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Team Aberdeen launches Ambassador Programme to help secure share of £878 million business tourism pot

An Ambassador Programme which will help to attract lucrative Association meetings to Aberdeen and the surrounding areas was launched on Thursday 26 September at Drum Castle. ’Team Aberdeen – Ambassadors’, is a partnership between VisitAberdeen, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University.

The Team Aberdeen Ambassador Programme will support academics and business people to bring their sectorial conferences and meetings to Aberdeen. Business tourism is calculated to have a direct benefit of £878 million to Scotland annually.

Peter Medley, Marketing Director at VisitAberdeen, explains, “The Ambassador Programme supports academic and key business people who can in some way influence the destination chosen for their professional association’s conferences and meetings. These Ambassadors are in a unique position to place Aberdeen at the heart of conference destination decisions; and Aberdeen is uniquely positioned with two highly regarded Universities and world leading energy sector professionals.”

The Team Aberdeen programme will help to equip Ambassadors with the tools and advice they need on all aspects of meeting and conference organising. This free conference bid management advice and support will include researching the viability of any given conference or event coming to Aberdeen to a venue finding service, accommodation booking service and planning social programmes.  Speaking at the launch was Senior Lecturer in Events Management at the University of Greenwich in London, Rob Davidson. Rob is no stranger to Aberdeen as he was a student of University of Aberdeen in the 70’s and has a unique perspective of how the city has developed as a conference destination over the years. Rob shared his experiences of setting up ambassador programmes in other destinations and the importance of being a conference ambassador.

Peter Medley continues, “In some cases, where the economic benefit of bringing a conference to Aberdeen is evaluated to be significant, Team Aberdeen may also provide financial support.  The average business visitor spends 1.5 times more than a leisure visitor does in Scotland, so it is vital that we all work in partnership to secure further conferences for our area. 19% of the total tourism expenditure in Scotland is from business tourism, so it’s a key priority for all Team Aberdeen partners.”

Scotland plays a key role in UK business tourism with 28% of all International Association conferences held in the UK taking place in Scotland.

“Aberdeen and its surrounding area are well placed to take further advantage of this through the Team Aberdeen Ambassadors,” adds Peter. “We have a series of excellent venues including the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and the academic venues of both Universities along with a broad range of accommodation from 5 star hotel rooms to university halls of residences out of term time. Our close proximity to castles, distilleries and golf courses adds to Aberdeen’s attractiveness as a conference or meeting destination. We’re also very well positioned now in terms of direct international flights from Aberdeen International Airport to each of the key countries.”

Nicola Pearce, Commercial and CPD Business Development Officer for the University of Aberdeen, says, “Many academics from the University of Aberdeen were members of the previous Ambassador Scheme and found the support extremely useful.  We are delighted to be involved from the outset in this new initiative and look forward to working with the other partners to bring events to Aberdeen.”

Brian Horsburgh, AECC's Managing Director, says: "The Team Aberdeen approach has already proved successful with the securing of one major international conference (Routes Europe 2015) already this year. Supporting local Ambassadors in bidding for conferences to bring to the Region will not only enhance our reputation for excellence in many academic arenas, but also as a conference destination of choice for national and international learned Societies."  

As well as conference and event venues, the business tourism industry has an impact on the wider visitor economy in Scotland, benefitting cities, towns, universities, resorts, transport, retail, food and drink and much more.

More than 30 leading academics and business professionals attended the launch event on Thursday 26 September and became inaugural Team Aberdeen Ambassadors.

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