Why choose London for conferences?

 

What makes London truly remarkable as a conference destination? When it comes to answers, you’re as spoilt for choice as you are for venues and activities.    

As an organiser, where else in the world could you open the iconic Tower Bridge whilst sailing along the River Thames before closing the Tower of London during the Ceremony of the Keys? Which other city could teach delegates the perfect royal curtsey at Kensington Palace before transporting them back into history to explore life within the Tudor Court of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. Only in London can you find these and many, many more once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Only in London can you create extraordinary itineraries against a cityscape where everything is possible.

Making it work for your Budget

London has long been a world-class business and leisure destination offering exceptional value for money. So before you even start to plan your next conference why don’t you get some free, unbiased planning assistance that’s available from Visit London’s Event Solutions team? No one knows London better than they do and they work hard to make sure every conference, convention, incentive or meeting is a memorable success.   

According to the Lonely Planet guide, London’s accommodation and restaurant prices are between one third and one half cheaper than a few years ago, but it’s not just favorable exchange rates that are making London such an affordable destination. Fantastic deals offered by an incredible choice of events venues, and London’s business hotels offering competitive prices on both room rates and day delegate rates, make the UK capital a number one choice for a range of events and incentives.    

From 2011, the UK’s tax allowances mean that companies may be able to claim up to 20 per cent back on the price of accommodation, meeting facilities and other auxiliary items in London. Visit www.brvat.com for more information. Special group discounts on travel and hotels are also available along with affordable accommodation offered by London’s university campuses over the Summer months.    

Business visitors find London easily accessible, cosmopolitan, cultural and cutting-edge. It has five international airports, with direct flights to and from more than 160 cities worldwide plus the Eurostar, arriving into St Pancras International from Paris and Brussels.
Once your group has arrived, visitors can make use of the city’s safe, extensive public transport network and access reduced fares by pre-ordering the Oyster travel smartcard or using the network of new Barclay’s Bike scheme, which is a great way for business visitors to explore the city in their down-time.

What makes it different?
London is a vibrant and multi-cultural city that’s easy to meet in and impossible to forget.
With green and lush park spaces that cover 30 per cent of the city and a culture, rich in diversity, heritage and culinary delights, there is something to suit every taste and requirement.

With more than 1,000 truly unique events venues, an £11billion investment in city-wide projects in the lead up to 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, London offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. There are more than 40,000 shops including Europe’s largest retail complex Westfield in West London and its sister Westfield Stratford which is to open in 2011 and will be the largest indoor shopping centre in Europe.    

London also has 48 Michelin-starred restaurants, more than 6,000 restaurants offering menus from 70 major country cuisines, 300 museums and galleries (17 of which offer free entry), 150 theatres, 147 parks, more than 10,000 bars and clubs and four World Heritage sites (Tower of London, Kew Gardens, Maritime Greenwich and the Houses of Parliament).

New for 2010
New conference space includes an additional 5,000-seat arena and 17 meeting rooms as part of the expansion of ExCeL London, which opened 1 May. The privately-funded £165m expansion has seen the Docklands venue renamed as ICC London ExCeL which is London’s first International Convention Centre.   

By 2012, there will also be 13,300 new hotel rooms available, giving the UK capital a total of 123,000 bedrooms. Recently opened properties include London’s largest new hotel, the 15-storey Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, and offering 2,500sqm of meetings space. Located near the South Bank and directly opposite the Houses of Parliament, this 1,021-room hotel has been built to the highest green standards.   

Other flagship hotel openings include the Renaissance St Pancras London – a five-star property offering 244 rooms alongside the Eurostar terminal – and Starwood’s luxury W brand, which makes its UK debut in Leicester Square, and boasts 194 rooms and four meeting spaces. In the next two years, London’s landscape will change dramatically with the addition of architectural highlights such as the Shard of Glass (the new London Bridge Tower), containing a six-star 195-room Shangri-La hotel and the Heron Tower in the City, which is set to provide breathtaking views from its rooftop.

Social Venues
London also offers countless inspirational and unique venues for social functions and takes real pride in the warmth of its welcome, extended to both national and international delegates.    

Hiring a cultural, contemporary or historical backdrop for a reception, banquet or accompanying partner event will provide visitors with a true insight into the UK capital’s past, present or future.    

Almost all major landmarks, including the Tower of London, Natural History Museum, Merlin Entertainments London Eye or the Royal Albert Hall are available as awe-inspiring event settings. Along with a range of glamorous hotel ballrooms, roof-top function rooms with fantastic views over the city or one of many bespoke experiences to ensure guests fully explore London’s diverse and unforgettable cityscape.    

In 2010, new venues equipped to handle your events business include The Museum of London’s new galleries, the Waldorf Astroia hotel in Syon Park, and an outdoor space with views over the Olympic Stadium located at Forman’s Fish Island.    

Restaurants such as Galvin at Windows on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane, or Aqua in the heart of the West End, offer exceptional vistas across the UK capital, whilst world-class caterers working within high-end cultural venues such as the Saatchi Gallery, Wallace Collection and Tate Modern will ensure your function is a resounding success.
Whatever your requirements, budget or theme, London’s impressive portfolio of venues and suppliers are sure to satisfy.   

London is also a capital of cool bars and restaurants. Recent additions to the night-life scene have included Circus, a unique restaurant in Covent Garden with a main catwalk dining table featuring nightly performances, the capital’s very-own Supperclub, which is opening in December in Notting Hill, and Shaka Zulu, a heavily themed African restaurant in Camden.   

Shaka Zulu is London’s largest South African restaurant to open its wooden doors and is a truly authentic destination. The vibrant décor includes marble bars, 60ft carved wooden murals, beaded seats and a bronze statue presiding over the entrance.   

This stunning £5.5m two-storied venue located in the heart of Stables Market Camden, features the best in African cuisine.

Looking towards 2011
There will also be a number of new events venues for conferences – the re-opening of the Cutty Sark in spring 2011, a new wing to the popular art gallery Tate Modern, in time for the Olympic Games, and the launch of the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich early next year – all of which will make great venues for events and receptions.   

The UK possesses some of the most experienced and creative events industry professionals in the world, with the majority plying their trade in London. So it’s small wonder that so many world beating events are staged in the capital each year and make for a fantastic addition to any group itinerary on a conference. For example, only in London can you sample dishes from more than 40 top restaurants in one sitting, whilst soaking up the sun in Regent’s Park at the annual Taste of London food festival. And only in London can you sit under the stars to watch a movie in Somerset House’s beautiful outdoor courtyard in the summer and then return in the winter to ice-skate in the shadow of a giant Christmas tree.    

Somerset House is just one of many temporary ice-rinks that appear across the capital between November and January. Others can be found at the Natural History Museum, The O2 and Canary Wharf. For the ultimate Christmas festival, head to Hyde Park for the annual Winter Wonderland event, complete with ice-rink, fun-fair rides, a German food market and of course, Santa’s grotto.

Parks and Fashion
During the summer months, London’s Royal Parks are a hive of event activity. Hyde Park is the location for a series of concerts, which kick-off with Hard Rock Calling and include all the latest rock and pop bands performing to 80,000 people spread out across the park. For classical music fans, the series of BBC Proms are an integral part of British culture and take place from July until September at the iconic Royal Albert Hall.   

London Fashion Week takes place in September, with catwalk shows and parties occurring across the capital to celebrate London’s style. A new addition to the festival calendar is the London Restaurant Festival, which debuted in 2009 and now has more than 250 restaurants offering festival menus, as well as a host of food-related bespoke events such as gourmet tours and celebrity chef dining packages on the London Eye.    

For the very best in live entertainment, London has the most popular live music venue in the world in the form of The O2, located on the Greenwich Peninsula. Here, you can dine at a choice of restaurants before seeing a show in the main 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, or catch a gig in the more intimate 2,350-capacity indigO2.    

As well as the events space, bars and restaurants, The O2 also has an 11-screen cinema complex, a 2,500-capacity nightclub called Matter and an exhibition area which is currently home to the British Music Experience. To reach the entertainment complex, why not take delegates on The O2 Express Thames Clipper service, which will transport your guests from a choice of piers in Central London in around 20 minutes.

Celebrating diversity
Other events to look out for, taking place annually in London include the Virgin London Marathon, the Regent’s Street and Oxford Street Festivals plus other regular activity, much of which is staged in Trafalgar Square to celebrate London’s diverse cultures and the 300 languages spoken amongst its 7.5 million population.    

Visit London’s website is an excellent resource for keeping up with all the goings-on and one-off events staged each month in the capital. We guarantee that there will always be something happening to keep even the most regular visitor to London, enthralled and amazed.    

“The amount of investment reflects a long-term confidence in a city that can be experienced by business visitors and events organisers in the run up to, during and after the Olympic Games,” concludes Tracy Halliwell, director of Business Tourism at Visit London. “London really does offer businesses a perfect space for conferences and meetings plus it gives you guests and delegates a memorable and unique experience and most of all, a warm welcome.”

For more information:

Tel: 020 72345833
E-mail: eventsolutions@visitlondon.com
Web: www.visitlondon.com/businessca