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Friday, February 25, 2011

CONFEX 2011 - A view from Scotland


VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit is set to showcase exciting new developments at Confex 2011.  This year will see many venues including Stirling Castle and National Museums Scotland unveil extensive redevelopments and Confex is the place to find out how Scotland can offer unrivalled conference venues and facilities.

Visitors to the VisitScotland stand will have the opportunity to test their putting prowess with the assistance of a golfing professional and be in with a chance of winning an overnight stay for two at Gleneagles. They can also savour a taste of Scottish hospitality with food courtesy of Historic Scotland.

With so much going on north of the border, here’s a taste of what’s happening with some of the organisations on the VisitScotland stand …

Aberdeen Convention Bureau
Aberdeen is in the midst of an exciting new period of development which is transforming the hotel, retail and sports and leisure sectors.  New hotels include a Park Inn by Radisson in the heart of Aberdeen with 184 bedrooms, The Rox - a stunning new four star city centre hotel combining contemporary and classical features and the Hotel Ibis as part of the £32 million City Wharf development. 

Golf is very much to the fore, as Aberdeen prepares to host the 2011 Walker Cup in September.  Outside the city work has started on the five-star, £1 billion Trump International Golf Links.  This will include two golf courses, a 450-room luxury hotel and conference centre.  With the extension of Aberdeen Airport due for completion by summer 2012 the city is set to attract more visitors from a range of destinations making it even more attractive to large conferences and meetings.

Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa
Exhibiting alongside the Aberdeen Convention Bureau, the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House has been given a major facelift. The £200,000 transformation of its ballroom, complete with modern and contemporary new furnishings, really gives the ballroom an up-to-date feel; ideal as a venue for corporate meetings and events.  Once a 19th-century mansion house, the hotel is situated in quiet countryside making it an ideal location to have a meeting or event outside the city and to take in the local beauty.

The Gleneagles Hotel
Named ‘Best UK Incentive Hotel’ in the prestigious Conference & Incentive Travel Magazine Hot List 2010, the Gleneagles Hotel is currently undergoing a major refurbishment of the famous Dormy Clubhouse.  The Perthshire resort will launch the Clubhouse Bar and Grill following a £2.5 million investment in early April. This is part of an ongoing development programme for Gleneagles ensuring that the facilities remain at the forefront of the luxury hotel industry. 

Edinburgh Conference Centre at Heriot-Watt University
Located in the heart of Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh woodland campus, the Edinburgh Conference Centre (ECC) is an all year round facility dedicated to servicing a wide range of events including international conferences and exhibitions.  The Centre recently invested in cutting edge technology to allow conference delegates to better interact with one another.  The new technology called ‘Nobo Kapture’ enables notes and ideas written on a digital flipchart pad to be instantly captured on a computer and shared via email in seconds. In addition to this technology, the innovative voting system available at the Centre allows hosts to interact with their delegates by asking questions and conducting opinion polls and surveys. The ECC utilises some of the world’s most advanced audio visual and video conferencing technology allowing companies to get the most from their corporate events and meetings.

Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland is nearing completion of a £12 million project to return the Royal Palace at Stirling Castle, built within the castle walls by James V, to how it may have looked in the mid-16th century. From June 2011 corporate guests will be able to entertain like kings and queens with a reception in the royal apartments of the Castle’s Renaissance Palace.   The newly refurbished Queen Anne Room and the Jacobite Room at Edinburgh Castle also offer flexible venues for a variety of events.

National Museums Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland in the centre of Edinburgh’s old town is undergoing a £46 million redevelopment of the Victorian heart of the building. This inspirational venue is an impressive contemporary sandstone structure connecting with the elegant grandeur of Victorian architecture.  When the National Museum of Scotland fully re-opens in 2011, facilities for hosting special exhibitions, events, receptions, dinners and conferences will be better than ever. The Grand Gallery will have the capacity for 850 guests for formal dining and up to 1500 guests for receptions.

Prestige Scotland
Prestige Scotland, which provides corporate event hospitality, meeting, conference and event venues throughout Scotland, has had cause to celebrate by winning several awards recently.  One of their venues, The John Hope Gateway Centre at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), which opened in 2009, won the silver award for Best Hotel or Venue in the UK for Under 250 People at the Eventia awards in London.   Prestige Scotland offers total logistical and design support services for Scottish events, meetings and hospitality of all types.   A varied and unique Scottish venue portfolio can provide the backdrop for all types of event, from private dining in a historic Scottish venue such as Blair Castle in Perthshire, to match-day hospitality for 4,000 people at Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow.

Glasgow Science Centre
As a unique corporate events venue, Glasgow Science Centre has recently had plenty to celebrate.  In 2010, the Centre’s Corporate Events team scooped a coveted Scottish Thistle Award for Business Tourism for their Christmas Party product.  Recent events have included the Scottish Fashion Awards, the Scottish Labour Party conference and the launch in Glasgow of the Alpha Romeo Giulietta series.

2011 is Glasgow Science Centre’s 10th anniversary and to mark the occasion the Events team has created a series of four events that will link business, current affairs, sport, science and technology.  The ‘Events by Glasgow Science Centre’ series will launch on 19th May with ‘A Question of Science’. The innovative dinner and quiz is an opportunity to celebrate science and will be hosted by Professor Brian Cox OBE.

Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau
The Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC) and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) will showcase the first venue support of its kind, known as ‘The Glasgow Model’ at this year’s International Confex. The revolutionary initiative will share event organisers’ pain and gain and is a collaboration between GCMB and the SECC. ‘The Glasgow Model’ has been developed in consultation with world leading professional conference organisers and is a pioneering business model that benefits both the destination and the client, offering an entrepreneurial approach to sharing the risk with those holding large scale events.

VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit will be available at Confex to offer a warm welcome, their expertise and to host a VIP drinks reception from 3pm – 5.30pm on Wednesday, 2nd March.

Commenting on this year’s Confex, Head of VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit, Neil Brownlee, said: “Scotland is renowned for its warm welcome and personality, and only here will you discover top of the range exclusive use venues, hotels and purpose built conference centres. This year we are proud to be celebrating the commitment through product investment to the success of business tourism in Scotland. From the historic to the up-and-coming, there is a special venue for every budget and every event, whether a large conference or a more intimate drinks reception.”

Scottish partners exhibiting on the VisitScotland stand at International Confex:

Aberdeen Convention Bureau 
Ardoe House Hotel & Spa, Aberdeen
Edinburgh Conference Centre 
Andrew Burnet 
Prestige Scotland 
Edinburgh International Conference Centre 
Glasgow City Marketing Bureau 
National Museums Scotland 
The Dome 
Edinburgh First - Edinburgh University 
Historic Scotland  
SECC 
Northern Networking Events Ltd 
Glasgow Science Centre 
The Gleneagles Hotel

Further advice and inspiration on other corporate venues in Scotland can be found at www.conventionscotland.com/venues.
For more information on Confex, please go to www.international-confex.com