“2014 has been named as the year for recovery for the events & conference industry and we’re definitely seeing its affect in our business as enquiries continue to rise and briefs become more tailored with increased spend.
"Quality and service are still king but more companies are looking for an event with a difference within faster and short lead booking cycles, reflecting the need for a strong ROI in quality and service.
"Here are our predictions for the next 6 months: We’re seeing a more hybrid approach to conferencing as events bookers look to cater for virtual delegates accessing content remotely and widening the reach of the day. In response, QHotels is now offering free dedicated event broadband internet for large events, hosting video conferencing and live streaming at optimum speed and with increased security.
"Corporate Social Responsibility does still provide a unique point of difference in my opinion but we’re finding that more bookers and organisers are busier than ever so it can slip down the list of priorities when budgets have been the focus. It’s our job to make it as easy as possible for them to incorporate CSR into their events with simple packages, such as our carbon offsetting programme which has no logistical impact on the day.
"At the start of the year we touched on the importance of conference and event food. Increasingly the discerning diners, event bookers and delegates are looking for something a little different from the norm, an element of choice and a menu that is sympathetic to dietary requirements such as gluten free options as standard.
"Bookers are often looking for guidance and as the quality of the food has a direct impact on the success of the event, it’s essential we steer them in the right direction and work to exceed expectations.
"From healthier options to indulgent treats (often a mixture of both is chosen) and regional produce, we are seeing a range of requests being tailored to the season and locality of each event. How venues react to the changing environment on the day is important too, such as serving ice creams on a hot afternoon to revitalise delegates. We should never underestimate the importance of food in ensuring the success of an event.
"The local link is gaining more importance in the booking process too with familiarisation trips on the rise. Clients are looking specifically at what else the surrounding areas of each venue have to offer visitors and create more of a destination experience for those delegates visiting from outside of the region. In response to this, we have put dedicated teams in place at each hotel to share hidden gems with event bookers and offer local knowledge to support bookings.”