NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau staged its fourth major showcase this spring, confirming the area's reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting conference destinations.
For the first time since the Convention Bureau was set up in 2000, the showcase – which is the organisation’s biggest event of the year – was held in NewcastleGateshead. In previous years, the Convention Bureau has held the showcase in London, but following feedback from conference buyers attending the event, the decision was taken to bring the event to North East England for the first time.
The showcase, held at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and officially opened by former England and Newcastle United player, Peter Beardsley, gave venues and attractions across NewcastleGateshead the opportunity to meet some of the UK’s leading conference buyers face-to-face to discuss events they are considering bringing to North East England.
Around 150 conference organisers attended the event. Just under 100 made the trip from out of the area with some arriving from as far a-field as Norway, Ireland and America. Amongst those who attend the event from overseas was the Glass Arts Society, who made the trip from Seattle.
Organisers were also able to get out and about and see more of NewcastleGateshead via city sightseeing tours, while many who chose to stay overnight attended a dinner at Newcastle United Football Club followed by a programme venue tours the following morning.
During the showcase conference organisers also heard how NewcastleGateshead has recently taken a major step towards promoting an eco-conferencing message via its new initiative to actively encourage carbon neutral conferencing. NewcastleGateshead launched the initiative earlier this year and believes it is one of the first convention bureaux in the UK to make the promotion of carbon neutral conferencing a matter of policy.
Jessica Roberts, head of business tourism at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: ‘We have been talking to event organisers for a number of years now telling them about the fantastic venues in the heart of NewcastleGateshead and in the surrounding countryside, our stunning quayside, great transport links and iconic cultural structures and amenities. But now for the first time they were actually able to see for themselves what we have to offer, which is why we called the event “Seeing is Believing”.’
Representatives from over 30 of NewcastleGateshead's major hotels and venues joined the Convention Bureau at the showcase. Those exhibiting included The Sage Gateshead, Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, Copthorne Newcastle, Matfen Hall and Slaley Hall, Assemby Rooms, Life Science Centre, Newcastle United Football Club as well as South Tyneside and Sunderland.
David Hunter, director and general manager of Matfen Hall, who exhibited at the showcase, said: ‘It was great that we had the opportunity to welcome people to NewcastleGateshead. The strength of the showcase event was that we are talking to people with a genuine interest in bringing business here with many having specific events in mind.’
Feedback from the showcase from those who attended was equally as positive. Kristiana Kruysmulder, JP Events Ltd, said: ‘There was a very good range of exhibitors and activities on offer, it was worthwhile me taking two days out of the office as I saw the city and learnt a bit about the history and layout, saw venues, stayed overnight in one venue and met other suppliers as well.’ Meanwhile Chris Bray, from the MS Society, said: ‘It was a brilliant event. There were so many accessible venues for me to choose from and at very competitive day delegate rates. I really enjoyed my visit.’