In 2013, VisitEngland secured extra funds from the federal government to further promote regional destinations outside London, and bring them to international trade shows like IMEX America and Frankfurt. The goal is to educate international planners about just how convenient it is to access these regions, and what they have to offer in terms of unique venues.
“It means we’re working very closely with cities that we usually work with like Cambridge and Manchester, but it allows us to assist more regional partners like Bristol, Bath, York, Nottingham, etc.,” says Simon Gidman, business visits & events manager at VisitEngland. “Those are destinations that haven’t traditionally done a lot in the MICE market.”
Aligned with that mission, VisitEngland launched an all new meetings website atVisitEngland.com/business in December, anchored by an embedded Google Map searchable by destination, venue type and meeting theme. The new portal also has an integrated RFP functionality and case studies with testimonials from planners and corporate executives.
Gidman explains that one of the challenges his office has had in the past is when U.S. planners think about incentive programs especially, they generally think only about London. Because of that, VisitEngland is working with suppliers like Metier DMC to develop new programs from Cornwall in the southwest to Newcastle in the northeast.
That can include anything from a tour along old smuggling routes in Yorkshire to a private event at Nottingham Castle. When planners access Nottingham Castle on the new website, they can get read the overview there, and then click for more info over to the Nottingham Event Team site. There you’ll learn about more intriguing venues such as Colwick Hall, the ancestral home of Lord Byron.
“Planners are always looking for something new, and they don’t always realize what’s available in a lot of these amazing regional destinations,” says Gidman. “It’s very difficult to pitch England without London, but if you want to take advantage of these great palaces, castles and museums across the country where you can do corporate events and dinners, then take advantage of that too. That seems to becoming more attractive because a lot of delegates have been to London before.”