AN IRRESISTIBLE PASSION FOR MEETINGS
One of the most celebrated cities in Europe is a go-to destination for many tourists who are convinced by its blend of tradition and cosmopolitanism. Its cobblestone streets are always full of tourist groups viewing stores with kilts, Scottish football jerseys, butter-based biscuits (the famous shortbread) and, of course, the traditional whisky. Its size, the never-ending green areas and the many events happening in the city all contribute to the fact that Edinburgh has a special soul. The city has been attracting visitors and congress organisers from all around the world for a long time now.
Most congress guests come to Edinburgh via the international airport that is well connected with Europe and the major hubs in the United States and in the Middle East. Forty airlines with 120 direct flights link the city to the world. An important element of the first impression upon arrival in the city is the Edinburgh tram, which began operating in 2014. I have to admit that it is difficult to find anywhere else in Europe such a stylish form of transport to take visitors to the city centre. The cleanliness, comfort, friendly staff and fast, free wi-fi all make sure that a half hour ride to the town passes in the blink of an eye.
The festival capital of Europe
The summers in Edinburgh revolve around the looming Edinburgh International Festival that consists of more than 1,000 events. This international festival in the Scottish capital has been running since 1957 and invites visitors to attend the opera, theatre, music and dance performances, as well as comedy and many other artistic installations. An integral part of the event is the Fringe Festival, which has more than 3,200 events across 294 venues, which altogether makes it the largest arts festival in the world. The heritage of the festival taking place has a remarkable potential for the city and event organisers are taking good advantage of that. The city lives and breathes event organisers, which is a kind of cultural foundation for the development of all other kinds of events.
The city of innovation and start-ups
In recent years Edinburgh has become the centre of a lively start-up scene. The foundation for the development of start-ups is a high quality education system in the city that annually attracts almost 80,000 students. Also, as a result of the skilled labour force companies such as Amazon, Skyscanner and Rockstar North have opened their headquarters in the city. A technological cluster has been formed which promotes the formation of new businesses. An example of a successful company is Skyscanner, which was created in 2003 and is today among the world’s most visited web sites for flight bookings. They have been followed by many other start-ups and the list just goes on and on. A lively start-up scene is also the engine for the many events that take place in the new format and represent the basis for the future development of the meetings industry.
The famous Royal Mile connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House. The palace is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland. The street is awash with stories and is lively and wide enough to enable the easy passage of congress groups. This mile has been witness to almost the entire history of Edinburgh and in its vicinity can be found probably the highest concentration of dedicated venues in Europe. Listing all of them would take up too much space, so the most interesting that attracted our attention made the top selection:
- The Caves is a truly unique venue that makes up the sub-structure of the 18th Century South Bridge. There is no venue more Edinburgh than the Caves, or more Scottish, especially if you consider there was once so much whisky stored here that it became known as “Whisky Row”.
- The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has a unique blend of modern and historic rooms providing the perfect, flexible surroundings for conferences, meetings or events.
- The Dynamic Earth is one of the leading conference and gala dinner venues. With its magnificent translucent roof and glass walls, the dramatic setting of the Stratosphere will ensure your event is unique and, above all, memorable.
- The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the world’s most famous vessels, and one of the most beautiful. Britannia served the Royal Family for over forty years and sailed over one million miles on 968 official visits. Berthed in the historic port of Leith, she is now one of the world’s most prestigious corporate event venues.
EICC – Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Edinburgh acquired its main convention centre, which is located in the city centre close to the main tourist attractions, in 1955. The centre annually hosts more than 200,000 congress guests. In 2013 they expanded the venue and added a technological gem – a flexible hall equipped with movable scaffolding, which can change the room from an auditorium space to an accompanying exhibition space in just a few minutes. After twenty years the centre is still in excellent condition, as it has been carefully maintained. The surrounding area is filled with numerous hotels of all categories, sufficient for the current needs of this congress city. The EICC won the industry award for ‘Best Conference Venue for over 900 Delegates’ at the 7th Annual Conference Awards. Scotland’s leading conference venue beat off competition from some of the world’s top Venues – Including the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and ExCeL London, to land the award for the first time.
Congress Vox Populi
Edinburgh Convention is the key organisation that provides free professional and impartial information about the city as a congress destination and brings together 260 members that collaborate expertly. The network of the CVB’s members includes the entire infrastructure and reflects the maturity of the destination.
Its success can be confirmed by an ambassador programme that has been active for 20 years and now connects over 500 congress ambassadors. Thanks to the programme, 1,348 events attended by 528,605 participants have been brought to the city. Edinburgh boasts the highest number of international association meetings outside of London, according to ICCA statistics.
It is important to emphasize that Edinburgh is a founding member of the World Best Cities Global Alliance, which brings together the world’s best congress destinations. A fun fact is that Edinburgh is the only city from United Kingdom in the association.
The development in the hotel scene has been very dynamic and most of the hotels also offer congress facilities. The city has over 2,000 accommodation facilities with more than 20,000 rooms, of which more than half are hotel rooms, and new hotels are being opened all the time to meet need. Most of them record excellent occupancy rates, higher than 80.5%. The revenue per available room is also strong, according to STR Global amounting to £69.62. All of the major international hotel chains are present in the city with one or more hotels. Compared to the average, the city has a higher share of hotels with 5 stars. This year the city will welcome an additional 1,500 new hotel rooms and during the summer Hilton Carlton, Courtyard by Marriot, HUB by Premier Inn, Premier Inn and many other hotels were renovated.
Alongside the traditional congress hotel offer other individual facilities are very active in the field of congress tourism. Since 2015, the renovated Royal College of Surgeons offers three floors for organising events. This year the Royal College of Physicians was also renovated and the £8 million investment included the renovation of a central auditorium for 300 people. Listing all the possibilities would take up too much space, but these few examples are sufficiently classy to highlight the exceptional energy that is united in Edinburgh.
The water of life
It would of course be impolite to leave Scotland without learning a little bit more, even through direct engagement, about their whisky. When the British introduced a tax on whisky, the Scots began distilling it in the Scottish mountains. The distillers of the legendary Scottish drink voluntarily isolated themselves for centuries and found refuge in nature, from which they used to (and still do today) draw all the necessary ingredients to prepare this indigenous spirit. The most famous single malt, which is the purest and the best whisky, is matured in oak barrels for at least three years before being bottled. We recommend a visit to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, where your congress guests will be able learn more about the story of the water of life. As the world’s foremost malt whisky club, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society offers rare and exclusive single cask, single malt whiskies from 132 Distilleries. Private function suites can accommodate up to 50 guests.
About the Scots culinary offer
You can indulge in different culinary creations in a number of pubs, bars and restaurants, among which are four restaurants with Michelin stars. They may offer to serve you their traditional dish, haggis, which is meat and oatmeal in a sheep’s stomach, but don’t panic – you can order a vegetarian version if you need to.
You can also quench your thirst with a beer, but due to so many options it is quite hard to choose the one you might like to try first. If you just want a quick snack, great oatcakes are on offer that can be complemented by cheese, preferably cheddar. Do not forget the short bread, biscuits made of flour, butter and sugar: simple and divine, but also very filling. We recommend that you experience the culinary offer with Alan, the author of ‘Eat Walk Edinburgh’, which is a walking tour around the capital taking you through the history of the Old and New Towns with food and drink tasting stops along the way.
Scotland is a very special country and the Scots are special people, very genuine and honest but at the same time very courteous and polite. This is how we see the capital of the Scottish congress industry:
WHAT'S HOT IN 2017
QUALITY MEETINGS DESTINATION
5 – excellent meetings destination
4 – quality meetings destination
3 – reccommendable meetings destination
2 – average meetings destination
1 – so so
|EDINBURGH INDIVIDUAL GRADES 2016|
|Natural and cultural factors:||4.95|
|General and transport infrastructure:||4.58|
|Numbeo quality of life Index:||4.40|
|Global Peace Index:||3.14|
BEST INCENTIVE IDEA
COMPARISION WITH THE REGION
Edinburgh is a top convention destination, which is blessed with outstanding cultural and historical heritage. The destination is in its mature phase, with a fully-developed congress infrastructure and excellent destination management. Four universities and numerous centres of excellence in science and art related to the Edinburgh Science Triangle are a guarantee for further successful development of the destination. Congresses and events are a part of a scientific breakthrough and further development of the city, as it stimulates numerous multiplier effects. The key stakeholders in Edinburgh are aware of this and this message should also be transmitted as an example of best practice in new European destinations.
The strongest beer in the world
Scottish brewery BrewDog has reclaimed the world record for the strongest beer in history with a 55% alcohol beer, which it has named “The End of History.” Only 11 bottles were available. The company said the beer, which is stronger than whisky and vodka, should be consumed in spirit-sized measures.
SOME OF THE KEY CONFERENCES IN 2016
• SPIE 2016 Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation – 26 June – 1 July 2016, estimated 2000 delegates, generating an economic benefit of £4.8m (EICC)
• Arts Marketing Association – 12-14 July 2016, 600 delegates generating an economic benefit £928k (Royal College of Surgeons & Festival Theatre)
• SPIE Security + Defence and SPIE Remote Sensing 2016 – 25-29 Sept 2016, estimated 800 delegates, generating an economic benefit of £1.6m (EICC)
• Autism Europe – 16-18 Sep – estimated 1400 delegates, generating an economic benefit of £1.7m (EICC)
• Symposium of the International Ozone Commission – 4-9 Sept, estimated 600 delegates, generating an economic benefit £1.2m (EICC)
• Rehabilitation International Congress – 24-26 October, estimated 1,000 delegates.
PORRIDGE – A simple and wholesome dish made from boiled oatmeal. It is traditionally a breakfast meal that fills you up and keeps you going till lunch.True Scotsmen would argue that porridge should be cooked with salt and should not be a sweet dish.