Conference News June 2021 - Page 8

8 Association comment

HOW THE UK ’ S VENUE SECTOR IS PREPARING TO RETURN STRONGER

HBAA venue members Gareth Warnock , group sales director at De Vere , and Louisa Watson , director of marketing at Wyboston Lakes Resort , look towards recovery .
asting an eye back to March 2020 , when the Government pulled the plug on business events and gatherings of all kinds , many venues , conference centres and hotels had to close their doors , uncertain when they would reopen .
It was a challenging , new , unexpected experience . Yet , it sparked a wave of positive change , innovation , diversification , and strategic resilience which has underpinned the UK venue sector ’ s response to the pandemic and is now supporting its ability to build back better and stronger
Survival mode So how have managers of Hotel Booking Agent Association ( HBAA ) venue members adapted their businesses to survive ?
Some venues , such as Wyboston Lakes Resort , found a major lifeline through providing essential training for the NHS and other public services , while many others also supported the Government , being transformed into temporary hospitals , mass testing sites , vaccination centres and even courts .
Event venues have diversified in other interesting ways . Some have successfully marketed their rooms as flexible workspace solutions . As well as being a Nightingale Hospital , ExCeL focused on its examination business and filming contracts , hosting studio productions for NBC Universal , Sony Pictures , BBC Films and Netflix .
With elite sports allowed to continue , Loughborough University ’ s conference and events brand , Imago Venues , was able to provide hotel , meeting , and sporting facilities for long-established sports clientele . The events team at King ’ s College London , however , had to be cautious about external

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