The consortium, whose last conference was held in January 2020, has continued to support its members throughout the pandemic with online forums, industry presentations and assisting members across a range of activities to position them in pole position to return to business over the past year.
The annual conference titled ‘New Horizons’, was held at member venue Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre, sponsored by Blendology, and attended by 111 delegates. Planning the conference programme, its aims and the insight to Venues of Excellence’s future, Mandy Jennings, CEO of Venues of Excellence says: “We have been looking forward to this conference for many months, to have the chance to reconnect with our members and partners face to face. Membership retention for the organisation has been fantastic due to the levels of support we offered during lockdown, our sales and marketing efforts are now reaping rewards as we see enquiries back to 2019 levels, and confidence is instilled when we see our customers are asking for quality venues where they know they will be in safe and secure environments. We are excited by the new landscape for the hospitality and events industry and truly believe the future is bright.”
Keynote Speaker, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality delivered her presentation around ‘The Recovery of UK Hospitality’ whilst other topics discussed at the conference were focussed on sustainability in events by ISLA, a great panel discussion on new technology and innovation and BVA-BDRC sharing the latest update surrounding the state of the hospitality industry.
Nicole Sadd, CEO of Rothamsted Enterprises who heads up the consortiums’ Quality Strategy shared her thoughts around the conference programme: “Quality is at the heart of what Venues of Excellence stands for, as we all want to provide an excellent experience for our customers, so they return repeatedly and have huge trust in the Venues of Excellence brand and venues.
We have a robust quality audit in place, that is continuously built upon to ensure we are leading the way in the conference, meetings and events market and with the speakers and exhibitors at this year’s conference echo and support out Quality ethos.”
A key challenge facing many member venues currently lies in the recruitment and securing the right candidate to take businesses successfully into the future. The presentation by Adrian Ellis, GM The Lowry, Manchester on behalf of The Hoteliers’ Charter on raising the profile of the industry, shared his journey providing great tips and advice for delegates to take back to their organisation to share with their teams.
Stewart Elsmore, Director of Campus Services, Cranfield University and Chairman of the Venue on this year’s conference said; “Post Covid – we can now clearly see business success resuming and fast coming towards us from the horizon.
Our future will be built on quality, plus the high calibre of our people, coupled with the smart use of technology and innovation to deliver what our customers need.”
The conference was complemented by a great networking area for peer-to-peer engagement and to meet with over 20 exhibitors who offer products and services to the hospitality sector. Many of the exhibitors work with Venues of Excellence members within the renowned Preferred Partner Programme. This provided delegates with an excellent opportunity to meet with a range of suppliers; from software companies to industry compliance, sustainability accreditations to recruitment and so much more during the breaks and lunch, providing key contacts to work in partnership with for the future.
Sustainability at the conference was a ‘hot topic’ to ensure VoE members are abreast of the importance this has on conference and event buyers decision making. Most recently, the consortium introduced the Green Accredited Venue icon to their member profiles to highlight members who have gained an industry sustainability accreditation. Emma Chamberlain, Head of Sales and Marketing at Imago Venues and Elite Athlete Conference Hotel commented: “Sustainability is no longer just about accreditations or ticking boxes on audits. It’s about living and breathing meaningful change. Benchmarking, whilst important, is focussed on where we’ve been and where we’re at today. We now need to focus on where we want to be tomorrow and beyond to satisfy and inspire our clients to hold more responsible and sustainable events. As a collective, we have an amazing opportunity to come together and embed sustainability as a fundamental thread of excellence throughout our venues.”
From an informative and packed day with industry experts, the annual conference concluded with a conference dinner, where members, suppliers and the VoE team informally networked, reflecting on the business of the day and relaxed enjoying the opportunity to be back in the room together once again.
(Photo: Adrian Ellis, GM The Lowry, Manchester presenting on behalf of The Hoteliers’ Charter to the delegates.)