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The Lensbury Club in Teddington and St Mary’s University, Twickenham have been announced as one of the 65 approved training bases for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Following a strong response to the Rugby World Cup 2015 Team Base tender process, both The Lensbury and St Mary’s have been selected to be on the approved list of only 65 bases that meet the key selection criteria, and will move into the next stage of the selection process.

Both The Lensbury and St Mary’s were selected as a combined venue, having previously worked together as a pre-Games training camp for the Irish Olympic team during the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

Together the venues, which are just a mile apart, meet international team training standards with indoor and outdoor training facilities, a gym, indoor swimming pool and hotel. What’s more Twickenham Stadium, the home of England Rugby, is just a few minutes away whilst Wembley Stadium and the Olympic Stadium are within easy reach, all of which have been identified as match venues during the tournament.

The Lensbury General Manager Ivor Turner said, “We have a long history of hosting international rugby teams and key to meeting their needs has been our collaboration with St Mary’s University. Our facilities and those of St Mary’s are world class with two rugby pitches, state-of-the-art training facilities, a 25m swimming pool and , from April 2014, there will be 32 brand new team styled bedrooms in our Ascot building and a unique bespoke heavy weights room.

“We are thrilled to have made it to the approved list and we are very excited at the prospect of hosting an international team during the Rugby World Cup 2015.”

St Mary’s Director for Sport Andrew Reid-Smith said, “This is excellent news, it enhances St Mary’s established reputation for supporting international squads and develops the legacy of our London 2012 training camps.  St Mary’s and The Lensbury provide an outstanding environment for teams to prepare and we look forward to being fully involved in the Rugby World Cup 2015.”

Although not guaranteed to host a team the announcement means that, following a selection process later this year, The Lensbury and St Mary’s could host one or more teams during the most high profile event in the rugby fixtures list worldwide.

Following the success of the Trinity Triple Challenge, which raised £20,576 for three local charities last year, Trinity is planning to take up the mission again in 2014 and extend it by including overseas venues.  The Triple Challenge is an integral part of Trinity’s CSR values called ‘It’s not what you give it’s how you live’.

Tracy Winsworth, Commercial Director at Trinity said, “Last year, we set aside a weekend in March when the each member of the team visited hotels and meeting venues in a different area of the UK. In the space of two days, every one of the staff had to report on 20 different venues.  We stayed overnight at some, dined at others and called in on many more in between.  This year we are developing our adventure by visiting destinations in Europe too.”

This ties in with Destination Champion programme, where members of staff become a specialist in a city or region, carry out site visits and work with the hotels and venues to give first-hand advice to clients, as well as providing advice about the logistics and suitability for events.

The next Triple Challenge activity will take place in July and each team member will take one weekend to visit 20 venues either in the UK or overseas.  Trinity will ask the venues to donate a prize for an online charity auction, which will take place in September.

This year the charities that Trinity is supporting are: The Children’s Air Ambulance - the first and only dedicated helicopter emergency transfer service for seriously ill children and babies; Hospital at Home, offering patients a chance of hospital level care in their own homes in the Peterborough area; 
Thorpe Hall, a Sue Ryder hospice providing specialist palliative and respite care for people living with incurable illnesses.  The charities were chosen by staff at Trinity’s annual conference.

Any hotels or venues that are interested in participating, should contact Tory Griffiths, for more information.  

The HBAA has increased its international venue membership with the addition of World Forum.

The World Forum is an international congress centre in The Hague, Netherlands. The venue has been host to a number of extraordinary meeting and events of global significance.

Along with national and international conferences at the highest level, the World Forum also hosts corporate events, association congresses and receptions and exhibitions. The flexibility of its multifunctional location allows the World Forum to offer a wide variety of events for any target group. 

The site is also home to the Netherlands’ largest theatre auditorium, where many major national and international productions are staged. There is enough room to welcome more than 5000 visitors at a time, but also sufficient intimacy to give any event a personal touch. 

The World Forum 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.

Both international and domestic members of the HBAA sign and adhere to a Code of Conduct as part of their membership agreement, which champions best practice within the industry. 

Key meeting buyers and associations have gathered for The Meetings Show’s high profile Education Panel meeting at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QEIICC).  During the intensive workshop the Panel focused on the importance of delivering targeted education of value to the entire visitor base.
The Panel, chaired by Sally Greenhill, MD, The Right Solution, includes: Juliet Price, Executive Director of the HBAA; Michael Foreman, Head of External Affairs, ABPCO; Linda Pereira, Executive Director of CPL Meetings & Events; Paul Kennedy MBE, Strategic Advisor to The Meetings Show; Angie Mason, Director, Absolute Corporate Events; Caitriona Lavery, Sales Manager, Hastings Hotels; and Caroline Hill, Director, Compliant Venues.
"Education is an essential part of our show; we regard it as a key driver in the delivery of a high quality hosted buyer and visitor audience. Our education programme is too important for us to simply hold a ‘call for papers’ – which inevitably leads to ‘sales-led’ seminar sessions. It is vital for us to consult meeting buyers and key buyer led associations to ensure we create a programme of education that is both inspiring and relevant to our industry.” commented Steve Knight, Event Director of The Meetings Show. “The Panel reviewed last year’s programme and the extensive feedback we received. Everyone agreed that last year’s education was really well received, but we are refining and fine tuning the format and topics covered to ensure it moves with the needs of our audience and reflects the industry’s ever changing requirements.”

The Panel’s discussion included details of the Association Meetings Conference on 7 July, 2014, which will be announced shortly.  The Meetings Show education programme will be announced in April.
Juliet Price, Executive Director, HBAA, said: “Having sat on the Education Panel in 2013, I was keen to continue my involvement to ensure that the education stays relevant to our members. The HBAA represents 280 organisations in the UK so I’m delighted to represent them and to be able to influence the education from the planning stages. The meeting was very in-depth and we discussed some exciting changes and enhancements to the way the programme is presented, the streams focused on and the topics covered.”
The Meetings Show is a major event for the UK inbound and outbound meetings industry, organised by Centaur Exhibitions and taking place 8-10 July 2014 at Olympia, London. Organised by meeting professionals for meeting professionals it is focused around a large exhibition, networking opportunities and professional education.


Several HBAA members including Planet Pursuits, Sundial Group and Burleigh Court, imago received Gold Award accolades at the celebrated M&it Industry Awards, held on Tuesday 25th February 2014. 

Organised by Meetings & Incentive Travel magazine and held at London events venue Battersea Evolution, more than 1,000 guests attended the annual ceremony which recognises excellence in the industry.

Winners from the HBAA’s prestigious roster of members include Conference Care and Banks Sadler who took Silver and Bronze for the Best Intermediary Agency. Alton Towers took the Silver for Best Unusual Venue and Hilton Worldwide achieved silver for Best Venue Group Meeting Product.

All three winners of the Best Academic Venue category are HBAA members, with Burleigh Court imago taking Gold and Warwick Conferences and Robinson College, Cambridge taking Silver and Bronze respectively. 

A total of 4,661 M&IT readers cast more than 13,000 votes for the awards, which were compered on Tuesday night by BBC presenter Kate Silverton.

International customer engagement solutions agency Grass Roots, has moved to speed up the integration of its Meetings & Events division. 

Giselle Ripken who leads Grass Roots DMS, the company’s Delegate Management Services arm is to become ‘Director, Meetings & Events’ with responsibility for both the Fleet and Marlow sites. Jeremy Brown, former MD of the Marlow-based Events and Communications business, has left the business.

“Jeremy has played an important role in Marlow and he has helped us through a difficult transitional period and hands the business over to Giselle in a much stronger position,” said Grass Roots COO Andy Lister.

Ripken now reports directly to Divisional Director, Des Mclaughlin. This move to consolidate the event management specialisms mirrors the formation of single Account Management and Sales teams, which operate across the Division with the wider global group in mind.

Mclaughlin says he is pleased to be executing plans faster than expected: “Having formed talented solutions teams and performed better than projected in the last year, we have been able to move forward with structural plans even quicker than we originally planned.

“The timing just makes sense. We have also won significant business, which involves the provision of services across the four specialist Grass Roots divisions, and completely supports our integrated approach - it has given us great confidence that our strategy is solid.

“Giselle Ripken is a highly regarded industry professional and she has achieved great things within her area of the business. Broadening her scope, building on her success and streamlining our operations, are all imperative to realising our business strategy.” 

Ripken says she is “thrilled to be taking on the new role of ‘Director, Meetings and Events’ for Grass Roots Meetings and Events. We have recently won some brilliant accounts and I anticipate further successes and good news in the coming months".

Economic change has made certification for event planners more valuable than ever before, says MPI UK & Ireland chapter president, Miguel Neves.

He stated: "Event certification is more important than it’s ever been before. The economy is slowly getting back to a good place, but people are questioning events. Is it worth having a meeting? Is it worth hiring a meeting planner to help with this meeting?

"More and more meeting planners are going to be held accountable for the meetings they organise. Their events need to meet objectives and, if they don’t, they will be held responsible.

"If an event planner wants to prove that they are worthwhile in their organisation, certification is a key step. Many people learn on the job and we know that is part of our industry, but I think a lot of people can benefit from it."

In the US, event planners on average get "up to $10,000 more pay when they are certified," continued Neves. "There are many companies that will promote the fact that all their staff are certified."

He added: "There are many chartered institutes that certify other industries and it’s important that the meetings and events industry has the same."

Increases in hotel room rates around the world are being led by ‘supercities’ rather than national trends, according to a study published by Hogg Robinson Group (HRG).

The study found average room rates (ARR) have tended to be affected on a national basis but now individual destinations, such as Singapore, Barcelona and Beijing, are driving up room rates and “bucking” certain country’s economic trends.

The annual study analysed hotel room rates for key business destinations across the world to provide an insight into global business travel behaviour.

The study found Europe and America have taken the lead on ARR recovery in 2013 as markets and industries have picked up and business travel has been placed “firmly back on the agenda”.

HRG’s group commercial director, Stewart Harvey, said: "In our study last year we referenced “supercities” which had begun to buck national trends and forge their own path. We’ve seen this trend continuing to grow.

“We’ve seen it with cities such as Barcelona and Beijing, where exchange rates may not necessarily be working in their favour retaining strong positive growth as their popularity as both business and leisure destinations goes from strength to strength,” said Harvey.

He said the hotel industry has always been at the forefront of pricing with rates constantly adjusted to demand. “The need for the right hotel, in the right location, at the right price remains the primary objective for all corporate clients.

“The balance between price, location, quality and availability will continue to drive the market during 2014. This reflects the need for a well managed corporate hotel programme,” he added.

Down Hall Country House hotel, Hertfordshire, will invest a further £150,000 into developing its events spaces following a £1.5m refurbishment.

The first phase of the development will upgrade four of the hotel's conference rooms, with a further four new breakout rooms being built on the top floor of the main building.

The breakout rooms will include two executive boardrooms and a 'creative hub', which will be free for delegates to use alongside the meeting rooms. There are 26 meeting rooms in total.

Anna Snoep, director of sales and marketing at Down Hall Country House Hotel, said: "Our focus is on innovation and giving our clients more choice, with healthy food that is both delicious and nutritious and all the support they need to make their meetings and events successful."

The first phase of the refurbishment is set to be completed by Spring 2014 with the second phase expected to begin later this year.

WRG has announced that following the successful management transition of WRG since the investment by LDC in 2011, Mark Wallace is stepping down as Chairman of WRG Communication Ltd and as a director and executive of the WRG Worldwide board and its associated subsidiaries.

David Sharrock assumes the role of chief operating officer worldwide and sits on the executive board along with founding directors Carl Halliday, Nigel Bale, Chris Gosling, plus Tim Elliott.

Commenting on his departure, Wallace said: "I am very proud of the WRG team and what we together have created. I wish the staff and directors great success in the future."

Non-executive chairman, Jim Faulds, adds: "The future is very bright for WRG group. The executive team is focused on delivering our strategy of continued growth in overseas markets including North America and Asia.

"Following our successful entry into the Hong Kong market, plans are now underway to launch an agency in China. We continue to expand our offering to meet client demand, which is paying dividends, with our healthcare division in particular performing ahead of expectation."



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