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EventsFebruary 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 49 LONDONLead agency: Atom EventsDate: 3 Nov 2011The venue: Chelsea FCBrief: The SMA Trust is a UK charity working to fund medical research into Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The dinner and auction aimed to generate awareness of SMA as well as to raise money. Event challenges: With a dinner for 500 guests, the event had to manage a number of special dietary requirements and in addition to this, many of the guests were children or those in wheelchairs who also required special menus or assistance.The event included the building of an accessible stage and the venue needed to facilitate wheelchairs access.Why the venue was chosen: Chelsea FC was large enough to cater for the event, including seating for 500, wheelchair access, disabled parking and separate areas for volunteers. A Trustee of the SMA Trust, Tessa Rice, said: "We chose the Great Hall for our inaugural fundraising dinner for the novelty factor. We felt that our guests enjoyed a fun evening in a unique setting and we would defi nitely use the space again." Case study: SMA Trust Charity dinner and auctionvisitor numbers and lack of availability for the best spaces in the city. Business will disperse outside of London and if sporting venues can pick up on the sporting theme this year, they should reap the benefi ts."The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' Vanessa Wright, argues the case for using your heritage and location to entice organisers: "Keep rates fair and treat your current clients with respect. Once we hit 2013 you don't want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons." Interim Head of Accommodation and Hospitality Senate House, Vicky La Trobe, says: "Our aim during the Olympics will be to make our facilities as accessible as possible and to showcase our offering. We are looking at all sorts of ways to make journalists welcome, from opening our cafés up so they can pop in, to making sure they have access to rooms for meetings if they need them."Kings Place Events' Business Development Director, Lucy Wright says: "Think out of the box; just because your venue has always been used in a particular way doesn't mean you have to continue using it in this manner. Does your dinner space have fantastic London views? If so it could be a TV studio. Would your auditorium be good for press briefi ngs?" Pestana Hotels and Resorts' Director of Sales and Marketing, Lynette Esposito, says: "From a hotel suppliers perspective, 'getting it right' in 2012 is a fi ne challenge between leveraging the full value of the global Olympic event occasion and, continuing to support the London Mayor's business ethic of 'fair trade'. In addition to innovation, we have kept the cost realistic. This will bring visitors back."Commercial Director of No.11 Cavendish Square, Jonathan Morris, says: "Most venues have excellent working relationships with hotels in the surrounding area. Now is the time to harness those relationships, working together with hotels, venues can create special room packages with extras which can be offered to organisers." Operations Manager for the Cavendish Group, Celia Scholtz, says: "Use February to examine hotel, venue and hospitality availability. By early March make sure bookings have been secured, leaving it late may see you snap up a last minute deal, but there are no guarantees." "Screening of events will be popular, particularly for the opening and closing ceremony and sporting events such as athletics. Venues and organisers need to be sure that a licence to allow the Games to be broadcast is obtained." Events Manager at the UK Supreme Court on Parliament Square, Ayo Onatade, tells CN: "Firstly, wherever your venue is located in London, transport networks will be at stretching point for the duration of the Games and it is inevitable that this will have an impact on guest arrival times and their state of mind when they get to you. Venues might want to consider offering to send a travel update to guests on the situation at your nearest station, by email or text message, a couple of hours before your event, in partnership with your client.Senior Account Manager at event management agency Zibrant, Jo Loft, suggests focusing on fi tness as a meetings virtue: "Work with a chef to create nutritionally-balanced 'peak performance' menus used by athletes for your delegates to sample - and recipes for them to take home. You could ask a bar mixologist to make themed non-alcoholic cocktails based on sports or arrange for a sports coach to guide delegates as to how top athletes prepare mentally for competition. Show delegates how the principles may apply to the corporate setting. Bring in a fi tness expert to show participants some non-sweaty concentration-boosting moves before the meeting and make giveaways sports-orientated. Branded water bottles are a simple option, or swim caps or even delegates' own 'medals'." Rather than trying to loosely theme food for the Olympics, caterer Harbour & Jones says it is better to use this opportunity to use local and seasonal produce, ensuring visitors experience the best of British. We are viewing the Olympics as a potential manmade disaster, so we've got back up plans

50 . www.conference-news.co.uk . February 2012Sarah O'Donnell talks to London & Partners' (L&P) Director of Business Tourism and Major Events, Tracy Halliwell, on London's busiest year.What have been the key challenges L&P have faced over the past year? For London, one of the main challenges with planning for any major event is the impact on tourism in the run-up to the Games due to displacement, which is a feature that affects every host city of a large event where potential visitors choose to stay away. transport. Upgrades are improving the transport network and building work is not affecting the visitor experience.This year is such a big year for London. As well as the Games we have huge one-off events taking place such as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, World Pride coming to London and a plethora of cultural events from the Cultural Olympiad; that's why it's important to look at the whole year and not just focus on the Games period. It's not a sprint, it's an exciting marathon.London will become their choice time and time again. One such DMC is Via Norway which considers London its "number one international destination for business meetings, events and incentives". London continues to be a top choice for incentive business with a strengthening market from Scandinavia including Moe and Blosmgaard in Denmark, Resmia in Sweden and Quest Travel in Norway. Bringing in new business from other parts of Europe included motivational trips from ESABE and BBVA Bank in Spain and EDF Energy in France.Notable recent events for London include the Eular Congress in May 2011 at ICC London Excel; with over 16,000 delegates in attendance this is the largest medical conference the capital has hosted to date, generating £18m of economic benefi t. Others during 2011 include the World Skills Competition with 20,000 delegates and worth over £27m, Cisco Systems Networkers Conference that we attracted from its previous destination of Barcelona, with 5,000 delegates yielding over £10m, the European Haematology Association Congress, with 4,000 delegates bringing in over £7m. Events planned for 2012 include congresses for the 8,000 delegate European Society of Hypertension at ICC London Excel as well as the 2,000 delegate European Cancer Organisation at the Barbican. Looking ahead to the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer we have already secured NOC Houses for Germany, Italy, Jamaica and Nigeria and are helping NOCs, brands and rights holders to activate during the Games.How is business bearing up in the current economic climate?The strong recovery in business travel to London seen in 2010 was sustained throughout the fi rst six months of 2011, with arrivals up by 10.2 per cent on the same six month period in 2010. London received 1.48m business arrivals in the fi rst half of 2011. Their expenditure amounted to £1.23bn, a 20 per cent uplift on 2010. The main contribution to this was the 18 per cent increase in the number of nights spent by visitors. In brief, there were larger numbers of corporate travellers. They're staying longer and therefore spending more.Where are you seeing the greatest competition?London still sees competition from cities which are able to offer subvention - whether that's through free venues or cash benefi ts. London is unable to do that but what it does offer is a cultural hub, which is easy to travel to and inspirational once you arrive. As a CVB we have to look at where London can stand out, what makes it different to other cities - things like our free museums, our outstanding cuisine, major events and unique moments - all make London still the leading destination for business. However, we believe we are the fi rst city to identify this issue and have responded by launching such elements as the London Visitor Charter to ensure fair pricing for visitors across attractions, restaurants and more and What have been some of L&P's great achievements in terms of business events to date?At L&P, we work both domestically and internationally and across industry to attract events for London from a wide spectrum: from medical associations to national summits, corporate meetings to motivational and incentive trips. While the larger congresses bring in large but mostly annual events for London, we also work closely with DMCs to persuade them that London should be their choice for a host of events rather than any other destination. We develop and nurture these relationships by providing a superior convention bureau service so that LONDONLondon & Partners' take