Business returns to pre-pandemic levels at Coventry and Warwickshire venues
Business in the conference and exhibition sector has returned to pre-pandemic levels in Coventry and Warwickshire, according to three of the region’s venues.
Coombe Abbey Hotel, Coventry Building Society Arena and Warwick Conferences all say there is a renewed confidence in the sector in the region as enquiries are up at the venues for business events of all sizes.
The region’s largest venue is Coventry Building Society Arena and its main exhibition hall is currently running at over 90% in occupancy, and is forecasting the same business levels as 2019.
Its on-site hotel is forecasting a 90% plus occupancy and in recent months the Arena has received more than 300 enquiries to host events on-site.
Paul Michael, venue commercial director at Coventry Building Society Arena, said: “We are definitely back to event levels now that we had in the months leading up to the pandemic taking hold.
“Over the last couple of months we have welcomed over 75,000 visitors to the Arena and have 520 events booked for the coming year.
“We are making a multi-million pound investment in our new Commonwealth Convention Centre on site, which will expand our space, give us more capacity and allow is to work with more event organisers.
“The industry has definitely bounced back in region, and where we can, we refer organisers elsewhere in the region if we can’t support them.”
Warwick Conferences (pictured below) at the University of Warwick has recently completed a major renovation of its Arts Centre and is currently averaging 90 enquiries a week.
Gail Tomlinson-Short, head of business development at Warwick Conferences, said: “It has been mostly returning business for us but we are receiving enquiries which mirror pre-pandemic levels.
“We invested £20,000 during the pandemic to increase our connectivity and hardware capability to deliver hybrid events, and this has proved popular. The new virtual/hybrid technology is not only enhancing our customer’s meeting experience but supports their confidence in booking with us.
“One of the differences is that the conversion time is slightly shorter and organisers confirm much closer to the date of the event. As confidence continues to grow among organisers we expect this lead time to increase and 2022 already looks strong for our venue.”
Coombe Abbey Hotel (pictured below), a 121- bedroom hotel on the outskirts of Coventry, has 11 meeting rooms and has enjoyed a buoyant period for its business and hospitality period since reopening.
It hosted 29 events in one week in September and has seen people from all over the country travel to the hotel for meetings.
Ron Terry, operations director at Coombe Abbey Park Limited, said: “As lockdown initially started to ease we were receiving enquiries for very small meetings, and the delegates left as soon as the meeting finished but we are now receiving enquiries for much larger numbers who also want to have stay with us for dinner and enjoy an overnight stay in the hotel.
“Our meeting rooms range from seven capacity to 500, and in one day we welcomed more than 200 delegates recently. It started slowly but we have seen a gradual increase and now it’s almost as if the last 18 months didn’t happen.”
Conference Coventry and Warwickshire works with event organisers to impartially refer them to venues across the region and provide start to finish event support.
Paul Jones, managing director at Conference and Coventry and Warwickshire, added: “From speaking with venues across the region you get a real sense of growing confidence in the conference and exhibition sector.
“For venues to already be back at pre-pandemic levels only a couple of months after reopening is fantastic and testament to the strength of our region in being able to attract business tourism.
“We have a diverse range of venues available for booking in Coventry and Warwickshire and that, coupled with our position in the centre of the country, is making the region a popular destination for organisers.”