Convention planners will find more facilities and more city support as legacies of London's 2012 Olympic Games.
As London builds excitement and facilities for the 2012 Olympic Games, the city recognizes the long-term value of its Olympics investments for the international meetings market.
“Historically, organizers of international conventions have shown some reluctance to stage events in London due to the lack of facilities and support from the city,” admits Anna Golden, commercial director for Earls Court & Olympia Venues, which will host the Olympic volleyball. “The more high-profile events that we stage in London the greater its profile as a world-class business destination. Simply playing host to the greatest event on Earth will create a legacy for our city and for the venues associated with the Games.”
As part of its Olympics initiatives, London is modernizing its transportation system, hotel inventory will increase to 120,000 rooms, and new facilities will remain for meetings and conventions. Many of London’s existing event venues will host Olympic tournaments, including ExCeL London, Lord’s The Home of Cricket, Wimbledon, and others.
England is also trying to maximize London’s Olympics status in its bid to host the FIFA World Cup for either 2018 or 2022.
London’s Resilience in Recession
London weathered the challenge of 2009’s worldwide downturn in business travel and tourism better than other international destinations through an increase in leisure and domestic travel. In fact, the number of overseas visitors to London was down only 4.6 percent in 2009 versus 2008. That’s good news because the combination of a stable hospitality industry and local commitments to business travel will build confidence with those who are making business destination choices. Business travel has historically accounted for about 30 percent of total travel revenue in London.
Who’s Crossing the Pond?
Here’s a sampling of U.S.-based organizations meeting in London in the new few years, according to Chloe Couchman, spokesperson for Visit London: the International Downtown Association, Washington, D.C., will host its world congress at London’s Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in June; the Society for Pediatric Radiology, Reston, Va., has booked its international conference for May 2011 at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel; the International Association of Women Judges, Washington, D.C., holds a bi-annual conference in May 2012 at the Church House Conference Centre in Westminster; and the International Communication Association, also based in Washington, brings its annual conference to London in June 2013.
Based in Chicago, Rob Hard is a freelance business travel writer and publisher of BusinessTravelDestinations.com, business travel views about international destinations, and the event planning guide for About.com. He is also founder of RH Communications Inc., a boutique firm that provides creative and printing solutions. Reach him at email@example.com.