In April 2019, Unique Venues of London exhibited at Visit Britain’s Meet GB. The occasion offered a perfect insight into how the capital maintains its sparkle and remains a destination of choice for business travellers. Here managing director Lisa Hatswell, who represented the association at the event, offers her thoughts on the experience.
London has long been recognised as a global business hub, a diverse melting post where culture and commerce mix, creating a combination celebrated across the world.
Despite the uncertainty, and negativity, which Brexit has brought with it, the Capital’s appeal endures, continuing to attract business tourists from every continent.
I represented Unique Venues of London at Visit Britain’s Meet GB, a flagship MICE event which took place in Windsor, Berkshire. I met with over 50 buyers and bookers from North America, Canada and Europe.
Having been somewhat apprehensive over what I would hear from this audience, given the political and economic turbulence, I was surprised and reassured to find they were sanguine and enthusiastic about the UK, and in particularly London, as a leading meetings and events destination.
From a venue's perspective one aspect they highlighted in particular, which they felt set the city apart from others, was the sheer variety of options available. To me, this brings to mind the ability for an agent to book multi venue conferences, to an intimate townhouse dining room for a special dinner with a select group of delegates.
But that’s not all. Most highlighted the wealth of cultural activities on offer, renowned landmarks, a plethora of world famous restaurants, an abundance of centrally located hotels and plenty of green space; a city in which you can work hard and play hard.
It was a refreshingly positive event in these times and an affirmation that there are reasons for the UK meetings and events market to be cheerful.
A fresh report into the value which the MICE sector brings to the economy is currently being researched. However, BVEP’s last evaluation indicated that we are collectively worth over £18 billion. Not an insubstantial figure. To offer some context, last year our 87-strong membership turned over £95 million.
Furthermore, business tourism in the UK will no doubt benefit from the Government’s intention to agree to a landmark tourism deal. Aside from driving major economic growth, the benefits are manifold, with the potential to boost productivity, improve skills and increase employment opportunities.
It will also help us better utilise existing capacities and attract more business visitors. Plans are still in development so I await the announcement of the final deal with keen interest. 
Of course, uncertain times will have an impact on events, but we have found key sectors have remained resilient.
It might be a tougher landscape, but we are flexible and experienced to deal with any changes.
Meet GB gave an indication that we are on the right course. Long may that continue!