Although the decision of the United Kingdom to exit the European Union sent shock waves through the events industry in London, the city remains a bustling destination, with inquiries about bringing conferences to London up 41 percent since the "Brexit" vote in June. Representatives from CVB London and Partners and conference venue ExCeL London shared their findings at a breakfast Oct. 19 during IMEX America in Las Vegas.
David Pegler, ExCeL London's CEO, noted that the post-Brexit fall in the value of the pound has made notoriously expensive London more affordable for organizers and delegates from overseas. This depressed value is, however, likely to be temporary, he added, urging organizers to "pre-negotiate everything" in advance of their events.
LONDON AS BUSINESS HUB
Tracy Halliwell, MBE, director of business tourism and major events for London and Partners, pointed to London's unique standing in the world as a hub for the technology, creative, financial, science and business-service sectors.
She added that the city offers a highly skilled workforce, giving organizers access to 368,000 experienced IT professionals. Some 250 languages are spoken in London, and "only Las Vegas has more hotel rooms," she said. Another 16,000 hotel rooms should be ready by 2018.
Besides new hotel rooms, London is making big investments in its infrastructure. The new Elizabeth Line, slated to start running in 2018, will increase London’s rail capacity by 10 percent. The new line is expected to cut travel times sharply and allow passengers to travel across London on just one train.
Halliwell also stressed the city's fabled allure for visitors interested in history and the arts.
Pegler noted the special features of ExCeL London, which offers 100,000 square meters of flexible event space, including London's International Convention Centre. The facilities include the largest auditorium in the U.K., seating up to 5,000 attendees, and London's largest banquet hall, accommodating 3,000 guests. The property can be reached by train and subway, and offers parking for 3,700 cars.
SALESFORCE WORLD TOUR AT EXCEL
Mrinal Warburton, senior director of client services for Portland, Ore.-based Opus Agency, shared her experiences hosting the Salesforce World Tour at ExCeL. Designed for staff, customers and partners, the event welcomed 15,000 pre-registered, international delegates. The event is second in size only to Salesforce's massive Dreamforce event in San Francisco.
Opus is included on the latest Special Events "50 Top Event Companies."
Warburton pointed to ExCeL's accessibility and attendee capacities as draws for her event. She added that the facility's management team worked with her team to make traffic flow for attendees smooth, seamless and secure.
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