New regional convention bureau to give Bristol higher global profile as conference location

February 5, 2021

Bristol’s promotion as a prime location for international conferences and business events is to be stepped up with the launch of a new regional convention bureau.

Instead of marketing the city as a standalone location to the global meetings industry, it will be promoted alongside Bath and the wider region. 

The new convention bureau, Meet Bristol & Bath, says a joined-up approach will benefit all areas of the West of England as partners will now be working together to secure new business for the region.

It points out that Bristol and Bath are just 12 minutes apart by train and their complementary natures make them ideal destinations for conferences, events and incentive travel.

Business events were worth an estimated £347m to Bristol and the surrounding areas in 2019, with social events accounting for another £26.1m, according to the Bristol Conference and Meetings Survey 2020.

During a pilot event in December, the concept of the two complementary city destinations, together with the surrounding countryside and nearby coast proved an attractive proposition to an international audience booking multi day events and incentive trips, Meet Bristol & Bath said.

Building on the success of the existing Meet Bristol Convention Bureau, the new partnership will benefit local businesses who wish to attract conferences and business events, helping to boost the visitor economy for the region.

It will target a global audience, focussing on developing association, corporate and incentive travel business with a strong focus on developing working relationships with event planners and agents all over the world. 

Meet Bristol & Bath bosses said a regional convention bureau with more clout would also help the West of England recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, targeting business events that have a positive economic impact.

Meet Bristol & Bath manager Amy Bramhall said: “Representing two cities with such varying offers, plus their surrounding areas is hugely beneficial and gives us a competitive edge when bidding for events.

“We are working hard to put plans and actions in place to aid recovery after what has been an extremely difficult year for the industry.

“We are well connected, and welcome all enquires however large or small and are dedicated to maintaining and developing working relationships with all of our stakeholders.”

The convention bureau will offer a one-stop shop for event planners considering booking business events in the West of England, with services ranging from venue and accommodation booking to connections with local suppliers and industry specialists.

The formation of Meet Bristol & Bath has been welcomed by the Business Visits Events Partnership (BVEP), the umbrella organisation representing leading trade and professional organisations in the business visits and events sector.

BVEP chair Simon Hughes said: “The BVEP is delighted to learn of this initiative. The importance of strong local resources to represent and facilitate growth for business events should never be understated. 

“Bristol and Bath and the surrounding region offer some of the best amenities for meetings, conferences, and exhibitions in unique locations. Combining the two cities will undoubtedly create a more efficient and effective marketing platform.”

VisitEngland head of business events Kerrin MacPhie added: “The launch of the new convention bureau, Meet Bristol & Bath is an exciting development for the business events industry in England.

“Both destinations offer a wealth of opportunity and leading business events facilities which combined will make an unforgettable visitor experience.

“We are excited to promote this new convention bureau to event planners at MeetEngland Virtual alongside 29 other leading English destinations, showcasing the many ways future events can be reimagined in England.”

Bristol’s meeting and conference industry will be boosted by a number of new venues over the next few years, including the YTL Arena Bristol at Filton, due to open in 2023. It will feature three interlinked arenas, including a multi-purpose, flexible hall with 11,000 sq m flat floor space for exhibitions, trade shows and conventions, plus, a 17,080-seat arena – making it the third largest arena in the UK.

The Ashton Gate Sporting Quarter development, if approved, will include a state-of-the-art 4,000-capacity sports and convention centre next to the existing stadium, which is currently the largest conference centre in Bristol and the surrounding areas.

The development will also include a four-star hotel. Other new hotels coming to Bristol include a 200-room Leonardo Hotel, scheduled to open this year in the Glassfields development on Temple Way, and a Clayton Hotel in Broad Street, which will have 255 bedrooms and extensive meeting space and is due to open early in 2022. 

Pictured, top: Bristol Harbourside, image by Destination Bristol. Centre: Ashton Gate Stadium, image by JMP. Bottom: YTL Arena Bristol

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