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Commission, traditionally the water of life in the relationship between hotels, venues and agents, is rarely discussed in public.

But at the HBAA Annual Forum, sponsored by Dubai Business Events, the subject of The Great Debate will be 'This house believes that the commission based business model has a future beyond 2020.'

There are sure to be many contentious views on each side of the issue when a highly opinionated panel and 220 HBAA members from hotels, venues and agencies share their thoughts at the Mercure Manchester on Thursday 6 July. Moderated by Matthew Wall, this session includes the views of  Samme Allen, Richard John,  Lauren Goodwin, Guy Mason and Chris Peacock

Louise Goalen, Chair of the HBAA commented; “In a year when our theme is Moving Forward, this debate opens up the future of this essential element of the relationship between our members. It will be fascinating.”

Moving Forward and the future will underwrite sessions throughout the day, starting with the Opening Keynote presented by internationally renowned futurist Rohit Talwar. The theme will also at the heart of the morning discussion on ‘Tackling the Talent Gap’ when speakers will be addressing the issue of how to attract and nurture the best people to join the industry and take it forward.

The Future in 15 Show Live lead by Caleb Parker and Chris Elmitt will share valuable bite-size insights into innovative, entrepreneurial solutions that will probably be established in the next few years.

With 11 Campfire sessions on a wide variety of key topics, an interview with Nick de Bois about The Event Industry Board and an Association Update, the day offers a full programme which will be completed by guest speaker Mandy Hickson, a former RAF jet pilot with a remarkable, inspiring story.

Louise Goalen; “This is a comprehensive, challenging and engaging schedule that I’m sure will help us all to move forward.”

The Annual Forum is open to HBAA members, Charter partners and eligible sponsors.

For full details please visit

To register

The luxury Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa in Aberfoyle has unveiled a £3.5 million renovation which sees its bedrooms, cocktail bar, piano lounge, reception and restaurant transformed.

The redesign at the four-star hotel, which is nestled in acres of manicured grounds with majestic views of Loch Ard, has enhanced the hotel’s traditional highland charm to create an elegant countryside retreat.

All 50 bedrooms and five suites have been upgraded with the installation of custom built furniture, bespoke lighting, and new soft furnishings. Each room features award-winning pillows and tailored blackout curtains, ensuring all guests get the best night’s sleep. All guestrooms feature free Wi-fi and flat screen TVs, whilst suites come complete with king size beds, fluffy robes and slippers as well as luxury bathroom toiletries from Arran Aromatics.

Guest areas have been decorated using a warm red, mahogany and classic tartan colour palette with luxury lounge chairs as well as displays of stunning photography.

Being just 40 minutes from Glasgow and an hour from Edinburgh, the hotel is a popular venue for weddings as well as meetings, conferences and events and renovations have taken into consideration all customers.

The refurbishment comes after an extension of the hotel’s spa facilities in 2007 which included the installation of more beauty treatment areas and a larger pool.

General Manager of Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa, Andrew Deighan said: “We are proud to unveil the redesign of Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa. This is an exciting time and we look forward to welcoming our guests over the upcoming months to experience a true taste of highland luxury.”

Macdonald Hotels Ltd celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016 and operates over 45 hotels across the UK and ten resorts in the UK, Spain and Portugal.

For more information on the facilities at Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa, please visit

Ashfield Meetings & Events, a full-service global event management agency, has expanded its UK team with nine new recruits amid new client wins.

The nine new recruits all joined the business in June and will be based in Ashfield’s European hub office in Ashby-De-La-Zouch. Recent new business and client wins in the healthcare sector have prompted the new appointments with more expected to start within the coming months.

The new starters will be spread across the business with fresh talent joining the finance, venue sourcing and creative teams. The rest of the group will sit within the agency’s operational teams as Project Executives, Senior Project Executives and Project Managers.

Helen Capelin (Head of Operational Excellence) commented on the recent appointments “We are delighted to welcome our new group of recruits into the agency. They are a hugely talented group with wide ranging backgrounds, skillsets and experience. In the short time they have been with the agency they have already demonstrated that their personal insights can bring a fresh perspective in how we gather inspiration and add new types of value to client projects. We look forward to seeing the impact their on-going contributions will bring to the agency and supporting each of them in their continued professional and personal development.

This summer De Vere Tortworth Court will complete a £5 million refurbishment that will position the mansion house back at the heart of the estate. One of Gloucestershire’s hidden countryside retreats, the Grade II listed Victorian mansion is part of the De Vere portfolio of country estate hotels and modern, market-leading event spaces and, following the refurbishment, will boast some of the largest suites in the county.

With a history dating back to 1343, today’s Victorian mansion was designed by esteemed gothic revival architect Samuel Sanders Teulon for the 2nd Earl of Ducie in 1853. The family continued to develop the estate with the introduction of hundreds of trees, including many rare specimens, to create an arboretum that is regarded as one of the finest in the British Isles.                                

The focus of the renovation is occurring in the mansion house with the transformation of meeting rooms into 11 new spacious suites, to bring the total number of guestrooms and suites in the main house to 55. The sensitive refurbishment is preserving many of the original features, whilst adding new touches of modern countryside charm to the grand gothic mansion, including the hotel’s grand staircase and galleries above the newly refurbished reception and public areas. The largest suite, The Kipling, will offer a stand-alone in-room dining table for six guests and lounge within 78 square metres that can also be connected to The Paxton, to form a family suite that spans 129 square metres, overlooking the formal gardens.

All 201 guestrooms, in the mansion house and courtyard wing, feature up to 1GB of superfast free Wi-fi and flat screen TVs, whilst suites and deluxe rooms come complete with king size beds, fluffy robes and slippers as well as luxury bathroom toiletries.

Soon to be launched, 1853 Restaurant will welcome guests and residents once again from August 2017. The original gothic wooden panelling and ornate painted ceiling will be enhanced by fresh dove grey walls and emerald coloured soft furnishings. Originally a church within the mansion house, the refreshed restaurant will serve locally sourced, seasonal British dishes. In the former library a new specialist Whisky bar, will offer a sophisticated yet relaxed gentleman club atmosphere that will serve many types of Whisky, either on the rocks or as unique cocktails created by new in-house mixologists.

For those who would like to enjoy the British summer, De Vere Tortworth Court’s pop-up outdoor bar serves Pimms to those sitting on the terrace with views over the formal gardens and picturesque lake.

Mark Payne, General Manager at De Vere Tortworth Court commented: “The mansion house and the grounds provided us with a stunning base in which to enhance an existing beautiful product. The new-look hotel is one that I am very proud to welcome guests into and the introduction of large suites allows guests to indulge and live some of the grandeur that the original Earls would have enjoyed.”

“It was important to us to blend modern comfort with the hotel’s history and I believe we have done this successfully both internally and externally across the estate.”

Boasting one of Britain’s finest arboretums, De Vere Tortworth Court has hundreds of rare and domestic trees located across the estate’s 30-acres, as well as specially commissioned sculptures by artist Emma Stothard including, a parliament of hares positioned as the centre-piece of the formal garden. Guests of the hotel also have access to a new gym, with state of the art equipment and the fully-refurbished Peel Spa with six new treatment rooms, an existing indoor pool, sauna, steam room, as well as the introduction of a boot room which will provide complimentary Hunter wellies in which to explore the stunning grounds.  

The property also offers organisers 10 flexible meeting and events spaces, from eight new meeting rooms with conference cafes and executive boardrooms to a separate Westminster Suite and the stand-alone Victorian Orangery. Even the gardens feature superfast outdoor Wi-Fi ensuring both business and leisure guests can always stay connected. The mansion house will also feature the newly refurbished Brunels’ Bar, perfect for events, conferences and weddings.

The completion of De Vere Tortworth Court’s refurbishment marks another important milestone in De Vere’s wider multi-million-pound country estate hotel renovation project, which places the mansion house at the epi-centre of the group’s country estate portfolio. The investment in the gardens ensures that the great outdoors becomes an extension of the hotel itself.

Guestrooms start from £149 per room per night, with Suites starting from £249 per room per night, based on double occupancy,

Nicknamed The Spy House because of its connections with WWII, Grade I listed De Vere Latimer Estate has this week unveiled a £7 million renovation that places the mansion house back at the heart of the estate. Situated in Latimer, among Buckinghamshire’s rolling Chiltern Hills just five miles from the M25, the refurbishment uncovered and restored many original features, as well as subtly celebrating the hotel’s connection to a secret history.                                

De Vere Latimer Estate boasts a rich history that dates back to the 16th Century when the original house held Charles I during his imprisonment. The red brick Tudor-style mansion standing today was completed in 1838 and became the temporary host of captured German U-boat submarine crews and Luftwaffe pilots during the Second World War before becoming the National Defence College until 2006.

De Vere Latimer Estate’s biggest transformation occurred in the mansion house, where no stone was left unturned.  The refurbished original sweeping staircase with stained glass windows leads guests to 31 new deluxe rooms and suites that were previously meeting rooms and offices, bringing the total number of guestrooms to 205.

All guestrooms feature free Wi-fi and flat screen TVs, whilst suites and deluxe rooms come complete with king size beds, fluffy robes and slippers as well as luxury bathroom toiletries.

The new 1838 Restaurant & Bar, which is open to members of the public as well as hotel guests, is located in the mansion house and features an open kitchen cooking up locally sourced, seasonal British dishes. Guests can choose to dine in the modern, wooden-floored restaurant, with soft green touches and indoor trees, or head outside to the courtyard and dine under the trees by candle light.  The new Huntley Bar features stunning views across the Chess Valley and offers both guests and locals a relaxing, stylish environment in which to enjoy a drink whilst taking in the surroundings.

Traditional Afternoon Tea is also set to be launched at the hotel over the summer months, served in The Library, a fully refurbished space in the mansion house which radiates Victorian charm and features views of the hotel’s grounds. The hotel’s main reception has also moved to the mansion house and has undergone a full transformation.

For those booking a wedding or event at De Vere Latimer Estate, the mansion house provides four new look spaces; including a traditional grand drawing room, The Cheyne, with original features that can host intimate celebrations for up to 30 guests, to The Cavendish Suite for weddings and events up to 200 guests. Respectively added to the mansion during the refurbishment, the Cavendish suite offers state-of-the-art facilities that can double in size by the opening of bi-folding doors on to a new terrace that offers views across the countryside. Couples who like to mix the tradition of a church wedding with a country house reception can have both at De Vere Latimer Estate, as the estate’s church is short walk from the stately home. 

Antonio Campanile, General Manager at De Vere Latimer Estate, commented: “We’re very proud to have restored this remarkable mansion house back to glory; a lot of time and work has gone in to this project, to ensure homage is paid to its important history. The newly refurbished bedrooms are looking fantastic and we’re already receiving excellent feedback from guests.

He continued: “As a popular venue for the meetings, conferences and private events market, the renovation was planned and designed to appeal to all our customers, whilst providing a stylish standout venue in stunning surroundings.”

De Vere Latimer Estate, nestled in 30 acres of formal gardens and grounds, boasts free superfast outdoor Wi-fi, a restored Victorian Pond, as well as specially commissioned sculptures by artist Emma Stothard. Guests of the hotel also have access to a gym, indoor pool, sauna, steam room, as well as a boot room which provides complimentary Hunter wellies in which to explore the stunning grounds.  

The property also boasts 28 flexible meeting and events spaces, some of which are located in the Cormorant and Mews buildings, which sit adjacent to the mansion house. The refurbishment has also seen the introduction of De Vere’s first Burr & Co. coffee shop concept, where guests can enjoy high quality ethically sourced coffee, tea, juices and soft drinks, artisan cakes and pastries to take away or eat in.

The completion of De Vere Latimer Estate’s refurbishment marks another important milestone in De Vere’s wider multi-million-pound country estate hotel renovation project, which places the Mansion House at the epi-centre of the group’s country estate portfolio. The gardens will also receive investment with the addition of outdoor dining patios and sculptures, making the great outdoors an extension of the hotel itself.

Rooms start from £129 per room per night and for those staying in the mansion house rooms start from £189 per room per night, based on double occupancy,

In light of recent events around the world concerning the security and safety of the public, have released a new feature, which they have embedded into their GRATIS software. Working with the HBBA, strive to maintain best practice between agents and their clients, and in this instance, help to provide extra protection.

Agents can access The Duty of Care Report through GRATIS (a cloud based solution for venue finding and revenue management), and search for the location of any client, at any time, on any date. Fields can be filtered by name, contact details, number of guests etc., and can even show when a guest has checked in or out, via a CSV. file.

Of course, this facility is by no means exclusive for safety use, believe it is a valuable asset for tracking guests whenever it is necessary.

Below shows a sample page of The Duty of Care Report:

For more details please contact 

Hampden Park, Scotland’s National Stadium in Glasgow has unveiled a new suite of event spaces following a three-month refurbishment.

The refresh focused on updating the venue’s 26 executive boxes, which have been rebranded as ‘Skyboxes’ to represent their envious vantage point over the famous Hampden Pitch, and on transforming a lounge in the North Stand in to a modern events space. Now available for private and corporate bookings for the first time and renamed as the Skylounge, the 150-person capacity area was previously reserved only for match-day hospitality guests.

As well as receiving new décor and furniture, each Skybox has been kitted out with the latest technology to support corporate clients hosting board room lunches, meetings or events. Access to outdoor, pitch-side seating has also been added and sliding partitions offer flexibility as well as the opportunity to create separate break out areas.

Craig Younger, General Manager for Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events at Hampden Park Stadium, said: “This investment has allowed us to increase capacity for private and corporate events and offer more choice to clients. The improved events spaces are already generating interest from the local business community and beyond.

“Our Skyboxes were previously fixed spaces with limited capacity, but thanks to their new design two or more rooms can be joined together to create one larger meeting room.”

Peter Dallas, Hampden Park Ltd. Managing Director, said: “We are extremely pleased our vibrant new Skybox concept has received such positive review from our visitors so quickly.

Working in partnership with our longstanding partner, Sodexo, Hampden now offers conferencing and banqueting facilities that are amongst the best in the country, with a breathtaking view overlooking the famous Hampden pitch”.

Hampden Park is recognised by UEFA as a 5-star rated venue and will host football games as part of UEFA EURO 2020.

For more information about holding an event, meeting or conference at Hampden Park call 0141 620 4120 or visit:


Agency bookings have increased from 14% to 28% in the last twelve months at the Barbican.  This success follows significant growth in the previous year where agency business went from 1% to 14%.

“Following greater focus on our agency relationships, both direct and through the HBAA, we are reaping the benefits of this work as it drives new business into the venue,” comments Jackie Boughton, Head of Business Events at the Barbican.  “Our direct corporate and association business has remained steady throughout this period meaning this is all additional revenue.  As a world leading arts and events venue, such success is reinvested both in the building itself and our ground-breaking arts programme, ensuring the venue offers something truly different to both its commercial and domestic audiences.”

The Barbican’s ongoing success in the agency market is partly attributable to its close partnership with the HBAA, whose influence Jackie and the team recognise and applaud: “The HBAA is a superb organisation, with an influential and engaged membership.  They support both their agency and supplier members, bringing us together and building relationships and opportunities for all.”

The HBAA’s Consultant Executive Director, Juliet Price comments: “The Barbican continues to recognise the importance not just of relationships but also the best practice our members adhere to as part of all their work.  Agencies are the lifeblood of the meetings and events industry and the HBAA is proud to represent them as a whole.  They deliver around 60% of business placed across the UK market and we are delighted that venues such as the Barbican see their value and work so closely to grow such vital relationships.”

Andrew Lowe has been appointed to the role of AV Manager at Church House Westminster.

With a background in running the in-house AV for major corporations, Andrew took up his position a month ago and will lead Church House Westminster’s AV department’s successful delivery of events.   

Andrew commented: “AV plays an important role in delivering first class events but clients do not always know what is available to them, and how it can enhance their event. Church House has an enviable list of clients and agencies who regularly stage large scale events and this is what appealed to me about the role. By working with them to understand the scope of their event we can show clients how AV can play a pivotal role in making it a success. I will be working in partnership with them to ensure Church House’s latest technology is utilised to its full extent and help deliver events which have an impact on everybody involved.”

Church House has invested significantly in its AV facilities, with its capabilities boasting some of the most advanced infrastructure of any London venue. Its in-house team are able to deliver full HD web streaming and video on demand services (VOD) and offers 4k projection in its largest Space – the Assembly Hall.

Robin Parker, General Manager at Church House Westminster commented: “We are delighted that Andrew will be heading up our AV department going forward. He has a wealth of experience and his technical knowledge is a great asset to Church House. We have invested significantly in our facilities over the last couple of years so we can offer our clients some of the best AV in the industry. Andrew’s expertise will be a driving force in helping clients make the best use of the technology available to them.”

Church House Westminster is one of London’s most versatile event venues. The AIM Gold accredited venue offers 19 flexible event spaces, which accommodate between 2 and 664 guests, and hosts a wide variety of events including meetings, conferences, awards ceremonies, gala dinners and receptions. For more information call 020 7390 1590 or visit

Sky Sports presenter, Jeff Stelling, stopped off for some well-earned rest and relaxation at Rockliffe Hall on Wednesday 13th June, before continuing his “March for Men”, raising awareness and much needed funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

Jeff, from Hartlepool, is walking 400 miles from St James Park in Exeter to St James’ Park in Newcastle, leading his squad of walkers to over 40 football clubs en route. The 62-year-old started the two week challenge on June 2nd and aims to complete it on June 16th.

Following their overnight stay at Rockliffe Hall, in Hurworth, County Durham, the walking team’s route for the penultimate day of their challenge will take in Darlington’s Blackwell Meadows, Middlesbrough Football Club’s Riverside Stadium and will finish at Hartlepool’s Victoria Park.

Anyone who wants to join in for one of the final 2 days of the challenge can pay a £25 registration fee and must pledge to raise at least £300 in sponsorship. Visit for more information.

Prostate Cancer UK aims to raise money for better diagnosis, better treatment and better support, and to make sure people across the country know about the problem. The charity is striving to beat the disease which affects one in eight men across the UK.

Eamonn Elliott, Chief Executive of Rockliffe Hall, said: “Jeff and his team are very welcome here at Rockliffe Hall. We’re delighted to be able to do our bit by offering them a luxurious place to rest their heads, and feet, for the night, before they continue on their epic challenge for such a worthy cause.”

Contact Rockliffe Hall on 01325 729999 or​



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