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New research puts Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent on track to maximise conference and meetings business

New research has revealed that Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent - a part of Britain where the meetings-and-events industry now generates around £316m worth of business a year for the local economy - has been rated highly by conference and event organisers for location, ease of travel and value for money.

These are just two of the headline findings from recent research compiled for the Staffordshire Stoke-on-Trent Conference Bureau by industry experts Right Solution.

The research was undertaken during winter 2012/13, amongst conference organisers from corporate, not-for-profit and third party organisations, in order to gauge perceptions of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

It was commissioned to gain market valuation and an economic impact assessment for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent; to identify the factors influencing conference and meetings business for venues; to gauge conference organisers¹ perceptions and views of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent; and to initiate delegate expenditure research - in order to provide guidance on what delegates enjoy most in the county, and to aid future economic impact assessments.

While the first three elements have been carried out since November 2012, and are outlined in the report, the delegate expenditure research is ongoing and will be continued for a set period in order to provide robust information.

Staffordshire Stoke-on-Trent Conference Bureau Manager, Claire Williams explains: "Conferences and events play an important role - and the economic impact and job creation of this industry is key to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. This research was commissioned as a result of ERDF funding received to help develop the Staffordshire visitor economy, under the auspices of the Staffordshire Destination Management Partnership."

As well as confirming that the region was rated highly for location, ease of travel and value for money, the research also found that there is now a good mix of business in the region from both the not-for-profit and corporate sectors, and that well over half of the region¹s venues are definitely in favour of recognised accreditation schemes for venues.

Karen Walters, Project Manager for Right Solution, notes: "The research with potential clients for meetings in Staffordshire showed that there is a requirement for more awareness of the region and what the county has to offer. As a result, in addition to the existing work done by the Conference Bureau and the individual venues, we are starting a programme of proactive sales with an aim of increasing business overall."

And Claire Williams continues: "Moving forward, the team at Right Solution are now working on behalf of the Staffordshire Stoke-on-Trent Conference Bureau to proactively market the Bureau and its members to new and potential new clients. This will be done on a national basis through telesales, sales appointments, exhibitions, networking and many other avenues."

A focus on increasing demand through proactive sales and marketing, she adds, will increase occupancy and profitability for all venues: "We would hope that it will allow venues to achieve better delegate rates and will in turn lead to increased economic impact for the region".

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