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eventS base For people delivering events & festivals in Scotland Issue 9 / winter 2018

The Renaissance Chris Foy out his Mansets destination vision for Aberdeen

contents 5 FOREWORD The power of the lens

Nigel Munro, Project Manager at Henry Boot Developments, outside the new £333m AECC in Aberdeen Picture: Mary Turner


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22 COVER STORY Chris Foy 26 BUSINESS EVENTS The SEC Meeting Academy INNOVATETHENATION EDITOR Kevin O’Sullivan 07834 404615

30 DELIVERY Edinburgh International Science Festival NOEA GWF Energy

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34 CLASSIFIEDS Dundee Supplier Focus EventIt Showcase Scottish Events Directory Norton House Hotel



40 TECHNOLOGY Criton Apps

‘Watch this space’ - full story page 9

41 EDUCATION MSc in Business Events 42 Five Minutes With Kim Wilson

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ONLINE All rights reserved. Neither this publication or part of it may be stored, reproduced or transmitted in any form, electronically, photocopied or recorded without the prior permission of Eventsbase magazine. Eventsbase magazine is published by Canongate Communications Limited, The Creative Exchange, 29 Constitution St, Edinburgh, EH6 7BS. Printed by the Stephens & George Print Group, Merthyr Tydfil CF48 3TD Where opinion is expressed it is that of the author and does not necessarily coincide with that of the Editor or Publisher. We verify information to the best of our ability but do not accept responsibility for any loss for reliance on any information published. All letters must include writer’s full name and address, home telephone and may be edited for purposes of clarity or space.

TYPOGRAPHY Acta by Dino Dos Santos Flama by Mario Feliciano

Cover Image Mary Turner

Eventsbase | WINTER 2018 | 3




Rebirth of a city

he growth of the meetings industry in Scotland in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable, with both Edinburgh and Glasgow rising steadily on international rankings reports compiled by the likes of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). The cities are among the busiest in the UK outside of London and also punch above their weight when compared to much larger conference destinations around the world. Whilst Scotland’s two principal cities will undoubtedly continue to thrive, all the signs are that their dominance may about to be ‘disrupted’, to use a well-worn turn of phrase, by the entrance of a new player in the market. Aberdeen has not hitherto been considered a ‘big player’ in the meetings, conference and exhibitions space; with its heavy dependence on oil and gas since the late 1970s, the city’s hotels have never been short of an occupant or two and have not had to compete in the same manner for business tourism. That is not just my opinion - as an industry observer - but comes direct from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, from some of the country’s leading MICE experts. In writing for this edition, I had the privilege of visiting Aberdeen to witness at first hand efforts to

‘rebalance’ the economy; precipitated by the oil price crash, organisations like Opportunity North East (ONE), led by the private sector, have been formed to explore what economic opportunities can be exploited by Aberdeen into the future. Tourism has emerged as a key focus, and within that, of course, sits business tourism; the new £333m AECC - which will open for business next year - is perhaps the city’s most tangible embodiment of an effort to open up Aberdeen to new markets. Bringing in Chris Foy - the former Head of Business Events at VisitBritain - to run VisitAberdeenshire is a very smart move by the city’s major stakeholders, who have correctly observed that someone with his experience and connections in Whitehall can help promote the North East at a UK level, and beyond. It was of note that the destination management organisation was one of the main sponsors of an industry leaders’ event held in London last November. Whilst Foy is yet to lay down a major marker, all eyes will be on how he goes about the task of restructuring the tourism agency, including the appointment of a Head of Business Events, and what role he plays in the city’s hoped for ‘renaissance’. As we move towards 2019, we will be watching this space. Kevin O’Sullivan, Editor Eventsbase | winter 2018 | 5


ABU DHABI INVESTORS BUY THE CALEY AND ANNOUNCE EXPANSION PROGRAMME An Abu Dhabi-based hospitality investment group with global assets of $650m has acquired ‘The Caley’ – Edinburgh’s historic hotel located on the west end of Princes Street. Twenty14 Holdings, the investment arm of Lulu Group International, will take over the iconic railway hotel - Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, The Caledonian - adding 50 guest rooms to the building. The precise location of the rooms is to be revealed but it has been confirmed they will be ‘part


of an expansion of the current structure’. The company was founded in 2014 by 37-year-old Indian entrepreneur Adeeb Ahamed (pictured right) to capitalise on the growth in the global hospitality industry, and has already acquired a number of prestigious properties. They include a five-star hotel in UAE at Business Bay in Dubai, managed by Steigenberger Hotel Group, a leading German-based hospitality, and the Sheraton Oman Hotel in Muscat. The firm has also made a £110 million agreement with property developer Galliard Homes to create a luxurious five-star hotel at 1-5 Great Scotland Yard, the former headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police Services in London, UK. The custom-built 92,000 sq ft hotel, to be called the Great Scotland Yard Hotel, is set to open in 2018. The firm says it is working to create a legacy as ‘the world’s leading hospitality investment firm, crafting the most unique, genuine and quality hospitality experiences around the globe’. Mr Ahamed, the company’s Managing Director, said: “We are

excited to add The Caledonian to the portfolio of Twenty14 Holdings. With more than hundred years of history, The Caledonian brings with it a rich heritage, character and unique opulence. “We are honoured to be part of this Scottish landmark that has a great connect with the locals and visitors alike. We look forward to adding to the experience The Caledonian already offers.”

Lesley Williams has stepped down from her role as UK & Ireland Chapter of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) to concentrate on her business tourism consultancy business. Williams, the former Head of Business Tourism at Convention Edinburgh, is replaced by Diane Waldron, Director of Sales & Marketing at the QEII Centre in London, who steps in as Acting Chair, and has made the decision to stand down due to the expansion of her consultancy Caeliam. “Lesley will be a hard act to follow,” says Diane. “She has brought so much focus and energy to the Chapter. In particular, the UK board has gone from strength to strength under her leadership, we are delivering more engaging and exciting content than ever and our membership has grown as a result of her dedication to the role.” Diane was due to step up to lead the Chapter in April but her early start as acting-chair allows her to oversee the delivery of the Chapter’s annual debate, which takes place 8-9 March in Belfast. “I am excited by the opportunities ahead, I take on the role at a time when the chapter is stronger than ever before and look forward to seeing it develop further over the coming years,” says Diane. The UK & Ireland Chapter’s board is made up of: l Diane Waldron – QEII Centre l Samantha Shamkh – ExCel London l Jackie Boughton - Barbican l Laura Tully – Manchester Central l Grainne Ni Ghiollagain – Croke Park l Aileen Crawford – Glasgow Convention Bureau l Alex Donaldson – IMEX Group l Rob Collins – GES l John Martinez - Shocklogic l Julie Watterston – Watterston Associates

Scotland to host new international MEETINGS INDUSTRY event Speakers from Australia, Singapore, Ireland and The Netherlands are set to appear at the inaugural Business Events Leaders’ Summit, to be hosted in Scotland. The event, which will be a gathering place for leaders in the meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions (MICE) industry, takes place at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow on Wednesday, March 21. It will be the first time the industry has opened itself up to an audience of business figures from Scotland’s key sectors - including the likes of technology, space, life sciences and design - in line with international research which has highlighted the ‘power of confer-

Australian professors Deborah Edwards (left) and Carmel Foley will spotlight their business events research ences’ to stimulate economic development and inward investment. Martin Sirk, Chief Executive of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA),

who will be one of the keynote speakers, said: “Scottish meetings destinations have long been amongst the most innovative and forward-thinking players in the international association meetings sector, and I often use examples from ICCA members in Glasgow and Edinburgh, so I’m delighted to join this Summit, and hope to learn a great deal as well as to share insights from other parts of the world into what’s happening and what thought-leaders are saying about the value and role of meetings.” Two leading academics from Australia – whose research helped inform the business case for the $1.5bn (AUS) ICC Sydney

convention centre – will fly in as keynote speakers at the one-day conference. Associate Professor Deborah Edwards and Associate Professor Carmel Foley, from the University of Technology Sydney, are co-authors of The Power of Conferences, published in September last year, which explores the long-term impacts of conferences through the stories of 10 prominent Australians. They are collaborating with the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) on the Event Case Study Program, an international project that is redefining the value of business events. Register at:

Eventsbase | winter 2018 | 7

briefing Robbie Clyde unveiled as new Head of EventScotland The former project director of The Ryder Cup when it was last hosted in Scotland is set to be the new Head of EventScotland Robbie Clyde is currently Regional Director in Southern Europe for Scottish Development International, based in Paris, overseeing Scotland’s investment and export strategy against the Government’s key sectors. He will join the organisation, based at Ocean Point in Edinburgh, on April 9 after a recruitment process began in November following the departure of Stuart Turner, who left to take up a new post in New Zealand; the position was advertised on a salary scale of £62,904 to £72,350.

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Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, said: “I’d like to congratulate Robbie on his appointment as the new Head of EventScotland. He brings a wealth

of major events and tourism experience and, having worked with Robbie previously to deliver the Ryder Cup 2014, I know he will be a valuable addition not only to EventScotland but to the whole Scottish events industry.” Robbie said: “I’m delighted to be taking up the position of Head of EventScotland. My time working with the organisation to deliver the Ryder Cup 2014 was a career highlight so I am looking forward to returning to take up this new challenge across the broader spectrum in international sporting and cultural events, and continue the great work being done by the organisation to make Scotland the perfect stage for events.”

V&A Dundee opening V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum, will open to the public on Saturday 15 September. It will be the only V&A museum in the world outside London, “an international centre for design, a place of inspiration, discovery and learning,” it said in a statement. “Visitors to V&A Dundee will experience the remarkable story of design past, present and future, and the vital contribution design makes to all our lives.” Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, V&A Dundee stands at the centre of the £1 billion transformation of the Dundee waterfront, once part of the city’s docklands. The museum will feature permanent galleries of Scottish design, as well as an international programme of changing exhibitions.



The £333m AECC, which is slowly taking shape adjacent to Aberdeen International Airport, is poised to become a global entertainment and events space. Picture: Mary Turner

Watch this space

Right now it’s a huge building site. Before long it will be a big player in the international exhibitions, meetings and entertainment space. EventsBase gets a guided tour of the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre facility from project manager Nigel Munro


t feels a little bit like Minority Report. At the gates of one of the largest building projects currently underway in Scotland, a worker produces a specially-adapted tablet computer, to scan our fingerprints. It’s subzero temperatures and the snow is thick in the air outside; the machine takes its time to capture the biometric information, a safety net to

ensure everyone is accounted for as they move on and off the site. It’s not explained where this sensitive personal data will end up, and I hope, for the sake of my future wellbeing, if the country falls into anarchy (which seems increasingly likely these days), that I’m not first on the list for whatever fate awaits us. Our guide for the tour of what essentially is a giant giant hole in the ground is Nigel Munro, Project Manager at Henry Boot Developments, the development firm which alongside Robertson Construction are currently charged with the delivery of the new £333m new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) facility at Bucksburn, on the outskirts of the city, which will open in 2019. It is a time of genuine excitement for the city, which is undergoing something of a repurposing, as it invests in new and emerging industries in a bid to diversify its economy away from a heavy dependence è



on oil and gas. If all goes well, the 540,000-square foot development - offering four times the exhibition space and conference facilities compared to the existing AECC at Bridge of Don - as well as two hotels (and possibly three) - will become a big player in the international exhibition, meetings and entertainment space. The first thing I notice, though, is the roar of aircraft as they come in to land at Aberdeen International Airport, whose runway is directly adjacent to the site. The conversation is interrupted by a twin-prop engine as its wheels come down and rumbles over the top of our heads. “With the noise of the helicopters and planes, some days it feels like Vietnam,” says Nigel, seemingly impervious to the deafening sound. “There’s quite a thickness of a roof going up to stop the noise coming in - and at night when the birds are chirping in the trees to stop the noise coming out. It’s a relatively traditional system inside. It’s just the scale of it.” The building is surprisingly low rise; from a distance, you might not even notice the centre as it blends into the landscape. I’m sure that’s partially due to the fact that everything is covered in snow, but Nigel reveals that the design has been deliberately constrained in height terms because of the flightpath. Unlike the typical exhibition centre, the sculpted rooftop, which resembles the rundeck of an aircraft carrier, is different, in a good way. It’s Grand Designs meets George Clark’s Amazing Spaces. Nigel steers the 4x4 vehicle across the muddy terrain, past earth movers and diggers, to the entrance of what workers call the ‘Sub-T’; it’s the vast 33,250-square metre subterranean space - the size of 26 Olympicsized swimming pools according to Nigel - beneath the main public space that houses 1,250 car parking spaces and can be adapted to function as an exhibition space. With vast pillars propping it up, I struggle to imagine it as an events arena but Nigel assures me it is configured on a grid system offering standard exhibitor slots.

“It’s a relatively traditional system inside. It’s just the scale of it”

It could accommodate the likes of the huge oil and gas exhibition Offshore Europe or a Caravan and Motorhome Show. We move on towards the main exhibition halls, where steel frames are currently being put in place. The roof will be completed in late spring, Nigel says, which will be great comfort to the workers, who are toiling away despite the freezing conditions and winds whipping across the exposed expanse of land. Today, there are 570 operatives on site, which is the largest number on the project to date, which is a surprising fact given the cold. The build has had to contend with the in and out flows of labour in the construction industry; it is never easy to retain experienced contractors of a size that can deliver a project of this size but - in spite of the challenges - everything is on schedule. “We’re on programme at the moment,” says Nigel. “If somebody had said to me after 16 or 17 months you’d be on programme given we’ve had to divert huge drainage pipes, high voltage electric cables, gas cables, plus small rivers across the site that we had to divert, we’ve got through all that and large parts of that were outwith our control because of the bureaucracy that surrounds utilities, but it’s gone well.” He adds: “It’s the biggest project I’ve been involved with and I’ve been involved with some big projects. If you add up the various phases that happen over a five or seven-year period, it would probably add up to this size, but in terms of a one-off it’s certainly the biggest one.” Each of the exhibition halls is 20,000-square feet in size; the one we are looking at will have partitions allowing it to be divided into thirds depending on the requirements of an event. There are a range of ground and first floor traditional meeting rooms, everything from a room for 10 people to something the size of a tennis court. The flexibility and configurability of the building will be central to its appeal as an events and entertainment space, something the venue operator SMG will be using to maximise its appeal to a diverse local, national and international market. As we continue to circumnavigate the site Nigel points towards the developments that will sit alongside the main building; there are two hotels going up - one is a 150-bedroom A-loft hotel, by Starwood, which Nigel describes as “industrial

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“It’s the biggest project I’ve been involved with and I’ve been involved with some big projects” and retro”, and the other will be a 200-guestroom four-star Hilton hotel with bars, restaurants, conference and spa facilities. There is a third plot for a hotel, which has a design and can be picked up again with any new interest, Nigel says. Nearing the end of the tour, we pass the hydrogen fuel cell energy centre, which will be the largest fuel cell installation in the UK and on a par with the largest in Europe; Doosan Babcock will supply the low emission cells, which will provide a total electrical output of 1.4MW, supplying power, heat, and cooling to the buildings across the site on a district system. It is as advanced - and ‘sustainable’ - as power generation gets and will feed into the AECC’s ambition to be recognised by the British Building Research Establishment (BRE) in terms of its sustainable design. It has been a rewarding project to be part of, Nigel says; he knows how hard it can be for the building trade to be really invested in the work it does - given the fact that contractors have travelled from all parts of the country and have no personal affiliation to Aberdeen. Nigel himself is living in the city during the week and travelling back to Edinburgh, where he’s from, at the weekends. Despite that, he says the comradery on site has been one of the more positive aspects of working away from home. “I think genuinely it’s a bit of a worry because if people who are not from Aberdeen and travel up here and live up here, it’s easy to get a bit disillusioned and not enjoy it, but everybody seems to have really bought into it. I’m enjoying it,” Nigel says. He adds: “It’s your job and it can be an awful lot of hassle and grief but you work away at it, and sometimes it’s an anti-climax when you finish, but I don’t think this will be like that. I think it will be pretty exciting when it finishes. As long as we get a chance to practise on the stage!” l

Nigel Munro, Project Manager at Henry Boot Developments, at the site of the new AECC.

Nigel Munro, Project Manager at Henry Boot Developments, at the site of the new new AECC




2018 marks the start of the Year of Young People and it’s Braw! Youth-themed events will take place around Scotland as part of a £2.5m national marketing campaign BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


t all kicked off with a single word. ‘Braw’, visible from the skies on a cold pre-Hogmanay night in Edinburgh, marked the beginning of the Year of Young People - Scotland’s latest themed year which will see its young people the focus of a national campaign celebrating the contribution and achievements of young people, giving them a ‘chance to shine’ through a year-long series of events backed by a £2.5m national marketing campaign. The fact that the year has come into being at all is testament in no small part to the work of EventScotland, whose failed bid several years ago to lure the Youth Olympics to Scotland prompted some soulsearching and then a pledge to do something to make up for the disappointment for many young people who shared the media spotlight with legendary British Olympian Seb Coe and Scottish Ministers in a launch event at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow in June 2012. “It was credit to the government and credit to Ministers who listened and stood by it. From my knowl-


Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events


Young people decided the word ‘Braw’ best defined their experience of being Scottish; the word was spectacularly lit up as part of the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh

edge, it’s the only place in the world where there’s been an Olympic bid and subsequently there’s been part of that bid that came live,” says Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, who I catch up with during a break at the National Event Conference at the Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) in Glasgow. He adds: “That was the original green shoots of it and in essence the team has put together a programme with YoungScot and other partners in collaboration with young people; from the start, we wanted to put young people at the heart of the whole event programme, particularly the signature event programme, involving them with the philosophy of co-design and then development.” THE RESULT is the Year of Young People (YOYP) - part of VisitScotland’s themed year programme - which has now settled into a biennial event with this year’s offering being pitched as something in between a ‘usual’ themed year and a Homecoming year in terms of scale and budget; whilst the budget for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in 2017 was £570,000 (the events part being £300,000), the spend for YOYP has been upped considerably to £2.5m for tourism and events as a whole, and an allocation of £2m for the events programme - all of which will be ‘co-designed’ by young people . At the time of going to print around 70 per cent of the events scheduled

for this year have received funding, with the remainder due to be announced in forthcoming months. Among the most eye-catching, in spend terms at least, is Futureproof - a new festival of international performing arts created by young people. Organised by the National Theatre of Scotland - and backed by £200,000 in EventScotland funding - leading Scottish, British and international theatre practitioners will embed themselves in 10 Scottish communities up and down the country, from September 28 to October 28. There, they will work with young people to co-create, design, develop and stage a piece of performance - with 10 productions

taking place in those in cities and locations across the country, each with their own unique twist. Young people will also be at the forefront of the opening event for the new V&A Museum of Design Dundee when it opens in the city in September this year; £70,000 has been earmarked for the occasion, which will be organised by Design Dundee, and young people will come together to form a new V&A Dundee Young People’s Collective, a group of young people (aged 16-24) from diverse backgrounds across the city, who will help design and plan the opening celebration. Smaller amounts were allocated to other events including £5,000 to a

Taste of Grampian - the largest food and drink festival for the North East - which takes place on June 2 and £15,000 to the Tiree Music Festival (13-15 July), which will feature a brand-new innovation, the ELEVATE STAGE, programmed entirely by young people and showcasing new talent. IN TOTAL 37 events received funding from the The Year of Young People 2018 Open Event Fund, which closed in June last year. A second round of funding - Create18 - was due to close on January 22 this year and will see the remainder of events taking place in the latter half of 2018 announced. Developed

by EventScotland and Young Scot, the Create18 funding programme gives young people across Scotland the opportunity to create and host innovative events in their community, and to bring the Year of Young People 2018 to life. The wider 2018 Year of Young People Partner programme was also launched last year; although non-funded, the Partner Programme allows events to benefit from potential inclusion in VisitScotland promotional activity as part of brand and collateral support. For Bush, he hopes that this themed year - aside from providing destination profile - will lead to longer-lasting change.

“Young people are inspiring they’re our future. We need to put them at the heart of what we’re doing as a nation because all too often it’s white, male, middle class and actually young kids have got a really important voice,” he says. He adds: “You never know, we might finish longer term with young people as a strand within the events portfolio which places them at the heart of event curation and creation as well as development and delivery, similar to our winter festivals programme. It’s really tough for young kids to get opportunities so I think anything the industry can do collectively to help them can only be a good thing, right?” n


CULTURE PAISLEY Paisley has pledged to ‘continue its journey’ with a multi-million pound investment in its arts and creative scene

Paisley’s ‘putting up the scaffolding’ to support an ambitious events W programme

After narrowly losing out on the UK City of Culture bid, the town’s enthusiasm for cultural renewal is undimmed BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

hen Louisa Mahon talks about ‘scaffolding’, it’s a deliberate metaphorical twist on a word normally associated with the erecting of metal uprights and boardwalks. Mahon, the Head of Marketing at Renfrewshire Council, is trying to convey the sense of ‘support’ being put in place to position Paisley as a national events hub, despite its recent painful - and very public


(the competition results aired on BBC One’s The One Show at the beginning of December) - failure to become the UK City of Culture for 2021. Rather than taking its medicine, the town, which is famed for its eponymous weave, stands on the brink of an ambitious and farreaching rejuvenation, much of which is based on a multi-million pound investment in infrastructure but also a recognition that events can help drive a fresh sense of purpose and, crucially, visitor numbers. “We’ve got a programme confirmed for 2018 in terms of events and we may be announcing two new events into that schedule,” says Mahon. “One is a festival which would be coming in May, the other is an opera which would be taking place in June; it is very much about being committed to bringing in more events in the scaffold phase and we’re still going ahead with that.” She adds: “As from today we have gone back into the Paisley Partnership [a private/public/third sector organisation convened to support

the bid] and we have agreed that we will continue on as a board to focus on a new programme of activity to 2022 which will allow Paisley to realise as many of its ambitions that we had in the bid as possible. We’ve gone into a period of consultation to bring our cultural and creative communities together in February to say ‘okay, this is what we were proposing to do in terms of programming to build a vibrant cultural and creative sector and bring in new events’.” UK CITY of Culture bidders tend to be places which have lost their way; previously prosperous trading posts or centres of manufacturing excellence which have fallen inexorably into post-industrial decline. In recognition of that fact, the awards were convened under the last Labour government in 2009 and the first winner was Derry in 2013; the media spotlight and government injection of cash raised Derry’s profile both domestically and internationally, and the same can be said for Hull - 2017’s UK City of Culture - which has generated £60m for

the local economy, attracting 3.5m visitors and staging 2,000 events. Whilst Paisley will inevitably not benefit from the same media profile, the plans to stimulate interest and investment through events looks set to continue apace. “We’re heartbroken not to win,” adds Mahon. “But I think it has totally regalvanised the spirit of Paisley and the spirit of partnership that exists here. The actual process itself has been so huge in terms of how we profiled the place, so there can only be good out of it; we always said the journey would continue no matter what the outcome and I think what’s galvanised us over the past couple of weeks has been the massive outpouring from the community.” There is a strong chance that the financial backing for Paisley’s events plans will also continue unabated. More than 200 business backers have already ploughed over £300,000 in sponsorship money into the town’s coffers to support events in those ‘scaffold years’; the council is hoping Arts & Business Scotland will match fund the spon-

sorship generated and there are infrastructure plans in the pipeline. JEAN CAMERON, who grew up in Paisley, led the town’s bid (prior to that she was responsible for the international strand of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games cultural programme and has produced Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art) and is expected to stay on in the role for a short time leading on ‘legacy projects’ stemming from the process. She has a well-established pedigree for events and highlighted how the process of bidding had led to a genuine transformation of her home town’s fortunes when she presented at the recent National Events Conference at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology Innovation Centre just days before Coventry, against bookies’ odds, was announced as winner for 2021. “Bidding has already been a really positive experience for us; it’s raised our profile and given a newfound sense of confidence locally. After Continued on Page 16


CULTURE PAISLEY Paolo Nutini returned to his birthplace for a special charity gig to support Syrian refugees, as well as the town’s bid to become UK City of Culture

Continued from Page 15 years of knocks the people of Paisley are talking our town up again,” she told delegates. One of the main bid legacies is the £1m Renfrewshire Culture, Heritage and Events Fund - set up to help local groups build capacity and work with national and international talent. Partnerships are already in place for 2018 with national agencies including Scottish Opera and the National Theatre of Scotland. The council is also spearheading a £110m investment in cultural venues and town centre improvements including a £42m revamp of Paisley Museum and £46m set aside for other venues, such as Paisley Town Hall and Arts Centre. More than £7.7m is also due to be invested into the St James Playing Fields, for new facilities and an outdoor event space. Mahon says: “The British Pipe Band Championships will be at St James this year, moving to another park down the road for 2019 and then back in 2020. That’s going to the site for music festivals and a new festival we’re developing at the moment; St James’ is fantastic in terms of accessibility. This will put in the infrastructure that allows events to come along and ‘plug in’, basically. We’ve had DF Concerts and Regular Music involved in that consultation so we’re pretty

confident that what we’re going to deliver on the ground is going to be fantastic.” She adds: “Our investment programme starts almost imminently and we’re currently recruiting the team that will come on to project manage those infrastructure developments; then it’s full steam ahead, including the refurbishment of the museum, which will be absolutely huge for us.” She says: “We’re quite confident that that pump priming will still generate investment and we also have the City Deal investment that’s taking place and that’s £273m worth of infrastructure (Renfrewshire’s share of the Glasgow City Region Deal) - so rail links, bridges, and an investment package at the airport which has the potential to leverage up to 10,000 jobs over the next decade. In terms of a public sector investment it’s not just taking place in relation to events and cultural venues, it’s actually across the board.” HIGHLIGHTS OF Paisley’s events programme in 2018 will include the only UK start leg of the prestigious international Monte Carlo Classic Rally, which sees up to 100 vintage vehicles gather outside Paisley Abbey before setting off for France in January; a self-generated event, the Paisley Food Festival, created in 2015 to showcase the best of


Scottish produce, will run alongside the long-established Paisley Beer Festival (run by Renfrewshire CAMRA and Scotland’s largest of its kind) in April. The British Pipe Band Championships, run by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, and one of the ‘majors’ in the piping calendar, was brought to Paisley for three years from 2016-18, and recently confirmed it will stay through 2019-21. The free event, which runs in May, saw an estimated 19,000 visitors in 2017 and delivered a £290,000 boost to the local economy. The unusually titled ‘Weave and Sma’ Shot Day’ is one of the world’s oldest workers’ festivals and celebrates Paisley’s heritage of textile-making and political activism. Weave was added to the events programme in 2017 as a weekend-long ‘wraparound cultural programme’ as part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and will continue in 2018 in July. The Scottish Album of the Year Award takes place in Paisley Town Hall in August and in October the flagship arts festival Spree takes places over ten days across various venues, including a speciallyerected Spiegeltent. The Winter Festivals programme kicks off with the Halloween Festival - named by the Daily Telegraph as one of the Top 20 Halloween events in the UK - followed by Fireworks and Christmas

Lights, each of which brings crowds of around 25,000 into the town centre. 2017 also saw Paisley host the MG Alba Scottish Trad Awards, and the town has been confirmed to host the Royal National Mòd - the largest Scottish Gaelic literature, song, arts and culture festival in Scotland - in either 2021 or 2022. IN ADDITION to the events activity the council is working on a new cultural strategy to underpin its events offer; the strategy will focus heavily on leadership and capacity across the town’s cultural and creative sectors but crucially will also try and embrace the grassroots promoters and producers so it doesn’t end up as a top-down diktat with no local buy-in. Mahon says: “That was always part of the bid: how do we develop a really robust cultural and creative ecology so that our capacity is to deliver cultural excellence and to deliver great events - events that are rooted in the community and that deliver health and wellbeing but that also have the capacity to draw visitors. For us it’s always been about this multitude approach; events that promote cultural participation. Events that improve health and wellbeing, and have social impact and then events which really raise the profile of our place and generate economic impact.” n

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Eight thousand people slept out for a night in Princes Street Gardens on a freezing December night and raised £3.6m to help eradicate homelessness in Scotland. Pictures: Unique Events

An Oasis of calm - as 8,000 people sleep in a park on the coldest Edinburgh night in a decade 18 | EVENTSBASE | WINTER 2018

The behind-thescenes story of how Sleep in the Park came to Edinburgh BY AL THOMSON


s producers of the ‘Sleep in the Park’ event, we were not only tasked with delivering another world-class event in the capital, but had the added complexity of an 8,000-strong audience sleeping out in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens on the coldest night in the capital for a decade. Sleep in the Park was a really challenging event to produce, but easily one of the most inspiring and rewarding projects Unique Events has ever been involved in. We didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge and show our support for Social Bite. We believe the work that they have been delivering across

Scotland over the last few years is phenomenal. When we were approached by Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn early in 2017 with his ambition to host the world’s biggest sleepout, our advice to him was ‘walk before you can run’, but Josh was always clear on what he wanted to achieve with the event. It had to be the biggest, with a fundraising target of £4m and had to maximise the media exposure for the campaign, all to help eliminate homelessness in Scotland in the next five years. A truly ambitious plan, but having witnessed the reaction to the Sleep in the Park from the audience, business community, politicians and artists involved, a plan which we believe is now entirely possible through the collective movement which Social Bite has created. We’ve been involved in many charity events over the years and have produced large-scale winter concerts and events in Edinburgh for over 20 years, but this was something special and a very different. It was a new design from other ‘sleep-outs’ which take place

across the country, due not only to the sheer scale of the event, but also to the use of high-profile artists in the live concert which provided an excellent platform for Social Bite to raise awareness of the campaign and a well-deserved reward and thank you to the thousands who had signed-up to take part. The line-up was the biggest to have performed in Princes Street Gardens with Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit all performing special stripped back acoustic sets. There were also guest appearances from Sir Bob Geldof, John Cleese, Rob Brydon and Sir Chris Hoy, all of whom were there to lend their support and voices for the cause. Everyone we spoke to understood straight away what we were trying to achieve with Sleep in the Park. All of our partners and suppliers played a huge role in making the event happen through their generosity and support, we can’t thank them enough. But it was the general public who truly embraced the event, with participants from across Scotland

and the UK accepting the challenge, travelling to Edinburgh and sleeping outdoors in the middle of winter. I don’t believe that anyone who registered for the challenge would have predicted they would be facing temperatures of -8°c through the night, but that brief glimpse of the realities of the conditions which many face every night of winter is something they will never forget and looks to be a catalyst for change across the country. It was so inspiring to see the belief and hope amongst participants that they were part of a growing movement; led by Social Bite, which will actually bring about change for homelessness in Scotland. To date Sleep in the Park fundraisers have generated an incredible £3.6M for the charity, which will change thousands of lives. The humanity and generosity shown by everyone who slept in a freezing, dark Princes Street Gardens that night was a heartwarming moment. An opportunity for people to share an ‘act of kindness’, a sentiment which many

feel has been lost amongst the commerciality of Christmas, but a message which was echoed through Scotland’s St. Andrews Day celebrations this year and global movements such as Fair Saturday. The freezing temperatures certainly added to the challenge for both participants and event delivery, but we had prepared for such weather, wrapping the gardens with a protective ground cover and providing every participant with a ‘survival bag’ to go over their sleeping back to ensure they were dry and warm. The safety of the participants was our number one priority and the welfare and medical provision for the sleep-out was a massive operation, ensuring each ‘sleep-zone’ was closely monitored by welfare staff throughout the night and with medical teams on stand-by if required. Free tea, coffee and hot drinks were available at warming-stations through the night and food stalls operating throughout the event have all donated their profits to the campaign. The current climate for largescale event security hasn’t changed

our approach to keeping audience members safe at our events. The main difference for Sleep in the Park was how much baggage our audience members would be bringing into the arena. We maybe hadn’t anticipated quite how much baggage some people would bring, but they certainly came prepared for the weather. With a 100% bag search and no-alcohol policy for the event, this meant ticket and bag check areas were incredibly thorough, but the queueing audiences were in great spirits about the night ahead, with many saying they were reassured that these measures were in place. Everyone who participated, donated, worked and performed at the event should be immensely proud of what they achieved. We look forward to continuing to help Social Bite realise their ambitions for Sleep in the Park and helping eradicate homelessness in Scotland over the next five years. n Al Thomson is Co-Director of Edinburgh-based events company Unique Events



EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS Joanne Deponio, Head of Operations at Glasgow2018, pictured centre, outlines the aspirations for Glasgow as a host city for the new multi-sport European Championships

Glasgow2018 will help the city realise its wider strategic aims, Host City conference hears 20 | EVENTSBASE | WINTER 2018

The Championships will help the city promote its participation agenda and boost its international profile BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


he unique delivery model of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships is helping the city realise its wider economic and social goals, the Host City conference heard in November. Glasgow will seek to use the first edition of the multi-sport event co-hosted with Berlin from August 2 to 12 - as a “catalyst” to widen participation in sport across the city. That was one of the key insights which came from Joanne Deponio, Head of Operations for Glasgow 2018, as the world’s top sporting events destinations gathered for the conference in the city on November 28. She said: “Glasgow has positioned itself as a host of major internation-

al events and we’re committed to doing so going forward and also for building world-class facilities here. We have a strong major events strategy in Glasgow and it’s very much linked to the strategic objectives of the city; it’s important that we use events as a catalyst to meet the objectives it [the city] has and that’s very much what Glasgow does in terms of our economic development and tourism strategy. We do align the events that we bid for and host to the ambitions of the city and we do use them as a catalyst to realising those; we obviously hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and we’ve heard a bit about that this morning in terms of the legacy, the infrastructure that we’ve built and the infamous Glasgow welcome that we gave our athletes, the media and our spectators.” Deponio was taking part in a panel discussion about how to create ‘mega impact in small to medium-sized cities’. According to Mike Laflin, CEO of SportCal, who moderated the session, his firm’s market analysis showed that 50 per cent of the cities hosting world championships have populations


Joanne Deponio, Head of Operations for Glasgow 2018

of less than one million. Glasgow, which comes at 13th on SportCal’s index of host cities, fits into the bracket of cities with populations of between half a million and a million, alongside Doha, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Rotterdam, all of which have played host to major sporting events. Deponio said that with the 2018

event - which will be broadcast in 123 languages to a potential audience of 1.03 billion people, thanks to a partnership with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the world’s leading alliance of public service media - the city’s ‘journey will continue’. The event started initially as Berlin hosting the European Athletics Championships and Glasgow hosting the European Aquatic Championships. However, it had grown to include six events within Glasgow and Scotland in line with the “objectives of the city for sport and participation within the city”, Deponio said. Now the Glasgow element of the co-hosting arrangements will see aquatics together with cycling, golf, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon as the major events taking place, all of which have a strong heritage and tradition with their own respective federations, with the exception of golf, which is a new event set to be hosted at Gleneagles. She added: “Sometimes we’re or-

ganising six sports, and sometimes we’re organising one big event and it’s about getting that balance right. “It’s very much for us been about building the relationships with the EBU (European Broadcast Union), which is the media rights holder, working on our brand and making sure that we align the event with the brand of Glasgow and the brand of the Championships as well, and also we’ve created quite a unique delivery model which works for us as the City of Glasgow which isn’t perhaps your traditional organising committee model. I think it’s about working with partners and building

Glaswegian BMX racer Mia Paton who will benefit from the Olympicstandard BMX track being built at Knightswood Park the relationships, but looking at the ambitions of the city and linking those to the event and using the event as a catalyst for realising those ambitions.” She said the ability to broadcast the event - which hopefully will air with all-day coverage on BBC2 - to an audience to a potential audience of over a billion is a “fundamental” part of Glasgow and Scotland’s aim to promote itself as a destination worldwide. n


cover story


Chris Foy’s Olympian task He helped rejuvenate London with the 2012 games. Can the new head of VisitAberdeenshire now transform tourism in the North East? By Kevin O’Sullivan


hris Foy is blessed with all the urbane charm one might expect from a civil servant who has burnished his government credentials working at the Foreign Office. Ensconced for a spell at Number 10, Foy has found himself, at various points in his career, working on the Mayor of London’s and VisitBritain’s masterplan to transform the city through the delivery of the 2012 Olympics, where he was ‘Head of the Games Unit’, to sponsoring a yacht (exercising British ‘soft power’) as it travels around the globe looking for new trade and investment opportunities. I’m meeting Foy on a snowy day in the centre of Aberdeen, in a suite of offices on Union Street which are quite a long way removed in distance and prestige from Downing Street. Foy, diplomatically, points to its virtues and describes the city as on the cusp of a “renaissance”, with £9bn worth of public and private investment slated to take place in the North East over the next 13 years. It is part of carefully considered plans to rebalance the region’s economy, which since the late 1970s has been heavily dependent on oil and gas; the energy sector will continue to thrive well into the future,

Foy insists, ‘long after he’s pushing up daisies’, although falling revenues over the last several years has pushed economic diversity higher up the agenda. Foy was sounded out last year for the job of running VisitAberdeenshire - the region’s destination management organisation (DMO) - and found himself quickly wrestling with the notion of leaving the comfort of a metropolitan and global city 550 miles away where he not long been installed as Head of Business Events at VisitBritain. “It did start with me saying to my wife, ‘People have been in touch about a job in Aberdeen. Don’t worry, we’re not moving to Scotland - I just want to see how far this goes, to test myself somewhat’. But what appealed to me was, ‘here’s a chance to apply for a job, and what was really clear was the scale of opportunity in the North East of Scotland’.” Foy was duly installed as Chief Executive of VisitAberdeenshire in August last year - and after moving his family lock, stock and barrel to the so-called ‘Granite City’ has now settled into the role. The private-sector led Opportunity North East (ONE) is the principal funding arm of VisitAberdeenshire - which came into being

22 | Eventsbase | winter 2018

as an organisation in 2018, following the merger of Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership, VisitAberdeen and Visit Royal Deeside - and has backing also from Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Scottish Enterprise; that support has enabled Foy to raise a budget of ‘just shy of £2m-a-year’, which in spend terms compares very favourably to other DMOs. Tourism is one of the ‘key sectors’ - along with Life Sciences, Food, Drink and Agriculture and Oil and Gas - identified by ONE as growth areas for the region; Scotland’s west coast has long benefited from tourism and Foy recalls stories last summer about a ‘saturation’ point being reached in the Highlands and Islands - particularly on Skye - where increasing visitor numbers were apparently putting strain on local roads, accommodation and facilities. Foy thinks the real picture might be more ‘perception’ based, but nevertheless the time looks ripe to start banging the drum for the North East. A brand new £333m convention centre - the replacement to the existing AECC (see page 9 - is set to open in 2019 and usher in a new era for entertainment and business events in the city; the airport was extended last year, and a new £350 harbour opening in 2020 will enable large cruise liners to dock in the city. That’s not to mention that Aberdeenshire apparently has more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, with over 300, which is an appealing fact to throw into the marketing mix. “That’s the nub of the whole leisure project here really, growing awareness of and ultimately visits

into the eastern side; it’s not as simple as the ‘west is full’ so they’ll come here. The west has got its very distinct geography and offer and I think what we have here is quite distinct as well in terms of landscape, but at the same time for those people just wanting that authentic Scottish experience of whisky and castles and Highland games, we’ve got it coming out of our ears in some respects,” Foys says. He adds: “We have a large slab of the Cairngorms within Aberdeenshire, [and] the national park has a strategy to start moving a greater percentage of their visitors to the east side of the park because it’s very busy around Aviemore and places like that. There are quite a few bodies and organisations thinking along the same lines, in that there is space to breathe over here and therefore an opportunity to grow.” It’s clear Foy has a lot of “toys to work with”, as he puts it, but he is in no rush to put out a message which doesn’t chime with potential visitors; on the leisure side, one of his principal markets is the UK, with industry passenger and tourism surveys clearly showing the bulk of Scottish tourism is made up from people coming from other parts of the country. But he will also be working to stimulate overseas visitor numbers, particularly off the back of Aberdeen’s growing number of direct air links. Foy also wants a strong ‘creative proposition’ in place before any campaigns are launched; this work will only commence once he has completed a review of the region’s


Chris Foy, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeenshire, pictured in Aberdeen as he embarks on a mission to transform the north-east’s tourism economy. Pictures: Mary Turner



cover story aberdeen è tourism strategy, first developed in

2013, which set the visitor spend target at £510m. Whilst he doesn’t expect the research will throw up “too many surprises”, as to where the focus should be, he does envisage that the visitor spend bar will rise and he’s also looking to inject a bit more “rigour” into how campaigns are evaluated. He is also effectively establishing a convention bureau for the city under the direction of a new Head of Business Events, along with other, more specialist personnel he is looking to bring on board. “You can kind of look at this as the beginning of chapter two of VisitAberdeenshire,” he says. “My task now is to get us into shape to embrace the next really important two or three years ahead as a lot of these big projects start to open in 2019/2020 and we need to have the right shape organisation to respond to that; the strategy work that is being completed at the moment is not our corporate one, it’s for the whole destination.” He says: “What I’m doing will be in response to that and how we shape up in terms of our targets, where we put our focus, the balance between leisure and business, the markets and the segments within. In terms of the structure to support that I’ve got a reasonably good idea where we should be putting our resources now and what that destination strategy will do is help fine tune what those people do when they’re in place.” To another extent he hopes to work with different sectors (as well as bigger partners like VisitScotland) to bring “other brains into the equation” for more impactful campaign delivery and greater reach; it’s clear he’s not just thinking of the usual tourism suspects of hotels, airlines and train companies although he won’t be revealing any names just yet. The new AECC, which is quietly taking shape directly under the flight path of Aberdeen airport, will be one of the beacons of the rebalancing effort for the North East. Foy arrives just as the venue operator, SMG (appointed last year by Abedeen City Council) is preparing the ground for its opening in 2019, with NEC Group veteran Nick Waight taking the helm as MD in March. Part of the diversification of the region’s economy will be reflected in the types of events the venue which will have a capacity of 12,500 people - will look to secure. “When you talk to SMG, they’re

Foy pictured at VisitAberdeenshire’s headquarters on Union Street in the city ing cultural festivals and events programme in the city” and has helped attract international events from places like Stavanger in Norway with its Nuart festival, which runs for four days in April. On the sporting side, the Great Aberdeen Run was a successful entrant into the market last August with its inaugural event, and checked well against the organisers’ (the same company which stages the Great North Run in Newcastle) objectives with higher spend figures per capita than the event south of the border. Additionally, the Tour Series cycling event - which airs on ITV4 - added Aberdeen to its calendar last year under sunnier skies than elsewhere in the UK (helpful for projecting Aberdeen’s image on TV) and will return in 2018. bidding for events and subject matter that goes way beyond the energy sector and oil and gas,” says Foy. “Of course, that’s still going to be a really important part of Aberdeen’s USP but in a way the convention centre is a bit of a microcosm of the whole North-East economy, which is diversifying away from oil and gas, drawing on the expertise that has grown up in Aberdeen.” Ultimately Foy’s appointment may signal the beginnings of a cultural shift in terms of how the tourism industry works together in the region. When you speak to locals, and industry experts, the feedback is that Aberdeen is not as well configured as Edinburgh or Glasgow (particularly on the business tourism side) - where both have long-established destination management organisations, that are membership based, all feeding into initiatives and campaigns, for leisure and business tourism. It is perhaps a victim of its own success in the oil and gas industry - which has helped fill hotels with relative ease in the past - that accommodation providers have not had to think of new ways of attracting custom. As to whether VisitAberdeenshire might foster any restructuring, Foy’s not ruling anything out. “Funding models are always going to change and rise to new challenges, I suppose. So, I wouldn’t rule anything out,” he says. “But I’m also keen to attract private sector support whether that’s cash or

in-kind, for specific campaigns or projects, which is probably more on the leisure marketing side. There is a thriving community of tourist attractions who work well together across the whole area and this is important from the events side as well in terms of what people do in down time as part of their programmes.” He also draws attention to recent local cooperation where eight attractions got together to promote a ‘buy one get five free’ initiative to stimulate more people visiting museums and attractions during the off season. As for events, the local consortium Aberdeen Festivals has developed what Foy calls an “emerg-

“My task now is to get us into shape to embrace the next really important two or three years ahead as a lot of these big projects start to open in 2019/2020”

I ask how excited he is about leading the organisation and the city into this new era, taking in the huge breadth of possibilities of a more expansive role, with his career thus far having been characterised by working towards ‘big moments’. “I don’t tend to get excited things in a kind of jumping up and down way but it is [exciting]; it’s also having that degree of responsibility as well,” he says. “I have compared it to working on the Olympics - it was fantastic, there was a real adrenaline rush, but it kind of disappeared at the end of 2012 and that was it, the circus moved on. Whereas we’re working up towards some very big projects including the convention centre and the harbour; they’re going to be ongoing so the whole project should be more satisfying.” He adds: “There are a lot of eyes on the development of tourism in this part of Scotland. With that comes a responsibility. I’ve always had in mind that a good career move would be to run a DMO at some point, but I do look around and see friends and peers who run DMOs and spend most of their time running around chasing money and trying to find scraps of money here and there - for bidding and running campaigns and things like that - whereas here was a serious statement of intent both from the local authorities, from ONE, and from a lot of business as well, to really invest in tourism.” l

Eventsbase | winter 2018 | 25



It’s more than just an ordinary meetings space it’s còsagach The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) embraces Scandi style as it launches new events area BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


ith its muted grey tones, slouching chairs and oak-style wood panelling the new meetings space at the SEC has a claim to be a good exemplar of the on-trend word for 2018 - còsagach. An ancient Scots word meaning ‘snug, sheltered or cosy’, the term is tailor-made for the Glasgow venue’s newly-launched SEC Meeting Academy, which has put cosinesss and comfort -- similar to the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ - at the heart of its fresh and appealing design. I’m visiting the new facility before it is officially unveiled in February and my first thought is how well the SEC Centre has managed to update yet another of its spaces to appeal to event planners. I’m reminded of how well executed the design for the stylish Clydebuilt Bar & Kitchen, at the front entrance, was pulled off; this is another string to the SEC’s bow. The academy has a contemporary look and light touch - carried off with panache by local design firm Dimension - that is certain to go down very well with a meetings industry that is continuously evolving and looking for new features and ideas.

It is in that spirit that outside the central 300-400 theatre-style capacity room - which is a revamp of the centre’s former restaurant and bar area - that there is a long counter with plug-in points for laptops and phones that would not look out of place in an Apple store. The £500,000 investment has largely come about as a result of the success of the SEC’s sales team - which went to market last year with its ‘We do wee too’ campaign, designed to appeal to to local events organisers. This space is ideal for those self-contained small to medium-sized meetings, which are a good regular source of income for the venue; the area can also be integrated with the wider SEC conference facilities providing a larger space for VIP meetings, or even civic receptions. “We’re really excited that we’ve got this brand-new space at the SEC


Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales, SEC


to appeal to the corporate market. We feel that we’ve got something a little bit different to what’s already out there and we have inclusive AV and wi-fi as well as great catering which means we can offer a unique product to the local market and beyond,” says Glenda Carlyle, Senior Sales Manager. “It’s also nice, bright and modern and I think people will feel very comfortable up here. We have 19 meeting rooms and this will take us up to 20; we have a lot of big conferences that are growing and need extra meeting rooms so it makes sense to offer this to our international clients and also to the local market as something a bit different.” There are breakout rooms and networking spaces overlooking the concourse and alongside the larger theatre space, the four smaller meeting rooms formerly known as the Seminar Suite are being upgraded in line with the new facility and form part of the SEC Meeting Academy. The new space acts as both a stand-alone conference offering, and as an additional provision for larger congresses. The area has its own contemporary colour palette and a fresh new identity, that sits alongside the growing suite of Scottish Event Campus brands. Bookings were being taken for the SEC Meeting Academy even before completion, highlighting the demand for such a product within the campus. Director of Conference Sales, Kathleen Warden, said: “The SEC Meeting Academy is a fantastic addition to our campus. The flexibility of the space means that we

The SEC Meeting Academy at the SEC has put ‘cosiness and comfort’ at the heart of its design

can accommodate more small to mid-sized meetings whilst offering larger events more space and more diversity in the product. “The space is tailored to the needs of organisers and delegates, whether it be for training or a smaller local corporate meeting for 200 – 300, or for a large conference of 2000 – 3000. The new space has integrated informal workstations and charging points, and the latest conferencing technology for interactive sessions. The reaction from our clients has been terrific - it’s a great enhancement inside the campus, and complements the evolution we have going on outside the campus; from the new hotels to a whisky distillery.” Còsagach was a term identified by VisitScotland’s Insight Department in a Trends paper published in December, which was designed to stimulate thought among Scottish tourism businesses. l



InnovateTheNation closes 2017 with tech sector event at Stirling CodeBase VisitScotland’s Business events roadshow ended the year with ‘InnovateDigital’ By Kevin O’Sullivan


izza and beer provided a fitting backdrop to an informal gathering of tech aficionados in Stirling before Christmas - as the VisitScotland Business Events team closed 2017 with the last of its countrywide ‘InnovateTheNation’ series of talks. Aimed at encouraging academics and business leaders to reach out to their international contacts to help bring more business events to Scottish shores, the city’s recentlyopened branch of tech incubator CodeBase, played host to InnovateDigital in a bid to push the business events message out to regional contacts. “In the Business Events team, we want to connect with you to help identify those events which we can attract to Scotland and more specifically to Stirling,” said Patrick Lamont, Associations and Sectors team at VS’s Business Tourism Unit, at the start of the event, which featured speakers from Stirling’s emerging tech scene.

“If you ever find yourself at an event abroad or have aspirations to create your own event here in Scotland we are here to help you bring it home,” Lamont added. The InnovateTheNation programme - which celebrates the country’s knowledge economy was launched in August 2016 with the intention of bringing together the ‘next generation of innovators through a series of free events held in Scotland’. The Stirling event was run in partnership between VisitScotland Business Events and Stirling CodeBase - an offshoot of CodeBase in Edinburgh, the UK’s largest tech incubator - with support also from STEP Scotland - a business incubator providing support to local businesses - and Stirling Council. Dr Greg Singh, Communications, Media and Culture Lecturer at University of Stirling, opened the

“It is part of Code Base’s mission to help communicate and connect the public to the technological innovations of today” Steven Drost, CSO, CodeBase Stirling

28 | Eventsbase | winter 2018

proceedings with a talk about data and society; Dr Singh is Co-Director of the RSE Life in Data Research Network, a two-year project which aims to investigate the connections between data literacy, open data, education policy, and creative data innovation in Scotland. Leah Lockhart of the Democratic Society followed with a talk about how public services can be better delivered if citizens are fully involved in the process, especially through digital engagement; Kaye Christie, Director of creative consultancy Paved with Gold also spoke and Dr Matthew Davis, director and founder of social tech consultancy Wittin, which has been working with Stirling Council to offer greater insight into the data it holds. Steven Drost, CSO, CodeBase Stirling, said: “CodeBase Stirling is proud to work with VisitScotland by hosting InnovateDigital. It is part of CodeBase’s mission to help communicate and connect the public to the technological innovations of today. As technology increasingly underpins more and more our day to day lives, it is important that the conversation about technology is held in an open space, where technology, business, academia, state and public can exchange views in an inclusive and transparent way.” Dr Raeanne Miller, from the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban, helped launch the ‘Innovate’ programme in 2016 - which has toured the country ever since in a bid to galvanise communities as to the importance of business events

to Scotland’s reputation as an international knowledge hub. Rory Archibald, Ass ociations & Sectors, VisitScotland Business Events, said: “We are excited to be able to shine a light on Scotland’s innovative digital sector that is one of our fastest growing industries. There are now around 3,000 digital economy companies in Scotland with the tech industry contributing around £5bn to the country’s economy. Companies are spread far and wide throughout the country, with Scotland now a key global destination for establishing, growing and developing digital businesses.” The event also provided a showcase for “Legends” - VisitScotland Business Events’ latest industryfirst, two-year digital campaign, which focuses on the country’s long-established position as the ‘home of pioneering innovation’,

The recently launched Stirling CodeBase was the venue for the networking event; speakers included Leah Lockhart of the Democratic Society, pictured

and unites the Scottish business events market under the banner of ‘Scotland. Where ideas become legend’. ACCORDING TO the brief from VisitScotland, ‘Scotland has recognised for a long time that, while delivering economic benefit, hosting association conferences, conventions and congresses provides a platform for new ideas and innovative thinking, paving the way for collaborations, research and new discoveries. The new campaign capitalises on this idea, sending a clear message that Scotland is a world-leader in research and innovation.’ Whilst InnovateTheNation has been a solely Scotland-focused campaign to galvanise the academic and business community as to the value of business events, Legends is a two-year digital campaign with an

international focus; it is designed to appeal directly to buyers who might consider hosting association conferences and conventions in Scotland and was launched at ibtmworld in Barcelona at the end of November. VisitScotland BTU has been working hard to promote awareness of the campaign among key public sector organisations such as Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International and to co-opt its social media branding such as the hashtag #ideasbecomelegend on Twitter. The campaign has been described by VisitScotland as a ‘global industry-first’, and will ‘create a unified voice for the Business Events industry across Scotland to build on the work of the country’s convention bureaux which secured more than £295m worth of events in 2016’. l




Middle Eastern promise How The Edinburgh International Science Festival captured the hearts of Abu Dhabi The Edinburgh International Science Festival is the world’s first science festival, founded in 1989, and remains Europe’s largest with 200 events and visitor numbers in excess of 90,000. Here Gill Duncan, Senior Projects Manager at Edinburgh Science Festival Ventures, explains how a well-loved international event was exported lock, stock and barrel to the United Arab Emirates in an event partnership which has stood the test of time. BY GILL DUNCAN


ight years ago, our Director, Simon Gage, was approached by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government which had heard about the Edinburgh International Science Festival and was keen to develop a similar event in its homeland. With our expertise in delivering a major-scale science event spanning over two decades their representatives felt we were the best team to do the job. Abu Dhabi Science Festival is the

largest event of its kind in the Middle East and we have been the Programme Partner since its inauguration in 2011. Having attracted over half a million people since then, and over 150,000 people annually, our Edinburgh team helps the organiser, The Abu Dhabi Department of Knowledge and Education (ADEK) curate, produce and deliver the events, supplying workshops and activities developed for local audiences. ADEK remains responsible for the direction of the event, its scale and the Festival’s focus and has the final say in choosing both local and international content from our recommendations. The Festival presents around 80 events, 40% of which are supplied locally and 60% internationally. We work with local providers on content relating to their area of work, for example food control or the energy sector; our team helps them to develop their event scripts and train their staff to deliver workshops. The international element comprises of content from all over the world including the Edinburgh International Science Festival. How is it done? My team of four works around nine months of the year on the Abu Dhabi Science Festival. We bring around 140 participants from around the world to Abu Dhabi which includes a team of 60 that we recruit in Edinburgh to help deliver and train local staff comprising a


The Abu Dhabi Science Festival is now the largest event of its kind in the Middle East

technical team, front of house, site managers plus a team of science buskers performing science experiments on the streets of Abu Dhabi! We work very closely with ADEK which manages relationships with local universities – this year there were 12 universities - and they provide volunteers who we train to be the Festival’s science communicators. A science communicator is the person delivering an activity or workshop and they are key to the Festival’s success. We train around 1,000 local students on their campuses to furnish them with science communication skills. Once on site, they receive training relating to the specific activity they will be delivering: cyber-hacking, space exploration, soldering – you name it! This

process is in English but they present the events in both English and Arabic. It can be a daunting experience but we want to make sure this is as positive experience for them as it for the children and families. The feedback that we have had shows that students report an increase in their general confidence as well as in speaking in English. They value the improvement in their communication skills plus the opportunity to network and make friends. How has the Festival grown and how have we grown with it? The Festival has grown substantially since its inception and so has our knowledge and expertise on delivering a large-scale event abroad. We have got to know our audiences


well; which shows will appeal to them, which subjects are interesting and relevant to their local environment and economy, and we can now capitalise on this knowledge to enhance the content we deliver. For example, a planetarium show should explore the constellation of stars visible from the United Arab Emirates rather than the UK. Our skills in working with local suppliers and workforce have also developed. We spent a lot of time getting to know them and understanding the landscape of Abu Dhabi – both scientific and industrial. For example, we met with the local nuclear authority and local conservationists working to protect coral reefs to understand what they do and tell their stories in the

science content we deliver. We are growing our partnership together and we are already working on going back to Abu Dhabi in February 2018 to deliver another event related to their annual celebration of innovation. Being part of the Abu Dhabi Science Festival has even more firmly put our work in Edinburgh on an international stage. We now get many inquiries from representatives of various countries inquiring about the Abu Dhabi Science Festival model we helped to develop and how they could make it work for themselves. What are the main challenges of producing a large-scale event abroad?

Timescales are one of the main challenges we face. We use sea freight to ship equipment and props to the United Arab Emirates and for that to work we need to have everything in place in September which, for a November event, seems rather early to our partners! As we grow, we will be looking into duplicating our workshops and activities to ease the process. There is sometimes a bit of nervousness surrounding a delivery of such a massive project in a foreign country among our Edinburgh recruits. We tackle that head-on and have a breadth of documents and training sessions to put their minds at ease. What’s your advice for

organisations looking to expand their business abroad? I think it is crucially important to do your research. Go out there and meet the people you will be working with, get under the skin of what their ambitions and goals are. We use a lot of technology in communication but nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting. n Gill Duncan is Senior Projects Manager at Edinburgh Science Festival Ventures – Edinburgh International Science Festival’s arm delivering science events around the world. Here she talks about her seven years managing the programme delivery of the Abu Dhabi Science Festival.



NOEA award winners celebrate their success in Bath

Tiny Scottish music festival on remote isle gains national recognition The Tiree Music Festival scooped Small Festival of the Year at the at NOEA Convention & Awards A TINY music festival on the remote Scottish isle of Tiree scooped Small Festival of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony for the UK outdoor events industry. The Tiree Music Festival was described as “family friendly” with a “diverse audience” as it won recognition yesterday at the 15th National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA) Convention & Awards

ceremony at The Guildhall and The Pump Rooms, in Bath. More than 120 outdoor events industry professionals gathered for the convention and awards ceremony which is focused on celebrating the best of the industry. This year there was special recognition for the people of Manchester for their inspirational response to the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert in May. Andy Grove, NOEA President, said: “The award recognises everything the people did in the face of terrible events at the Manchester Arena, and the inspirational response from the city, bought to

life in the aftermath of the events, but also at the One Love event; an outdoor event of massive importance this last year, and one where we were proud to have many of our members on duty.” NOEA is the UK’s leading outdoor events trade association which fights the events industry’s corner with campaigns ranging from tackling police costs to calling for a ban on Chinese lanterns due to the danger to life, livestock and land. The organisation once again presented a packed agenda of new learning, and interactive debates for event professionals looking to progress their businesses and create more com-

mercial gain in the events industry. The event at Bath’s historic Pump Rooms was attended by James Heappey, MP for Wells in Somerset who is also chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Events Industry. Susan Tanner, NOEA chief executive, said: “Every day, in every corner of the UK, people have amazing experiences at iconic events. They can do so because NOEA members create the infrastructure, the formats and the ideas that allow them to do so.” l

‘How to’ guide launched for new events professionals GL Events - the event structures supplier - has launched a ‘how to’ guide for new events professionals entering the industry. The online resource is available now and features short chapters, offering advice on everything from marketing and ticket sales, to legal matters and sponsorship; all presented through the voices of event professionals who have experience in creating and producing new events. The guide was created as a result

of GL event’s ongoing research in the industry, which identified the need for more commerciallyminded, collaborative relationships, and for more guidance and support to be passed on to new and younger event organisers. The guide is intended as a ‘first steps’ document that uncovers good and bad practice, outlining some of the experiences to come for any new event. Chapters include commentary from Louise Young (Strawberries and Creem), Lee Denny (Leefest),


Nick Morgan (We are the Fair), and Gill Tee (entertee), with wide-ranging subjects including funding for new events, event technology, safety and security, supplier and sponsor relations, and marketing masterclasses. The guide includes articles, infographics, top-tips, animations and visuals. “We’re often approached by talented new and potential event organisers who have great ideas but very often lack the full, 360° view of the operational logistics involved

in organising an event,” said Rachel Baker, GL events UK Group Marketing Manager. “We wanted to take our experience of commercialising events and apply this knowledge to a project that would help to nurture great ideas and develop great events. We’ve produced a genuinely helpful guide that’s easy to use and could support newcomers to our industry, as well as their events, giving them food for thought and directing them towards further expert advice.” l


Keeping the events industry on the march GWF Energy offers planners reliable, costeffective solutions to their energy needs By Kevin O’Sullivan


ne of the fundamental requirements for any outdoor event planner is power. It’s a simple fact that for festivals, agricultural shows, mass participation sporting events and the increasing number of charity fundraisers that the complexity of their logistics and organisation requires a seamless, uninterrupted supply of energy to ensure that the event runs smoothly and safely for all those taking part. Fortunately for event organisers in Scotland, and the UK as a whole, GWF Energy is an authorised dealer of the one of the world’s foremost power generation companies, Cummins, and can provide a guaranteed service onsite supported by trained engineers who can fix any outages that might occur within a matter of minutes, which offers ‘piece of mind’ for planners who already have a thousand and one considerations to worry about on the day of an event itself. GWF Energy is based in Ayr but opened a depot in Essex two years ago to serve a growing UK events market - and rental hire has grown exponentially to become a significant part of the business. “We were seeing increasing demand so it made sense for us to go down that path,” says Nigel Feeney, the firm’s MD, who has 30 years’ experience in the business. “We saw an opportunity down south so we opened a depot just outside London, in Essex, so we now can offer a service from Caithness to Southampton; it means we are effectively only ever four or five hours from an event on the mainland.” The company can provide

n Testimonial

‘GWF provided a great service as our power supplier for the 4 Kiltwalk events in 2017. Their team was very knowledgeable with a great can do attitude and were able to respond to all of our requests. We look forward to continuing this great working relationship in 2018.’ The Kiltwalk

“We are also working with DIY SOS (the BBC series with Nick Knowles), but we can’t talk too much about that until it airs!” Nigel Feeney, MD of GWF Energy

solutions for the very smallest events requiring 3kVA units, which would power a single caravan, to the very largest of 500kVA, which would power a whole building; most events tend to fall between 20kVA and 350kVA. Feeney says the average number of generators for a festival tends to be between three and five, depending on requirements. One of the most well-known events that GWF has supported in Scotland is the Kiltwalk, which started in 2011 with the aim of bringing Scotland’s leading children’s charities together for a series of sponsored walks - and has now expanded to include all charities. It has grown substantially from the 800 walkers it started with that year to 7,000 alone in Glasgow last year. In 2018, the Kiltwalk will take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee - with charities receiving 140% of proceeds raised by walkers. “It’s

now a very big event and demands a lot of power,” adds Feeney. “The organisers were delighted with how we managed that in 2017 and we are working with them again this year; we are also working with DIY SOS (the BBC series with Nick Knowles), but we can’t talk too much about that until it airs!” GWF has access to the most power-efficient, modern and emissions-compliant generators to be found on the market, which is unquestionably becoming an essential requirement for planners looking to improve their sustainability credentials - until such time that technology allows the transition away from fossil fuels. For now, and for a long time to come, firms such as GWF offer planners the best possible solution to their energy needs. l +44 (0)1292 479059

Eventsbase | winter 2018 | 33


Contact: +44(0)1382 434318 Email: Website:

Introducing The Scottish Events Directory. The comprehensive classified guide to Venues and Suppliers in Scotland. For: Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. In every issue – the place to find the right venue or supplier for your event.

CONTACT CAMERON ELLISON Cameron@ 0131 561 7321 34 | EVENTSBASE | WINTER 2018

Why not inspire your audience by sharing Dundee and Angus with the world? Imagine a city where transformational thinking is changing the future of our planet; a city where innovation, design and experimentation are at the core of business, attracting hundreds of thousands of

delegates every year to high profile conferences, exhibitions and events. As the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design, Dundee is that city. Welcome your delegate to the historic bustling city of Dundee and the rolling countryside of Angus!

EventsBase Magazine EventIt issue – Trade show special 2018 Cover all your bases in 2018 and reach buyers directly at:

l EVENTIT (GLASGOW) - MARCH 22 l THE CONFERENCE & HOSPITALITY SHOW (LEEDS) - APRIL 24 l IMEX (FRANKFURT) - MAY 15-17 l THE MEETINGS SHOW (LONDON) - JUNE 27-28 l EventsBase will be hand distributed to buyers from our stands at all the key national, UK and European MICE industry trade shows in 2018.

l Our coverage of your message will ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to reach your contacts - even if you are not able to attend the main trade shows in person.



Contact: Kim Wilkinson ( 07971 283280 Email: Website:

Contact: Susan Gillan ( 01382 434030 Email: Website:

Dundee’s premier conference and events venue is where innovative technology and imaginative solutions deliver creative and formal event solutions for your business. Based just a 10-minute walk from the Dundee train station and city centre, you can also stay over, relax at Yu Spa and explore some of the historic attractions of Dundee & Angus.

Caird Hall is Dundee’s major Concert, Conference and Events venue and is conveniently located in the heart of the City Centre, close to hotels and local amenities. This 4-star arts venue creates a stunning profile for your event and has played host to many events from congresses, conference and exhibitions to live music events.


Contact: Doreen Stout ( 01307 840393 Email: Website: With its turrets and spires, history and romance, Glamis Castle a stunning venue has been the choice of royalty and statesmen for centuries. Situated in the heart of Angus, this legendry, atmospheric venue is a living breathing monument to Scottish hospitality and is the venue choice for international business and corporate clients.


Contact: Elizabeth Shearer ( 01382 386751 Email: Website: The University Campus is a short walk from the City Centre and the Railway station, situated within the cultural quarter of the City, the University is ideally placed for conferences and events. The campus comprises an attractive balance of late Victorian, Edwardian and postmodern architecture offering contemporary, high quality conference accommodation.


Contact: Kim Adamson ( 01382 309060 Email: Website:

With the most sought after view in Dundee, overlooking RRS Discovery, the River Tay and the new V&A Museum of Design Dundee, Discovery Point is the perfect venue for meetings, conferences and seminars. Verdant Works is a beautifully restored Victorian Mill offering unique features, stunning architecture and flexibility for inspiring conferences, events and corporate entertaining.


Contact: Joanne Pagen ( 07515 483432 Email: Website: V&A Dundee is an exciting, new, world-class venue on a stunning River Tay waterfront location. A striking contemporary design by renowned Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, it is the first V&A museum in the world outside London. For intimate dinners to grand celebrations, it offers a range of atmospheric settings for an unforgettable event.


EventIt Showcase 20/20 PRODUCTIONS



Contact: Alastair Scott ( +44 (0)131 668 2020 Email: Website:

Contact: Barry Lawford ( 01312854238 Email: Website:

Contact: Carol Ward ( Direct: 0141 354 4490 Email: Website:

For more than 27 years, we have been in the business of communication, providing creative solutions for some of the world’s leading organisations. Encompassing event production, film, animation, digital and print design, we have the expertise and experience to deliver bespoke communication solutions that exceed client’s expectations - we deliver the message, whatever the medium.

Actavo Events delivers award-winning infrastructure services for your event or festival including Staging, Grandstand Seating, Fence & Barrier, Bespoke Structures, Brand Activations, Ground Protection. Our Film & Television department also offers specialist structures and services. Whatever the event our dedicated account manager will guide and support you from initial enquiry right

We are specialists in the hospitality and tourism industry and are proud patrons of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, sponsors of HIT (Scotland) and members of Scotland Food & Drink. As a leading Scottish Business it’s great to engage with the Tourism industry and bring benefit by way of expert advice and offers for their members.




Contact: Amanda Wrathall ( 0131 300 3333 Email: Website:

Contact: Ash Austin ( 01487 640640 Email: Website:

Contact: Greg O’Donnell ( 0141 331 3520 Email: Website:

The EICC is an impressive multi-purpose venue in central Edinburgh, a short walk from Haymarket Station and minutes by taxi from Waverley Station. All of the flexible and innovative spaces are complemented with the latest technologies, whilst the dynamic team are experts in creating the perfect environment to inspire your delegates networking and idea sharing.

Evolution Dome is an Award Winning Temporary Inflatable Structure supplier to the Events industry. Supplying Temporary Inflatable Structures for Conferences, Exhibitions and corporate events worldwide.

Glasgow Caledonian University is located in the heart of Glasgow’s vibrant city centre with modern conference facilities. Our spaces include a distinctive, flexible, 488 seat lecture theatre as well as spaces to accommodate a host of events including conferences and exhibitions. The stunning Lantern room is available year round for smaller events and private dinners.




Contact: Victoria Smeaton ( 07329 196 426 Email: Website:

Contact: Sarah-Jane Friedman ( 0131 314 4008 Email: Website:

Contact: Frances Crolla ( 0131 333 6442 Email: Website:

Jupiter Hotels operate 29 hotels in the UK. 27 properties under the Mercure brand and two Holiday Inns. From Inverness to Brighton and Swansea to Norwich. Our hotels offer a wide range of facilities intimate meeting rooms or larger function rooms for your conference and event requirements for up to 800 guests.


Lights, conference, action! Metro Ecosse can provide you with a creative and technical event production solution across Scotland, the UK and beyond. Our unique combination of skills in creative design, content creation, video and technical event production allows us to create engaging and memorable, live communications that meet your corporate communication goals every time.

The historic Norton House Hotel & Spa is set within 55 acres of grounds just 5 minutes from Edinburgh airport and 20 minutes from the city centre. Facilities include a Ballroom for up to 300 guests, a dedicated Conference Centre, a Brasserie, Lounges, a car park and 83 bedrooms. Free Wi-Fi and a central events team complete the offering.


Contact: Thomas Oakes ( 0141 240 3700 Email: Website: Grand Central Hotel, the much-loved landmark in Glasgow’s skyline, sat within the hub of the style mile and at the centre of the city’s attractions. Come and experience locally sourced food at our Tempus Restaurant. Enjoy a drink in the recently refurbished Champagne Central. Come and stay in one of our 230 beautiful bedrooms.


Contact: Business Development ( 0141 553 4148 Email: Website: Located in the heart of Glasgow, within easy reach of transport networks, hotels and the Scottish Event Campus, the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre offers flexible, state-of-theart conferencing facilities all year round. Versatile Auditoria accommodate up to 450, alongside 10 bright, comfortable Conference Rooms and spacious Foyers, perfect for networking, catering and exhibitions.


Contact: Tracey Morrison ( 07814 781 930 Email: Website: Situated in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre just opposite central train station, The Studio offers much more than 6 vibrant events spaces equipped with the latest in IT AV and apple TV: a tailored experience with a team driven by our mission statement… Customer First.



Contact: Georgina Phillips ( 07717 707 321 Email: Website:

Contact: Johnny D. Martinez ( +44 (0) 207 326 0286 Email: Website:

Set amid acres of glorious Scottish countryside and overlooked by the Campsie Hills, the 4 star Westerwood Hotel & Golf Resort offers a stunning location with luxurious leisure facilities and excellent conference space for up to 400 delegates - not to mention our 18-hole golf course designed by none other than Seve Ballesteros.


Contact: Andrew Hampson ( 01732 866122 Email: Website: Since 1985, Target Response has supplied databases of meeting, conference & event organisers and PAs within major UK companies and associations for your mailing, telemarketing and emailing campaigns.


Contact: Annabel Drysdale ( +44 (0) 131 221 5414 Email: Website: Our dedicated Conference Centre situated in the heart of Edinburgh is the perfect venue for events with up to 200 delegates. Enjoy the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and the city skyline by hosting your event in our exclusive Penthouse with rooftop terrace. We take your business very personally and are always at your service.

Shocklogic is the one-stop-shop for your event tech-nology needs. We have an extensive suite of online solutions for managing registrations, programmes, memberships, online payments, accommodation, exhibitions, guest lists, and ticketing. We also provide mobile apps, onsite registration, badges, real-time scanners, voting keypads, surveys, digital signage, and ePosters. Our latest services include digital marketing and animations.


Contact: Sarah Brown ( 0131 335 1845 Email: Website: Discover Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club just 20 minutes from Edinburgh’s city centre. Dalmahoy boasts a rich history. Originally a Scottish Baronial Manor house, the hotel now offers meetings and events space from 6 to 300 people as well as 215 bedrooms, two golf courses and inclusive leisure facilities.


Contact: Mark Kisby ( 01383 825709 Email: Website: simultaneous-interpretation/ To ensure you are literally speaking the same language at international events AV Department can supply and install Simultaneous Interpretation (SI) systems. These consist of interpreter booths, an infrared language transmission system and delegate headset receivers. We can also arrange for qualified and experienced conferencing interpreters.



Contact: Edinburgh Napier Events Team ( 0131 455 3711 Email: Website: Edinburgh Napier University offers a multi-site events space, with 3 campuses located around the inspiring capital of Edinburgh. With venues ranging from 400 max capacity lecture theatres, to flexible break out spaces and meeting rooms and historic dinner venues, all equipped with the latest technology and wi-fi as you’d expect from a first-class university venue.


Contact: Nancy Braid ( +44 141 221 8272 Email: Website: contact Our venue is available for your private event, conference, or dinner. Maximum capacity 120. Smaller rooms available for receptions or break out rooms. We are one of the oldest social enterprises in Glasgow, steeped in history and tradition. Each time you hire our venue your income is exported back to the local communities in Glasgow.



Contact: 0141 951 6006 Email: Website:

Scotland’s Award-Winning Venue of Excellence has 168 bedrooms and 15 versatile meeting spaces, including a 174-seat auditorium, cutting edge Innovation Centre, a dynamic Central Plaza networking space and a brandnew Inspiration Space. Accommodating up to 250 delegates with complementary wi-fi throughout. Come for a show around and meet our event planners.


Contact: Gemma Macniven ( 0141 221 1030 Email: Website: Established in 1984, Ross Promotional continues to be a family run business. Our team is motivated by a huge pride in the company and focus on providing customers with the best possible products delivered in a fast, friendly and efficient way We supply a wide range of promotional products from giveaways, corporate gifts, uniforms and awards.


Contact: Richard Ellis ( 0131 221 2999 Email: Website:

The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce is an independent business membership organisation which promotes trade and encourages growth in the capital and beyond. We are one of Edinburgh’s best-connected business networks with over 1000 members. First and foremost, we support our members, helping them to grow and develop by inspiring connections and facilitating collaboration across all sectors and communities.


Contact: Simon Page ( 020 7183 9665 or 07939 021175 Email: Website: Responsible for the Mayor of London’s New Year’s Eve 2018, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018, Launch of the Hull 2017 City of Culture & the Rugby World Cup 2015

BUSINESS EVENTS NORTON HOUSE HOTEL Norton House Hotel & Spa near Edinburgh Airport is the ideal location for a meeting or corporate away day

Professional events facilities with a touch of class Norton House Hotel & Spa is the perfect spot to unwind and a natural home for business events By Kevin O’Sullivan


ocated up a snaking driveway on lush private grounds you would be easily forgiven for thinking Norton House Hotel & Spa was a million miles away from the hullabaloo of city life. That is the central appeal of a venue which for years has been one of the default destinations for weddings along the M8/M9 corridor in Ingliston, near Edinburgh. With a five-star (or ‘five bubbles’ as the ratings system goes) spa onsite, the hotel has been for many years a staple choice for couples taking the solemn vows of matrimony - and who then can handily

nip across the road to Edinburgh Airport for their honeymoon hop. But 2018 will see the venue gear up for a fresh marketing push at the corporate events market as it reminds business events planners of its rich history as a country house retreat, going back to the original building’s completion in 1840, but also its corporate meetings centre offer, developed at the height of the financial boom in the early 2000s. This purpose-built, modern extension seamlessly blends historic character with contemporary elegance; but more importantly, for delegates, it has the air of an exclusive, discreet venue where they can remove themselves from the frenzy of office life and plan their next corporate move in the utmost privacy. Boasting 83 bedrooms, 14 conference and private event spaces (ranging from the smallest gathering to up to 300 delegates), the venue is suited to the small to medium-sized meeting - which make up the lion’s

share of business events in Scotland. Peter Dornom, General Manager of the award-winning resort, said: “Many people have naturally have come to associate Norton House Hotel & Spa with that of a luxury wedding venue. But the extensive conferencing facilities we offer should not be overlooked by corporate event planners. We are just five minutes from Scotland’s major motorway corridors, 10 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the city centre, which is reachable by bus or tram. Our conferencing suite also boasts some truly novel splitlevel, duplex bedrooms which are a great place for senior executives to unwind after the rigours of a board meeting.” He added: “With 55 acres of grounds, which surround our landscaped gardens, Norton House is also the ideal place for a team-building session or even an evening drinks reception on our beautiful lawns. It’s somewhere where you come

for that all important ‘headspace’.” Norton House Hotel & Spa is owned by Hand Picked Hotels, which has steadily built a unique collection of architecturally stunning country house hotels, and has a certain haute-class pedigree for the MICE sector. The company, founded by CEO Julia Hands, a former city lawyer, has 20 luxury venues across the UK, with 16 in England, three in the Channel Islands, and one in Scotland. The hotel has also recently undergone a refurbishment; its 10 bedrooms in the main building are luxurious and refined whilst the remainder in the newer extension have an individual style and flair. Dornom adds: “We like to think the business traveller will be well reposed at Norton House Hotel & Spa and in 2018 we will be reminding the market of that very fact.” n For more information visit www.

Eventsbase | winter 2018 | 39


Susan Russell, centre left, with Julie Grieve (CEO of Criton Apps), centre right

Festivals Edinburgh marketer joins emerging hospitality tech platform Criton Apps hires Susan Russell after £5m investor round BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


hospitality industry tech platform has hired the former marketing manager of Festivals Edinburgh to spearhead its growth plans following a £5m investment round. Criton Apps, which offers a self-build guest app service to hotels and serviced apartments, has recruited Susan Russell as Head of Marketing to drive the company’s expansion in the sector. The software moves all guestfacing information on to a mobile app, which is seen as the next step for the travel industry to keep pace

with today’s digital savvy traveller. Launched by CEO Julie Grieve in December 2016 with personal funds and a Scottish Enterprise grant, the firm is scaling rapidly to occupy prime position in the market for holistic guest information services. Susan, who has been integral to the award-winning promotion of Edinburgh as the Festival City globally for the past nine years, will be responsible for ensuring Criton achieves the traction it needs within the tourism and hospitality market to become a major player. Her industry experience also includes Women in Tourism, where she is both Founder and Chairperson, and VisitScotland. Susan takes the title of Head of Marketing and starts alongside two new business development managers, Karina Ogunyemi and Sadiah Mir. Karina, who joins from Travel Tech Europe, and will head


up Criton’s London sales office at the Tech Lab, while Sadiah will continue to build on Criton’s sales in Scotland from its HQ at Codebase, Edinburgh. CRITON APPS is the UK’s first selfbuild app service for the hospitality industry and uses a simple drag and drop functionality for operators to create their own bespoke, branded mobile app. It offers the means to create a digital guest book, alongside online booking and check-in services, in-app messaging and location based notifications. Easy to use and update, it puts the operators in control of the content. The new appointments mean that Criton now employs 14 and expects to increase staff levels to 20 by the end of February. Julie Grieve, founder and CEO of Criton Apps, said: “This is a very exciting time for the business and

we are building a strong team with extensive industry experience to meet our global ambitions. “I am delighted that Susan is joining us. I’ve witnessed her drive and insight through promoting Edinburgh’s Festivals and I am excited to be working with her. Criton will grow through her knowledge of digital development, global media relations and partnership working. “Susan will be supported by a growing marketing team and will work closely with our two new business development managers in Karina and Sadiah.” Susan added: “Criton is at the forefront of guest-centric traveltech and this is a tremendous time to join the company. The potential is huge and our job is to reach out to the hospitality industry to show them how important our digital concierge technology will be for their business.” l


A great industry with real possibilities How a business events post-grad course is changing the MICE education landscape in Scotland

Iris Woestenburg, pictured left, with Paulina Wawrzyczek

EDINBURGH NAPIER University and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) launched the UK’s first MSc in Business Events in June last year, a degree previously only available at undergraduate level across the UK, with the first intake of candidates commencing study this September. The Master’s degree has been developed by Edinburgh Napier – Scotland’s top university for hospitality, tourism and events management - in partnership with the EICC, one of Scotland’s leading conference venues, which will be providing work placements for the MSc students as well as delivering guest lectures as part of the course at the university’s Craiglockhart campus. After the end of the first trimester, two of the MSc students give EventsBase the inside track on a course which aims to provide Scotland’s meetings industry with the next generation of Business Events professionals. BY IRIS WOESTENBURG & PAULINA WAWRZYCZEK We both decided to do the MSc in Business Event Management because we wanted to learn more about the events industry. We both have some experience with organising business events and are positive that we want to work in the Business Event Industry. We believe that the MSc gives us the theory and practice that we need to start a successful career in September 2018. The MSc has made us more confident to enter the industry as we believe we already got so much more knowledge within only 4 months.

During the first trimester, we attended the courses Tourism Marketing, International Business Event Management, Business Skills for the Events Industry, and Sustainable Conferences. During these courses, a lot of theory was covered but we also got the opportunity to listen to interesting guest speakers who shared their experiences with us. Furthermore, we visited many companies and meetings where professionals shared their expertise and job experiences with us. This was a great chance as it helped to not only learn more about the industry but also helped us to develop a network. For instance, we had the pleasure

to meet Jane Cunningham, Director of Best Cities Global Alliance (International Associations) who spoke about event legacy, Reynaldo Guino-o, Sustainability Director of the EICC, with who shared with us his knowledge about sustainable events, Amanda Ferguson, Head of Business Tourism at Marketing Edinburgh, and many others. During Sustainable Conferences, we worked together with the EICC, and we carried out a project for them, benchmarking the environmental and social aspects of sustainability and presenting the results of our research to the EICC. We will also attend a three-week placement at the EICC in February,

which we are very much looking forward to. The program is well-constructed and gives us not only the academic knowledge we need but also creates great opportunities to combine practical and theoretical skills. We think the business events industry is a great industry that offers real possibilities to work in. Based on what we have experienced so far, Paulina would like to organise and execute events in the future, and Iris would like to work in the Marketing and Sales department of an organisation. We are both looking forward to the next trimester and are curious what more we will learn.



As Managing Director of the luxury 200 SVS events venue in Glasgow, Kim Wilson has set herself the ambitious task of expanding what has already become a well-respected luxury brand into the more relaxed surrounds of Loch Lomond, where the company is set to locate a new venue aimed at the leisure and corporate market. Wilson, who has already developed a conceptual venue offering with a spa, restaurant, serviced offices and events spaces all under one roof, explains her vision. Recent past: When I first joined 200 SVS in 2013 I was very excited to have a role in developing such a stunning luxury events venue in the heart of Glasgow that held so much potential, and during my time here I’ve had the opportunity to steer the strong growth trajectory and strategic direction of the business. We’ve moved from having no established processes in place and a 10-person team, to now having more than 60 members of staff within dedicated departments that continue to go from strength to strength. Within the building itself, we have expanded from one to three dedicated events floors, as well as introducing serviced offices, a restaurant and spa. This expansion has allowed us to increase our capacity and create more flexibility in our offering. The fantastic growth rate we’ve experienced as a business has also diversified our client base, so whilst the majority of our business continues to focus on corporate events, we increasingly facilitate large scale charity events and have developed our profile as a high-quality wedding and leisure events venue. Before That: After graduating with

a degree in creative arts from the University of Sunderland, I went on to travel for a year. During that time I undertook a variety of hospitality jobs across the world, including Mexico, Africa, Australia and India. This experience really stood me in good stead as I progressed in my career, as it’s especially important when you are managing and leading a team to have an appreciation for how


ibly popular for corporate and leisure events, as well as tourism. Best Moment: One of the best

hard everyone works across the business. I then moved on to my first events role with Maximillion, and after spotting a niche in the market I decided to take the leap and start my own business, which focused on promoting services to international clients and offering a real 360° service. The need for absolute attention to detail and being able to deliver the highest quality hospitality to clients are key learnings I’ve brought to my current role. Industry: At 200 SVS, we are con-

tinually striving to deliver excellence, with an ongoing aim to be the highest quality luxury events venue in Glasgow, as well as one of the top venues in Scotland. There aren’t many places in Scotland where you’ll find a spa, a restaurant, serviced offices and events spaces under one roof, which makes our business unique. We offer the opportunity for a highly bespoke experience, as clients have the option of an exclusive space in addition to dedicated

support across our events, catering and digital team. This enables us to tailor the experience to suit each client’s needs and specific requirements, whether it be business or celebratory. Our restaurant and spa tie very much into this personalisation - the spa offers the opportunity to unwind after a hectic day, whilst the restaurant is a lovely space for informal meetings or a delicious lunch. Vision: We have a great product

here at 200 SVS, and the next stage of our journey is becoming a multiple-entity business. Our upcoming venue, The Shore, will allow us to expand from our central city centre offering to the tranquility of Loch Lomond, less than a 30-minute drive from Glasgow. With this new venue, the jewel is very much the location. Having a venue situated within a world-renowned Scottish landmark filled with so much beauty not only sets it apart as a glamorous wedding venue, but will also prove incred-

achievements in my career to date has been coming into 200 SVS and watching the business grow and diversify its client base. As managing director, it has been fantastic to see us successfully take on various high-profile events in recent years. So many of our young staff have really developed in that time and have played a role in the growth of the business. I do hope, however, that my best moment is yet to come. Going from a start-up single venue which was unknown in the city to having multiple sites with world-class facilities will be a very proud moment. Is Scotland the perfect stage? One thing that really stood out to me when I went travelling was that wherever I was in the world, everyone had very positive feelings about Scotland, and knew something about its heritage and our amazing people. To come back to Scotland and work for a business that actively plays a part in celebrating all that is great about this country is fantastic. Glasgow is a thriving city filled with passionate, creative people, and the well-known saying “people make Glasgow” is also true of our business - people make 200 SVS. It’s through the passion and dedication of our team that we pursue our goal to achieve and deliver excellence in our service. It’s wonderful to celebrate Glasgow, and every member of our team is proud to showcase the city and Scotland as a whole.


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Eventsbase Winter 2018  

Eventsbase Winter 2018