The meetings and events industry is a resilient one, and from where I sit there appears to be some signs of a return to growth, albeit tentative ones. Nonetheless, The Queen Elizabeth II Centre (QEIICC) will post another solid year of achievement when we report in March. As my term of office will soon come to an end, I can reflect on the ten years that I have been responsible for the venue and I am pleased that objectives have largely been met.
QEII Centre has always been a popular venue and 2012 was certainly a year to remember. The Centre increased summer occupancy – thanks to Casa Italia – and the full year’s trading performance will show a very respectable trading outcome. In part, this is due to the significant core of repeat business with some 60% of our occupancy coming from some very loyal clients. But our success is also attributable to our pro-active marketing efforts in both home and overseas markets. QEII Centre’s Commercial Director Sue Etherington and her team engage effectively with potential new sources of business and have been successful in attracting new clients to use the venue. We’ve welcomed many new events during the year and I am also pleased that some clients, who left us in past years, have now returned.
The signs of growth referred to in my opening remarks are not only being seen from our corporate and association customers. It is pleasing to note that central government departments are showing interest in staging new events. Face to face meetings are the most powerful form of communication. My belief is that technology is unlikely to replace live meetings for a while to come, if ever.