Leeds is a brilliant event destination – you get a real sense that the whole city actually wants to host your event. All of the partners and stakeholders work collaboratively to bring events to the city; the convention bureau, the Hotels and Venues Association, rail and transport links and Leeds BID take a joined up approach and work together to give event organisers a lot of support. The city recognises the economic impact of business events; the partners know that when an event comes to Leeds, everybody benefits.
On the more practice side, the city has good, centrally located bedroom stock and the city centre is compact with many different event spaces easily accessible on foot. Leeds may not have a purpose built convention centre, but I actually see that as an advantage. Event organisers can be a little more creative and take advantage of the city centre’s layout to use different venues to create interesting, multi site events. Moving venues can shake up an audience, provide fresh air breaks and create interest with a variety of very different locations.
Our flagship event, The Conference and Hospitality Show (CHS), has been held in Leeds since the inaugural show in 2010. This year’s show was the first ever trade show of its size to be held in the first direct Arena – a venue more at home with hosting rock stars and world renowned music acts. As the show grew we moved venue once, but in 2015 we realised that we had to move again and going to the first direct Arena was the only option for us if we were going to keep the show in Leeds. We bring over 1200 event organisers and exhibiting personnel into Leeds, and we create fam trips and events around the show too –creating a very effective showcase for the city. Because this economic impact was recognised by the city, we were able to work with Leeds BID who provided us with a three year sponsorship agreement which greatly helped us shoulder the cost of the move to a much larger venue. Moving to the first direct Arena was really inspiring and sparked an impactful marketing campaign based around our visitors being ‘Rock Star’ event planners. Using a non traditional exhibition venue was a key benefit to us and our campaign – and has certainly helped us drive attendance figures; our move to the Arena helped us generate a 47% increase in visitor numbers.
CHS gives event buyers access to a huge range of national suppliers, a well-established hosted buyer programme and a comprehensive programme of specialist education serving both the PA and the event organiser. CHS 2017 has and will take place at the first direct Arena on 4th April 2017.