BH Live shortlisted for international innovation award

BH Live is one of 14 businesses to be shortlisted for this year’s AIPC Innovation Award.
The prestigious international award reflects AIPC’s mission of Encouraging and Recognising Excellence in Convention Centre Management and is made for specific projects or initiatives that show genuine innovation; that is, the development of a new, more creative or more effective approach to any aspect of convention centre management, operations or marketing.

Social enterprise and venue operator BH Live, has been shortlisted for a new catering partnership business model, designed to grow its presence beyond its Bournemouth roots and complete the delegate experience through innovative retail catering and fine dining.

“Our business model has already contributed to an increase in overall turnover from £25 million in 2010 to £36 million today, forecast to reach more than £45 million by 2017,” says BH Live CEO Peter Gunn. “And that’s great news, both for the communities we support and the businesses who bring their events to our venues.

“We’ve created a new way for not-for-profit distributing organisations to attract more customers into their venues and generate more surplus to invest in their communities. Our retail catering and fine dining brands will work for any venue, audience or business event. Services are imagined and then developed by the team at Bournemouth International Centre, proven in the real world of client events, and then rolled out across other partner venues.”

With a newly established and fully integrated in-house hospitality division, the business has greater freedom and control over choice, quality, price, menu design, table arrangements, settings, customer service, team building and skills development. It has provided the impetus to trade beyond the core venues in Bournemouth, using Bournemouth International Centre as an incubation hub and generating a sustained source of investment for improving the delegate and customer experience in all the venues it operates across the South of England.

“The snowball dynamics of the model enables us to progressively grow our business and extend the depth and breadth of our service to benefit partners, clients and event audiences throughout the UK,” says Peter Gunn. 

Hospitality at BH Live is no longer a self-contained service. It is an integral part of its service to event organisers and built into the core business processes of operations, logistics, security, production, procurement, ticketing and customer service. BH Live’s regional infrastructure adds value through developing talent, achieving better purchasing power, and innovation in menu development and marketing.

The trust has invested more than £500,000 in branding, refurbishment, equipment, and skills acquisition and development across all business functions, and in seeking and developing new partnerships.

BH Live’s hospitality business was launched in 2011. Since then, it has contributed significant income to the operating surplus that BH Live invests in its social and economic objectives. The team delivered turnover of £4.2 million in its first year, doubling it to £8.3 million in 2014-2015.

Customer satisfaction is up by 10 per cent, and local hospitality revenue for one-off banqueting events has gone from £100,000 to £700,000, thanks to the business of iconic brands like Lush Cosmetics and high profile events such as Dorset Business Awards, Bournemouth Tourism Awards, AFC Bournemouth Player Awards and One Bauer Media Awards.

In addition to launching its own fine dining brand, BH Live has opened more than 30 branded Terrace cafés and bars at venues across the South Coast and in London, plus new street food and street cart concepts for outdoor events and festivals. 

“We can apply our hospitality model in any partner venue and for any style of event – including team building, corporate incentives, festival catering and other outdoor events – to achieve mutual strategic and financial benefits.” says Peter Gunn.

“Fed by ambition, it is a creative approach to tackling the financial pressures caused by public sector austerity measures, ageing buildings assets and an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

AIPC Innovation Award finalists will have the opportunity to present their project at a poster session and Pecha Kucha panel at AIPC’s annual congress and general assembly held at Hynes Convention Center on 7 July 2015.

Delegates will be invited to vote for the ‘People’s Choice’ Award and the Innovation Award winner will be revealed later at the AIPC Award Dinner at Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC).

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