Call for conference ambassadors
At a meeting the English Riviera Tourism Company held at the Riviera International Conference Centre on Tuesday 5th July, Barry Cole, MD of the RICC, launched the new Conference Ambassador programme to attract conferences to the English Riviera.
As one of the five attack brands in the ERTC tourism strategy "Turning the Tide", Business Tourism has a vital part to play in the success of the industry and contribution to the local economy.
Carolyn Custerson was able to share the impact that the ongoing recession is having on residential conference bookings with some destinations at the peak of the recession reporting up to a 90% drop off in conference bookings. In the light of this, Barry's forecast for some 50,000 sleeper nights for conferences taking place at the RICC for 2012/13 was indeed excellent news delivering over £10m into the local economy.
Barry shared with the audience of accommodation providers and business representatives that of the £623k grant given to the RICC, as much as £330k of the grant is used to attract conferences to the English Riviera by subsidising their event for instance through reduced room hire charges. This model is not unique to the RICC and applies to virtually all other similar destinations and indeed some major city venues that also recognise the value of residential conferences to their local economy.
The balance of the grant goes towards significant overheads required to run a venue that also provides community leisure facilities. Unlike other swimming pools in the Bay, Waves is a fun pool with flume and wave machine which can be used for a variety of activities. It also is a key wet-weather visitor attraction as some 66% of swims are taken during the main holiday weeks.
Increasing the number of conferences to Torquay would not only help reduce the support grant, but would benefit the area as a whole. As Barry said at the meeting, the arrival of internationally branded hotels in the Bay would significantly help, as would improved access with the South Devon link road. Both would open up the attraction of the destination to corporate business and while the small hotels and guest houses would remain attractive to the core Association business that delights in coming to the English Riviera, internationally recognised branded hotels would be attractive to the high end corporate sector.
At the event, and the reason that the RICC invited a cross section of non-tourism related Business people, Barry launched the Conference Ambassador programme.
Working with Conference Torquay, the destination business tourism marketing bureau, Barry is urging local business people to act as ambassadors to attract the conferences that they attend at other destinations and to persuade them at the next possible occasion to come to the English Riviera.
Where the Bureau is already in negotiations with a conference buyer, they will contact local businesses within the same industry to help close the deal. Barry said: “Someone from within the conference buyer’s industry speaking out in support of the English Riviera for their next event will help significantly to win the business”.
Recognising the help in securing the event, the RICC would sponsor a VIP reception at the conference under the Ambassador’s name.
At the end of the event attendees were invited to sign up as Conference Ambassadors and Barry would really appreciate hearing from others who can assist in bringing more large and lucrative conferences to the English Riviera.
If you are able to become a Conference Ambassador please complete this form and EMAIL YOUR INTEREST to us now – click here.