing up Butlin’s to be members of the HBAA.  With access to such a great support network of industry professionals, along with the many other benefits of being part of the HBAA, we look forward to a long and engaging relationship with the association.”  

Louise Goalen, Chair of the HBAA said; “It’s great that Butlin’s Conference & Events has joined the HBAA.  I’d like to welcome them to the association and look forward to meeting many of the team at our future member events.”


Imago Venues is focusing more closely on local producers as it develops its food and beverage offering.  This reflects the portfolio’s ongoing desire to focus on people and individuality as it delivers the highest levels of customer service and satisfaction.

“Our ethos is one of community and collaboration.  We want to work with people who are passionate about what they do and a great way to achieve that is to seek out local suppliers, build relationships and develop our offering in line with what they can provide,” comments Emma Boynton, head of sales and marketing at Imago Venues.  “This focus on the local means our chefs truly understand the produce they are working with.  They can build it into their recipes and deliver great, seasonal dishes that excite our event attendees.  From the beverage point of view, it means we can work directly with the producers and offer high quality drinks with a point of difference.”

In particular, Imago Venues currently uses the Leicestershire Handmade Cheese Company to provide the only traditionally-made Red Leicester cheeses in the UK to its guests and delegates.  This is supported by and frequently paired with bread from the Hambleton Bakery, where the team have visited to build relationships with the bakers and truly understand the goods being supplied.  On a more international level the Surtiswad Family Caterers are local partners capable of providing authentic Indian food when required, whilst Leicestershire-based Rossa Ice Creams round off the dessert offering.

Beverages are also an important and often overlooked part of the catering offering at a venue, which is why Imago Venues places so much value in their choice of suppliers including:

  • Wine – through Rothley Vineyard.  Located just five miles from Loughborough this award-winning producer is proving just how great British wine can be.  It is particularly popular with event organisers as it provides an opportunity to try something different.  The team have also started investigating the use of vine leaves from Rothley as part of their mezze offering.
  • Beer – Charnwood Brewery, which is located in Loughborough itself, provides a range of ales including Salvation and Vixen, which are available across Imago Venues’ portfolio.  In addition, it is used by the catering team to create truly local beer batters.
  • Burleighs Gin – which carries the same name as Imago Venues’ flagship hotel is about more than just a gin and tonic.  In addition to a variety of gin based cocktails available across the portfolio, event organisers can create experiences at the distillery (subject to availability), giving their guests a chance to do far more than just taste the finished product.

Imago Venues brings together Loughborough University’s conference and events venues under one brand.  They provide high quality meeting spaces, venues and accommodation along with world leading sports and leisure facilities.

For more information visit or call 01509 633030.

A NEW regional sales manager is overseeing all operations across the North of England following a restructure at Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events.

Leeds-based Jacqui Page has been promoted to the new role within the organisation’s Sports & Leisure division, as the company makes changes to the way in which its UK sales team will operate.

Jacqui joined Sodexo back in 2011, as sales and marketing manager for non-match day events at the Headingley Experience at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, home to Leeds Rhinos, Leeds Carnegie and Yorkshire Cricket Club.

Having previously worked a similar role at another stadium, and with a background in leisure, she has become a key player in Sodexo’s sales team and will now take her experience across the region.

In her new role, she will responsible for implementing Sodexo’s sales strategy at its various sites across the North of England, with venues including Headingley and St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United Football Club. 

“I’m delighted to have been promoted to this new role of regional sales manager within Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, and I’m very excited about the future,” she said.

“My job will be to promote a high performing sales culture across the sales team here across the North of England, and I’m looking forward to getting involved with the motivation of other teams.

“After six years working at Headingley, I think I can take all of that experience and help drive the business forward. I’m thrilled that Sodexo has given me this opportunity and I’m confident I can help make a real difference moving forward.”

Jacqui’s appointment comes as part of a large restructure of Sodexo’s sales team, which has also created similar roles in the South of England along with Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For information about Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events venues, call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, email Venues& or visit

Harben House Hotel are excited to share their new developments, launching on 19th January 2018. 

Following the purchase by MCR property group in June 2016, the hotel has undergone a complete multi-million pound refurbishment programme administered by hotel consultancy company; Countrywide Hotels who are managing and developing the hotel.

In the past 18 months, work has been carried out to fully refurbish and redesign all 139 bedrooms and public areas bringing a contemporary modern feel to the hotel. The interior design links the hotel, restaurant and serviced offices through a contemporary scheme. The reception, lounge, bar and restaurant feels more connected, with a welcoming entrance and lounge seating leading to a relaxed courtyard terrace.

The beautiful Harben House Bar & Kitchen is the main focal point of the hotel. An inspiring new dining experience has been created, with an open kitchen, stylish destination seating and a central bar where guests can relax and unwind. The team of excellent chefs have created mouth-watering new menus using the best local ingredients, including something from the grill, stone baked pizzas and salads.

The stylish new bedrooms have been decorated to a neutral pallet with pops of colour and include new contemporary fixtures and fittings. A comfortable modern place to stay has been created, with extra comfy beds, soft relaxing linen, TV’s with multi channels and fresh modern bathrooms with complimentary toiletries.

Located in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, just minutes from junction 14 of the M1,   Harben House offers a fantastic base for visiting Milton Keynes and its surrounding areas and attractions, including Silverstone and Bletchley Park.

The new owners and management team are keen to ensure that the Harben House Hotel is a showpiece for the local area and an exciting place for locals and visitors to enjoy. The Harben Card is a new membership that has been created to offer regular and local guests exclusive discounts, promotions and events, guests can sign up on their next visit with a member of the team.


For further information on the Harben House Hotel please contact:
Pete Farrow, General Manager - +44 (0) 1908 215 600

Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, MK16 9EY

THE catering and events company behind some of the UK’s most prestigious venues has made a new appointment as part of a rolling restructure.

Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events has appointed Cecilia Lavin to the position of regional sales manager for the South of the England within its Sports & Leisure division, as part of changes to the way the company’s UK sales team will operate.

Cecilia, who brings a decade of sales experience to the role, most recently worked at Peyton Events - which Sodexo acquired last year – where she provided sales support and managed client relationships at a number of London venues, such as the National Gallery.

In her new role, she will be responsible for implementing Sodexo’s UK sales strategy at its sites across the South of England.

These include Brighton’s Amex Stadium, Knebworth House at Hertfordshire, The Apex and Athenaeum at Bury St Edmunds, The Crystal and other Peyton Events sites in London.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have secured this exciting role within Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, and I’m very excited about the future,” said Cecilia.

“My role is to promote a consistently high performing sales culture across the sales team, and I’m looking forward to getting really involved in helping motivate our teams.                                                                                                                                            

“I’ve really enjoyed working at Sodexo over the last year and I’m delighted the company has given me this chance to show what I can do. I am confident we can all work together to help the business consolidate and expand.”                                                                                                                                               

Cecilia will also work on additional sales activities across the South of England to support continuous growth and help increase awareness of the brand and its venues.

Her appointment comes as part of a big restructure of Sodexo’s sales team, which has also created similar roles in the North of England and in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For information about Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events venues, call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, email Venues& or visit

  • Increasing demand for agency expertise and support
  • More spent on meeting content and event production
  • More variety of venues and meeting formats
  • Increasing focus on creating a memorable experience
  • Greater use of VR in event planning

These are among the many interesting developments that the HBAA is expecting to see emerging and progressing in the UK meetings and event industry in 2018.

Among the trends that Louise Goalen, Chair of the HBAA and Head of Venues at Top Banana

anticipates developing further are

  • clients looking for greater involvement from their agencies through incorporating them into their own events teams, underlining a greater appreciation of the value of the agency’s role
  • more one day events which don’t require overnight accommodation
  • more being spent on meeting content and event production – it’s all about creating memorable experiences
  • a move away from holding meetings and events in the traditional four walls and into unusual, inspirational venues and spaces

Giving an agency perspective, Erica Livermore, HBAA Executive Committee member and Managing Director of Prestige Reservations agrees with Louise about the growing importance of experiences, suggesting that operators and corporates will increase their focus on the guest experience. She also says that the industry will see

  • brand consolidation in the hotel sector and the creation of sub-brands targeting niche markets
  • the renaissance of budget hotel brands
  • the serviced apartments sector reaching maturity but corporate confusion over who owns what
  • a greater push by brands on the adoption of dynamic pricing which astute agencies and corporates will only adopt where commercially advantageous 

Steve Jones, Operations Director at Wyboston Lakes and his IT Director colleague Craig Warner provide a venue sector outlook. Craig echoes Louise Goalen’s thoughts on meetings ‘in traditional four walls.’ He says

  • there will be more movement away from the more traditional classroom style and more demand for breakout sessions in common areas whilst still connected to their course content. Planners and attendees expect more variety and to be in spaces in which they feel comfortable.

Craig also accepts there will be

  • a trend towards more digitised information being available to planners, with VR ready content enabling planners to visualise their conference before stepping foot on site.

Steve Jones sees that

  • guests of all ages have the latest technology at home and expect this when staying with us. Many want to bring their devices with them and for theirs to work seamlessly with ours. Venues need ever more to keep up with guests’ expectations.
  • dining trends continue to evolve, with record highs in casual dining making formal dining spaces redundant.  There is also an increasing expectation that produce will be local, and food will be beautifully presented - ‘snapchatagenic’ - food as well as tasty, healthy and nutritious.

Louise Goalen concludes by observing, “Although the changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary, there are many significant developments across nearly all areas of this industry at present. It will be intriguing to see how they progress over the year.”

Warwick Conferences, one of the largest commercial businesses within the University of Warwick, has unveiled its revamped conference and training venue, Radcliffe, after a £6 million refurbishment.

Delivered in three phases, the building has undergone a complete transformation with Midlands-based construction company G F Tomlinson. As well as making the building more eco-friendly, the venue has been rejuvenated to resemble a sophisticated boutique hotel.

“This refurbishment has modernised the venue in-keeping with our energetic brand and promise of ‘anything is possible’,” explains Richard Harrison, head of conference centres. “The interior finish of the venue has been designed to encourage collaboration and synergy amongst delegates through the environment in which they work.

“As we continue to flourish in the conferencing, training and events industry, our venue design will also continue to increase and inspire engagement to elevate organisational performance.”

Radcliffe has seen the renovation of meeting rooms, the restaurant, communal areas and the bar. This follows a successful accommodation refurbishment delivered by G F Tomlinson, which saw its 154 hotel-styled bedrooms revamped.

Andy Sewards, managing director of G F Tomlinson, says: “We’re proud to have delivered this project with the support of local supply chain partners. The site team worked extremely well together, resulting in the scheme being delivered four days ahead of schedule.

“Another key aspect of the scheme was that the rest of the university campus remained fully operational throughout the construction works. G F Tomlinson have extensive experience working in such live environments, where we maintain regular consultation with the facility users, to ensure we minimise the potential for disruption.

“We have really enjoyed working on this extensive refurbishment which has resulted in a much more attractive hotel and conference centre that is eco-friendly and that will provide guests with an inspiring and relaxing environment.”

Since 2013, Trinity Event Solutions has raised more than £100,000 for local charities through their Triple Challenge initiative.  Their Triple Challenge has gone from strength to strength and on Monday, 18th December, the Stamford-based venue finding and event management company celebrated the success of their 2017 fund raising activity by presenting cheques to Hospital at Home, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, Bliss and Animal Helpline.  These four charities were chosen by staff earlier in the year as part of Trinity’s on-going CSR programme and in the past, they have supported the Air Ambulance Service, the Sue Ryder Hospice, Thorpe Hall and Meeting Industry Meeting Needs.

The Trinity team visited more than 300 hotels and conference venues in July and August 2017, who donated prizes for an online auction, which raised more than £20,000 this year. 263 bidders placed 850 bids on the Trinity Triple Challenge auction website.

Jacqui Kavanagh, MD of Trinity Event Solutions was delighted with the fund-raising and commented: “Trinity’s CSR policy is core to Trinity’s values and way of working.  We prefer to call it our ‘Social Responsibility policy’ as it is an instinctive part of the company culture.  We are delighted to make a significant contribution to charities that will really make a big difference to their work.  This a true partnership with our suppliers and benefits our clients through our team seeing venues first-hand and building up our venue knowledge.  This was a huge achievement and I would like to thank all the hotels and venues for supporting us, as well as everyone at Trinity who gave up their time and put a lot of work into making this a success.”

Kellie Charge, Corporate Fundraiser at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices received the cheque on their behalf and said “Support from our corporate partners is highly valued at EACH and we would not be able to continue to support our children, young people and their families without the generosity of businesses like Trinity Event Solutions.  We are delighted that Trinity has chosen East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices as one of their charities to benefit from their amazing Trinity Triple Challenge, and the £5,750 donated will enable us to pay for a whole day’s care at our Milton hospice, which is a truly generous gift for which we are most grateful.”

Bliss Chief Executive, Caroline Lee-Davey said “We are so grateful to Trinity Event Solutions and all the staff who took part in this year’s Trinity Triple Challenge to raise money for Bliss. Their support is invaluable in helping us to achieve our ambition to reach every single baby born needing neonatal care in the UK, and their family. We want every baby to benefit from our work, no matter how long they live or how long they spend on a neonatal unit. It is only through the generosity of supporters like Trinity, and its employees, that we can support these poorly babies.”  

News archive

Member Log In