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Down Hall Country House Hotel, located on the border of Hertfordshire and Essex, will undergo a major refurbishment following a £1.5m investment.

The refurbishment will include the redesigning of 71 bedrooms, refitting the kitchen with £200,000 worth of the latest catering equipment and the installation of a new gym.
Director of sales and marketing at Down Hall Hotel, Anna Snoep, said: "The refurbishment has achieved our goal to further advance the hotel’s position as a four-star superior residential meeting and event venue."

The property also contains 26 multi-purpose rooms, which are able to accommodate groups of up to 200 guests for receptions, dinners, meetings and conferences.

Hilton London Kensington has welcomed Linda Griffin as general manager, following her successful management stint at Athenée Palace Hilton Bucharest. Griffin brings extensive experience to the role, with over 30 years of service in the hospitality industry. 

Prior to joining Hilton London Kensington, Griffin worked at a number of Hilton Worldwide properties across the globe, including Hilton ParkSA Istanbul and Hilton Athens. She started her career with Hilton Worldwide as an assistant front office manager in 1989, gaining experience in reservations and project management.

Linda Griffin, general manager, Hilton London Kensington, commented, “I’m delighted to join Hilton London Kensington as it is in a fantastic location, with Westfield Shopping Centre and the Royal Borough of Kensington on its doorstep. I am looking forward to working with the hotel team to further cement Hilton London Kensington as one of West London’s most distinguished hotels.”

With Portobello Market’s world famous fashions and antiques nearby, in addition to Westfield’s 380 plus High Street and luxury retail outlets, Hilton London Kensington is perfectly placed as a leisure haven. Nearby attractions also include Hyde Park, The Royal Albert Hall, Kew Gardens and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The hotel offers an executive lounge, 24-hour business centre and 11 function rooms with up to 370 capacity.


Travel and events company NYS Corporate has been acquired by business consultant Oliver Garside, who has worked with the agency's senior management team for the past 12 months.

Garside completed the acquisition on 1 December after working with the York-based agency for the past 12 months as a consultant.

He said: "Having seen first hand what a great company NYS Corporate is, I wanted to be part of the business and take it to the next level. 

"It is key to NYS Corporate that we remain privately owned and continue to offer our clients the same high levels of personalised service that we have for the last 30 years, and I am excited to be part of the future."

Garside and the senior management team have initiated a "significant" investment programme and are planning to develop the business in terms of new technology. There are also plans to expand the current customer-facing team.

NYS Corporate works with major blue-chip private sector organisations and UK government departments, which in the past has included the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The Business Visits and Events Partnership and key industry figures shared their views on the first ever All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report into the events industry, released yesterday (16 December).

The APPG report into the 'International Competitiveness of the UK Events Industry’ was officially launched by Nick de Bois, MP and chair of the APPG, at De Vere Venues Altitude in London yesterday.

Taking questions from the audience, De Bois was joined by a five-man panel, moderated by Richard Foulkes, vice chair of the BVEP, and featuring Julian Agostini (International Confex), Tracy Halliwell (London & Partners), Neil Brownlee (Visit Scotland) and Caroline Mackenzie (Contendam).

Michael Hirst, chairman of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), welcomed the report and revealed that new BVEP research, due for release in early 2014, shows that the events industry has grown significantly in size.

He said: "The report refers to the industry being a formidable part of the government's growth agenda and new BVEP research, due to be released in the first quarter of 2014, will show the size of the events industry has expanded significantly above £36bn and is well on the way to exceeding £48bn, which was forecast for 2020.

De Bois called on the industry to respond to the report within three months. He said: "I hope the sense of the challenge that the report lays down is recognised by the industry. People will ask what is in it for them, which is a better and fitter place to do business. I hope we can get some easy hits out of this report before the next general election if the industry supports it.

"One of the first things to address is how to bring in sectors of the industry that are not fully engaged. The structures and momentum is in place but it is for the industry to decide how to bring those voices together."

Chris Parnham, chair of the HBAA, the trade association for the hotel booking agency, apartment and venue community, said: "The UK's event associations have no common objective to develop business for our own country. Associations focus inwardly on its membership, who see the world as their market, but do not focus on business in our home territory.

"Perhaps the UK's event associations need to get together under the steerage of the BVEP and develop one or two objectives that we can all agree on to make this country a better place to attract events."

The HBAA’s International Charter has welcomed a new signing from Barceló Hotels & Resorts International. Over 20 international groups signed up together with a host of independents, having signed an international version of the HBAA Code of Conduct providing guidelines for best practice.

The International Charter, launched in May 2012, has been spearheaded by the HBAA as the means to enhancing the volume and value of business placed by UK agents into overseas properties and delivering an open and mutually beneficial platform for conducting business. The HBAA International Charter covers the key elements involved in securing international meetings and events, from enquiry response times and commission levels to payment terms. The HBAA’s reach now spans 60 countries, including France, America, Hungary, and India. 

Barceló Hotels & Resorts International joins IHG, Starwood Hotels, Dolce Hotels & Resorts and other independent properties and worldwide property chains to have signed the International Charter. The hotel chain has over 143 hotels in 16 countries; 40 of these MICE-focused groups are now affiliates of the Charter. 

Steve Ockerby, International Projects Chair of the HBAA, said: “We’re delighted that Barceló Hotels & Resorts International has signed the International Charter. The HBAA is an important influence within the UK events industry, and it’s great that we’re continuing to extend that into the worldwide meetings and events market.” 

Chris Carr, head of international MICE sales North, Barceló Hotels & Resorts International, commented: “We are extremely excited to have signed the International Charter and see it as a great way of strengthening our relationships with agents within the UK. With 143 venues worldwide, we look forward to making use of the valuable networking opportunities via our partnership with the HBAA and developing relationships that will drive international business to our hotels in the long term."


The Hotel Marketing Association, the official branch of the Chartered Institute of Marketing for the hotel and hospitality industry, revealed the winners of its annual Hotel Marketing Awards during a luncheon at The Savoy Hotel yesterday.  

The awards, now in its 20th year, recognise excellence in hotel marketing and include categories such as Best Website, Best Use of Social Media, Best Media and Public Relations Activity, Best Partnership Marketing Campaign, and the prestigious Young Marketer of the Year Award.

This year’s winners included 360i London from InterContinental Hotels Group for Best Use of Social Media in Marketing and Edwardian Group London for Best Partnership in Marketing Campaign. Karla Pearce, marketing manager at Melia White House, was awarded Young Marketer of the Year Award 2013. 

Guests from within the industry were treated to a three-course awards luncheon, held in the Lancaster Ballroom of The Savoy Hotel with former Masterchef winner, Dhruv Baker, acting as guest speaker for the event.

Full list of winners:

Best Media and Public Relations Activity

Ibis Hotels – Winner
Red Carnation Hotel Collection – Highly Commended
Wyboston Lakes – Shortlisted

Best Website
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – Winner
umi Digital for – Highly Commended
DADA for PH Hotels - Shortlisted
Law Creative for IHG – A Special Commendation

Best Use of Social Media in Marketing
360i London for InterContinental Hotels Group – Winner
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – Shortlisted
Aloft London Excel – Shortlisted

Best Partnership Marketing Campaign
Edwardian Group London – Winner
Campaign Works for Hilton Worldwide and VisitBritain – Shortlisted

Young Marketer of the Year Award 2013
Karla Pearce, Melia White House – Winner
Brad Poole, Travelodge – Shortlisted
Kate Hampson, InterContinental Hotels Group – Shortlisted

Southampton’s Grand Harbour Hotel and event management and venue finding agency, SMC Services, have become the latest companies to be welcomed on to the HBAA’s respected roster of venues.

The Grand Harbour Hotel has become an iconic landmark on the Southampton water front. Its central location makes it the perfect location for a business or leisure stay.

The 4-star venues can accommodate from five to 500 guests in its state of the art boardroom and impressive meeting facilities. Delegates can then relax using the many spa and dining amenities on site. 

Launched in 1995, SMC Services is an established family-run conference, incentive travel & corporate hospitality specialist with extensive Global connections.

The agency have hosted events in no less than 25 countries and pride themselves on working with attention to detail, creative input and 'conception to completion' event solutions delivered with energy and passion.

The HBAA is the voice of the sector to the Government and to business at large. The association runs a full schedule of training, meetings and networking events throughout the year, which the Grand Harbour Hotel and SMC Services will now have the opportunity to attend and get involved with. 

Working as a key contributor to industry for press features and debates, as well as a facilitator of personal, professional and innovative development, the HBAA’s membership continues to grow as more industry figures see the increased significance of the association within the sector. 


Birmingham city centre’s premier conference, hotel and event venue, Conference Aston, has unveiled the first phase of its £5.4m redevelopment project.

Following the recent refurbishment of 53 bedrooms to reach a minimum 4* standard, Conference Aston gave guests a guided tour of the enhanced restaurant, bar and lounge areas before being whisked across campus to Aston University for the opening of the brand new Conference Aston Meeting Suites (CAMS).

As Conference Aston prepares to close its Lakeside Conference Centre to begin the next phase of redevelopment work, CAMS allows them to continue to offer modern and spacious meeting rooms for the next three years.

Prof. Dame King said: “Conference Aston has done a great design job; sustainability is a strong theme that is running through all the current and future redevelopment work and this will ensure that they remain one of the city’s greenest meeting venues. 

“These spaces are flexible with top-of-the-range facilities for training, development and private dining. In the long term, this space will be used for learning and teaching facilities to meet the demand of our increasing student numbers - although we may have trouble getting it back from Conference Aston!”

Lucy Talbot, director at Conference Aston, said: “With the impending redevelopment of the Lakeside Centre, it was crucial that we were able to offer our clients a new, higher quality conference venue, befitting of the city’s reputation as a leading destination for business tourism.

“If anything, the new space has allowed us to improve on what we can offer and this has been reflected by the bookings we already have from the likes of Birmingham City Council, NHS and Sustainability West Midlands.”

The Cabinet Office is looking to create a framework agreement for event planning and delivery.

The agreement is intended to allow Central Government departments, and the wider public sector, to find suitable companies that can supply events management services.

The contract, which is valued at between £40 million and £50 million, has been divided into lots – these are event planning and delivery and AV services and design.

Deadline for submission is 3pm on January 10th 2014.



Research shows that venues must better clarify their wi-fi capabilities to event planners and that industry standards for connectivity must improve.

Some 91% of corporate and agency representatives believe that a venues’ wi-fi capabilities should be made readily available before booking an event, according to a new survey from live event technology specialist Etherlive.

The research also showed that more than a third of event planners (36%) do not feel confident that conference venues adequately represent their IT and technology requirements and that a lot of venue staff are not sufficiently trained in order to meet these expectations.

The findings confirm that bandwidth should be included in the RFP process in order to help event planners make a more informed decision about the suitability of a venue.

The research also found that 73% of respondents felt that encrypting the network to ensure private communication should become an industry standard and that a kitemark verifying that adult content had been filtered from the venues’ connectivity would reflect responsible business behavior.

Business development manager at Etherlive, Alan Jaramillo, said: "The ongoing discussions surrounding the subject highlight the importance for hotels and venues who offer meeting facilities to provide details of the connectivity offered to customers."

He added: "There is a lack of knowledge in connectivity and bandwidth from hotels and venues."


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