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Judith Sloane, acting manager atMeet Cambridge

Virtual Oxbridge Meet Up Focuses On Positive Future For Conferences And Events

The first-ever virtual meeting of event professionals from Cambridge and Oxford recently took place, with representatives from 60 venues, including Colleges, University facilities and hotels meeting to discuss the future hosting of conferences and events in their cities.

The Zoom summit, jointly organised by Meet Cambridge and Conference Oxford, aimed to be "an opportunity for members to acknowledge the challenges the events industry is currently facing and explore what the future holds, projecting forward to 2021 and beyond".

The event's keynote speaker was Kerrin MacPhie, head of business events for VisitBritain, who gave a presentation entitled ‘Business Events – Road To Recovery’ which provided an overview of VisitBritain’s objectives and activities, as well as buyer insights from Europe, the US and China.

MacPhie highlighted the benefits that business events bring to the UK economy, an annual contribution of £31.2bn which translates into £165bn of trade as seen in the UK Events Report which was released in May 2020. Additionally, business delegates spend 2.3 times more per head than international leisure visitors.

The presentation also acknowledged the surge in popularity for virtual events in the light of face-to-face meetings currently being strictly limited by Government guidelines, but presented evidence that the demand for in-person events remains high.

MacPhie said: “I was delighted to take part in the virtual Oxbridge Meet Up to share the latest updates on VisitBritain’s work and to highlight to attendees the opportunity available to the UK for events in the future.

“Although our sector is facing a time of great uncertainty, the industry is working tirelessly to demonstrate that the UK is getting ready to safely welcome international events back when the time is right, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working.”

Judith Sloane (pictured), acting manager at Meet Cambridge added: “This is the first time we have partnered with Conference Oxford to deliver a virtual event and it was a great success. In addition to Kerrin’s inspirational presentation which gave our members a boost of much-needed positivity, they were also able to break into smaller groups to network and share their situations and experiences.

“The meetings sector has faced unprecedented challenges during the current Covid-19 crisis and those working at venues have sometimes felt isolated and unable to see a clear way forward. This event enabled them to see the ‘bigger picture’ of what we have to offer when we are able to resume face-to-face events.”

Marie O’Connor, head of Conference Oxford said: “It was a pleasure for Conference Oxford to co-host this virtual event with Meet Cambridge. Our members thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the challenges we are all facing at present and to hear from Kerrin MacPhie who is committed and dynamic in her approach to winning conferences and events for Britain. Her positive message in the current situation is like a beacon of hope for the future of the meetings industry. In these very uncertain times, MacPhie detailed how VisitBritain works to promote Britain as a destination for business events and addresses issues such as competition from abroad, the potential effects of Brexit and of course the ongoing impact of Covid-19. She was able to offer really valuable insights into what opportunities exist, what we as venues can do to ensure we are ready and able to take advantage of these opportunities and what VisitBritain can do to help.

“This collaboration between Meet Cambridge and Conference Oxford was a great success. Judith and I look forward to organising similar events in the future, inviting Industry Experts to present to our members and we can’t wait to welcome events back into our world-class venues.”