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EVENTIT 2017 9 MARCH 2017 SECC GLASGOW www.eventit.org.uk




CONTENTS A new winter festival is coming to Irvine. And it promises to suspend disbelief. P14

EVENTS BASE www.eventsbase.co.uk EDITOR

William Peakin 07795 323091 will@eventsbase.co.uk


5 FOREWORD A connected Scotland. 6 BRIEFING Feasibility study for new Dundee conference venue. Scotland a “safe” option for events in wake of Paris and Brussels terror attacks.

20 SPORT Glasgow to co-host the multisport European Championships in 2018. 22 COVER STORY The China connection: plans for growth at Edinburgh Airport.

32 DELIVERY Royal yacht up for charter. Corporates hooked on fishing. Inclusive guide to boost Edinburgh events 40 EDUCATION Sustainable event planning

Kevin O’Sullivan 07834 404615 kevin@eventsbase.co.uk

DESIGN & PRODUCTION Palmer Watson www.palmerwatson.com


Hamish Miller Hamish@eventsbase.co.uk 0131 561 7344

8 CULTURE Spotlight on a themed year. Backstage at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival. The lure of the Clyde for the MOBO awards.

24 BUSINESS TOURISM The rapid expansion of air routes into Scotland. Business tourism conference preview. Product launch.

41 TECHNOLOGY Digital goodie bags.


42 FIVE MINUTES WITH Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s Mark Currie





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Looking on the bright side

round 250 city and government leaders, cross-sector rights holders, event owners and suppliers from around the world gathered in Glasgow in November to explore the challenges and benefits of bidding for major global events. Sir Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency gave the keynote address to this year’s Host City Conference and was in typically forthright and engaging form in the sessions that followed. Jean-François Martins, deputy mayor of Paris, provided a fascinating insight into how the city staged such an inclusive UEFA Euro 2016, particularly given it was held against the backdrop of terrorist violence. The conference’s host city - and Scotland - were, naturally, well represented by Bridget McConnell, chief executive of Glasgow Life, speaking in a session on how scandal hit sports can regain their integrity, and Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s director of events, who looked at the future for major events. And there is not a public gathering just now that can escape the glare cast by the outcome of the U.S., election. Delegates demonstrated the human capacity for seeing an upside in even the unlikeliest of moments. One

said that Donald Trump may well reverse George W Bush’s decision to withdraw America from the Bureau International des Expositions, the intergovernmental organisation overseeing World Expos, because as a businessman he would see the economic benefit of attracting major events to cities. Another pointed out how Scotland had already benefited from the President-elect’s interest in golf. What the next year brings from the White House is going to be interesting, to say the least. Meantime, Scotland looks to be on the up again when some had wondered whether it could maintain the momentum built in the run up to the Commonwealth Games. The theme for 2017 – history, heritage and archaeology – may feel like Scotland is playing safe, but it is playing to its strengths during a period of geo-political uncertainty. And there is already a buzz building around Glasgow’s joint hosting with Berlin of the multi-sport European Championships in 2018. Plenty, then, to look forward to at a time when the nation’s connectedness with Europe and the world is increasing. Will Peakin, Editor EVENTSBASE | WINTER 2016 | 5

BRIEFING There have been calls to include a convention centre as part of the £1bn waterfront redevelopment, which includes the V&A and a new train station


A feasibility study scoping out the potential to include a conference venue as part of Dundee’s £1bn waterfront redevelopment programme is set to be carried out. Growing voices are calling for additional conference and meetings facilities as part of plans to open the V&A Museum of Design Dundee in 2018. Sources have confirmed to EventsBase that a ‘feasibility study’ is due to be carried out in order to widen the potential economic impact of creating a

business venue alongside what is likely to be a cultural tourism magnet. The source said: “It hasn’t formally been adopted as a proposal but a feasibility study into having a purpose-built conference venue is being considered.” Last year Dr Alex Baldachinno, who brought the International Society of Addiction Medicine congress to the city, told EventsBase that he would like to see Dundee & Angus work more closely with Fife to share business tourism

“So places like Scotland, Scandinavia and Ireland are being favoured over some of the bigger city destinations. That may be a short-term trend but it’s all very positive for us.” Macnair said the organisation is also increasingly bringing in tour operators and destination management companies for various ‘stakeholder engagement’ functions, which are helping to change perceptions of what Scotland can offer. “We ran a business to business workshop recently with Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and Scottish De-

velopment International to bring tour operators and destination management companies into Glasgow to see what the city had to offer,” he said. “As a result of that we did a survey and it opened our eyes on the range of product we have. “I think one of the most effective things trade associations like us can do is to bring the buyers to meet the suppliers; and it actually does change perceptions, there’s concrete benefits as a result of it.” He said the organisation is still actively lobbying Scottish Ministers

SCOTLAND - THE ‘SAFE OPTION’ In the wake of this year’s terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, there is evidence to suggest that event planners are increasingly looking to Scotland as a ‘safe’ destination, according to UKInbound (Scotland). Andrew Macnair, Business Development Manager for the trade association, which represents the industry tourism industry in Scotland, said: “With the various terror attacks in Paris and Brussels earlier this year we do hear that a lot of decisionmakers are looking for what they perceive to be ‘safe’ destinations.


intelligence and to collaborate on conference planning. He also said a bigger facility than Caird Hall - potentially as part of the waterfront redevelopment - would be an added string to the city’s bow. “I’m trying to convince Dundee City Council to have a new conference centre, not instead of Caird Hall, but as an addition; a bigger purpose-built conference venue that is nodal in its vision and ambitious would be very welcome,” he said.

to ensure that plans to reduce Air Passenger Duty (APD) are brought forward. “We strongly believe from the evidence out there that a reduction in APD (in Ireland for example) has led to an increase in not just visitor numbers in incoming flights but also ultimately to jobs and a boost to the economy. We fully endorse it and will be lobbying very proactively to support it. If those flights don’t come into Scotland they will go to Dublin or Amsterdam, or they will go to Gatwick; it’s much better to come into Scotland.”

Rob Davidson, Managing Director of MICE Knowledge


Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) was named the UK’s Best Convention Bureau for a remarkable 10th consecutive year in 2016 and is only city in the UK to date to be included in a new sustainability ranking of leading international conference destinations.

The MICE market is increasingly turning to ‘second-tier destinations’ like Scotland One of the world’s leading meetings and conferences researchers has said that Scotland has a ‘braggability’ factor that rival international destinations struggle to match. Dr Rob Davidson, Managing Director of MICE Knowledge, believes Scotland has a strong and growing reputation on the worldwide meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions circuit. Dr Davidson, who will present his annual Trends Watch report at the IBTM World meetings trade show in Barcelona this month, says: “One big advantage of Scotland is that it’s got novelty value. A lot of people already know London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, and it’s harder and harder to get them excited about a prospect of a meeting or an incentive in those cities. He added: “Scotland, however, is relatively new on the market and I think in particular we are seeing a huge rise in interest in what we call ‘second-tier destinations’. Those are not the

capital cities or the largest cities but a bit off the beaten track, a bit different, places that have got what I would call ‘braggability’, in the sense that participants can go home and say, ‘I’ve just been to a conference in a small Scottish town on the banks of Loch Ness’. That’s got a lot of power at the moment.” Dr Davidson, a Scot, has written six books on conferences and incentive travel and is Visiting Professor in six European universities, where he educates students on MICE management. He says whilst Scotland has a “powerful brand” overseas, and in particular praised the work of VisitScotland’s dedicated conferences and meetings team, he said more could be done to encourage delegates to extend their trips and to build partner programmes. He adds: “I think not only

Scotland but convention bureaux in general should do a lot more to plant that idea in the delegates’ heads months and months before they actually make their booking, by working with the PCOs and the organisers to say, ‘We know you’ve got 5,000 architects coming but did you know this is going on the weekend before the conference?’ “That helps entice people to come with their partners and thus extend their trip, which we know they are much more likely to do when accompanied,” Dr Davidson said. He added: “That does happen anyway but my own research looks at how we can stimulate that much more in advance. It’s a win-win for everybody: the hotels, restaurants, the tourism industry generally gains from that, but we do need to be more proactive.”

NEW 1,000-SEAT VENUE FOR EDINBURGH Plans for a 1,000-seat concert hall and arts hub in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square have been unveiled. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) and charitable trust Impact Scotland want to create a new auditorium for the city, complete with


facilities for education and a studio. The building would complement rather than compete with existing concert venue Usher Hall and would be located behind the RBS headquarters at Dundas House. “The auditorium would meet the long-recognised need for a

purpose-built, mid-sized venue in Edinburgh, combining excellent acoustics with access for all forms of popular music, jazz, folk, chamber and other small classical music groups, as well as solo and song recitals and small dance ensembles,” the SCO said.

The new AECC convention centre, opening in Aberdeen in 2019, will have an arena capacity of 12,500 as well as 48,500cm2 of flexible exhibition space. The venue will be situated near to the airport with three new on-site hotels. These hotels will join the predicted 2,000 extra hotel rooms being added to Aberdeen in the next two years. The Queensferry Crossing is due to open in May 2017. The bridge forms the centrepiece of a major upgrade to the important cross-Forth transport corridor in the east of Scotland. The 1.7 miles (2.7km) structure will be the longest threetower, cable-stayed bridge in the world.




Centuries in the making Themed years have been pivotal in bringing together Scotland’s tourism and events industries BY WILLIAM PEAKIN 2017 IS THE year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland. Scotland’s history and heritage is what defines the country for many visitors. It is an integral and iconic part of our national brand as well as a major contributor to our economy. The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 builds upon the momentum generated by preceding themed years to spotlight, celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich and vibrant heritage in order to engage and attract the people of Scotland and our visitors. Think ancient and mysterious standing stones, sweeping glens and mountains, storytelling, heritage heroes, world-renowned historic collections and castles, and so much more. Visitors to Scotland can discover tales of legendary kings and queens, Jacobite battles, stories handed down from one generation to the next, all set against Scotland’s unique panoramic landscapes and enriching culture. “From World Heritage Sites to

ancient monuments, listed buildings to important battlefields, cultural traditions to captivating myths, stories and legends, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will be a year to enjoy the best of Scotland’s historic places, icons and hidden gems,” says VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead. “From the Scottish Borders to Shetland, and from Fife to the Isle of Skye, we want visitors to relive Scotland’s fascinating past through a range of exciting events, attractions and activities during 2017. “While it can be said that history and heritage is Scotland’s bread and butter, with many uncertainties on the horizon it would be complacent of us to rest on our laurels and expect the year to sell itself. Never has the time for cross-sectoral collaboration and partnership been more vital. What an opportunity it is for us to capitalise on the year within our priority international markets where heritage and ancestry is a key driver especially when ancestral tourists spend more than double per visit and stay longer on average when holidaying in Scotland. To get ahead, we are encouraging businesses to be ready for the start of the year by downloading the YHHA17 eBrochure and by signing up to be part of our relaunched Ancestral Welcome scheme.” YHHA17 eBrochure http://tiny.cc/sal3gy Ancestral Welcome scheme http://tiny.cc/mbl3gy



A year to enjoy the best of Scotland’s historic places, icons and hidden gems

n The historic environment supports over 60,000 jobs – 2.5% of Scotland’s total employment.

n 32% of visitors cited ‘history and culture’ as a key motivator for their trip, second only to ‘The scenery and landscape’.

n More than 9/10 Scots indicated that historic features are an important part of the identity of our villages, towns and cities.

n Estimated 213,000 trips made per annum to Scotland by visitors who take part in ancestral research.

n There are over 450 museums and galleries in Scotland caring for more than 21 million objects

n KEY DATES Alongside incredible historic sites, a wealth of vibrant cultural traditions and vast range of heritage attractions, Scotland hosts an exciting annual events programme that showcases its history and heritage, bringing traditions to life in a modern, vibrant way. From Celtic Connections to Burns Night; Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival to the Royal Highland Show; The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival to the Hebridean Celtic Music Festival; Highland Games and Clan events to Doors Open Days and the Royal National Mòd to Hogmanay, the annual programme is bursting with exciting experiences to bring the 2017 themes alive. SOME KEY DATES INCLUDE: Scot:Lands 1 January. Edinburgh’s Old Town On the first day of 2017, set the compass and join in on an adventurous journey across Edinburgh’s Old Town. Discover the unique landscape of Scot:Lands with the very best in music, art and theatre, created and curated by Scotland’s most innovative artists and musicians. Up Helly Aa 31 January. Shetland Up Helly Aa is a tradition that originated in the 1880s. Since then the festival has been an annual occurrence in the Shetland calendar. Throughout the day there are experiences a plenty to be had by all from the celebration of history, the sight of the Guizer Jarl, his Jarl Squad marching through the town followed by his galley to the evening party atmosphere in the halls. Burns an’ a’ that! Festival 2017 25 – 29 January & dates throughout May A unique commemoration of Scotland’s poet Robert Burns including events such as Burns Alicht, Burns Big Birthday Bash, The Alloway 1759 World Haggis Hurling Championships, Burnsfest and The Robert Burns Humanitarian Awards. Celtic Connections 19 January – 5 February Throughout Glasgow Celtic Connections is the largest annual music festival of its kind and

the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music. 2,100 artists, 300 events, 1 brilliant festival! TradFest Edinburgh • Dùn Èideann 27 April – 7 May Throughout Edinburgh Rooted in the Past. Resonating in the Present. A vibrant multi-arts programme showcasing traditional music, dance and storytelling at a feast of folk culture in Scotland’s Capital. Festival of Museums 19 – 21 May. Throughout Scotland A weekend of exciting and surprising things to do for all the family in Scottish museums. Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites 26 June – 12 November National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh A major new exhibition telling the real story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the rise and fall of the Jacobites. Featuring spectacular treasures from across the UK and France, the exhibition reveals who the Jacobites were and explores the cause that drove their campaigns. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo August. Edinburgh The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo embraces a colourful theme for 2017 – Splash of Tartan, playing host to a stunning array of performers from all points of the compass. In a Royal Navy lead year, the event will set sail with the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines as well as celebrating the heritage, colour and diversity of Scotland’s global family both near and far. DIG IT! Throughout 2017. Across Scotland This celebration of archaeology invites you to explore Scotland’s stories through a packed programme of events, featuring adventurous outings, passionate performances, appetising activities, hands-on history, and everything in between.



The Glasgow International Comedy Festival is Europe’s biggest comedy-only festival. Photographer Andy Laing

An armed guard and oxygen: all you need to survive Glasgow’s comedy showpiece Joan Rivers had specific demands ... most stars are easier to accommodate BY NICOLA STOW


hen late American comedienne Joan Rivers made her debut at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, she didn’t ask for much in return – just a couple of basic dressing room

demands: “some oxygen and an armed guard”. As you do. That was more than a decade ago, but Rivers’ bizarre request still tickles festival director Sarah Watson. “It made me laugh when Joan Rivers’ backstage requirements came in,” she recalled. “She (Rivers) was quite explicit – she wanted an armed guard and oxygen. It was quite unusual as most backstage demands at the comedy festival rarely go beyond an ironing board and iron. But it was very Joan. I know she definitely didn’t get the armed guard. As for the oxygen, well, I’m not sure whether that demand was met either. But Joan was always a delight to have at the


festival. She was so witty and sharp and the audiences loved her. She was a total professional…one who wanted an armed guard – and that still makes me laugh.” Now in its 14th year, the annual event is Europe’s biggest comedyonly festival, growing from selling 22,000 tickets when it launched in 2003 to 70,000 in 2016. THE GLASGOW International Comedy Festival (GLICF) runs for 18 days in March and features over 400 acts from stand-up and sketch shows to film, theatre, workshops, kids’ shows and discussions – all hosted in up to 50 venues across the city. And as Watson explained, orga-

nising the programme is quite a task. “It really is a year-long affair,” she said. “The brochure launches in January so there’s a hell of a lot of work that needs to be done beforehand. “We need to book the acts, the venues and all our agreements with sponsors, travel and hotel partners need to be finalised and signed off well in advance.” In addition to attracting a host of acts from overseas, it offers a platform to upcoming Scottish comics who could be overlooked in the fiercely competitive Edinburgh Fringe. Household names are also a staple with famous faces such as

“SHE WAS A TOTAL PROFESSIONAL…ONE WHO WANTED AN ARMED GUARD – AND THAT STILL MAKES ME LAUGH” Jimmy Carr, Dylan Moran, Frankie Boyle and Julian Clary returning year after year to entertain the crowds. But what sets Glasgow apart from other cities in the comedy ranks? And more importantly, how does the festival compare to the likes of comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe? “I think we have a better sense of humour in Glasgow,” said Watson with a chuckle. “Glasgow is home to great comedy talent. We have Frankie Boyle and Billy Connolly to name but two. And Glaswegians are renowned for having a good, healthy sense of humour. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and I think we have a more up-foranything attitude. Some people do

have preconceptions about Glasgow, but I’m yet to find one person who doesn’t come here and immediately fall in love with the place. It’s a wonderful city – it has so much outlook.” And talking of that comedy legend that is Billy Connolly, has he ever graced the stage at GLICF? Apparently not, but he’s at the top of Watson’s wish list. “We’ve been trying for years to get Connolly,” she said. “I would love for him to perform here but, so far, we haven’t managed it. But we’ll keep on trying. There are a few on my wish list, another act I’d love to secure is American comedienne Amy Schumer. She’s amazing and very, very funny. Maybe one day we’ll have her and Connolly in our line-up. Now that would be great.” Watson is expecting another bumper turn out at next year’s festival and, asked whether Brexit will have an impact on sales, she replied: “No, I don’t think so. After the year we’ve had, I think folk could do with a good old laugh.” The GLICF gets underway on March 9 and runs until March 26 and, again, will feature some of Scotland’s best home grown talent

The festival has also featured acts including Bridget Christie, pictured

alongside world renowned stars. Among those acts featuring this year are Fred MacAulay, Des Clarke, Janey Godley, Jimmy Carr, Al Murray and Stewart Lee. So far, none of the aforementioned have requested an armed guard or oxygen. But then again, it’s early days.

What: Glasgow International Comedy Festival When: March 9-26, 2017 Where: Various venues



These go to eleven The music and tourism industries are turning up the volume on collaboration BY WILLIAM PEAKIN


musical airline, a hotel with its own recording studio, a heavy metal cruise and a Scottish travel company offering festival packages to Cuba were some of the presentations featured at the first international Music Tourist Summit, held in Glasgow in November. The programme highlighted innovative initiatives where music and tourism converge, providing insights into how they can mutually benefit businesses, organisations and the artistic community. Research has revealed that 928,000 people attended gigs and festivals in Scotland in 2015, generating £295m for the nation’s economy and supporting 3,230 jobs; Glasgow is estimated to account for £105m. “The Music Tourist Summit is the perfect opportunity for destination marketing organisations, hotels, attractions and other hospitality businesses to learn how this growing niche can boost visitor numbers and increase awareness,” said the event’s founder, Olaf Furniss. “For all those working on the music side, it introduced a wide range of areas for potential partnerships and collaborations.” The summit heard from leading music tourism figures from around the world including Johannes Everke, of Hamburg Marketing, Robert Holan, of Nordic Choice Hotels, Jan Struve, of ICS Festival Service GmbH and Julia Jones, whose Found In Music agency has developed numerous partnerships between entertainment and hospitality businesses. CLOSER TO home, the event also focused on the rise of The SSE Hydro and how Kirriemuir is building on the legacy of original ACDC frontman, Bon Scott, who spent the first seven years of his life in the Angus town. Scotland gave birth to three quarters of ACDC’s

For the past decade, Kirriemuir has hosted Bonfest which attracts fans from 27 countries and funds the local DD8 youth music group. Picture Jannica Honey

original line-up, with Bon Scott living in Kirriemuir until his family emigrated to Australia. For the past decade, the small town has hosted Bonfest, which in April attracted fans from 27 countries and funds the local DD8 youth music group. As DD8’s development worker, Graham Galloway has been instrumental in promoting the Bon legacy and he outlined ambitious ideas for how it could be further developed. “Innovative businesses such as Glasgow City Music Tours are already tapping into interest from visitors in Scotland’s rich music heritage,” commented Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, “but there are many other ways we can grow this further and the Music Tourist Summit offered a perfect stage to do just that.” In keeping with two industries based around enjoyment and connecting with people, the event featured a range of relaxed networking opportunities. It took place in Glasgow’s Drygate Brewery

followed by a civic reception at the City Chambers and then music and networking at the Citizen M Hotel. Day two focused on developing ties among delegates and speakers, as well as providing a showcase for local music acts, businesses and attractions. Delegates took part in a Glasgow Music City Tour, taking in key music locations, from grassroots venues to The SSE Hydro, which became the world’s second busiest music arena within 18


months of opening in 2013. The aim was to generate ideas and recommendations for future partnerships and collaborations, by strengthening mutual understanding between the industries. The summit, which was sponsored by the Scottish Music Industry Association, served as the foundation for an international network, leading to the establishment of a consultancy to assist with the development of music tourism initiatives. Furniss, who is also behind Scotland’s award-winning music business conference, Wide Days, said: “There are almost limitless opportunities for Scottish companies in both sectors to be collaborating with each other, as well as establishing partnerships and exchanging know-how with organisations from abroad. We were delighted to host it in the UK’s first UNESCO City Of Music. Our goal is for the Music Tourist Summit to provide an on-going international forum for exchanging ideas, which places Scotland at the heart of the discussion.”



Origami paper boats will be floated on the River Irvine

George Wyllie artwork serves as inspiration for a new Scottish winter festival 14 | EVENTSBASE | WINTER 2016

Paper Boat, a 1980s public art ‘provocation’, will be the template for Illumination: Irvine Harbour’s Festival of Light BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


n the 1980s maverick Scottish artist George Wyllie sailed a life-size paper boat up the Hudson River in New York, and berthed it next to the World Financial Centre in the heart of Manhattan’s banking industry. To a general public unused to such displays of public art and provocation, it was quite the thing. Whilst Wyllie’s ‘statement’ may have garnered an awful lot of attention at the time (the boat itself made the front page of the Wall

Illumination: Irvine Harbour’s Festival of Light will feature lighting displays by Aether & Hemera and acrobatics from Spinal Chord

Street Journal), the event has gradually slipped from memory with the procession of time. However, the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, which hosted an exhibition of Wyllie’s work over the summer (and indeed acquired the ‘last piece’ of the sculpture), has used that experience to create an event for the forthcoming Winter Festivals programme. THE FOUR-DAY festival, which begins on St Andrew’s Day, Wednesday, November 30, will see Wyllie’s inspiration rekindled in an interactive light display, using 200 little origami paper boats, made from recyclable polypropylene, tethered together by wires and floated out into Irvine Harbour. “It’s a chance to make Irvine literally shine and highlight everything that’s going on around the harbour,” says Fiona Carmichael, the museum’s curator, excitedly. “We had the exhibition during the summer and we had lots of engagement with schoolchildren, making paper boats. It was whilst researching other events that could

“IT’S A CHANCE TO MAKE IRVINE LITERALLY SHINE AND HIGHLIGHT EVERYTHING THAT’S GOING ON AROUND THE HARBOUR” go alongside that, that we discovered these light artists, Aether & Hemera, who are based down in Newcastle but work internationally. We contacted them because one of the installations they have is a series of 200 little paper boats that light up. We wanted to see if that was logistically possible to put something like that out in the River Irvine, and they said it would be. That was about the time the Scottish Government’s winter festivals programme was open, and so we applied.” An added element to the display is the fact that the audience will

get a chance to direct some of the proceedings; via an online web app, people are to be encouraged to vote for their favourite configurations of the LED lights on their smartphones or tablets. “We wanted to add a bit of interactivity. So they will be able to change the lights, with rainbow effects or sparkle,” adds Carmichael. “One of them will be Saltire to tie in with St Andrew’s Day; and that can change again to something else depending on how the vote is going.” A hundred butterflies that light up and change colour as well as three 5ft-high sailing vessels made from neon tubes will complete the light exhibits; in addition, the harbour will feature a lighting display, as will the Linthouse Building in the town, which houses the museum. The community will also be encouraged to put lights in their windows as part of an engagement programme, which includes a lantern parade along the harbour by Ayrshire Youth Art. Inside the building itself, aerial acrobat

performers Spinal Chord will dangle from the rafters (actual girders, incidentally) on silks and ropes, while fireworks company Midnight Storm will open and close the festival with a stunning display across the town. All of the work is tied together - under the stewardship of local events firm Zysis - with the aim of encouraging more people to attend the museum, Carmichael adds. “We’ve got some beautiful architecture and some great exhibits in the museum so it’s a chance to change the way people view museums, make them an exciting space to be in, and hopefully make them come back. It’s opening the doors to audiences who maybe wouldn’t have come before.”

What: Illumination: Irvine Harbour’s Festival of Light Where: Irvine Harbour and Scottish Maritime Museum When: November 30 to December 3



A ‘real affection’ for

Why the MOBOs keep coming back to the city by the Clyde BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


The MOBO Awards may have originated in London but for four out of the last seven years they have been hosted in Glasgow and 2016 was no exception. In recent years high-profile events like the MOBOs - “Music of Black Origin” - have started to look beyond the capital in an attempt to

win new audiences and broaden appeal. The Turner Prize taking place in Glasgow last year is just one example. The city has in fact proved to be a very good fit for the MOBOs; it has undoubtedly had a bigger piece of the action than most other UK cities looking to host the awards, which were established in 1996 by Kanya King and Andy Ruffell. When I speak to Anna ChapmanAndrews, Head of Marketing & Comms for MOBO, she explains the appeal of city for the awards, which took place on November 4 at the SSE Hydro. “There’s a real affection for the


awards in Glasgow - we’ve even had the taxi drivers saying how great they are, which is lovely,” she said. “The whole city has made us feel very welcome, actually.” SHE SAYS the association with the city has even coincided with a rise in international artist bookings; but it’s the venue - the Hydro - which seems to have made a very deep impression on Chapman-Andrews herself, who is in her first year with the organisation. “It’s just a beautiful building. We had the first multi-artist show there in 2013 and I think it just works really well as a space.”

This year, 40 students an events management course at the University of the West of Scotland were able to get involved on the night, as part of a work experience placement. Chapman-Andrews said it’s part of the MOBOs’ attempts to encourage young people into the creative industries. Organisers also worked with the local events supply chain: Blue Parrot Company supplied all of the event’s decor, letters, table art and ‘magic mirrors’ and MacGregor & MacDuff supplied the kilts. Hosts Rickie & Melvin even took to the stage wearing their Scottish attire.


Hosts Rickie & Melvin (right) rock the house at the SSE Hydro during the MOBO Awards on November 4; Laura Mvulu (above), and Craig David (above left) also performed As to whether the awards will come back to Glasgow next year, Chapman-Andrews says it’s too early to say as a decision has not yet been made. “I imagine we will come back to Scotland - it was part of the original strategy to move around. We’re in the process of evaluation at the moment and a decision on where to go next will be made following that.”


CULTURE REWIND FESTIVAL Police, marshalling, security and medical cover costs are more expensive in Scotland than in England

Putting the drag on the Rewind Festival How public service costs are constraining outdoor events BY NICOLA STOW


very year, thousands of ardent ‘80s music fans – clad in brightly-coloured legwarmers, slogan Tshirts and Ra-ra skirts (for the ladies) – flock to Perthshire’s Scone Palace in a flash of neon to roll back the years at the Rewind Festival. For lovers of artists like Adam

Ant, Rick Astley, Toyah and, of course, Scotland’s own Big Country plus all the other doyens of that bygone - but not forgotten - music scene, it is the the highlight of their year. But, now in its sixth year, festival director David Heartfield, who also stages two more Rewind events in England, as well as South Africa, Dubai and Bangkok, says the extortionate cost to police the Scottish event “defies logic”. In Scotland, he said, it costs him double the amount for police, marshalling, security and medical cover than south of the border. He explained: “In the UK we have


three Rewind festivals – two in England one in Scotland. There are no police charges in England because the festival is not considered a risk. But we do have charges in Scotland – and they’re extortionate. And it’s the same with medical cover. In England there’s no aversion to you hiring private companies for medical cover at festivals, whereas in Scotland you are pushed down the route of the Scottish Ambulance Service – and the cost is double that of going privately. “By the time you add it all up, with the additional cost for artists – when in Scotland we do try to use local artists, but a lot of the time artists are based down south,


or abroad, so the travel costs can be quite high – it’s quite a sum. It defies logic.” Heartfield would not disclose the total cost for Rewind Scotland, but admitted it is a “significant” amount. “We’re talking tens of thousands,” he said. But rest assured, Scots ‘80s fans, Heartfield has no plans to up –sticks. But he did warn that the huge price tag could deter other festival organisers from holding events in Scotland. “We’re fortunate because we are so well supported, so I wouldn’t say the costs have put me off holding the festival in Scotland,” he said. “Scone Palace is an amazing venue and that festival in particular is hugely popular. However, I think these high costs could deter others from holding music festivals in Scotland, especially for those who are just starting out. The price tag is not encouraging; events bring a vast amount of money into an area. For example, during Rewind Scotland, every taxi, hotel and restaurant is full, so why don’t the authorities support this, rather than tax us for generating all of this?”


SPORT HOST CITY CONFERENCE 2016 3,000 athletes will compete in aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing, triathlon and a new team golf event

Competition, multiplied 7 sports, 4,500 elite athletes, 2 cities, 12 days of televised competition; the European Championships promise to be a continental feast BY WILLIAM PEAKIN


he eyes of the world will again be on Glasgow in two years’ time as the city, along with Berlin, hosts the European Championships – a new multi-sport event at which more than 3,000 athletes will compete in aquatics, cycling,

gymnastics, rowing, triathlon and a new team golf event. Promising to be an incredible celebration of world-class sport, the championships in August 2018 will also build on Scotland’s enviable track record for hosting international sporting events, such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2014 Ryder Cup and the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships. The occasion was the subject of discussion at the Host City Conference held in Glasgow in November. David Grevemberg, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Kulveer Ranger, vice-president of public affairs and strategic communications at Atos UK, Itay Ingber, chief operating officer of


Matchvision and Julian Ternisien, head of sports rights at the European Broadcasting Union debated the emerging multi-city and multisport phenomenon. SPEAKING TO EventsBase before the conference, Kulveer Ranger, who worked for the Lord Mayor of London on Tech City as well as transport for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, and presented to FIFA the city’s transport bid for the 2018 World Cup, outlined his thoughts on how disruptive innovation and digital transformation are impacting events. “It’s an interesting change in how games are structured and a challenge in how you deliver that new experi-

ence for both those who attend in person and those who view and participate through devices, platforms and television,” said Ranger. “It is an ideal time to try the multi-city format because for the Olympics in Rio this year, for the first time we hosted a large chunk of the technology via the cloud from the [Atos] technology operations centre in Barcelona. That’s a big change from how things have been done before and is really the direction of travel.” The centre supervised all 144 competition and non-competition venues, monitoring and controlling the IT systems that supported the running of the Games and the delivery of the results from the Olympic

and Paralympic competitions to the world’s media in real time. It was a milestone in the digital transformation of the Games, being the first time that the cloud was used for key applications including the volunteer portal and the accreditation system. At its peak, there were 500 technologists monitoring and managing infrastructure around the clock, including IT security, telecommunications, power and the results systems. It was staffed by a combined team comprising Rio’s technology specialists and Atos, along with its technology partners and will be the model for future Games. “It means that less and less will huge teams and large amounts of


kit need to be set up in a host city,” said Ranger. “And now, with multiple host cities, there’s a convergence of opportunity because the cloud means that joint hosts do not need to double-up.” TECHNOLOGY IS opening up opportunities for spectators, as well: “That’s the other exciting side of the coin; that experience factor. If you are at the event, the amount of information that you will be able to tap into via the technology ecosystem that you have built around you – your devices, your apps – will be phenomenal, providing all kinds of information – both historical and real-time – on the athletes. “And as virtual reality and interactive augmented reality develops, that richness of experience, the feeling of ‘being there’, will be available to people around the world. While we don’t want the experience of events to lose their purity – which is witnessing somebody performing at their absolute best – there is an opportunity to magnify that person’s efforts so people can share and appreciate the achievement. And I think that’s when technology works best.”

n HOST CITY CONFERENCE 2016 Speakers this year included Sir Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Paul Bush, director of events at VisitScotland and Simon Clegg, chief operating officer of the World Expo Dubai 2020. The world authority on anti-doping in sport met for the first time in Scotland, supported by VisitScotland Business Events and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) held its executive committee and foundation board meetings at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. Neil Brownlee, head of business events at VisitScotland, said: “The decision by WADA to hold its meetings in Glasgow is a reflection of Scotland’s world-wide reputation as the deliverer of successful major business events and conferences.” Aileen Crawford, head of conventions at Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, added: “Glasgow enjoys an international reputation as a world-class conventions centre and we’re also one of the world’s top five sporting cities. We were also

World Anti-Doping Agency held its board meeting at the SECC in Glasgow named as the world’s top destination at the Global Sport Tourism Awards, so it’s altogether fitting that WADA has chosen Glasgow for its first-ever visit to Scotland.” Under the theme ‘Creating safe and engaging events’, the conference looked at the future for major events, rebuilding integrity in sport, securing hosting, creating entertaining experiences and making event infrastructure more sustainable. See more coverage at www.eventsbase.co.uk/host-cityconference-report




On a mission to China There is huge scope for trade and investment relationships to continue to grow BY WILLIAM PEAKIN


five-strong team from Edinburgh Airport were in China this autumn for the 22nd World Route Development Forum with the aim of attracting new airlines and selling Scotland to the world. The World Route Development Forum, or ‘World Routes’, saw airlines and airports from across the world meet in Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province, to discuss new route opportunities. More than 3,000 delegates from 300 airlines, 700 airports and 130 tourism authorities took part in 13,000 pre-arranged short meetings to discuss, develop and plan route strategy. As the number one aviation conference giving unlimited business and networking opportunities, World Routes is the focal event for senior decision-makers in the route development global community. The team representing Edinburgh Airport met some of the world’s leading airlines in China. Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport’s Chief Executive, said: “World Routes is a massive event in the calendar for airports with global ambitions like we do – so it is tremendous for Edinburgh Airport to be here in China. This year our team of five includes the biggest executive representation we have ever taken to Routes, and this makes clear the scale of our com-

mitment to delivering international growth at Edinburgh. “The strong partnership between Edinburgh Airport and the airlines that fly here has been crucial in opening up new routes and opportunities between Scotland and the rest of the world and we are keen to add to our existing portfolio of international airlines, routes and destinations. We are aiming to bring some new high-profile routes to Edinburgh Airport, not only for people and businesses in Scotland who will gain from greater direct international connectivity but also for inbound tourism which will deliver jobs, benefiting Scotland’s economy at large.” And tourism firms from throughout Scotland were in China during November as part of a VisitScotland business development mission to boost an emerging market already worth £34m a year. The ten Scottish companies included The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which has ambitious plans to take its spectacular military show to China

in the near future, and Historic Environment Scotland, the owner of Edinburgh Castle which last year welcomed more than 160,000 Chinese visitors. Susan Lawton, head of sales at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “We work incredibly hard to build connections with our audiences across the globe, encouraging partnerships and visits to our hometown of Edinburgh. This year we witnessed an extraordinary 600 per cent increase in Chinese visitors, making up around 2,000 members of our total audience. For us, this demonstrates the appetite the Chinese people have for the Tattoo and we’re excited about the prospect of bringing the world’s best known military event to this wonderful country in the future.” LINDSAY ROBERTSON, Sales Executive at Historic Environment Scotland, which manages more than 300 Historic Scotland properties, added: “From Orkney to the Scottish Borders, together our 300 heritage attractions help tell more than 5,000 years of Scottish history. It’s this rich and diverse heritage that is a unique and important element within Scotland’s wider tourism offering, which continues to appeal to visitors at a global level. “Currently Chinese visitors account for 5% of total visits to our ticketed sites, with Scotland’s top

n ON A MISSION TO CHINA n Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop – Dumfries & Galloway n Historic Environment Scotland n Wangping Travel – Edinburgh n Go2Scotland – Edinburgh n The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – Edinburgh


n Edinburgh Tourism Action Group n The National Trust for Scotland n Royal Highland Hotel – Inverness n Apex Hotels – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee n Cruise Loch Lomond – Tarbet, Argyll n House of Turin – Forfar, Angus

visitor attraction Edinburgh Castle welcoming more than 160,000 Chinese visitors last year alone. This specialist trade event will provide a valuable opportunity to further develop and increase our trade business within this market, whilst raising awareness and product knowledge of Scotland’s heritage tourism offering.” Representatives from other companies, including the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop – a hugely popular stop among Chinese coach parties – and Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, had faceto-face meetings with a number of tour operators in Beijing and Shanghai. Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “VisitScotland supports industry in their aspirations to internationalise and to attract more business and income from global markets. China is a hugely important emerging market for Scottish tourism and this business development mission will allow tourism businesses to meet face to face with tour operators in Shanghai and Beijing. It will provide our partners with an excellent platform to showcase their products and we look forward to welcoming more Chinese visitors to Scotland as a result.” VisitScotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Development International staged a ‘Spirit of Scotland Showcase Evening’ in Beijing, giving tour operators, the travel trade, airlines and other partners the opportunity to network with key contacts and enjoy an evening of traditional Scottish food and entertainment. David Leven, Greater China Director at Scottish Development International, said: “There is huge scope for trade and investment relationships between China and Scot-

“WE CONCENTRATE ON THE SEVEN BILLION PEOPLE ACROSS THE GLOBE THAT WISH TO ENJOY WHAT OUR GREAT COUNTRY HAS TO OFFER” Gordon Dewar land to continue to grow. As well as offering a unique visitor experience, Scotland – with five of the world’s top 200 ranked universities – provides educational excellence in a safe, clean and economic environment. There are many opportunities for Chinese businesses and consumers to enjoy and work with Scotland’s iconic products – from Scotch whisky to textiles, seafood to golf clubs, craft beer to shortbread – many of which will be showcased in Beijing.” Following VisitScotland’s mission, the national tourism organisation joined a number of its partners at Destination Britain China, a three-day tourism showcase organised by VisitBritain, before heading on to Seoul for Destination Britain South Korea.

Edinburgh Airport has launched a public consultation on its plan for growth to 2040

THE CONNECTIVITY between China and Scotland has been enhanced in recent years by airlines such as Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines and Finnair, which link the two countries via Qatar, the UAE, Turkey and Finland respectively. John Somers, First Secretary for Scottish Affairs, People’s Republic of China, said: “The Scottish Government’s China strategy was first conceived almost a decade ago. However, our cultural exchange can be measured in millennia with many of Scotland’s cultural icons such as our tartan, our whisky, our bagpipes and our golf all having ancestral links to ancient China. “Called by the pipes of the Tattoo to the enduring beauty of our rural landscape and the dynamic excitement of our cities, more and more Chinese visitors are making Scotland their destination of choice.”




Etihad, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has launched a new daily service between Edinburgh and Abu Dhabi

Growth in direct flights puts Scotland on the map for international conference organisers Travel management firm puts success down to investment in airports, infrastructure and national marketing push



he rate of expansion of Scotland’s airports in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable. There has never been an easier time to fly into the country and the opportunity to bypass London hubs via an increasing number of direct routes is driving visitor numbers ever higher. To many international conference goers, perhaps put off by the notion


of connecting flights in the past, the convenience and ease with which they can now reach the country is fuelling a rise in passenger numbers, according to one Edinburgh-based travel management firm. Wayne Russell, a former British Airways manager, Sales Director at Traveleads, which works with conferences and meetings planners, explains: “I guess there’s two ways of looking at it on the business travel and leisure, inbound and outbound. “On both fronts I think Scotland

is seeing growth, and quite significant growth. On a personal level I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people travelling into our cities than I do now, especially during the winter season. “I speak to hoteliers all the time and they’re saying occupancy is up. They used to have their downtimes in November, January and February. They’re not seeing it anymore, at least not as much as they used to. Rates are still way up in the 80s and 90s [in percent terms] when it used to be quiet.” Official figures support that view. Last year alone the Edinburgh and Glasgow both found themselves in the top 10 UK airports, positioned at number six and eight, handling 11m and 8.7m passengers respectively. The growth rates, of 9.4% and 12.9%, were also, with the exception of London Stansted and London Luton, the two biggest climbers in that decile, according to figures published by the Civil Aviation Authority. REGIONALLY, TOO, Scotland is punching well above its weight. Aberdeen and Inverness have also posted strong growth, and even smaller airports like Dundee are

Aberdeen is doubling its terminal size as seen in this artist’s impression of the airport

adding routes to its destination list (the city is home to the third largest regeneration project in the UK, with its £1bn waterfront redevelopment, including a new V&A Museum of Design). Russell believes the investment in facilities, capacity and new routes - combined with the work of VisitScotland and regional marketing bureaux - is helping drive the demand. Edinburgh has committed to £150m in capital investment over five years, Inverness is spending £900,000 to expand and upgrade its building and Aberdeen, which will welcome a brand new 12,500-capacity convention centre in 2019, has pledged £20m over three years, doubling the size of its terminal. “It’s great, and because of that, we’re seeing more airlines being attracted to Scotland,” he adds. “There’s been about half a dozen airlines that have come on board this year. There are three airlines doing flights directly into New York now, which 10 years would have seemed impossible. “We have Qatar and Etihad covering the Middle East, which is fantastic for Asia and one of the

“I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER SEEN SO MANY PEOPLE TRAVELLING INTO OUR CITIES THAN I DO NOW, ESPECIALLY DURING THE WINTER SEASON” strongest growth areas we’re seeing is with the Chinese market; it’s becoming extremely popular with Chinese visitors increasingly coming here, and also with us going out to China to sell Scotland as a whole. I think that’s probably the next big thing that we’ll see and I think over the next year or two there’s a very, very good chance that we could see flights coming in directly from China. That will be a massive boost to the economy.” Scotland has a growing number of air links to a number of European hubs including London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schipol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Reykjavik and Frankfurt am Maine. These hubs also link to

most cities in the USA and Canada. All that makes onward travel to Scotland from Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia easier than before. There is also a direct flight route between Glasgow and the key Middle Eastern hub of Dubai, which supports established links with numerous countries across Africa and Asia. IN TERMS OF destinations, routes and passenger numbers, Edinburgh airport has expanded at a quicker pace during the past three years than in the previous decade. Glasgow and Inverness airports report similar increases, led by international travellers in particular. With passenger numbers soaring into the country, airlines have been quick to develop new Scottish routes throughout 2016 and into next year. Key recent developments include: Qatar Airways now flies direct between Edinburgh and Doha five times per week, fully opening Scotland up to Asia, Australia and China. The Middle Eastern carries Scotland’s first scheduled 787 Dreamliner and offers connectivity to over 120 worldwide destinations

Two weeks after Delta Air Lines started its service between Edinburgh and New York-JFK, the U.S. airline announced that it will double its Scottish network in summer 2017 when it begins flying between Glasgow and New York, linking Scotland to choice of 60 same-day destinations throughout the United States. Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has launched a new daily service between Edinburgh and Abu Dhabi. Air Canada Rouge has added a non-stop seasonal service, operating three-times a week, offering passengers the only non-stop service by a network carrier between Toronto and Glasgow and complementing Air Canada Rouge’s existing non-stop service to Edinburgh. Air France has expanded its short-haul network with daily flights to (and from) Glasgow, marking Air France’s 3rd Scottish destination. The daily flight will connect Glasgow to Air France’s Charles de Gaulle hub in Paris. Passengers will be able to experience seamless connections between over 130 worldwide destinations via Paris Charles De Gaulle.




An innovative year Business tourism conference gives delegates the ability to create their own programme BY WILLIAM PEAKIN


he Business Tourism Scotland Conference is the largest industry gathering in Scotland of its type with a host of innovative sessions and a great platform for networking. The 2016 conference features the ability to create your own agenda by selecting up to six sessions to attend during the day. The event welcomes a host of thought-provoking speakers who will challenge the industry to think differently in how it sells, promotes and delivers the business tourism

product in Scotland. They will be talking about emerging trends, how to engage audiences differently, the customer journey and the opportunities for collaboration. Their aim is to deliver motivation, inspiration and practical tips for participants to take back to their own business. Speakers include David Chalmers, senior marketing director of Cvent Europe, a specialist in the use of technology in live events and leveraging digital and social media to promote events, drive attendance and increase audience engagement. Also featured is Jason Megson, managing director of George P Johnson UK, one of the world’s leading experience marketing agencies, and David Merrell, chief executive of design and production firm AOO Events.

Thought-provoking speakers will challenge the industry to think differently


n CONFERENCE SESSIONS INCLUDE How to Win Friends & Influence people with management expert Dr David Potter from the Cultural Change Company culturalchange.co.uk What’s next? The latest leading edge industry research findings Marketing Insights with Marc Horsmans from Amsterdam Marketing www.iamsterdam.com/en/ amsterdam-marketing #ScotSpirit The VisitScotland new global marketing approach brought to life by the VisitScotland team Creating Emotions Dario Cherubino, Creative Director at Azimut, an Italian experience-design and meeting-support company specialising in creating, planning and producing teambuilding activities and entertainment especially designed for the MICE field www.azimutonline. com/ The Event Architect Gerbert Janssen MD of de Feest & Eventarchitect. Working across Europe to design and deliver a wide range of event marketing, live communications, business events and incentive travel. eventarchitect.nl

Accessible tourism Marketing Edinburgh will share information on the great potential of accessible tourism. Out of 11 million disabled people only two million actually take a holiday - the rest say ‘it’s just too difficult’. Dare to Share Scotland’s own business events gems featuring case studies from Adam Cameron from All Event Hire and Rob Steadman from Gosford House Doing Something Differently SECC showcase their innovative approach that resulted in them being the first officially accredited Healthy Conference Venue in the world. They will share their journey and the benefits to both colleagues, the organisation and customers The GREAT Campaign Chris Foy Head of Business Visits & Events at VisitBritain. Find out how Chris works with Britain’s world class destinations and venues to drive more business tourism and generate export platforms for British industry Bringing Conference Business to Scotland Association Case studies bringing valuable insights.



Forget the Italian Job, the Germans are coming to town A fleet of Opel Mokkas took over Festival Square in Edinburgh for the car manufacturer’s product launch in September BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” The line is from Groundhog Day, in which our hero Phil Connors coldly resigns himself to the fate of waking up every single morning and facing the same day on a never-ending loop. My thoughts turn to the iconic 90s movie - starring Bill Murray after speaking with Elaine Hamilton, the Managing Director of destination management company Hello Scotland. Elaine is just preparing to do the billing after a rather exhausting two-and-a-half-week rolling product launch for Ger-

man car manufacturer Opel, which chose Festival Square in Edinburgh as the location for unveiling its new Mokka X sports utility vehicle in September. And the schedule, repeated exactly every day, sounded pretty relentless: with an average head count of 60 people flying into Edinburgh each day (650 in total for the duration), comprising mostly motoring journalists from all across Europe, not to mention the legion of car cleaners, mechanics and production staff, Hamilton had her work cut out. “We had to have the same the lunch venue, coffee stop and dinner venue each night,” says Hamilton, who is clearly demob happy after successfully stewarding an event which involved bringing a fleet of cars each day onto Festival Square in Edinburgh, entailing endless negotiations with the city council, outdoor advertising giant JC Decaux, which manages the space, not to mention local taxi drivers, whose rank the cars would be cutting across. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years with Hello Scotland and this was a complete learning curve,” she adds. “It was a lot more than your normal incentive because you’re dealing with drivers’ insurance public liability insurance, which had to be


increased for Festival Square, and we had to walk the square to check how many cracked tiles there were and report the damage.” “And that’s not including all the risk assessments and making sure there were 40 spaces cordoned off at the car park at Edinburgh Airport every day (note: there was one ‘rogue’ car which spoiled the symmetry, but no one seemed to mind). It was challenging but seeing it all come together made it all worthwhile.” Each day itself was long. The cream of Europe’s motoring media would arrive at Edinburgh airport early in the morning, pick up the keys to the vehicles they would be test driving and then head up to Dalmeny House for a ‘briefing’ from Martin Golka, Opel’s Manager of International Product Communications. Golka, who like most Germans I’ve met, speaks word perfect English, even describes the event as “spot on”. AFTER A HOT lunch at the stately home, which overlooks the Firth of Forth and is regularly hired out for events by Lord and Lady Roseberry (the latter who would often pop in to join the groups with her dog Suki), the groups then took the cars across the road bridge to Fife,

through to Knockhill, the Crook of Devon, Comrie, Loch Earn and then for a coffee stop at Mhor 84, on the A84 at Balquhidder. The route - which had been meticulously planned by Hello Scotland’s founder Bill Thomson - had even been configured as anti-clockwise so that the Europeans - unfamiliar with driving on the ‘wrong side’ - headed into, as opposed to cross traffic. “That was part of the event planning,” says Golka, with an air of satisfaction of a details man. “We did the scouting trip with Bill - which was one or two days in the car. He understood the brief very well, choosing the location and the test routes. And he proposed the idea of

A fleet of 40 Opel Mokka vehicles had to get clearance from the city council and JC Decaux to be parked outside the Sheraton Hotel on Festival Square in Edinburgh

very well.” After coffee and cake at Mhor 84, the journalists then returned to Edinburgh where they would disembark their vehicles on Festival Square and enter the Sheraton Hotel. The cleaners and mechanics would swing into action taking the vehicles off to be cleaned for the next day - whilst inside the hotel staff offered the journalists their very own take on the occasion with a distinctive Mokka cocktail, comprising gin and Irn Bru no less, before a final press conference took place, with the vehicle itself in situ and surrounded by a back wall evoking the Scottish landscape the drivers had just enjoyed. “We took a bit of the Highlands feeling into the hotel,” adds Golka. “We picked Scotland [over Krakow


in Poland] because it’s a rugged country and it combines this dramatic, scenic landscape with the bustling city of Edinburgh, which is also the two faces of the Mokka.” Suitably ‘refreshed’ guests would then make their way to the Cannonball restaurant on the Royal Mile (catering at lunch and dinner was provided by Continis), where the experience would come to a close. “It all ran very smoothly, actually. I was very pleased with the outcome,” adds Golka. “The hotel really lived up to our expectations, in terms of the standards that we expect for our guests. They needed to cater for 70 rooms per night, the 60 guests, plus some internals, so the amount of rooms is one criteria and the location was also really

important. We could not be more central than that. We were able to drop the cars off and pick them up the next morning. We also got a lot of visibility for the car on Festival Square, and had the garage facilities to cater for the vehicles.” So were there any highlights? “Dalmeny House,” he adds, without hesitation. “That was the jewel of the event to be honest. At the beginning you knew it was historic, it almost smelt like a museum, the more you think about it, the building and the estate was fantastic for the TV groups because they had tracks without any traffic and no disturbance so they could do their footage right away. Dalmeny House was just outstanding; you can’t get more Scottish than Dalmeny House.”




The royal racing yacht Bloodhound, pictured left in its heyday with Prince Philip, and now as a corporate excursion

On the scent of the Bloodhound The little-known royal racing yacht is up for corporate hire BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


s days go it’s a pretty dreich one and the cold wet drizzle falling on the Port of Leith does nothing to alleviate the feeling that the long slow march to winter is gathering pace. But though the weather outside is pretty hopeless, I’m cheered by the fact that I’m about to climb aboard a royal racing yacht, once skippered by Prince Philip in his sea-faring pomp. The 63-ft Bloodhound, moored alongside the Royal Yacht Britannia,

is unarguably the lesser known of the two vessels. Frankly, until about a week ago, I’d never heard of it. But I’m met on the quayside by Emily Shields and Emma Aitken, Senior Event Sales Manager and Marketing Manager for the Britannia, and my chaperones for the morning. A chap in a boiler suit and axle grease hands also homes into view; Ian, who served for 34 years in the Royal Navy - including a “pretty hairy” stint on board a minesweeper in the Gulf War - is the engineer responsible for keeping the graceful-looking boat in good working order. He ushers us all aboard - Emily, in heels, is perhaps sensibly reluctant to take her chances on the rainsoaked deck - and we’re quickly into the living quarters of the vessel, which is a treasure trove of Royal


history. In the galley, a framed newspaper cartoon on the wall immediately catches my eye; it’s taken from the Daily Express and is dated February 1st, 1962, just a month after it was sold to the Royal Family. It shows an irritated Duke of Edinburgh - standing on the quay - watching Bloodhound in the distance - with the caption, ‘The Duke says will it be alright if he borrows it next Thursday?’ Clearly, the yacht must have been made available for hires even under royal ownership. FAST FORWARD half a century and the Bloodhound is once again up for charter, and next year for the entire month of August, it’s available to the corporate market for incentive trips on the west coast of Scotland, catering for groups of up to eight, and crewed by sailors who once worked aboard Britannia, including

‘Tiny the chef’ who used to whip up lunch for the royal party on Bloodhound itself. It’s fair to say, groups who take up the offer will depart the shores of Oban for a rather unique sailing experience. “I really don’t think you’re going to get this kind of thing anywhere else in the world, especially with the crew all having that connection to the Royal Family,” says Emily. “They’re all retired now, but they’re real characters and they’ve shared all this intimate history on board. They have a real camaraderie and passion for coming back, and that really comes across to guests.” No doubt, they’re also happy in the knowledge that a crate of ‘Bloodhound beer’ - a speciallycommissioned ale in their honour - will also be brought on board to forestall any mutinies at sea. “Oh, yes, the beer; it’s such a

The Bloodhound, once under the ownership of the Royal Family, will be available for charter off the coast of Oban in August 2017

lovely touch,” adds Emily, arranging for a bottle for me to take away, clearly sensing my own enthusiasm for the grog. The boat itself has also been undergoing something of an overhaul; it was only in royal ownership for seven years in the 60s and ever since has had successive private owners, until it was brought back into possession of the Britannia, a charity, some five years ago. It fell into serious disrepair until it was bought in 2004 by Tony and Cindy McGrail, who oversaw a four-year restoration project. These days, engineer Ian tinkers with the engine (I’m surprised to hear the latest is provided by JCB, the maritime, not diggers part of the company), and oversees any work carried out to maintain the vessel, including a recent touch up


to some of the gold leaf paintwork. It’s all part of the long lead-in to next year, preparing the decks for visitor groups who will take her on a spin around the Western Isles, following routes once taken by Prince Philip, a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne. Princess Anne, who is fittingly patron of the Lighthouse Association, has even popped back to take her out in Oban. Presumably not through the usual booking line, I enquire? “Well, I think we probably look after her pretty well,” adds Emily. “But that’s the thing about Bloodhound and Britannia, the connections they have to the Royal Family are still very much there.” She reminisces briefly about the occasion when the Britannia was the venue for Zara Phillips (Princess Anne’s daughter) pre-wedding

drinks in Edinburgh in 2011. The princes (William and Harry) also apparently visited when they were younger, darting around the boat to find their old bedrooms. Britannia has now been in dock for 17 years and had its busiest year in 2015 for visitors. For corporate functions, the vessel can be an extension for a conference as it can comfortably cater for 450 on board for receptions; smaller VIP dinners can also be accommodated. As Emma points out, whilst we’re having elevenses, naturally, that you’re not likely to turn down an embossed royal invitation. “I think most people would clear their diaries for that. The yacht’s got that pull factor, it works really well for events to enhance their brand.” The Bloodhound, too, is bound to have the same effect.



From a hilltop overlooking Edinburgh, Stewart Collingswood decided to indulge his childhood passion for fishing in the great outdoors Alba Fishing is buoyed by the growing market for memorable incentive travel experiences BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


t’s said that everyone will face an existential crisis at least once in their lifetime. For Stewart Collingswood, who was running a software company, it just so happened to come as he was walking in the Pentlands hills outside Edinburgh. At a crossroads in his career, he caught a breath of air, sat down with a pencil and began scribbling some ideas onto a piece of paper. The words that hit the page, in no particular order, consisted of: Scotland, the outdoors, fishing, photogra-

phy, good food, meeting people, e-procurement and tourism. Not exactly an obvious combination, one might think, but that slightly disconnected mental process back in 2004 led to the formation of a company delivering one of Scotland’s most sought after outdoor pursuits - and one that embraces virtually all of the concepts sketched out more than 10 years ago. “I’d gone as far as I felt I could go with the software company, which I’d done for four years. “ I decided I wanted to put my heart and soul into something I really enjoyed. So I was sat at the top, looking down at the city, thinking, ‘what the heck can I do?’ And so I just wrote down on this sheet of paper everything I liked.” FAST FORWARD to 2016 and Alba Fishing, which started initially as a part-time venture, now stands on the cusp of a big push for 2017; emboldened by the recent birth of a baby, Collingswood is about to considerably “ramp up” a business that has until now reacted to what-


ever enquiry it has had for outdoor fishing in Scotland, whether that be pike fishing on a private loch near Edinburgh, a secluded estate on the River Tweed or salmon fishing in the Highlands. The company, which employs guides, including Collingswood himself, regularly takes individuals and groups of sporting enthusiasts out to some of the best fishing locations in the world. The decision to go fulltime, backed with private investment, for next year is purely an economic one. Collingswood knows the market well, and it is growing. “More and more agents and destination management companies are seeking new and unusual experiences,” he adds. They want activities that clients can do and go back and tell their friends, ‘wow, guess what we did?’ We hiked out to this point, we camped overnight, we caught these fish, and the guide took professional photography of the whole trip. The venues we have chosen all deliver those really memorable experiences.” Some of the fishing venues

“MORE AND MORE AGENTS AND DESTINATION MANAGEMENT COMPANIES ARE SEEKING NEW AND UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES” themselves are located just a short drive from the capital and are perfect for corporate groups, who may be attending a conference. Alba Fishing has taken incentive groups of up to 40 people on fishing trips, combining it with instruction, gourmet food, whisky drams and gingham tablecloths in a snug, wood-burning stove heated lodge. It all sounds idyllic, and pretty much is. “We travel all over, depending on what the client wants,” adds

Collingswood. “But for proximity to Edinburgh we’ve used a private place just south of the city; it’s like heaven on earth, it takes 35 minutes to get there, you go up a dirt track road, and arrive at a fishing lodge with stags’ heads on the walls. You think you’re in the Highlands, and I would say the fishing there is world class. During the last two seasons we’ve been catching between 10 and 40 fish a day. They’re big fish as well - the pike, it’s Scotland’s predator.” FOR SALMON, Alba takes clients regularly to the River Tay, but also as far north as Kinlochbervie in Sutherland, or across to the west coast. Although the fish are routinely caught and thrown back, there is no scrimping on the food fare. Alba sources quality organic produce from local butchers and suppliers. The courses - which might consistent of venison, port and cranberry - are often washed down with a glass of cab sav, with whisky never far from the palate.

Alba Fishing scours Scotland looking for prime locations for its growing list of clients; the fishing is backed with gourmet cuisine and whisky, naturally

“We just try to make it as memorable as possible for our guests,” adds Collingswood. “People might have a preconceived idea of Scotland - the tweed, whisky and salmon. Our job of course is to deliver that but there’s also the pike, the sea fishing; we just want to deliver the best experience to our clients. Seventy per cent of what we do is probably salmon fishing and teaching people the double Spey casting, drams of whisky, the lodge for lunch, and all the folklore.” The appeal of such an experience has struck a chord with corporate incentive groups, as well, who Collingswood believes are constantly looking for new teambuilding experiences. They are getting enquiries to that end from an increasing number of destination

management companies. “I think there’s lots of potential to go to corporates and say you’re all getting a bit bored of teambuilding,” he says. “We say ‘here’s a day for real bonding with your team’, for beginners or experienced women and men. We recently had 25 complete novices from Shell,

and gave them guides. They were all catching trout by the end of the day and having a great lunch together. So that’s our focus for 2017, it’ll be a big push with event bookers, agents and DMCs. We might even spice it up with some food foraging and falconry, and a guy playing the bagpipes - whatever works for them.”



Events in Edinburgh to be boosted by inclusive tourism guide City seeks to build on lessons of hosting Rehabilitation International world congress BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


or many people traveling into an ancient city, the prospect of negotiating its streets, buildings and facilities can be a troubling one. Edinburgh, with its cobblestoned thoroughfares in the Old Town, not to mention the hills and staircases, probably would not rank

first in the world’s most accessible cities league. But that’s not to say city leaders aren’t thinking about how to address the challenge of making the place easier to navigate. With the high-profile Rehabilitation International world congress taking place at the EICC in the city last month, it was the perfect opportunity to highlight work to improve that situation. As Lesley Williams, Head of Business Tourism at Convention Edinburgh, explains: “You don’t initially think of Edinburgh as an accessible city but we worked with partners, members and businesses in the city to ensure that the delegates for the rehabilitation conference were aware of all of the facilities available.


“We worked with a local website called Euan’s Guide to showcase just how accessible Edinburgh is, contrary to what many might think. It was a great example of a conference with legacy because we worked with organisers to provide information of relevance to not only them but also future visitors to the city.” Williams says that work is being carried forward by the establishment of a new group - Inclusive Tourism - which will be able to help events planners inform delegates

The Rehabilitation International world congress was held at the EICC last month about accessible facilities. “Inclusive Tourism is not just for the permanently disabled but for people who might be on crutches for a few weeks, so all of a sudden their mobility is reduced,” adds Williams. “So there’s a city group looking to take learnings from the rehabilitation conference and continue to improve on the city’s accessibility offer.”


Blue sky thinking for a meetings industry on the move Full steam ahead for events planners looking for that ‘unique’ experience It’s one of the most iconic journeys you can take in Scotland. Wending its way through the Highlands, the Royal Scotsman steam train is about as far as you can get from a stuffy boardroom. But, believe it or not, it’s fast becoming one of the most sought-after ‘alt’ meetings destinations in the land. “I think we’re seeing a rising trend in planners looking for that unique corporate experience,” says Tom Dumbrell, Sales Manager, Trains & Cruises, Belmond Royal Scotsman. “Not many people would have thought you can have a meeting on board a train, but it just shows how far from standard itineraries we’ve come. We have facilities on board the Royal Scotsman to accommodate virtually every kind of corporate need, from a board meeting to a VIP dinner. It beats a day in the office.” Accommodating up to 40 people for overnight stays, contact the Belmond Royal Scotsman on 0845 077 2222 for information.



Our 2020 challenge Anticipating the future needs of the ‘2020 delegate’ is under the microscope at the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel in Clydebank, near Glasgow


ith a very clear strategy to increase the number and range of conferences in general, and international healthcare related meetings in particular, the meetings-led Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel is creating the infrastructure to deliver this challenge “Having a range of versatile event spaces is vital to support a variety of meeting experiences from auditori-

um tiered-seating plenary meetings to interactive cabaret conferences, said director of the Conference Hotel, Bronagh Bell. She added: “This needs to be underpinned with options for break-out sessions, informal networking and discreet one-to-one conversations. Many clients need a central area to have an exhibition which both funds and adds value to their conference. At the Golden Jubilee we have completed a radical redesign to create a great meeting space portfolio. “At the heart of the venue is the Central Plaza which offers the ideal mingling, meeting, eating and exhibition area. And, we have just opened the new Inspiration Space which provides a blank canvas for conference organisers to design their meeting. Our Innovation Centre, with its cutting edge technology,


is designed to enable meetings with a collaborative and creative edge.” But having the correct meeting space is only one part of the jigsaw. Designing bedrooms for the 2020 delegate is important. “We know that they need good lighting, a powerful shower and a comfortable bed but how many power sockets and where to put them is also really important,” says Bell. “We’ve recently remodelled our prototype collection of 12 bedrooms but with another 156 to go, we really want to get the attention to detail right. So we’ve been taking feedback from both delegates and organisers. As part of the overall delegate experience we need to provide a balance of study time and leisure time. Many delegates like to work out, have a swim or go for a walk, a run or cycle so we provide all those facilities and information

on paths etc. Nor can we underestimate how much free and powerful WiFi delegates require during a stay.” The 2020 Professional Conference Organiser is also part of our infrastructure planning. “We know how much hard work goes into a successful meeting,” adds Bell. “So anything we can do to alleviate the pressure is helpful. We already have a purpose-built registration area, the optimum size for badge collection and handouts, but we are just launching our Event Professionals Club ‘#Event Profs’. This will entitle PCOs or trainers to a range of benefits including a bedroom upgrade, discounts, priority parking and concierge services. Arranging to collect international delegates from the airport can really help the organiser too. And we do that as well!”



Gain an insight into the life of a deafblind person

Dining in the dark in deafening silence From sleep-outs to a novel culinary experience, challenging events help engage audiences BY WILLIAM PEAKIN


housands of people across the UK took part in ‘sleep-outs’ this autumn to raise awareness of homelessness and raise funds, including the first Hampden Snore organised by the Bethany Christian Trust and Street Soccer Scotland and the fifth Big London Sleep Out, organised by the Big Issue Foundation. Innovative thinking around events is helping organisations highlight issues to a wider audience. In the New Year, a Scottish charity and a Glasgow restaurant


Catherine Noble

are inviting people to a meal with a difference. Dining in Darkness in Deafening Silence is a rare dining experience where guests wear blindfolds and ear defenders to gain an insight into the life of a deafblind person. Deafblind Scotland and McPhabbs Restaurant are holding the event on Saturday 28 January. “Deafblind Scotland campaigns for the rights of the deafblind community and provides a range of services, support, training and information,” said a spokesperson for the charity. “The dining in event is one of a number of events which we have found to be very positive in raising awareness.” Catherine Noble, of noblenourishment.com, who took part in a previous event at Mother India in Glasgow, said: “Of all the senses we have - sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste -, what are the main ones you would associate with eating food? Taste and smell, perhaps? “Touch, at a stretch? The reality is, we use all senses when enjoying our meals. Like most things, it’s only when taken away from us, that we truly appreciate its significance.” Noble added: “It was a humbling experience.” www.deafblindscotland.org.uk www.mcphabbsglasgow.com

Scottish five-star resort Cameron House has revealed the results of a £3 million refurbishment as part of a year-long renovation. This initial phase has focused on revamping the food and drink offering, along with some of the Loch Lomond-side resort’s public areas. At the heart of the hotel, Cameron Grill has been refreshed with new interiors. And following the appointment of a new chef and sommelier, the restaurant also boasts a new menu and wine list. The Great Scots cocktail bar now makes the most of the hotel’s location with additional tables and new seating overlooking the loch. Elsewhere, the public spaces – including the swimming pool and meeting rooms – have also been upgraded.


The Courtyard by Marriott brand is set to open a new hotel in Edinburgh, offering facilities for corporate meetings and private functions. The 240-room hotel, located at the top of Leith Walk, will occupy three A-listed Georgian townhouses and will also include an all-day restaurant and bar and a fitness centre. The 49 sq ft Stevenson meeting room seats 16 and is equipped with LCD projectors. A private dining space is also available for functions such as weddings and pre-theatre packages. The hotel is due to open on December 19.


After months of planning and 4,000 litres of paint, events company thestudio has opened its latest venue in Glasgow. Located on Hope Street, thestudioglasgow features six vibrant event spaces to suit two to 250 people. Each room has been equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, providing a comfortable and stylish environment for maximum

productivity. Guests can expect every room to have wireless internet connection, HDMI data projectors, Apple TV and integrated sound systems. Commercial Director Julian Kettleborough said: “I am so pleased that we are up and running and that the people of Glasgow can see what we’ve been working on. This latest venue has been a labour of love.



Organisers can start by focusing on the ‘easy wins’ to make their events sustainable

On the path to sustainable events ‘Start simple’ is the message from Ed Cook of Resource Futures BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


hen it comes to planning a ‘sustainable’ event, there can be few people who have amassed as much knowledge on the subject as Ed Cook. Having personally helped to dispose of waste from Glastonbury (not a task for the faint-hearted, surely) and set the recycling targets for London 2012, Cook is steeped in all things sustainable and his expertise has helped design and execute strategies for some of the highest-profile events on the planet. From the outset, I am interested in trying to define the scope of what might make a ‘sustainable event’, as it seems, from my reading at least,

to be a flexible concept that can be as narrow or broad as the occasion demands. “It’s about meeting the needs of the current population without overburdening the people of the future,” says Cook, whose quickness of response leads me to think I may not have been the first person to ask him the question. “Of course we have to make that reasonable and practical at the outset,” he adds. “There’s no point of bringing in all sorts of sustainability measures if it makes the event unworkable, or too expensive. For me it’s about identifying the ‘easy wins’ you can deliver as an event planner or organiser, and to identify those wins you need to start measuring your environmental impact.” Helpfully, Cook, who works for Resource Futures, an independent environmental consultancy, has put together a blog post which outlines exactly what steps an event planner should take. In this context we are discussing how to apply sustain-


ability measures to (primarily) meetings and conferences. Broadly speaking the starting point is to work out the impact of your event. That means sitting down and mapping out the entire course of the event, working out the impact of audience travel, waste, food and drink, energy, transport (event logistics) and production and purchasing (there are websites that you can use for this purpose, such as www.calculator.carbonfootprint.com). The next step is try and make a plan to reduce some of these impacts, setting realistic goals you can achieve; it may not be feasible to do everything but cutting back on your biggest impact might deliver some real benefits. THE NEXT STAGE is to ‘let your contractors do the work’. That sounds straightforward enough but it may take time to explain to organise and explain, so it’s best to include a contractual obligation for


caterers to use recyclable packaging, for example. The next is to ‘get some good bins in’, which separate waste types into clearly signed receptacles. An added bonus is to ensure waste contractors are upfront about what happens to the waste afterwards, as it’s no use to find out later that it goes straight to landfill. Cook’s final point is to ensure that a planner ‘starts simple’, with his favourite ‘green initiative’ being to make sure delegates are given advice around how to minimise the carbon footprint of their own travel plans: that may be to car share, using public transport or even walking or cycling to an event, where practical. “Indications are that audience travel is probably the greatest impact of most events and it’s a surprisingly simple measure to target and take action on,” adds Cook. “Quite often this involves simply providing information; there are some studies that show when people make decisions about travel they often choose a less environmentally beneficial option through simple lack of information or planning. Imagine you’ve got a conference booked in, you’ve signed up some time ago and as it’s near you think ‘how am I going to get there?’. Quite often you just jump in a car on your own, where there are lots of car-sharing platforms now, and simple sites providing information on public transport. These interventions are effectively free for organisers; it’s a little bit of planning time, and not much you have to do on the ground.”


German firm shows how to rid events of wasteful goodie bags Eventbaxx found 80% of tote bags were being thrown away at events BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN AS STATISTICS go, it’s a pretty compelling one. According to research by German event tech firm 80% of goodie bag contents are binned at conferences. The company, perhaps not surprisingly, has come up with a tech solution and digital goodie bags are the future. The firm, based in Saarbrücken in southern Germany, with an office in Istanbul, where they won an invest-

ment pitching contest last year, is gearing up for a big international push on its Swag Bag product. In fact, they have just returned from Event Tech Live in London, one of the largest gatherings for event technologists in Europe. Sandra Engel, Marketing Manager for the company, says: “There is a lot of waste with goodie bags, so doing something digital seemed to be an obvious solution. There has been a very positive response to the technology [from the events industry] - and clients can clearly see the benefits of a digital goodie bags because they can track the numbers of people opening them, and redeeming the offer. Events organisers can

analyse this response and monetise the products as well. You can’t do that with a physical bag.” Not only that, but a digital goodie bag cuts down on the carbon footprint of events. “We can directly reduce carbon dioxide that goes into the manufacture, transport and waste collection of the goodie bag,” adds Engel. “It saves paper, so it’s a very sustainable product. We can also include little games as part of the digital content, to make it more interactive and fun.” The company has grown from two (the initial founders Marc Grewenig and Max Ulbrich, who conducted the research into goodie bags waste) to 16 staff in the last 12 months.

The Eventbaxx team are aiming to replace goodie bags with its digital ‘Swag Bag’ After securing investment from the Startup Bootcamp in Istanbul, they have won a three-year contract with a German sports and media company, and are looking to grow their business in the UK. “It’s really easy in English-speaking countries to explain the concept, as ‘goodie bags’ are a well-known concept,” adds Engel. “We would like to establish relationships that lasts for longer than one event. We want to deal with the big players in the events industry.”




“My best moment was when the first Clydesdale horse passed over the top of an amazed crowd below and we knew we had succeeded and done it in style”. Former DF Concerts project manager goes country. Recent past?

I have worked in events for the last 12 years. I’ve done a bit in sport, culture, TV and more recently music. I had the pleasure of working in Glasgow with DF Concerts for seven years where I was heavily involved in multiple stadium shows, green field concerts and my old favourite - T in the Park. I was lucky enough to work alongside some of the best minds in the business on some brilliant shows including Take That, The Stone Roses, the Killers, One Direction and many more. Before that?

I studied Events and Entertainment Management in Glasgow and mixed a thin timetable with as much volunteering and work experience as I could get. After a spell in London with Endemol UK doing a couple of different TV shows I decided I preferred the glamour of mud, fencing and Portaloos and stayed in Glasgow for the rest of my degree working mainly with Glasgow Life on their sport and cultural events calendar. As much as I enjoyed the graft and multiple variations of being the ‘tea boy’s tea boy’, it was good to finally be involved with some real high profile projects. During this time I learned a lot under a good leader, Colin Hartley, and this helped shape my move on to DF Concerts. Now?

I am now the Head of Operations for the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), based at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh. Day to day, I head up a team of 17 staff who are responsible for the maintenance of the facilities and estate, as well as providing support to the 200 events which we see at the venue throughout the year. The venue is a 300-acre site made up of six exhibition indoor


exhibition spaces, 150 acres of car park and 150 acres of prime Showground. We are located next to the growing Edinburgh Airport and the main motorway links into the City. We can host multiple events on any given day and each day is completely different from the last. Each year we plan, deliver and host the prestigious Royal Highland Show where we see almost 200,000 attendees over 4 days. In the two years since I arrived, we have been investing heavily in the venue facilities to ensure that we not only enhance our existing client base experience, but are also attracting new and exciting events to the Centre. Vision?

My personal vision for the venue is one of growth and enhancement. The key elements of scale and location are already established and with a focused plan of continued investment. We have created a brand new outdoor

music arena space, which can host a full touring production and 40,000 screaming fans, and more recently we have upgraded our 1-mile racing circuit within the Showground to reignite the upcoming Ingliston Revival classic motoring festival in 2017. Our indoor halls now have the facilities to match their unrivalled flexibility and our brand new car parks will be attractive for any event. We will ultimately achieve this vision by creating a low risk venue option for all event organisers. The site provides fully plumbed internal and external toilets so no need for mass Portaloo bills, as well as miles of hardstanding that will help cut back on trackway, a full perimeter fence line, CCTV, lighting, highspeed fibre and a robust utilities provision. Best Moment?

Throughout my career I have been lucky enough to have some

cracking moments and memories. T in the Park certainly gave me some stories to dine out on for a while; however, probably my best moment came at this year’s Royal Highland Show. When I went for the interview for the job, the RHASS board put an issue to me, which had been causing them issues for decades. Each year, the conflict of livestock and people was inevitable as the main parades entered and egressed from the main ring. This led to long delays and the potential for a high-risk situation to arise. For the 2016 Show, I designed, on the back of a fag packet, a livestock crossing that put the animals over the top of the people. With a great design team and contractor in place, we built the crossing in record time and had it in place for the Show. So, my best moment was when the first Clydesdale horse passed over the top of an amazed crowd below and we knew we had succeeded and done it in style. The tunnel below is now kitted out with LEDs and we had some excellent creative from a local graffiti artist who has helped us create a spectacle in the middle of the Showground. A huge success! Is Scotland the Perfect Stage?

It really is. Scotland, and in particular Glasgow, has invested incredibly well in recent years to establish itself as a safe pair of hands for any event. Our wee country has the beauty, history and people to add a touch of uniqueness to any concept, and it is complimented by modern facilities and a robust bank of professionals with the required experience to deliver them. Our global reputation continues to grow, however it is essential that government and local authorities continue to fund and support the growth of this exciting and vibrant industry.


Profile for Canongate Communications

EventsBase November 2016 issue  

EventsBase November 2016 issue