The first-ever virtual meeting of event professionals from Cambridge and the University of Oxford has just taken place – with representatives from 60 venues, including Colleges, Museums, Libraries and hotels checking in to share ideas on the future hosting of conferences and events in their cities.
The Zoom summit, jointly organised by Meet Cambridge and Conference Oxford, presented an opportunity for their members to acknowledge the challenges the events industry is currently facing and explore what the future holds, projecting forward to 2021 and beyond.
Keynote speaker, Kerrin MacPhie, Head of Business Events for VisitBritain, gave a positive presentation entitled ‘Business Events – Road to Recovery’ which provided an overview of VisitBritain’s objectives and activities, as well as buyer insights from Europe, the US and China.
The presentation concluded with an inspirational video on the theme of ‘Reboot, Refresh, Reimagine’.
Kerrin highlighted the benefits that business events bring to the UK economy, an annual contribution of £31.2 billion which translates into £165 billion of trade as seen in the UK Events Report which was released in May 2020. In general, business delegates spend per head is 2.3 times more than international leisure visitors.
She also acknowledged the surge in popularity for virtual events in the light of face-to-face meetings currently strictly limited by Government guidelines, but presented evidence that the appetite for in-person events remains high.
Kerrin said: “I was delighted to take part in the virtual Oxbridge Meet Up to share the latest updates on VisitBritain’s work and to highlight to attendees the opportunity available to the UK for events in the future.
“Although our sector is facing a time of great uncertainty, the industry is working tirelessly to demonstrate that the UK is getting ready to safely welcome international events back when the time is right, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working.”
Judith Sloane, Acting Manager at Meet Cambridge said: “This is the first time we have partnered with Conference Oxford to deliver a virtual event and it was a great success. In addition to Kerrin’s inspirational presentation, which gave our members a boost of much-needed positivity, they were also able to break into smaller groups to network and share their situations and experiences.
“The meetings sector has faced unprecedented challenges during the current COVID-19 crisis and those working at venues have sometimes felt isolated and unable to see a clear way forward. This event enabled them to see the ‘bigger picture’ of what we have to offer when we are able to resume face-to-face events.”
Marie O’Connor, Head of Conference Oxford said: “It was a pleasure for Conference Oxford to co-host this virtual event with Meet Cambridge. Our members thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the challenges we are all facing at present and to hear from Kerrin MacPhie, who is both committed and dynamic in her approach to winning conferences and events for Britain. Her positive message in the current situation is like a beacon of hope for the future of the meetings industry. In these very uncertain times, Kerrin detailed how Visit Britain works to promote Britain as a destination for business events and addressed issues such as competition from abroad, the potential effects of Brexit and of course the ongoing impact of Covid-19, she was able to offer really valuable insights into what opportunities exist, what we as venues can do to ensure we are ready and able to take advantage of these opportunities and what Visit Britain can do to help.
This collaboration between Meet Cambridge and Conference Oxford was a great success. Judith and I look forward to organising similar events in the future, inviting Industry Experts to present to our members and we can’t wait to welcome events back into our world class venues”