England: Re-Imagining Events

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While COVID might have temporarily cut off access to the U.K. for U.S. groups, our friends across the pond in England have many new venues to show off when business events start up again. 

Thursday’s Meet England virtual roundtable brought together experts from four leading English destinations—Birmingham, Bath/Bristol, NewcastleGateshead and London—to highlight exciting news from their corners of the country. Then, MeetEngland Virtual 2021 on February 9 to 11 will bring together 30 destinations and 400 planners from around the world to visit exhibitor booths and make connections during one-to-one meetings. 

The virtual event follows MeetEngland’s recently launched international Events Reimagined campaign. VisitBritain Head of Business Events Kerrin MacPhie described how fitting the slogan was to describe the post-COVID era: “If you think about England and the many wonderful urban and rural destinations, what we offer hasn’t changed. But it’s how they will take place that will change.” 

At the roundtable, Nick deBois, chair, VisitEngland, was passionate about the return of events. “Events are a key economic driver. It’s not just about a vibrant events sector, events are the platform through which all businesses will re-launch themselves into the Post-COVID era.” 

With the first in-person meeting of the G7 for nearly two years coming to the tiny resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall in June, he said, “We’re going to have the eyes of the world on us. It will be a winwin for what I think is the best industry in the world.” 

Following are just some of the highlights happening right now in England: 

  • Meet Bristol & Bath is a new partnership of two complementary destination organizations that “makes the most of these wonderful heritage destinations and the great venues and significant development and refurbishment in this part of the world,” said Kathryn Davis, head of tourism at Destination Bristol and interim CEO at Visit Bath. The goal is for groups to explore venues and destinations that might not have been on their radar. “Bath isn’t necessarily looked upon as a convention destination and Bristol is not necessarily and incentive destination, but combined we are able to deliver—and we’re just 12 miles apart.
  • NewcastleGatesheadQuays, opening in 2023 or 2024, will be located opposite the iconic Gateshead Millennium Bridge in the heart of NewcastleGateshead Quayside, minutes from Newcastle city center, and include a 12,500-seat arena, 700,000 sf of conference and exhibition space, and two onsite hotels with more than 300 rooms.  
  • Birmingham will host The Commonwealth Games, which Stephanie Mynett, who heads up the convention bureau, calls a onceinageneration opportunity to show off the region This is our time to shine.” A big draw for Birmingham was the existing  infrastructure and 80 hotel developments in the pipeline. 
  • For incentive groups, the selection of high-end hotels in London just keeps growing, with all eyes on the recent opening of Nobu London Portman Square, NoMad London coming soon to Covent Garden, andamong others, a Raffles, Peninsula and Oberoi on the way. 
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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.