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Business is booming at the new-look Assembly Rooms

Assembly Rooms Edinburgh banquet setting
Since re-opening last summer, business has been booming for Assembly Rooms Edinburgh, with sales targets exceeded, awards won and employment opportunities created – and all signs point to continued buoyancy with bookings confirmed as far ahead as 2017.

A report to the City of Edinburgh Council’s Culture & Sport Committee this week highlights that first year sales targets were exceeded by 10 per cent in the first nine months of operation.  Repeat business is already running at 15.5 per cent and sales secured in the first quarter of 2013/14 equate to more than half of the full financial year target. In total, almost 100 events have been hosted in the venue, 298,000 people have been through the doors and over 80 new jobs have been created by the venue’s commercial tenants – Jamie’s Italian, Rox jewellers and Kiehl’s skincare.

The Assembly Rooms has been completely transformed through a £9.3 million restoration project completed in July 2013.  Since then, the venue has proved attractive to the important conferences and meetings sector, which accounts for over two-thirds of the business, with a significant proportion of bookings, over 60 per cent, coming from national and international clients.

Commenting on the venue’s performance, Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture & Sport Convener, City of Edinburgh Council, said:  “Recent figures announced by VisitScotland highlight just how important business tourism is, bringing £1.9 billion to the Scottish economy.  Edinburgh, with a diverse and excellent range of venues and facilities, benefits from its share of that revenue. I am pleased to see that Assembly Rooms Edinburgh is well placed to make a valuable contribution – not just in jobs, but in opportunities to increase bed nights and additional income from visiting delegates. On top of that we are pleased to have welcomed so many people through our newly accessible doors through public tours and community outreach.”

As well as sales success, Assembly Rooms Edinburgh has been recognised with a string of awards and commendations. In recent months, the venue has won three prestigious awards, and been highly commended for another, recognising architecture and heritage. It has also been shortlisted in the Cool Venues Awards and the Conference Venue and Supplier Awards in London for its status as an outstanding location for events.

The first year has also seen the establishment of a Heritage Outreach Project which recognises the important cultural and social significance of the Assembly Rooms’ history. Led by Assembly Rooms, a team of volunteers has gathered personal memories and memorabilia through interviews and reminiscence sessions; hosted public tours; and is planning a touring exhibition this autumn.  Several volunteers have found paid employment as a result.

Shona Clelland, General Manager of Assembly Rooms Edinburgh added: “We have had a terrific first year which has seen the Assembly Rooms back in business with a bang. The positive feedback has been overwhelming, repeat business is healthy and we are going into our second year with some great events lined up as far ahead as 2017.

“However, we will most certainly not be resting on the laurels of our first year success.  Through ongoing improvement and staff development, we will continue to strive towards excellence in offering the best service possible to all of our visitors and clients.”

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