With its massive 818 conference hotels, over 100000 hotel rooms, and new event spaces opening everyday, London is the city to be. Just like Dublin, London is the EMEA headquarters for many of the global tech giants and, as such, the demand for event space in these cities is huge. With the eyes of the international events market on London, Cogs & Marvel have put together a guide marking the major pitfalls planners need to be aware of when looking to host an event in the UK capital.
The Brexit Battle – what you need to know
The UK is still in a grey area regarding their recent departure from the EU, one which they’re not likely to resolve for some time. For international event planners, the landscape for UK events is changing. The fall in the Sterling has maximised buying power for the Euro, Dollar, and other international markets, making the 2016/17 season a profitable one for events traveling from the US into London. Best practice? With the market fluctuating for the foreseeable future, get your costs quoted in Dollars so you know exactly where you stand. The implications the referendum will have on travel within Europe has yet to be determined; for roadshows traveling between European cities export taxes may need to be considered.
Venues – get your dates locked in
London boasts an incredible variety of event spaces, with over 1000 purpose-built event venues and numerous restaurants which can be booked privately for events. Whether you’re looking for historical venues, unique settings bursting with character, or blank canvas spaces to make your own, there is no lack of choice. The demand for venue space, particularly for large scale conferences, is high: as a guideline, start looking for space 8-10 months out from the event to secure your preferred dates and be mindful that association conferences book up the large convention centres up to 6 years in advance. Partner with local agencies who have built relationships with venues for greater buying power. For inspiration, check out our Recommends Series (working title): London where we explore some of our favourite London spaces.
Travel – getting to London
With over 350 and growing direct flight routes into the city’s five international airports, London is the world’s most connected city. Each airport is serviced by excellent rail and bus routes into central London, allowing for hassle-free access to your conference or event. London is connected to mainland Europe by the Eurostar rail line, stopping in both Paris and Brussels which act as connection hubs to all major European cities. Visas are required to enter the UK for non-EU residents, which must be secured before you travel. For help in getting your travel documents in line check out the US Passports and International Travel guide to the UK.
Transfers – getting around
As of 2016, there are a recorded 8.5 million people living and working in London which makes congestion in Central London a constant struggle. The city has a well-developed public transport system to keep driving to a minimum; 11 rail lines connect on the city’s underground network, the swiftest way to travel for individuals in London. Private car services are popular; booked in advance it can be the easiest way to move delegates in small numbers. Coaching can be arranged for larger groups but, with parking restrictions in place across the city, it is venue dependent.
Accommodation – where to rest your head
The world’s largest hotel chains all have properties in London: Intercontinental, Hilton, and Marriott each have multiple properties in boroughs across the city. For hotels with high delegate volume, the city has a number of 1000+ bedroom properties for which group rates can be arranged, with the larger stadium venues attracting hotels to fill their needs. London is also home to some spectacular boutique hotels which can provide a unique experience for delegates or conference VIPs, offering London charm and facilities for private boardroom meetings. Transfers, as we mentioned, can be challenging so look to hotels within walking distance of your venue first. Be conscious of your conference dates; London is a corporate city Monday to Thursday but tourists and holidaymakers will be vying for your bedrooms Friday to Sunday. London is a major culture capital, with a calendar filled with music, sport, and fashion events throughout the year which will drive occupancy rates and costs so look ahead when planning your dates. Across the board, expect to pay high prices as accommodation in London is expensive and books up well in advance.
At Cogs & Marvel, we believe that every time you get a group of people together, whether they be staff, customers, partners or consumers, you have an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with you. You have an opportunity to turn passive admirers into an army of advocates for your corporate brand. Cogs & Marvel is an event agency that creates brand experiences to delight in the moment and inspire lasting change.
Want to inspire change in your audience? Get in touch with the Cogs & Marvel team.