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ACADEMIC . April 2012 . 17arwick Conferences, made up of three purpose-built training and conference centres: Scarman, Radcliffe and Arden, as well as the Conference Park, hosted 4,000 events last year. It claims to house the widest choice of meeting space in the UK, with 300 meeting rooms, a 1,200 capacity hall and the largest arts centre outside of London. Rachael Bartlett, Head of Sales and Marketing, says that, as a university business, Warwick Conferences is able to take a long term view in terms of immediate fi nancial returns. "We have faced some pressure as a result of the recession to review our rates but have not resorted to rate slashing. "The biggest challenge for us has been the decline in public sector spending. However, having anticipated the decline early on, we focused our sales conversations with the private sector and agency markets accordingly." Bartlett notes shorter lead times but also a trend for large events and association business "dramatically on the up". "Bookings for B&B are on the rise and we've noticed a growing trend for delegates settling their own accommodation costs and the meeting element being booked separately. "We're also seeing an increase in companies choosing hosted buyer events and forums as means of communication, with fewer personal incentives," she adds. One recent event for International franchise organisation, Mail Boxes Etc. was a two-day conference, Building your Brand, Building your Business. It drew 120 franchisees and sponsors including Xerox, DHL and FedEx.James Simmons, Marketing Manager at Mail Boxes Etc. said: "I think some were expecting to be staying in student digs so we were pleasantly surprised to be staying in hotel standard accommodation." Warwick ConferencesClaiming to host the widest choice of meetings space in the UK, Warwick Conferences hosted 4,000 events in 2011Rootes Building, Warwick UniversityW

18 . . April 2012ACADEMIC VENUESampus East is a group of universities in eastern England formed in 2007 to market campus accommodation and conference facilities. The portfolio includes: ConferenceHertfordshire (University of Hertfordshire), University of East Anglia, Venue Essex (University of Essex), University of Bedfordshire and the newest member, University Campus Suffolk.Campus East has set itself three key aims: . To maximise marketing budgets. To cross reference enquiries . To network and learn best practice from each otherCaroline Betts, Head of Promotional Activities, ConferenceHertfordshire, says: "Being a part of Campus East has been a great way to maximise our budget. It is also promotes the East of England as a conference destination with a choice of academic venues." University Campus Suffolk's External Relations Offi cer Sam Bloom says UCS joined Campus East to publicise its facility and to gain expertise from experienced Campus East colleagues.The venues certainly have seen some experienced faces line up on their stages. ConferenceHertfordshire's Fielder Centre hosted former Polish President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa for a talk and a Q&A session in its Hatfi eld venue.Venue Essex has campuses in Colchester and Southend and can host bookings for up to 1,000 delegates for both residential and non residential events. Two innovation labs offer bespoke solutions to creative and innovative team thinking. At the Colchester campus, the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall houses two lecture theatres, each with fl exible seating for 500, which can be integrated to create one large venue, as was the case for a recent Freemasons' Grand Charity event. Eastern campus frontThe East of England has a new venue marketing group and can boast former Polish President Lech Walesa among its celebrity visitors on campusAbove: Venue Essex auditorium and, left, the world's most famous electrician, Lech WalesaC