dt: You took on the role of Head of Business Events at VisitBritain in November last year, can you explain a little about your remit and what attracted you to the role?
KM: My focus is to increase the volume and value of international business events to the UK.
VisitBritain is committed to growing the UK’s share of the international business events market by showcasing our breadth of products, our fantastic infrastructure, our ease of access and the quality on offer across so many destinations, from international corporate MICE and association congresses and from small scale to mega incentive groups.
We offer platforms for the UK’s business events industry to access international buyers and build capability through sharing market intelligence and best-practice. We add value to the great work being done by destinations across the UK by promoting and developing their business events offer, driving greater international business into the UK.
I am passionate about business events and I took on this exciting challenge to help grow the market to the next level. In my time at ACC Liverpool I saw the city become a major player as an international business events destination, and I have the same ambitions in my role at VisitBritain.
dt: A reinvigorated VisitBritain is an exciting prospect for the country’s business events industry, can you tell us what’s in store as you develop Britain’s profile as an international events destination – what have you got planned?
KM: We’re excited to be rolling out our plans for this year, which give UK partners an opportunity to join us in accessing the international market. This will include bespoke sales platforms in Europe, North America and China and presence at key international MICE trade shows and conferences. Priorities also include developing a much greater digital presence globally and supporting that with targeted content and PR.
We are gearing up to host MeetGB in April – our international showcase of UK business events. VisitBritain is hosting more than 100 international meeting and event planners who will be doing business with 80 UK suppliers across two days of meetings in London. Buyers will also be attending one of 11 educational visits across the UK to experience for themselves the variety of outstanding MICE product across the country.
We are also evolving the Event Support Programme. One of the strands under the programme, to internationalise growth events, has been very successful. We have supported UK-based annual events, to grow their international attendance and increase their contribution to local economies and will be announcing the successful grant recipients in the coming months. We are also working closely with UK convention bureaux on the second strand of the Event Support Programme, ‘live bids’, to support their international event bids, increasing the conversion rate and winning more international events.
A close working relationship with UK destinations and partners is key to our success. As such, we are in the process of appointing a Destination Engagement Manager, who will be the point of contact with the industry. We also encourage you to regularly visit the Business Events section of the VisitBritain corporate website, for latest updates – www.visitbritain.org/business-events
dt: Your MeetGB event in April plans to bring 100+ buyers to the UK to meet business event industry suppliers, can you tell us what else they will do while here?
KM: As well as doing business with UK suppliers, delegates will attend seminars and networking events on innovations in the sector, boosting their knowledge of the UK as a business events destination. A programme of accredited education sessions for buyers will also run during the event on GDPR and data security, technology and wellbeing.
Ahead of the event, the global buyers will attend one of 11 educational visits across the UK to experience first-hand the variety of conference and event facilities, with destinations showcasing their infrastructure, accessibility and the visitor experiences on offer. From Aberdeen to Brighton, the buyers will experience the best Britain has to offer in venues, food, hotels and attractions for conferences and business events.
dt: If we were a destination, venue or hotel manager, what should we be doing to support the meetings and events industry in the UK?
KM: The UK’s business events sector is high performing – our ICCA ranking attests to that – and this is thanks to the sector’s excellence work. Our role at VisitBritain is to support and add value to the business events industry across the UK. To help us do that, we encourage you to join our sales platforms, send us your content and imagery, engage with the Event Support Programme and make use of our research and insights. To ensure we focus our efforts on where we can add the most value, I would encourage all to maintain open lines of communication and keep us informed of any international developments.
Working together we can grow our fantastic Business Events sector, boosting the economy and driving our ambitious plans for growth.
Kerrin MacPhie and VisitBritain
Kerrin joined VisitBritain, following 11 years with ACC Liverpool as director of conference and exhibition sales, where she developed a destination strategy for Liverpool that saw the city become a major international business events destination. VisitBritain is the national tourism agency for the UK, raising Britain’s profile worldwide, increasing the volume and value of tourism exports and developing the country’s visitor economy.