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CITY FOCUS22 Conference+Meetings World July 2011The Westminster CollectionThe Westminster Collection (TWC) is a group of venues in the City of Westminster that claims to be 'active, credible and collegiate'. TWC reported a membership growth of 100 per cent in just 12 months.TWC provides the buyer the opportunity of reaching 53 venues with a single contact that filters out those who are unable to accommodate the event being requested.It says its strength is in its diversity. Venues range from a historic royal palace to purpose-built conference centres, and from intimate dining in a private member's club to wedding receptions in ornate surroundings (whether in Pimlico, Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Parliament Square or the Strand).One of the founding principles of TWC was that its members, which are its shareholders too, would refer business between them. Indeed, this is a condition of membership. It helps to retain business within the City of Westminster. Just one referral per week from each member creates 2,704 business opportunities for members from within their own community.Many venues work through geographical marketing consortia. We begin our journey around London's main groups.The London collectionLondon City Selection London City Selection (LCS) Chairman, Samme Allen, explains LCS is a selection of venues, all of which are unique. "There is however a catch: while having a wide range of venues in one square mile might look attractive, it doesn't make individual sales any easier. Getting face time with big agencies is a real challenge. Individual planners might be happy to have a chat during a networking event, but it doesn't matter how niche, green, flexible or well located you are, venues are not a big enough lure to agencies, who are targeted by every venue and hotel in the world. The idea of creating LCS was our solution to these challenges. It is based on a partnership approach. As individual venues going about our day-to-day business, we run the risk of annoying our clients if we hassle them too often. Led by the Barbican and involving 20 other venues in the City of London, the LCS initiative has come a long way since launching in February 2010. In the space of a year, our membership has grown from 15 to 21 and some of our famous historical names include London Stock Exchange and Trinity House."Unique Venue of London (UVL)Collectively, UVL exhibits at key trade shows, produces an annual brochure, and maintains a website. In the last two years it has also created its own exhibition with London & Partners, the UVL Expo. It provides members with the chance to showcase their product to London event organisers and buyers. UVL can also offer discounted training courses, workshops and speakers. These are particularly useful for venues, which have smaller teams or resources.With venues of every type, London is ideally placed to meet the needs of any organiser. As a collection, UVL venues represent a wider cross-section of the city than any other venue consortium, with each member providing a taste of London's unique history, landscape or culture through its meetings and conference products. The consortium offers added-value services, such as back-of-house tours, access to private spaces within some of London's most historic buildings, opportunities to try new experiences such as lifting Tower Bridge and the chance to see the Royal Ballet dancers in training at the Royal Opera House.In 2010, the membership was extended to include retail and national sporting venues, resulting in Fortnum & Mason and Lord's Cricket Ground joining, along with Fulham Palace, The Museum of Brands and The Saatchi Gallery. The new members add 41 event spaces and over 13 acres of garden to an already diverse UVL portfolio.