Tracy Halliwell
Tracy Halliwell MBE, Director of Business Tourism & Major Events at London & Partners

“Our senses are proven to have a direct impact on memorability and engagement level, and by stimulating the five senses of taste, smell, sight, sound and touch, we can create a much more vivid and interesting experience for delegates.”

Tracy Halliwell

TRACY HALLIWELL, Director of Business Tourism & Major Events, London & Partners

Director of Business Tourism and Major Events, Tracy joined London & Partners from Visit London, the capital’s global marketing organisation. At London & Partners, Tracy heads up London’s Convention Bureau, managing the event solutions team and a proactive global sales team focused on attracting discretionary business, cultural & sporting events to the capital. At the same time Tracy works with city stakeholders to develop and build London’s business and major events tourism offering.

Q: What are the dynamics driving the meetings industry?

The events and meetings world is an ever-changing industry subject to many external pressures. Over recent years, clients have faced shrinking budgets and have the challenge of delivering more for (and with) less.

London & Partners, the official convention bureau for the city, offers a free service to help unlock the city for event professionals and clients, identifying the best venues for the budgets available. This means working with trusted partners, while also using the wide variety of venues and suppliers at our disposal. With significant numbers of hotels and venues in the pipeline for the next three years, there is no doubt that London will continue to stay competitive, offering a diverse range of options to events professionals.

The changing nature of delegate demographics have also presented additional challenges for meeting planners. The millennials, or Generation Y, have different needs and higher expectations than older attendees. This means that industry professionals need to use original event activations to set themselves apart from their competitors and live up to what their delegates want. Part of the solution lies in the use of new technologies and these are increasingly being incorporated in events, with event suppliers also diversifying their offer.

London’s most recent campaign, “Love the Event & Love the Experience” focuses on how it has become a necessity for event professionals to think more creatively. One major, and often overlooked, aspect of events is our senses. A recent study from London & Partners and CWT Meetings & Events shows that the events industry is not using sensory experiences to their full potential. The survey of more than 600 event organisers revealed that 78 per cent believe multi-sensory events deliver more memorable and creative experiences for event attendees, while over three-quarters of those surveyed agree that the senses should be increasingly incorporated into events in order to deliver greater engagement among attendees. Our senses are proven to have a direct impact on memorability and engagement level, and by stimulating the five senses of taste, smell, sight, sound and touch, we can create a much more vivid and interesting experience for delegates.

Q: Why is the meetings industry important?

The meetings and events industry can have a profound impact on a city.

Earlier this year, London welcomed the European Society of Cardiology congress at London’s ExCeL. This was their most successful annual congress to date, with over 32,700 (32,773) delegates participating and the event generating £100m economic benefit for the city.

Events such as these raise the profile of a destination and can in turn create and support jobs, not only in the meetings industry but along the whole supply chain.

Events can also shine a spotlight on some of a city’s strengths. London Technology Week, launched two years ago, acted as a seal of approval from the industry and allowed us to showcase London’s credentials in this growing sector. The event not only underlines London’s strengths in technology, it helps position the city as an even more attractive destination for the tech industry.

Q: How can we make the meetings industry more effective?

The MICE sector must keep innovating and reinventing itself if it is to keep its edge and fit the ever-evolving needs of delegates. This also means keeping in touch with prospective audiences to better understand their profiles and needs.

It is also important for the industry to invest in building the skills of its workforce to make sure that event professionals are appropriately equipped to perform to the best of their ability and can learn about the latest industry innovations and insights. Apprenticeships are also a great way to give future event planners the skills they need to go on to a successful career in the industry.

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