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Despite compliance regulations, Forum reveals optimistic future for industry

On Tuesday 16th September, 110 healthcare meetings professionals joined for the second Healthcare Meetings Forum. The event was hosted by events management agency and healthcare meetings specialist Zibrant.

2013’s Healthcare Meetings Forum saw a 10% increase in delegates, compared to the inaugural event, and indicated a resounding feeling of optimism for meetings in the sector.

Despite the current challenge of compliance, and a notable tightening of regulations for promotional activity, the suggestion that face to face healthcare meetings will continue to flourish in the wake of technology, was agreed upon by delegates. 

Richard Parker, director of healthcare strategy at Zibrant commented: “As the founding member of the Forum, we’re delighted to see the success of the second event. The assembled steering committee has created an extremely valuable opportunity for our industry to come together and move forward collectively, identifying and countering challenges.

“The input from the steering committee and Mark Handforth at Compliant venues gave us a complete 360 perspective and played a key role in the success of this event.”

After another successful forum, the steering committee chaired by Zibrant is now making plans for the 2014 event which will cement the forum as one of the most significant events in the calendar of healthcare meetings professionals. 

Zibrant will continue to contribute to future forums in its key areas of expertise, complimenting the forums main objectives through optimising client marketing spend, regional/global consolidation, compliance, data management and process. 

The 2013 forum attracted representatives from pharmaceutical corporates, regulatory bodies, healthcare industry associations, healthcare professionals, event venues and agencies. 

Key areas of discussion included ideas for how corporate healthcare meetings can match future needs, how the sector could enable meetings with multi-channel marketing, and the evolution of medical congresses. The day also included breakout workshops where delegates discussed potential solutions for current challenges facing healthcare meetings professionals.  

The steering committee has committed to maintain outcome -based momentum following the event. A white paper based on the event’s discussion is due to be published next month.  

For more information on the 2013 and 2014 Forums, interested parties are encouraged to contact Richard Parker. 

The HBAA has today announced the appointment of Leigh Cowlishaw, sourcing manager - key accounts at Capita Travel and Events, as chair of the association’s Technology, Innovation and Environment (TIE) committee.
The TIE committee monitors developments in these important areas within the industry and reports its findings back to the HBAA’s membership. As 2013-2014 chair, Leigh will also sit on the HBAA’s Executive Committee, thereby helping to drive the association’s objectives for the coming year.
Juliet Price, Executive Director of the HBAA, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Leigh as chair of the TIE committee.  I’m sure she’ll be a terrific asset to the association and will continue the great work achieved by the committee so far. It’s great to have her on board and Leigh’s appointment is also a highly valued addition to our Executive Committee.”


The HBAA has announced that it will be opening its doors to a number of strategic partnerships for its new membership year.

Opportunities have been created for suppliers wishing to align themselves with the agency and venue market, with two levels available – Supplier Partner and Supplier Associate.

Benefits include access to members meetings, the Annual Forum, Annual Dinner and other HBAA events. Organisations will also feature on the HBAA’s new website and contribute to the weekly Bulletin.

The initiative has been led by 2012 HBAA Chairman Chris Peacock of Conference Care, who said: “The agency and venue marketplace has traditionally been a difficult area to get access into. We’ve specifically looked at the supplier areas where our members want to learn more, gather expertise and make informed buying decisions. We’re looking to develop long term partners who will make the most of the unique networking opportunities the HBAA offers, at what have been previously member only events.”

Partnerships are available in the following sectors:

•           Technology
•           Teambuilding / theming
•           Transportation
•           Finance & Payment solutions
•           Recruitment
•           Social media / communications
•           Training
•           Destination bureaus
•           Business services

Those interested in further information should contact Carolyn Peers at the HBAA Executive Office, / 0845 603 3349

‘People deliver satisfaction’ was the leading conclusion from a new independent study into the factors that affect customer satisfaction in the events, meetings and conference market. 

Whilst the study, based on interviews with delegates, their managers and event bookers, highlights several key themes including cost and catering, it is people power that shines through as being the one thing all stakeholders agree can make or break a positive venue experience. 

The report reveals that 62% of delegates, managers and event bookers think knowledgeable or helpful on-site staff is the leading factor that results in satisfaction, outranking venue practicalities such as parking, catering and even the effectiveness of the venue itself.

Therefore, even if venues have a strong offering in terms of location, views, heritage and more –if they don’t have a good team then people will have a poor view of their experience.

Encountering staff who care when attending an event at a third-party venue could make a tangible difference to how that event is perceived. The results suggest that the link between quality human interaction and higher levels of satisfaction should be a much higher priority for venues. 

The Value of Satisfaction report has been commissioned by Warwick Conferences and acknowledged by both the Meetings Industry Association (MIA) and Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA).

The Value of Satisfaction report can be downloaded from 

Eventia has reached a "milestone agreement" with HM Revenue and Customs on VAT accounting for events, which will benefit UK agencies competing in the European market.

Until now, agencies managing events involving any element of TOMS accounting had to pay VAT on the full amount of the non-travel part. In certain circumstances, the VAT-registered clients of the event agency could not reclaim the VAT, putting UK agencies at a competitive disadvantage when the system was compared with VAT accounting in other parts of the EU.

Following 18 months of negotiations with HMRC, the trade body’s regulation committee has announced that it will be possible for agencies to issue VAT invoices on the "non-TOMS" element (known as "in-house supplies") of an event.

Brian Kirsch, Eventia regulation committee chairman, said: "We are delighted to have reached this milestone agreement with HMRC. It sounds very dull and technical, but this change will be of immediate benefit to agencies wanting to compete in the European market, and who want to account for VAT correctly.

"I am grateful to those agencies who have worked with the committee, and in particular to the David Bennett of Saffery Champness for his expert input."

Zibrant has announced a restructure of its healthcare division, reflecting its 15 per cent growth over the past 12 months.

The event management and venue-finding agency said growth in both existing clients and new business had contributed to the division’s success.

Richard Parker, former head of congress, will become the director of healthcare strategy with a remit to shape the future of the division by collaborating with new and existing clients and developing a clearly defined strategy. He has also been appointed as a member of Zibrant’s board.

Emma Bason, international operations director, will gain an increased remit for operations, events and congress, while global account director Lee-Ann Penn is now head of healthcare account management.

Fay Sharpe, managing director of Zibrant, said: "The restructure of the healthcare division is an exciting prospect for Zibrant and will ensure the hard-working team continues to generate innovative solutions, while providing a brilliant service for our clients."

HBAA Chair, Chris Parnham, took to the floor of the much respected Square Meal Venues & Events Show yesterday with Andrew Andrew McMillan, who spent 28 years at John Lewis, where he was responsible for the company's award-winning customer services

As part of the new agents Networking Forum - especially created by Square Meal for HBAA - agents were given an insight into how John Lewis has become synonymous with world class service levels from its former head of customer services.  

The presentation gave an overview to how agents can differentiate themselves through their service level proposition and drew members from across the association.  

The HBAA is welcoming Farncombe Estate to its prestigious list of members.

Farncombe Estate is a picturesque, private estate based in the Cotswolds and surrounded by 400 acres of breathtaking countryside. The venue has an award-winning conference centre, the perfect location for training, teambuilding and meetings in the Cotswolds.

As part of their membership, Farncombe will benefit from the various initiatives undertaken by the HBAA to provide a framework for recognised development and innovation, as well as unrivalled networking opportunities within the industry.

The HBAA’s continual membership growth only goes to strengthen its position within the sector as a facilitator of professional development. 

Debate has risen over the global benefits surrounding an industry standardisation within the serviced apartment sector.

The move would allow for an industry-wide ratings system to be implemented by a ‘governing body’ which would benefit agents through the reliability of regular, independent inspections. However there have been many credible arguments both for and against the system, putting the likelihood of its implementation into question. 

The greatest benefit to the industry from standardisation would be an increase in confidence. Such a system would be a very important development for the sector, making it more accessible and potentially increasing corporate and private adoption of the serviced apartment concept.

However, despite the undoubted benefits, achieving standardised ratings will have its obstacles, with many arguing that the definition of quality will not be clear cut due to variations within the sector. For example, an apartment may have the highest quality décor & furnishings but lacks practical appliances like a dishwasher, therefore the rating could not apply a fair reflection of the total package. 

Such debate is not a surprise when one looks at the global hotel industry. Whilst it has existed for much longer than its serviced apartment counterpart, a universal standard of classification has yet to be properly established and unanimously accepted. The fact that such an established industry has yet to overcome these issues is indicative of the difficulties the serviced apartment sector may face with any attempt at global standardisation.

If standardisation is unrealistic and to a degree undesirable, what action should serviced apartment providers take? Providing as much detail as possible about the features of individual apartments, along with large quantities of high quality images and videos will go a long way towards reassuring clients and informing apartment agents. At this stage debate is set to continue as how well to reflect the vast potential of this ever-growing sector.

To view the full debate from Re:locate magazine click here 

Five years have passed since financial services company Lehman Brothers filed the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, and the hotel industry has never been stronger, sources said.

Despite fears of irreversible carnage in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse and subsequent global economic malaise, the United States hotel industry has emerged five years later stronger and better positioned than ever, according to executives from various data companies.

Following a 0.6% year-over-year decrease in RevPAR during August 2008, the U.S. hotel industry posted 19 consecutive months of decreases, bottoming out at $41.14 during December 2009, according to STR.

It climbed 5.4% in 2010, before posting gains of 8.2% and 6.8% during 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Through July 2013, RevPAR was up 5.6% to $69.46.

“Generally in recoveries, hotels tend to lag. But in this case they led in recovery,” said Adam Sacks, founder and president of Tourism Economics “We had a fairly ‘V’-shape form on hotel performance numbers, specifically (revenue per available room), which certainly took some of the sting out of the shock because it didn’t last terribly long in the trough.”

Lehman’s collapse and the subsequent halt in lending essentially froze new construction, setting the stage for unprecedented demand increases unfettered by new supply. As a result inside commentators believe that the hotel industry is better because of the economic distress, and is now experiencing a record recovery.   



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