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Birmingham’s International Convention Centre (ICC) has reported a 30 per cent rise in association conferences held at the venue.

The conference centre has also seen a 75 per cent increase in repeat bookings for 2014-2015 compared to the previous year, along with a seven per cent increase in new bookings for the same period.

In September the ICC struck a deal to host the Conservative Party Conference for three more years, in 2016, 2018 and 2020, bringing an estimated £17 million to the local economy.

Catherine Newhall-Caiger, ICC Birmingham business development director, said the location of the venue, along with its flexibility and customer service, were responsible for the increase in conference numbers.

"The ICC Birmingham is located in the centre of the UK with over 98 per cent of the UK business market within a four-hour travel time and London is just over 1 hour 30 minutes by train,” she said.

“With fantastic transport links to air, road and rail and over 6,200 hotel bedrooms and 200 restaurants, bars and nightclubs within easy walking distance of our venue, it’s perhaps no surprise that many associations report an increase in their delegate numbers when they hold their event with us - therefore contributing to repeat bookings and extensions to contracts.”

Among the ICC's regular clients is the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) congress, which returned for the 25th time this year with more than 8,000 delegates and exhibitors.

Amanda Stranack, head of congress for BSAVA, said the venue's flexibility and level of service were among reasons the congress kept returning.

“With a comprehensive scientific-programme, an exhibition and keynote speakers we need a venue that can provide flexible, purpose built space and that’s exactly what the ICC does. It’s always been an easy and obvious choice for us to return – in fact we’ve already booked for the next three years taking us to 2018,” she said.

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Almost half of event planners would be tempted to switch venue choice if offered a 10 per cent discount, according to new research from Cvent. 

The cloud-based meetings management platform surveyed more than 800 meeting organisers for its 2015 Planner Sourcing Report, and discovered that while price was still king – a quarter said it was their number one factor in decision-making – 40 per cent said they would be willing to switch to their second choice venue when given a tenth off the price.

Of the remainder, just 9 per cent said a discount would not alter their choice of venue, while 51 per cent said they would be swayed by a discount of more than 10 per cent.

Cvent’s survey also revealed a greater flexibility among planners, with 63 per cent ‘open to exploring a number of venues’, while just seven per cent responded that they are always ‘extremely certain’ of their venue when looking to book.

Research (24 per cent) and negotiation with venues (22 per cent) were identified as the most painful aspects of booking an event, while 42 per cent of respondents accused suppliers of lacking thoroughness and a third were unimpressed with speed of responses. Just 10 per cent, meanwhile, voted customer service as their biggest decision-making factor.

Millennial meeting planners (those aged between 18-34) made up 41 per cent of the survey responses, and 17 per cent of those polled would switch to a second choice venue if offered a 3-5 per cent reduction on cost.

Half were more likely to be influenced by social media than those among older generations and 37 per cent were less likely to source their venue directly when compared with other generations.

“As the next generation of meeting planners rises in the work place, hotels and event venues need to better understand their behaviours to close more group business,” said Kevin Fliess, vice president of product marketing at Cvent. “It is clear from the survey findings that both the influx of millennial planners and advances in event planning processes and technologies are changing how hotels compete for lucrative group business.”

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CTI Corporate Travel International has appointed Clive Wratten as Sales and Marketing Director.

Clive joins the company from Etihad Airways where he was UK General Manager for 8 years. In his time at the airline, Clive was responsible for implementing a sales & marketing strategy that grew sales revenues from £65m to £200m and helped establish Etihad as one of the top airlines of choice within the UK.

Clive was also a Director of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) – an industry association that promotes the business interests of scheduled airlines with a UK operation or representation.

Clive joins the company in July and will lead the sales and marketing team and reports directly to CTI Chief Executive Officer, Ian White.

Ian White, said, “Clive has a strong record of driving revenue through innovative direct sales and channel partner strategies. He oversaw the development of Etihad in the UK from a small player to one of the country’s top 5 airlines and is widely regarded as one of the industry’s leading figures. Clive’s appointment highlights the ambition we have to grow CTI in to the leading travel management company in the UK.”

Clive Wratten, said, “I am absolutely delighted to be joining CTI at such an exciting time in its evolution.  I bring with me many years’ of experience leading successful sales, account management and marketing teams in a number of great travel organisations.  CTI is renowned for delivering innovation, market differentiation and outstanding customer service and I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues to continue to build on this reputation.”

CTI [] is one of the UK’s leading independent corporate travel management companies. The company has an annual turnover in excess of £110m and employs 175 staff in 6 locations. CTI specialises in managing the corporate travel and hotel reservations for their client base of SMEs and large multi-national companies.

Yesterday (14 May), HBAA members took to the course at Menzies Welcombe Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort in Stratford-upon-Avon for the association’s 13th Annual HBAA Golf Classic.

The event saw many agent and venue members in attendance, despite less than ideal weather conditions for the golfers. The day attracts both venues and agents and is part of a year round programme of networking events organised by the HBAA.

This year was also the launch of the HBAA Bake Off. An alternative to the golf, teams of bakers were tasked with creating an afternoon tea of scones, a decorated ‘show-stopper’ cake, tray bake and decorated cupcakes, all judged on originality and creativity.

Networking occasions, such as the Golf Day and Bake Off, are one of the many highlights of the member calendar, and showcase the association’s philosophy of doing “better business and doing business better together”.

The day concluded with a drinks reception and a four-course dinner, followed by awards for the winning golfers and master bakers. The best individual prize was won by Mark Addison from The Belfry, and the Star Baker award was given to Cheryl Russell of Valor Hospitality.

Juliet Price, consultant Executive Director at HBAA, commented: “The Golf Classic is a fantastic day and a great opportunity not just to network but to build business relationships which last a lifetime.  This year we wanted to combine it with something light-hearted and fun, while maintaining the competitive element, hence the launch of our Bake Off. It’s important and productive to have a relaxed environment when networking, so we are delighted that it was such a success.”

The event also raised £320 in donations for Meeting Industry Meeting Needs.

Lime Venue Portfolio (LVP) - the largest collection of unusual, sporting, racecourse and cultural venues throughout the UK and Ireland - will provide the hosted buyer reception for The Meetings Show at one of its unique venues, Dartmouth House in the heart of Mayfair, on 6 July 2015. 

The announcement marks the start of a two year headline partnership between LVP and The Meetings Show, that includes delivering the hosted buyer welcome reception as well as catering throughout the hosted buyer lounges and at The Association Meetings Conference provided by LVP’s sister company Levy Restaurants UK.

“Dartmouth House in the heart of London is the perfect backdrop for our welcome reception and we are delighted that Lime Venue Portfolio has been able to offer us such a stunning, high profile venue for the first night of The Meetings Show,” said The Meetings Show’s event director, Steve Knight.

The event will also see LVP partners join together to showcase their specialist skills and products to deliver an unforgettable experience for The Meetings Show’s hosted buyers. LVP will provide the venue, whilst food and drink will be delivered through Levy Restaurants UK’s heritage brand Leith’s and special events caterers, Payne and Gunter. Event theming and entertainment will be provided by specialist Eventologists to bring the spaces alive, while AV and production will be delivered by EMS Events. ‘Lick Me I’m Delicious’ experimental food installations will deliver some tongue-twisting creations, whilst tech-inspired team building company, Wildgoose, will provide the opportunity for guests to take part in a challenge to win some truly exciting prizes.

Knight continues: “We are delighted that this partnership goes far beyond the hosted buyer reception to encompass a range of activities across the whole of The Meetings Show week.  In particular Lime Venue Portfolio’s quality of service and catering has ensured that this partnership includes unique access to our buyers and we once again look forward to working closely with them in the run up to the show.”

Commenting on the event, which is exclusive to hosted buyers, those attending The Association Meetings Conference and LVP guests, Richard Kadri-Langford, Head of Marketing at Lime Venue Portfolio said: “Following on from last year’s successful event, we have seen a noticeable increase in awareness of our service and our portfolio of venues. We are delighted that once again we can showcase one of our great venues, whilst also ensuring we focus on demonstrating the excellent food and drink we deliver at all the events we host.”

Full details of the hosted buyer welcome reception will be announced in due course.

The Meetings Show, which will take place from 7-9  July at Olympia, London, will be the UK's largest international gathering of meetings industry professionals. Featuring more than 450 individual exhibitors ranging from destinations and venues to technology and meetings services, The Meetings Show features an audience focused education programme, networking and the UK's largest hosted buyer offering.

As the UK’s leading trade show for meetings, conferences, incentives and events, The Meetings Show boasts an extensive education programme featuring streams dedicated to agencies, corporates, associations, pharmaceutical  and healthcare, PAs and secretaries and technology.

Applications are still available for individuals wishing to attend as hosted buyers, whilst visitors can also register online at

Staff at meeting & event specialists Conference Care celebrated their recent 20th birthday with an “Ibiza Weekender” party held at the Holiday Inn Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday.

Pre-dinner drinks were taken on a fleet of motorboats which they skippered themselves, whilst enjoying the scenery along the banks of the River Avon at a sedate pace. Following a barbeque dinner on the terrace, the Ballroom was decked out as an Ibiza nightclub, and surprise guest star Stevi Ritchie of X-Factor fame entertained the crowd, followed by well-known Ibiza DJ Marcello Totti. 

Saturday morning started with a warm up fitness session, followed by a workshop on body language, mind-reading and Neuro-Linguistic-Programming by renowned psychic entertainer Alex Crow.

Director Chris Peacock commented – “It’s important to mark these special occasions – 20 years is a long time to be in business, and it’s the team here who keep things fresh and exciting for us all. This is just one way we can reward our long serving staff, and make sure our new joiners feel part of the family as well. The hotel delivered on every level from start to finish – it’s an event everyone will remember for a long time.”

This year’s IMEX, the leading worldwide exhibition for meetings, events and incentive travel, served as a backdrop to launch the collaboration between Accredited in Meetings (AIM), the UK’s only nationally recognised quality standard for the meetings, conferences and events industry and Executive PA magazine, the longest established and leading brand for PA professionals.

Testament of both organisations commitment to championing good practice, the partnership will help to raise corporate awareness on meetings and events excellence in terms of compliance, competence and capability.

As part of the agreement, Jane Longhurst, chief executive of The Meetings Industry Association (mia), -the association keeper of AIM standard - will become a regular contributor to the publication providing in-depth knowledge on how to book successful meetings and events. 

Gary Payne, chair of the AIM Development Group said: ‘Mindful of the role PAs play in the selection of M&E spaces, we are very excited to formalise our relationship with Executive PA magazine. We are looking forward to a lasting and successful relationship.’

Andrew Organ,  publisher, Executive PA commented: ‘We are delighted that Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia will be contributing a regular, exclusive column to appear in the 'venues' pages of Executive PA magazine’.

‘As Executive Assistants around the globe continue to organise more corporate events, mia's AIM accreditation gives PAs confidence that UK venues they are booking have reached a high level of service as well as a high standard of meeting and event facilities. Jane will help keep PAs abreast of news and developments within the MICE sector in the UK and around the world that will help them consistently deliver successful events on any scale'.

We are pleased to announce three new members have joined the HBAA this week; welcome to Select Apartments, Richmond Hill Hotel and Elvetham Hotel.

New agent member Select Apartments specialise in corporate short lets, designed for people in professional services, the team at Select apartments search for the ideal base for their guests so you don’t have to.

Adding to our venue members, the four star Richmond Hill Hotel, set in the charming town of Richmond, is seven miles from central London and offers 149 bedrooms, 14 meeting rooms and three food and beverage outlets including the AA award winning Pembroke’s Restaurant.

Elvetham Hotel in Hampshire is a stunning estate set in 35 acres of countryside gardens, ideal for business and leisure stays including 72 bedrooms and superb meeting and private dining facilities. The Elvetham Hotel is one of the finest venues in Hampshire.  

Jacqui Kavanagh, HBAA Chair commented: “We are pleased to welcome our new members to the HBAA and hope they find their membership with us a beneficial, rewarding and insightful relationship. We continue to challenge ourselves and the industry for the better and it is very encouraging to see new members joining and enquiries growing all the time. We are becoming a bigger unit all the time, the more support we receive will only help us in the long term to achieve better things and set new standards for our agent and venue members.”




UKFE, announce Hosted Buyer Programme as a brand new element of the Venue Expo 2015.

Being held at the brand new Exhibition Centre Liverpool on 8-9th September, The Venue Expo will bring together MICE industry professionals and international buyers to conduct business. The Hosted Buyer programme is a milestone for The Venue Expo and is part of the strategy for the exhibition in terms of continually improving and developing the quality and standard of the event. This, coupled with the year on year development of the show most certainly positions The Venue Expo as a key industry event in the UK.

Already stimulating interest from a wide number of buyers as well as bringing new business to Liverpool on a global scale, the programme will welcome influential buyers from a variety of sectors who are serious about engaging in business with exhibitors. This will allow the time that would usually be spent researching and corresponding via email and telephone with clients to be removed, and replaced by face to face business opportunities. Throughout The Venue Expo, buyers will have support from UKFE’s team of elite marketing specialists. The team will ensure all elements of a buyer’s trip to Liverpool are covered, from food and travel to organising influential meetings with a wide range of industry professionals. UKFE will be able to assist buyers in engaging with international and European institutes to network, make new connections and create long lasting business partnerships.

Based on the success of previous events and UKFE’s growing presence within the events industry, they will be working alongside meetings procurement and site selection company, HelmsBriscoe. Currently, the highest volume purchaser in the meetings and event industry, HelmsBriscoe enjoys a huge range of partnerships with both large hotel chains and independent businesses. With over 12 years of hotel, meeting planning and industry experience, as well as having offices spanning across fifty five countries, they are set to bring an international influence to Liverpool. Carole McKellar, Managing Director of Northern Europe at HelmsBriscoe stated that, 

“HelmsBriscoe is delighted to attend the Venue Expo with a Hosted Buyer group of Associates and clients. Our commitment to continuing education is supported by events like the Venue Expo. During the event, HelmsBriscoe Associates gain new insights and experiences that they can then share with their clients. We look forward to the Venue Expo and to spending time in the outstanding host destination of Liverpool.”

Working both internationally and with more local businesses is what makes UKFE successful, throughout the hosted buyers programme they will be working alongside Liverpool Vision who are passionate about the fact that Liverpool is one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in England to do business.

Still riding high from the success of last year’s Venue Expo, UKFE is continuously aiming to bring together business professionals and organisers within the city of Liverpool to showcase what the north of England has to offer. They are able to use events like this to enable businesses to engage with their target market and present great business opportunities on international platform.

With just over three months to The Venue Expo, UKFE are looking towards the success that The Hosted Buyers programme will bring. Buyers who are passionate about engaging in an inspiring programme with a global outlook are able to apply through . UKFE are excited to be a key figure in bringing business and investment opportunities to the city of Liverpool and will continue to open the door to clients on global scale.

To register to attend;
To apply as a hosted buyer;
The Venue Expo
8-9th Sept 2015
For more information or exhibitor enquiries:
UKFE: 0151 702 7753

esa Serviced Apartments, a leading provider of accommodation solutions for the corporate market, has recently moved its UK headquarters to a new larger office space in Newbury, Berkshire. The move to Elizabeth House on London Road marks an exciting new phase in the company’s growth and is fuelled by the rapid expansion of esa’s team, property portfolio and international client base.

In the last three years, esa has more than doubled in size, as organisations become increasingly aware of the costs of business travel and the need to source accommodation that encourages the wellbeing and productivity of employees. Following a period of pre-election uncertainty, renewed market stability and businesses confidence has provided a boost to the serviced accommodation industry. Businesses are now investing in major projects, which were previously on hold, prompting a surge in the demand for esa’s corporate housing and serviced apartments for project workers. 

At over 7000 square feet and arranged over four floors, the new purpose built office building is twice the size of esa’s previous headquarters and shows the continuing aspirations of this highly successful company. Providing stylish meeting rooms and modern desk space for over 100 people in its current configuration, it is hoped that Elizabeth House will accommodate esa’s ongoing growth over the next 10 years. Additional satellite offices are also being considered, which would streamline operational efficiency as the company broadens its geographic coverage.

To execute esa’s vision of an inspirational workplace, which provides the necessary capacity for future growth, the company engaged Reading-based office design company, Ozone Interiors. The user-focussed design they have created has already proved popular with existing employees and it is expected that the dynamic working environment will attract further new talent to the business.

Charlie Turner, Chief Executive of esa serviced apartments said:

“Since esa was founded 11 years ago, our principle aim has been to provide the highest quality accommodation and service for our clients, at outstanding value. As our network now extends across the UK it has been important to choose an office location which offers excellent transport links, a thriving business community and access to a skilled and educated workforce. Newbury offers all of this and more.

Committing to stay in the town long term will allow us to expand our experienced and passionate team, in order to continue to deliver the exceptional standards our clients expect. Our bespoke new headquarters in Elizabeth House will support our growth plan over the next 10 years and provide an innovative and professional working environment for our growing esa team.”


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