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LIVEWIRE2012June 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 15 Some of London's high-end hotels have ventured into renting out their luxurious bedrooms by the hour. Allegedly, the reasoning behind the decision was to ease stressed business travellers who needed to rest between meetings with a little downtime. The St John Hotel in Soho and the Beaufort Hotel in Knightsbridge are among those offering this service. The St John Hotel is also offering Post-Supper Rooms for business travellers that enjoyed a breakout session or post-meeting drink a little too much and need to sleep it off. "Not so much a room 'with a view' as a room with a window. These smaller guest rooms remove the need for a taxi home after supper," says the hotel. Rooms by the hour, for meetings of courseBBC Worldwide's fi rst ever Doctor Who convention, run in partnership with SME London, attracted 3,000 fans to the Wales Millenium Centre, Cardiff, on 24 and 25 March. Panel sessions offered fans unrivalled access to the Eleventh Doctor star Matt Smith, lead cast members Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, Lead Writer Steven Moffat, Executive Producer Caroline Skinner and many more key members from the award-winning cast, crew and production team. It also gave them a peek behind the scenes of the world's longest running sci-fi TV show.BBC Worldwide's Head of Exhibitions and Events, Paula Al-Lach, said: "The convention was devised, organised and executed with one thing in mind - giving the brilliantly loyal fans an amazing day out. From the feedback we've had, we believe we delivered this. SME were crucial to making this happen and we are always interested and keen to work with such professionals."average daily delegate spend in BournemouthLiverpool Convention Bureau (LCB) has named the Front Offi ce Manager at Jury's Inn Hotel, the most welcoming person in the northern city.The Liverpool Delegate Welcome Award, part of the Liverpool Ambassador Awards, was won by Neil Fitzmaurice.Voted as offering the friendliest welcome to delegates visiting the hotel for meetings and conferences, Fitzmaurice was also recognised for being an excellent communicator, providing an informative service and being enthusiastic about everything the hotel and Liverpool has to offer.Fitzmaurice works closely with LCB to ensure he is aware of which conferences and events are taking place in the city, as well as managing the display of welcome materials and signage. "It is a great honour to have been selected as an Ambassador for Liverpool welcoming delegates into our city," he said.Carol O'Reilly, LCB Manager said: "The awards recognise those making an impact on Liverpool's reputation for hospitality, meetings and events and allow us to reward unsung heroes and heroines."Most welcoming person in Liverpool awardedFirst ever Doctor Who Convention attracts 3,000 Image: dwconvention.comiPads sold in two yearsIT businesses based in London investment into the Crossrail project growth in automotive events at Epsom Downs Racecourseyear milestone recently celebrated by MPI's UK and Ireland chapterdelegates at the Summer Eventia conferencevisitors attended the recent BSAVA congress in Birminghamof hotel conferences have green requirements

BIG INTERVIEW16 . www.conference-news.co.uk . June 2012 he words American Express to many conjure up images of fi nance and credit, yet for 37 years the global company has also been in the meetings business in the UK. In 2011 American Express Meetings and Events managed 20,000 meetings globally, ranging from small board­type meetings through to large meetings of several thousand delegates in one sitting. Meetings are a lucrative part of the company's business and the number has trebled in size in the last two years.Peter Manning heads up the UK division of the company, overseeing services ranging from venue sourcing and meeting planning through to full event management. A new partnership with marketing and production agency WRG last year further strengthened the company's offering to include creative marketing communication, full production requirements and in addition group air transportation services to get delegates to and from their meetings. To say Manning is a busy man is an understatement, but he thrives on the MICE industry. "I love this business," he tells CN. "Meetings still remain the biggest unmanaged spend for many companies and our knowledge can really deliver value to a client in identifying meeting spend and effectively controlling and managing it."But how does a company successfully spend its meetings budget? CN gets the Amex answers.What trends are you seeing in the MICE industry?At the beginning of 2012 American Express completed a meetings forecast study and we have found the output of that study becoming the reality. We are seeing a steady increase in the volume of meetings, but these tend to be shorter meetings with smaller numbers of delegates. There is a move to more local meetings reducing travel cost and time. Agendas are fuller with a keen focus on meeting content. Many customers are combining business planning and strategy meetings with incentives. The clear message from corporates is that meetings are essential to drive their businesses but the requirement is to maximise the value of their meeting spend. How important is sustainability to your clients?Our studies and ongoing experience show there is a fi rm commitment to meetings, in fact the volume of meetings is increasing but the profi le of them is changing and there is a keen interest in more 'green' meetings. Hotel suppliers have reported that 47 per cent of clients have green requests/requirements for their events.In North America a partnership is already in place between American Express Meetings and Events, Maxvantage and Green Hotels Global, which helps compare standardised footprints of carbon and water use as well as waste diversions across all properties generally and per meeting. Additionally, once the event has Meetings saintAmerican Express Meetings and Events manages 20,000 meetings globally per annum. Its UK Director, Peter Manning, tells Vikki Carley why green meetings are back on the agenda and why he wants to see electronic RFP's become mandatory in the UKHotel suppliers have reported 47% of clients have green requests and requirements for their eventsbeen completed reports can be generated calculating the hotel's component of a meeting's environmental impact. We are regularly asked for creative ways to incorporate green measures like reducing print materials, encouraging recycling, and cutting down on waste and helping companies fi nd cost­savings to meet their sustainability goals.Another trend we are noticing is more companies are looking to develop mobile apps designed to distribute materials such as maps, itineraries, speaker information and updates, which helps to reduce paper usage.The Association of British Professional Conference organisers recently launched its Conference Cloud campaign supporting free Wi-Fi for delegates, what are your thoughts on this? We need to ensure we provide the best value in selecting venues for our clients and free Wi­Fi can be a differentiator and more and more venues are recognising this and offering the facility. The provision of free Wi­Fi can be a deciding factor in the choice of venue, so we welcome hotels expanding their service offerings and price competitiveness. What has been your most challenging event to work on? Each and every event has its challenges and they are many and varied. For example, we had to get 6,000 people from 21 different countries to one location for a three­day event; logistically it was very challenging but we were successful because of meticulous planning, our relationships with airlines and ground transportation companies, plus our global network of meeting planners. The group transportation for a meeting often represents a signifi cant proportion of spend, and expertise and knowledge of access to hubs and the fi nal destination itself is integral to a successful event. T