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The De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre (EMCC) on the University Park campus at the University of Nottingham has announced a major refurbishment to begin at the end of January.

More than £2million is being invested to reinvigorate the award-winning conference facility which will be unveiled at the end of Spring 2020. The project, which is set to modernise the venue with state-of-the-art design and equipment including an impressive video wall, comes as the conference centre celebrates its 35th anniversary.

The three month-long refurbishment programme will include the remodelling of the venue’s atrium area creating a collaborative space. The design concept is a subtle celebration of Nottinghamshire and the University’s culture. The refreshed meeting rooms and banqueting spaces will enrich delegate experience alongside the installation of cutting edge audio-visual technology. The project will also include featured artwork created by a local Nottingham based artist commissioned in conjunction with the Lakeside Art’s Centre.

Commenting on the announcement, Tom Waldron-Lynch, General Manager of East Midlands Conference Centre, said: “We’re excited to announce the plans for EMCC. We are continually investing in our venue and this refurbishment will ensure that EMCC continues to have an industry leading offer, attracting businesses to the midlands. As well as enhanced event spaces, the work will also see us investing in several facilities as part of our ongoing drive to operate more sustainably, including the installation of new hydration stations throughout the venue, new food and beverage offerings, new breakout spaces, the refurbishing of over 900 banquet chairs and installation of a digital signage package throughout to reduce the need for printing.”

Set in 330 acres of the University of Nottingham’s landscaped parkland, De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre is a modern destination for meetings, conferences, training and business events with 21 flexible event spaces and free, superfast Wi-Fi with a maximum of 1GB available throughout the venue.

Adjacent to EMCC is the 202-bed De Vere Orchard Hotel which offers modern stylish bedrooms, a restaurant, bar and gym. Plus, there are eight additional event suites at EMCC’s sister property, De Vere Jubilee Conference Centre, 5-minute drive away.

Guests can also enjoy free access to the state-of-the-art gym and 25m swimming pool at the University of Nottingham's David Ross Sports Village. Other facilities include a climbing wall and squash and badminton courts, pre-bookable by guests for a small charge.

De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre is located close to J25 of the M1 and to East Midlands Airport, with direct trains into central London from Nottingham railway station.


Twickenham Stadium has launched a new food waste strategy that includes an innovative internal ‘circular economic model’ that maximises every ingredient, reduces food miles and tracks the source, multiple use and outcome of every ingredient used on the menu.

The food waste strategy is part of an extension of the stadium’s existing sustainability initiatives and is being implemented to reduce the average ‘per person’ wastage at the stadium. “At the moment, the average amount of waste per person as the stadium is only small, but when that is multiplied by the amount of visitors we have to Twickenham, it becomes much larger,” comments Thomas Rhodes, Executive Head Chef at Twickenham Stadium, and one of the leaders on the venue’s sustainability initiatives.

The circular economic model is based around menu design, which encourages multiple uses of each ingredient, across the stadium’s operations and throughout the day. It also encourages the reusing of wastage items for stocks and sauces so maximum ‘value’ is taken from every ingredient, all of which are sourced locally. 

“To get waste down now, we need to look beyond the per person waste, and look at the micro things we do which have macro effects,” continues Thomas. “This means we can track the life of an ingredient, use it for different things across the menu, from top to bottom. For instance, we can order whole locally sourced vegetables, use them in two or three dishes, and then use the excess for stocks and soups. It means one ingredient will be seen across two or three menus and multiple events.”

The food waste strategy also links with the stadium’s commitment to reducing food miles and its ability to demonstrate to guests where food has been sourced from. This added intelligence means the venue is able to offer menus that have been optimised at source and at disposal. The menu design is also helping support guest’s own green agendas.

“A good example of this is the use of our celeriac, which we peel, bake in salt and serve as a plant-first option. The peelings of the vegetable are ground down with the excess salt to create a veggie salt for other dishes; the offcuts are used for a jus on a different part of the menu; and anything else left over we reuse in stocks and soups. That means you could have four dishes using the same ingredient in four different ways. When we share this approach with delegates, they really buy into what we’re trying to do.”

2020 will be ‘a year of reflection and change’ for the HBAA as it adopts Regeneration as its theme for the year.

New HBAA Chair Lex Butler, founder and Operations Director of agency Wolf & White, announced the plan to a record audience of 190 members at the association’s annual Kick Off Meeting at The Grand Brighton. “We are in the final stretch of our current five-year plan. 2020 will be a year of reflection, where our key strategy is ‘Regeneration’. A year ahead of change, movements and restructuring, making HBAA as relevant as possible to the needs of its members and the industry, will lead us well into our next five-year strategy in 2021.”

As a first step towards implementing this, the association has created new roles on its executive committee including a Sustainability Chair, Training Chair, Partnerships Chair and NextGen Chairs.

Butler said: “Our executive committee has expanded to ensure it is robust and future-fit.”

Regeneration was also the theme of the one-day conference. It was reflected in insightful sessions on developments such as Esports and Brexit as well as throuogh engaging speakers such as Francis Gimblett of Taste the Vine and inspiring double amputee former soldier Micky Yule who is now Paralympic powerlifter.

Esports: an untapped opportunity for the event industry

Esports, the world of competitive video-gaming, presents a vast and untapped revenue opportunity for the event and hospitality industry, according to experts who spoke at the meeting.

The session, titled ‘Esports: An Industry Regeneration Opportunity’, and led by Alistair Turner of Eight PR featured Cameron Vanloo, a lecturer on esports at the University of Northampton. He told the audience: “Esports presents a tangible opportunity for the event industry. In 2019, around 4,000 physical tournaments took place and attracted 454 million viewers. The UK is the fourth biggest consumer of esports in the world. Esports hasn’t seen its limit. Viewership numbers are constantly on the rise and are expected to reach 1.7bn in 2022.”

Johanna Byrane, head of business development at Twickenham Stadium, discussed her experience of working with the esports community and how Twickenham has become the official HQ of esports team Excel. More teams are looking for venues

Vanloo also shared important insights for venues. He said esports events do not require standardised venues or large capacity spaces as most people watch online. He highlighted the importance of technology in delivering these events and pointed out that because gatherings are truly global they do not run to the usual working day of 9 to 5.

Brexit: Recruitment ‘a concern for venues and hotels’

Discussing the new political landscape’, political consultant and analyst John Rowland of Cicero Group confirmed that recruitment, particularly of low-skill workers, from the EU, could pose a long-term problem for the hospitality and events industry in post-Brexit Britain under the proposed new immigration rules.

Rowland said: “Brexit will increase friction in travel but not enough to put off short-term visitors as those staying up to 90 days will not require a visa. It could affect those coming to live and work in the UK.” It is not anticipated that Brexit will have a negative impact on event visitors to the UK.

The hospitality industry may need to foster closer relationships with UK schools and FE colleges to fill a potential staffing shortfall.

Lex Butler also confirmed that Buses4Homeless will continue as the association’s charity partner for 2020 and the Annual Dinner in the evening added a further £22,000 to the £36,000 raised by members in 2019.  

Further information about HBAA is available

The Barbican’s strategy to use Cinemas 2 and 3 as conference venues as well as cinemas has helped Barbican Business Events achieve its 2019/20 financial target in just nine months. 

The new spaces, which have been particularly popular with last minute bookers each have a capacity of 150, the latest AV equipment and private registration, food and beverage areas.

To date the Barbican has seen a 5% increase in the number of business events held in the building during the last financial year.  With delegate numbers also increasing this means that Barbican Business Events is now 17% ahead of 2018/19 in revenue generated and predicted to achieve its best financial year ever.

In addition to the increased revenue from Cinemas 2 and 3, the Business Events team has also continued to grow international business, particularly in the association sector.  This has been achieved through long term investment and focus on international sales and marketing activity ranging from PR to sales missions and attendance at global trade events.

High profile events including WIRED Pulse AI at the Barbican, The London Conference on International Law and The Fast-Track Cities Conference have also raised the venue’s public profile, leading to greater interest from both organisers and delegates.

“This is the third year running that the Business Events team has achieved its goals in just nine months despite ever increasing targets,” comments Jackie Boughton, Head of Barbican Business Events.  “I am incredibly proud of my team, who have worked tirelessly to both win the business and deliver exceptional customer service.  Their hard work has in turn led to 42% repeat business, helping to ensure that the next 12 months will be another great success for Barbican Business Events.”

In addition to being a part of the Barbican Business Events meetings and event offering, Barbican Cinema offers a fully curated programme of international cinema including thematic seasons, new releases, and special events.

In December 2019, leading creative communications agency, Top Banana, flew 6 delegates across the Atlantic to explore Canada for a luxury winter FAM trip. 

This was the first FAM trip organised by the agency and was aimed at current and prospective incentive clients. It was organised to not only give the agency the opportunity to really showcase their incentive travel offering, but to position what Canada has to offer as an incentive destination.

Partnering with Air Canada, Four Seasons Whistler, Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Rare Indigo DMC, Vancouver CVB and Tourism Whistler, the Top Banana team created a jam packed, fun-filled 4-day itinerary for their guests.

Discovering both Whistler and Vancouver across the 4 days, the delegates experienced everything from private dining experiences, helicopter rides and skiing in North America’s premier ski resort, to exploring the sights of Vancouver on sea planes and of course taking in the atmosphere at an ice hockey game.

Top Banana’s Director of Incentives, Elliott Grant, comments “Canada has always been one of my favourite destinations both personally and of course for client incentives. So, when the opportunity arose for us to organise our very first FAM trip in Whistler and Vancouver, we knew how to pull out all of the stops.

He continues “This was a great opportunity for us to get to know our clients better, showcase how we create truly memorable itineraries and experiences and of course showcase Canada as a great destination for incentive trips. We had a great group of people join us for the trip, who loved what Canada had to offer, with one client even adding Canada to their list of potential destinations for their 2020 incentive programme.”


The Apartment Service (TAS) headquartered in London - England and with offices in Europe, Asia and The Americas, are delighted to announce the promotion of Melanie Degand to Managing Director.

Melanie most recently held the position of Director of Service Excellence at TAS, she has been with the company for over 16 years, and for this new role is excited to draw on her experience of leading teams,  holding key client account relationships and driving forward our service excellence programme with essential operational refinements within TAS to ensure we are providing clear value-led solutions to our clients and their travellers and assignees.

 “This appointment comes at an important time for The Apartment Service and the opportunities for our company, our staff and the wider sector which continues to grow, globally”, says Charles McCrow, CEO. "

"Melanie has a proven track-record in all the roles she has performed in the business over the years, her eye for detail, exacting standards and always prioritising the client, means that her new role is a natural progression for her and the company."

“I am delighted and excited by my appointment to Managing Director, together with all our global teams I am looking forward to developing existing relationships and establishing new ones” adds Melanie, “We have a great team at TAS and we will continue to grow and develop our Global Agency business together in a supportive and collaborative environment”

In her new role Melanie Degand will oversee the continued growth of the Global Agency and help TAS remain at the forefront of our sector.


Like many venues, hotels and probably most other businesses, we spend a lot of time thinking about corporate gifts. These are the branded items designed to be a constant subliminal reminder of your company and the high value it places on its clients who are the lucky recipients of these much sought-after items.

In reality, they are usually fairly tacky, unwanted and contain a high percentage of single-use plastic! So, is this really the route we should be going to? There must be a better way? Maybe a sustainable gift is the answer? But can any gift really be completely sustainable? Personally, I think not. Whatever the gift, it still has an element of mass production, packaging, and transportation involved in reaching its final destination.

Without wishing to completely wreck what is probably a very profitable industry, do any of us really know anyone who needs another pen or an A5 notepad with an elastic strap around it? I mention these items as for the last few years these have been our go-to gift items, along with season ticket wallets, nail files, mints, memory sticks, and tote bags. In an attempt to tick the sustainable box our more recent efforts have included collapsible/reusable coffee cups and bamboo pens, but as we do not find ourselves within walking distance of a bamboo forest or rubber plantation one has to question the genuine sustainability of these latest, well-meaning gifts.

So, what do we do? Well, having established, at least in my own mind, that nobody really wants these gifts anyway, why are we continuing to purchase them and inflict them on our most valued clients? I wonder if instead of giving a gift, we make a pledge to charity? This must be a win-win! Firstly, we are not responsible for the production, packaging, and transportation of unnecessary items and secondly, it benefits a good cause.

At Church House, we are working towards our zero-gift policy. I say working towards because we still have stock to get through, which rather than throw away and cause a notepad mountain in Westminster we will try and distribute in a responsible way.

If any of you are wondering if this will really work, we have tried it already. At the end of our gala client dinner earlier in the year, I stood on stage to round off the evening and announced that there would be no goodie bags on departure and that instead, we were donating the money to The British Heart Foundation, the announcement was greeted by a rapturous round of applause, which was certainly not for me! Why not give it a try? Will the world really miss the logoed pen?


For more information contact Elana Kruger, Marketing Manager at Church House Westminster.

Email: or telephone: 020 7390 1582


Award winning conference, training and leisure venue Wyboston Lakes Resort has again been recognised as one of the best conference venues in the country.

It has been chosen as one of only six finalists as Best UK Conference Centre at this year’s Meeting & Incentive Travel Industry Awards.

The M&IT Travel Industry Awards are particularly highly coveted and competitive in the industry because they are decided by the votes of readers of the Meetings & Incentive Travel magazine, among the industry’s most highly regarded publications – and many of the readers are clients of the venue.

Managing Director Steve Jones, explains: “It is immensely satisfying to be recognised once again by being shortlisted for such a prestigious award. It’s superb testimony to the marvellous contributions of the whole team and the tremendous quality of the facilities at our recently transformed Woodlands Event Centre.”

The £3m total transformation of Wyboston Lakes Resort’s conference and events venue to create The Woodlands Event Centre was completed in spring 2019.

The investment has created a stylish and inspiring event centre for now and for the future. It’s fully equipped with the facilities and technology to meet the needs of the latest generation of delegates and event organisers and has the capacity and flexibility to suit every type of event and the latest event trends.

Equipped with the latest Audio-Visual technology, the venue provides inspirational meeting areas, including a main conference room that seats 620 delegates’ theatre style or 380 cabaret style, with creative flair and movable walls to expand event options.

An exciting range of food options, including the Mediterranean inspired Olive Restaurant and the informal Cedar Bar, have also been created., The new Food Market offers a variety of international street food dishes providing a modern twist on the traditional servery.

The results of the 2020 Meeting & Incentive Travel Industry Awards will be announced at a Gala Presentation Dinner at Evolution London on Friday 28 February.

For more information, please visit 

Travellers are benefitting from easy bookings, enhanced wellbeing and significant cost savings as a result of 93 pieces of new travel technology released in 2019 by Capita Travel and Events.

The new technology, developed by Capita Travel and Events’ in-house technology team, comprising 251 new product features and five new products has made customers’ booking and travel experience simpler, safer and smarter.

One of the most significant pieces of technology is the iris suite, featuring:

·         Smart communications to influence better booking behaviours with timely push notifications and targeted emails

·         The mobile app ‘iris: go’ providing travellers access to their accommodation, air and rail booking information in one place

·         iris:smart itinerary consolidating travellers’ bookings with calendar invites

·         iris:intelligent tracking providing customers with 24/7 access to their traveller locations during their business trip with real-time communication to enhance duty of care and prepare for potential disruption.

·         New online MI enables 24/7 access multiple booking type reports, which can be easily filtered by cost centre or dates

In the rail sector, Capita Travel and Events’ move to e-ticketing is delivering a more environmentally friendly and convenient alternative solution to printed tickets. This, combined with our ‘rail fare checker’ proposition (which maximises split ticketing opportunities on key routes) and our delay-repay technology provided by our technology partner Railguard (which checks compensation for delayed trains), is helping customers make significant cost savings.

“The rail industry is moving away from paperless tickets and our customers are increasingly environmentally conscious. Therefore, this year we have invested significantly in our digital ticketing solution. Currently, 11% of our customers are opting for e-tickets and we expect further demand for them in 2020,” explained Josh Collier, Head of Proposition Rail & Ground Transport.

“Equally, our rail fare checker and delay-repay technology has realised the value of Smarter working, with cost reduction, increased wellbeing and enhanced productivity – with the latter saving customers collectively over £20,000 alone.”

We also launched the innovative Air Fare Checker, a solution which tracks the flight price fluctuations so customers can take advantage of any drops in airfares and can rebook if a lower fare is available after booking. Similarly, where any bookings exceed over £1,000 or with do so with multiple stops, the technology will trigger an audit by specialist air fare experts to assess whether it complies with the customer’s business policy expectations.

“Over the last year, the results have been fantastic; we have saved our customers over £60,000 on like-for-like flights in over 130 bookings with the Air Fare Checker,” says Jessica Gallimore, Head of Proposition Air and Ancillaries.

The automated air delay and repay technology identifies possible compensation opportunities for qualifying journeys that suffered a delay or cancellation.

“Equally, the Air Delay and Repay technology has also identified £145,000 worth of compensation opportunities, and that is only with our first two customers, so we expect these savings to increase as more customers get on board. As we estimate only 10% of business travellers claim for compensation on delayed flights, there is a significant opportunity for these smart solutions to provide further savings for customers,” Jess continues.

As we move into 2020, the iris: go app will be adapted to include traveller wellbeing and risk management information, all customers will be auto-enrolled onto our rail and air delay-repay checker proposition as well as the respective fare checkers. Enhancing the end-to-end travel experience with increased ancillary options, such as bookable taxis and lounges, will be another focus.

The Woodlands Event Centre, the premier conference and event facility at Wyboston Lakes Resort will not take cash for payments at all from January onwards.

Simon McMahon, Centre General Manager says, “The change to only accepting electronic payments will bring benefits to event participants by making service at the ‘Points of Sale’ faster,” he continues, “It will also help the venue staff by reducing security risks and administration procedures.”

Extensive research was undertaken when planning the change and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

McMahon concludes “With 90 per cent of us now only using cash for less than 10 per cent of our payments, this initiative reflects changes in the way we pay, especially with the rise smart payments such as phones, watches and contactless cards. It is also in line with our forward-thinking approach to the £3m transformation of the Woodlands Events Centre into a high-class modern facility equipped for the next decade.”

For more information, please visit


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