Manchester targets £1.2 billion in conference business

Marketing Manchester has launched a new strategy, focused on growing the city’s existing business tourism value of £862 million by 40%, adding an additional £345 million over five years.

Over the last 10 years, Manchester has increased its conference value and volume by 50% and the Greater Manchester Business Tourism Strategy now aims to grow the total conference value again to £1.2 billion by 2025.

The strategy launched on Thursday 13 June, to an audience of Marketing Manchester members at Manchester Central. It calls on partners across Greater Manchester to seize the opportunity that business tourism presents and outlines four key pillars of delivery: attracting more conferences to the city, collaboration, delivering a ‘world class delegate welcome’, and the overall development of business tourism product.

Right now, Greater Manchester is in the midst of what seems like a new era for tourism: the city’s hotels continue to grow in number; there are huge levels of investment in cultural projects; more major sporting and cultural events taking place; and an increase in direct routes to Manchester Airport from key markets such as the United States, China, India and Middle East.

Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: “When we set out to develop a new business tourism strategy we did so in collaboration with over 70 partners across Greater Manchester, and in launching it we have been very clear that its success will depend on our members, stakeholders and the wider region collectively working in partnership with us to achieve what it sets out.

“Manchester has done well over the last ten years to increase its conference value and volume by 50%, but this new strategy is decisively ambitious and aims to push Greater Manchester forward again to achieve another 40% by 2025, taking the total value of business tourism up to £1.2 billion.

“It’s clear that Greater Manchester is on the cusp of an exciting new era in a leisure tourism capacity, but as this strategy outlines, the opportunity to grow business tourism is undoubtably ready for us to seize and I am confident that with renewed focus, our ambitions for the sector will be realised.”

Conference and business events hosted within Greater Manchester during 2017 were worth £862 million to the economy, up from £810 million in 2015. The sector supports over 35,000 jobs, with additional jobs being supported by those extending, or returning, for leisure purposes.

The sector contributes heavily to improving the region’s image: by bringing visitors who wouldn’t normally have considered Manchester; by discussing world leading innovations and topics; and by generating global media coverage. The sector also promotes the region’s key sectors such as life sciences and advanced materials, as well as the world leading experts who work and research at Greater Manchester’s universities.

At the event on 13 June the sector was also acknowledged as an increasingly important area of focus in terms of international tourism as Robin Johnson, director at VisitBritain/VisitEngland, added: “Overseas visitors attending business events in the UK are valuable to our economy, spending more than one and a half-times what the average inbound visitor spends during their stay.

“VisitBritain is committed to growing the business events sector, working with local destinations as well as internationally to highlight all the UK has to offer, from our world-leading credentials in business, research and innovation to our first-class convention centres, exclusive incentive travel programmes and quality infrastructure.”

Manchester Central – new study reveals value of business events

The host of the strategy launch on 13 June, Manchester Central, is the city’s international convention centre.

A new piece of research conducted by The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has revealed that the iconic venue generates on average £150 million for the local economy each year. The study analysed direct spending at the venue, direct spend outside the venue on accommodation and leisure activities and indirect and induced impacts or a ‘multiplier’ effect.

Key findings from the study:
– For every £1 spent with the venue, £5 is spent in the wider city
– Nearly 60% of supplier expenditure is retained within Greater Manchester
– 98% of visitors and exhibitors said the event attended was the primary reason for visiting the city
– 90% of visitors and exhibitors said they would return to Manchester

Shaun Hinds, CEO of Manchester Central said: “As the convention centre in the heart of the city, we play a vital role in helping connect people, ideas and business. We’re an ambitious venue in an ambitious city, and whilst we’re delighted to see the impact that our business is currently bringing to Manchester, we know that we have the potential to do more.

“In an increasingly competitive market, we need to work even harder to ensure we’re able to attract world-leading events that not only deliver maximum return for our economy but help keep the spotlight firmly on Manchester as a leading global destination for business. Over the coming months and years, we’ll continue to explore ways in which we can evolve and grow, creating even more value and long-lasting impacts for our great city.”