A warm welcome to West Yorkshire

Leeds and West Yorkshire has seen a huge growth in meetings and events into the region over the last five years; particularly in meetings from the public sector.
    
According to the latest independent research on the meetings and events industry in West Yorkshire, the total expenditure by delegates amounted to £777 million from 5.79 million delegates; accounting for 56 per cent of all business visits to Yorkshire.
    
The figures come from the Yorkshire Business Tourism Research report, carried out by Yorkshire Forward, which forms part of the annual UK Events Markets Trends Survey (UKEMTS) research, a nationally recognised industry benchmark.

In the top five
Leeds has also been named in the top five meetings destinations in the UK for the 3rd year running. The British Meetings and Events Industry Survey 2009 (formerly the UK Conference Market Survey 2007) named Leeds as the 5th most popular choice for corporate meetings ahead of strong competition from cities such as Glasgow, Newcastle-Gateshead and Nottingham. The survey researches the buying habits and preferences of over 600 conference organisers and is widely considered to be the most reliable benchmark in the industry.
    
Nicola Lockwood, head of Conference Leeds, the super-convention bureau for Leeds and West Yorkshire, said: “We are delighted with these figures. We had a really busy year in 2009 and despite the recession, 2010 is shaping up to be our busiest year ever.”
    
She added: “There has been a huge growth in hotels and meeting venues in the city over the last five years, we are delighted to be holding more and more public sector events. The choice of venues to suit all budgets, together with the support that Conference Leeds offers to organisers has put us in the top five of meetings destinations in the UK.”

A quality destination
The destination has also raised its games in the quality and standard of venues on offer – over 40 venues have achieved the coveted Meetings Industry Association (MIA) AIM Higher Accreditation, the highest number of accredited venues for any region outside of London. Two of the venues have been awarded the coveted GOLD star award – Weetwood Hall Hotel and Conference Centre and the Royal Armouries International.
    
The MIA’s AIM scheme is endorsed by Visit Britain, the national tourism body which is encouraging all meetings venues in England to become AIM accredited to provide assurance to conference and event organisers that venues can demonstrate consistently high meetings standards and have met stringent assessment criteria.
    
Venues in the Leeds and West Yorkshire area have worked with Conference Leeds (the Convention Bureau for Leeds and West Yorkshire) to achieve the status and give the area a competitive edge in the meetings industry.

Surge in developments
The success of Leeds and West Yorkshire as a conference desination is partly due to the surge in development offering a great choice of meeting venues at a price to suit most budgets.
    
The pace of development continued throughout 2009 with the opening of high profile venue The Rose Bowl; Leeds Metropolitan University’s state of the art conferencing facility. The dramatic signature glass five-storey facility, situated behind the Civic Hall in the heart of the city’s Civic Quarter offers dedicated conference and events space for a wide range of events for up to 600 delegates.
    
Hotel development continued to grow too, with the new City Inn opening its doors to guests. Part of the new Leeds Granary Wharf regeneration project, City Inn is located adjacent to Leeds train station and next to the canal. With 333 bedrooms and a 360 degree panoramic view of Leeds from its spectacular Sky Lounge 13 floors up, the hotel promises to be a great addition to Leed’s conference venues.

University conferencing
Development continues into 2010. The University of Leeds’ state-of-the-art on campus accommodation is proving popular amongst conference organisers with over 20,000 bed nights sold to date, even though it doesn’t open until next year. The eagerly anticipated £27.1 million Storm Jameson Court with 459-bedrooms opens to delegates in June 2011.
    
Richard Handscombe, head of sales and marketing for the University of Leeds conferencing, events and accommodation, said: “We’re delighted with the amount of interest that Storm Jameson Court has received from conference organisers. The impressive building, which for the first time enables us to offer en-suite rooms at the heart of the campus, helps to move us into the premier division of UK conference venues and is set to rival anything in British higher education.”
    
Work began this year too on The Queens Hotel exciting new 8th floor project. In the city centre and adjacent to the railway station, The Queens is a 4-star standard hotel proud of its Art Deco Heritage. Its existing 217 stylish bedrooms and 16 flexible conference spaces are being supplemented by an exclusive QClub Floor.
    
With nearly half a million pounds being invested in the redevelopment, the new QClub Floor will incorporate 18 executive guest rooms and suites. Guests will enjoy exclusive access to the executive lounge, complete with complimentary bar, first-class meeting space and a dedicated concierge as well as unrivalled views of Leeds’ skyline. QClub is set to launch later this spring.
    
Award winning Rudding Park Hotel near Harrogate is also undergoing development in 2010. Independently owned luxury country house hotel has recently been named ‘Number One Hotel in the UK’ in the 2010 TripAdvisor® Travelers’ Choice Awards which honour the world’s finest hotels. Work began this month to extend a further 34 bedrooms and additional leisure facilities to the hotel; the building programme will be completed by November next year.
    
Simon Mackaness, chairman of Rudding Park, commented: “At Rudding Park we strive to provide our guests with the best possible facilities and service. The creation of our new bedroom wing will provide a further 34 bedrooms, as well as a small spa and gym, and will further enhance our award winning property by providing the luxury facilities our guests are seeking. We are delighted to be working with a local team of advisers and contractors to build this extension.”

Bradford – celebrating culture

Bradford is establishing itself as a meetings destination with a difference. With a £2 billion re-generation plan underway creating a new look City centre, a newly acclaimed accolade as Unesco’s first “City of Film” and a celebration of its diverse culture; Bradford is making its mark on the meetings industry.
    
Bradford is shaping itself into a dynamic, exciting new destination offering visitors an unusual destination with great value; where business tourism features highly on the city’s priorities.

Venues with a difference

Bradford hotels and venues are diverse and can offer meeting venues and accommodation to suit most tastes and budgets; from stylish boutique-style hotels such as the Great Victoria to the 2,000 capacity ALCC – West Yorkshire’s largest conference venue.
    
The Great Victoria, built in 1867 and originally a railway hotel, is a landmark Victorian building which over the years, has been a favourite haunt for wealthy merchants, stars of the stage, rock & pop and political leaders. Today it is one of the most stylish and contemporary hotels in Bradford with 70 super chic, individually styled luxury bedrooms and suites, the ever popular Corniche Restaurant & Grill and the RBar. The fourth floor is the ultimate in luxury loft living in a city hotel, with 13 loft style bedrooms and suites with rich, opulent interiors created by Browning and Baize.
    
Close by, the Midland Hotel offers a stunning architectural backdrop too. Built between 1885 and 1890 by the Midland Railway Company, the hotel was a showpiece for the railway company’s northern operations, and is of particular architectural interest, with some of the finest Victorian interiors in the city, including the Victorian Passageway with its floor to ceiling Burmantoff tiles. Today sees a hotel that has undergone a transformation, with investment to all areas of the building, restoring it to its original greatness; with magnificent public areas and extensive meeting facilities.
    
In contrast the modern Hilton Hotel in the city centre offers a wide choice of purpose built meeting rooms, international dining in the City 3 Restaurant and internet connections in all 120 bedrooms.

The City of Film
Named in summer 2009 as the world’s first “City of Film” Bradford has been recognised for its continuining contribution to the world of film, an accolade that can be appreciated by visitors to the National Media Museum in the heart of the city.

The National Media Museum offers a top-quality corporate experience with five floors of spectacular galleries, two auditoria and the IMAX ® experience – all housed within a magnificent glazed frontage. The events team are on hand for everything from conferences in the auditoria to canapé receptions, intimate dinners in the museum galleries or even team building to create a TV programme in the museums very own working TV studio.
    
Close to the city centre but with a real get-away-from-it-all feel there is a wide range of country hotels and venues such as Marriott Hollins Hall Hotel, a magnificent Victorian country home, beautifully modernised with lots of meeting space, wonderful views and an 18-hole golf course; and modern, 800 seat Cedar Court Hotel offering excellent road access conveniently located just off the M606 and M62.

Redevelopment plans
The city has unveiled an ambitious new “master plan” which includes the showpiece City Park Project. Work has started on a 70 week build to redevelop the City Centre and City Hall; creating stunning water features, Europe’s largest, in the heart of the city. Part of the plans includes the development of a new 120 bedroomed Jurys Inn for the city.
    
Based on a unique ‘park in the city’ concept, this vision for Bradford is designed to change people’s perceptions of living, working and playing in the city centre. Known as ‘The Bowl’ this area of the centre will play host to an innovative mirror pool. This tranquil body of water can be drained quickly to create a large space for public events such as ice-skating, outdoor theatre and art installations.
    
Complementing the mirror pool in the Bowl will be a dynamic Business Forest office park, the Interchange transport hub and an enlarged and enhanced Exchange Square Concert Hall (St George’s Hall).
    
The area in the centre is quickly becoming a cultural focal point with a selection of cafes, restaurants and bars framing City Hall. Culturally Bradford’s diversity is celebrated in a host of options for entertaining. Recognised nationally as home to some of the UK’s finest Asian cuisine, Bradford also offers country pubs, highly regarded local ales and the spectacular Edwardian Theatre – the Alhambra.
    
Bradford celebrates its culture through special events such as the Midland Hotel’s taste of Asia weekends where guests are invited to learn more about traditional Asian customs, visit a sacred religious site, experience Bollywood entertainment and learn the secrets of creating one of the most popular food dishes in the UK, curry, demonstrated by celebrity chef Gita Mistry.
    
Further afield, yet perfect for partner or social programme visits, is the delightful World Heritage Village of Saltaire, at the heart of which is Salt’s Mill, a colossal old mill building now home to the one of the largest David Hockney collections in the world. A little further afield is the literary village of Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters and a fantastic spot to absorb the atmosphere of the moors.

Great value for money
One of Bradford’s most appealing features for meetings and events in the current economic climate is its value for money. Research has showed that Bradford venues day delegate rates and 24 hour rates are below the national average, whilst still retaining the high standard of service offered by Yorkshire venues.
    
For example Bradford hotels such as The Midland and Cedar Court offer day delegate rates (ddr) from as little as £24 and 24-hour rates from just £99, compared to national averages of £43 and £123 ddr and 24-hour rate.

Access to the area

Access has always been good to Bradford and West Yorkshire, sitting as it does at the heart of the M1 and M62 motorway network; but recent improvements have led to even greater choices of how to get to the destination. Trains run regularly between Bradford and London with a journey time of approximately three hours and during peak times a half hourly service operates. Leeds Bradford International Airport also flies to over 40 British and European destinations including London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf and Paris.
    
The rapidly expanding airport has recently announced a £70 million investment plan, over the next five years which will enhance the exisiting facilities and support the airports expanding flight programme.

Support services
Conference Leeds provides a Convention Bureau for Bradford ad West Yorkshire – a team of dedicated professionals who are on hand to provide friendly advice to help conference organisers manage an event every step of the way. From an initial enquiry through to post event follow up – the team offer a range of free services to make event planning as easy as possible. Services include:

  • An impartial venue finding and booking service, giving access to over 200 venues across West Yorkshire, the free venue finding service will provide organisers with full accurate event costings including the main venue, accommodation and support services
  • Accommodation booking. Easy to book accommodation for delegates – with preferential rates from venues
  • Site visits. The Conference Leeds team are happy to organise and host a tour of potential venues and accommodation
  • Assistance with sourcing experienced providers of transport, technical equipment, and entertainment 
  • Travel advice
  • Advice on social programmes and partner activities
  • Provision of delegate information packs.

For more information
Tel: 0113 2206351
E-mail: info@conference-leeds.com
Web: www.conference-leeds.com

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