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manchester

UK city targets £1.2bn conference business

Marketing Manchester has launched its five-year strategy which targets 40% growth, adding £345m to the city’s existing business tourism value of £862m (according to figures taken from 2017).

The strategy, which was launched to Marketing Manchester members at Manchester Central, 13 June, is based on four pillars: attracting more conferences to the city, collaboration, delivering a ‘world class delegate welcome’, and the development of the product overall.

The city is seeing rapid expansion in construction since suffering heavily in the 2009 recession, with 93 cranes currently in operation, the highest number for a city in the UK. More hotels are due to come online in the coming years.

Stephanie Newton, head of business tourism at Marketing Manchester, told CN that the new strategy is ‘aggressive’. She said: “Manchester has done well over the last 10 years by increasing its conference value and volume by 50%. This strategy is a much more aggressive strategy; we want to increase the target by 40%, which equates to a further £345m, which will take our total conference value up to £1.2bn by 2024.

“We need to do that through collaboration through our members, stakeholders, and wider region, to bring more conferences into the city.

“When we launched this strategy, we were clear that we didn’t want it to just be a Marketing Manchester strategy, but one for the entire destination. The four pillars of the strategy have come from extensive consultation with our partners.”

In financial year 2017/18, Manchester submitted 85 bids, of which 30 were converted into conference business yielding £26m economic impact. This included placing 12,000 accommodation bookings.

Shaun Hinds, chief executive at Manchester Central, the city’s largest events venue, told Marketing Manchester members that the city cannot be complacent. He said: “It look 18-months to secure the BSAVA Congress [the British Small Animal Veterinary Association has recently committed to the venue after leaving the NEC after 30 years], and we had to fight off strong competition from other cities. With both the new ICC Wales and Aberdeen’s TECA entering the marketplace soon, and the investment from the likes of Harrogate, Manchester is going to have to work exceptionally hard to stay ahead. This strategy will help achieve this.”

Conference News will be analysing in detail the Greater Manchester Business Visits and Events Strategy in a special session at Confex North, Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, 3-4 July. Details to follow.