Conferencing by the sea

As we draw towards the end of what those in the trade call conference season, many government related businesses will have attended or been actively involved in a conference or large meeting at some point over the last few months.
Conferences and meetings are big business, and for those on the planning side of things, they can also be a big headache; months of work culminating in one or more stressful days where everything needs to go right. However, annual research carried out by the Meetings Industry Association (MIA) has consistently shown the three main motivators of conference venue selection as being the same for the last five years: location, price and accessibility.
This is unsurprising and rational – if you’re organising an event you want to make it easy to get to, you want to put it in a place that people not only can travel to, but want to travel to. And naturally, you will have a budget with which to pick and choose.

Help for event planners

Additionally though, there is one thing an event organiser really desires, whether they’re organising a conference, large event, exhibition, or small meeting – help. There are professional conference organisers out there, there are also people who see event planning as a necessity they have to go through once, twice or (heaven forbid) three times a year. But whether seasoned professional or part time expert, you want help.
Enter the VisitBrighton Convention Bureau, we are a group of shy and retiring people, hidden away at the back of Brighton Town Hall, who on appearance seem to spend our time venue hopping around the city or just wondering the streets. On first glance we are city geeks with an unnatural and unexplainable desire to actually want to get involved in event organising. Take a second look and you will find we have a wealth of information, support, ideas and energy, and what is more, we provide our service for free.
It seems strange but we are people that are paid by our city to make your life easier. This is because Brighton wants your business; if you are bringing over 100 people into a city, we know they will most likely buy coffees, dine in restaurants, stay in hotels, and potentially come back with their families and children. For this reason alone the Convention Bureau exists and we are determined to make your organisations and delegates experience as enriching as possible whilst you are in the city.
Added to this, we make it our business to know Brighton better than anyone else. We have intricate knowledge of every venue, hotel, bar and restaurant, whether it’s been here for 400 years, or will be completed next summer.     We also know about every major event coming to the city and can help tie your conference in with local attractions, festivals or entertainment.
Of major importance, we can liaise with venues to get your delegates better deals on their accommodation, get you better deals on your venue, and maybe offer some added value in the form of a civic reception or delegate discounts that can be used in the many attractions, shops and bars throughout the city.
In Brighton, our Convention Bureau succeeds because we have this knowledge in abundance and, let’s face it, there are few cities that have as much going on as ours. This is a city that in the last few years has seen the addition of over 800 new hotel rooms to its already large and varied stock. It is a city that sees new restaurants opening on a weekly basis, where venues are being renovated and improved, with new event spaces opening constantly. Brighton is a city of festivals, music, carnivals and culture on the door step and all of these are different.We have a menu of extras that can bring added shine to any visiting conference.

When you’re looking at the location for your next event, think of it as not just the place, where it is, and how accessible it is – look also at the support within.

Popular destination
Brighton has always been popular with government events because it is easy to get to, it’s a green and sustainable city, and because delegates look forward to coming back. For the conference organiser it is popular as well; through the Convention Bureau, we can give your delegates a new and enriching experience, we can introduce them to festivals, show them new and exciting food or just show them new places to walk, explore and spend time outside of the venue. Brighton after all is perfect for just wandering around on foot.
This may all sound too good to be true but it does work. Whether you choose to take your next event to Brighton or any other city, remember to use the local Convention Bureau, we want to help you. As a conference organiser you need to keep an eye on location, accessibility and pricing, then you look to the people, the service, and the professionalism. So let the Convention Bureau look after the delegate experience, the grateful feedback, the growing attendance.

The UK’s official sunniest place might instantly conjure up images of seaside holidays, the iconic white chalk cliffs of Beachy Head and the acres of spectacular South Downs National Park countryside that surrounds it. And with over 4.5 million visitors every year, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Eastbourne also presents a premier conference destination on the south coast. Just an hour and a half from London, boasting attractions to rival the city such as the award-winning Towner Gallery, which is also available to hire, and offering diverse accommodation including the UK’s number one celebrity owned hotel, Eastbourne is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered.  Just ask the Kingsway – Mission Worship, Royal British Legion Women’s Section and International Brotherhood of Magicians who are amongst a number of events that return year after year bringing thousands of delegates to Eastbourne.
Since the destination’s Conference Bureau was re-launched in 2008, the town’s business offer has gone from strength to strength with 2009 being the best ever year for conferences in Eastbourne. And with Eastbourne Borough Council continuing to invest in their main conference venue, Devonshire Park Centre, including the installation of WiFi late last year and the refurbishment of the Gold Room, the conference and event offer is constantly evolving with the potential to attract big industry names.
Towner, Eastbourne’s brand new art gallery, was a welcome addition to the Devonshire Park Centre when it opened last year extending the exhibition space available in a state of the art contemporary building. Hosting major art exhibitions, which included a key work by Damien Hirst earlier this year, the gallery continues to pick up awards competing with national venues. With the ground floor available for hire by organisers booking events into the Devonshire Park Centre, the venue offers up to 3,100m2 of exhibition space in total.
Towner and the Gold Room are just two aspects of many that make up the Devonshire Park Centre, with the venue also offering the modern International Lawn Tennis Centre (ILTC), an official accredited pre-2012 Olympic Training Venue and home to the AEGON International Tennis Championships each year. Containing a number of smaller rooms, it is a popular choice for local companies looking for meeting space, and a welcome addition providing breakout and seminar rooms for larger events.
Set in the heart of the hotel district and cultural quarter, the Devonshire Park Centre is ideally located for shopping, entertainment and time out, a popular choice for delegates looking to enjoy the town’s top hours of sunshine.
From watching a show straight from the West End at the Congress Theatre, an auditorium seating up to 1,700, to exploring Eastbourne’s heritage and visiting landmarks such as the seafront Bandstand or taking time out at the cosmopolitan Sovereign Harbour Marina, Eastbourne presents an exciting and diverse landscape for delegate activities.

Accommodation for all
With one of the highest number of bedspaces in the south east, Eastbourne offers a wide range of accommodation including large hotels, friendly guesthouses and modern self-catering options catering for all price brackets and tastes, and within easy walking distance of the Devonshire Park Centre.
Offering an Accommodation Booking Service for conference organisers, rooms are directly allocated for each event meaning delegates are presented with an affordable choice of accommodation, often making significant savings on the rack rate. A variety of accommodation is available, from England’s only 5-star seaside hotel, The Grand, to the celebrity owned Big Sleep Hotel counting Hollywood star John Malkovich amongst its backers, and from the boutique style Guesthouse East offering bed and breakfast or self-catering to Sovereign Harbour apartments.
Situated on the beautiful Sussex shoreline, boasting spectacular South Downs landscape, acres of 1066 countryside on its doorstep, miles of award-winning beaches and officially the country’s most holiday-friendly destination (Virgin Money Travel Insurance 2010), Eastbourne offers a breath of fresh air for any event.

For more information
VisitBrighton Convention Bureau
Tel: 01273 292629

Eastbourne Conference Bureau
Tel: 01323 415437