Focus on: Birmingham

By August 16, 2017Features

Improved infrastructure and record-breaking occupancy has made Birmingham a key destination.

With unrivalled central connectivity within the UK, a stunning array of venues, and an exceptional lifestyle offering for delegates, Birmingham is ready to welcome any event. Proud of a deep-rooted and productive heritage, the city uses this as a driving force for a bright and innovative future as a leading business and conference destination.

Birmingham has a long tradition of playing host to events from around the world. Whether it’s historic or sporting, purpose-built or unique, the right venue can be found. In addition, the city offers over 6,000 bedrooms in the city centre, with more than 30,000 in the surrounding area giving delegates all the options they could want.

The city continues to be the city of choice for both national and international conferences and events.When you combine these elements with Birmingham’s superb connectivity, the outcome is a hassle-free and enjoyable experience for delegates. And this is even before delegates begin delving into the city’s lifestyle scene.

Whether you know the city well, or haven’t been for a few years, you cannot help but be in awe of the constant changes being made, providing an outstanding destination experience for all visitors, whether you are coming for a weekend break, a conference or an exhibition.

At The Centre of It All

At the heart of the UK, Birmingham is within easy reach of all regional, national and global markets. Air, rail and road links connect the region to more than 400 million people across Europe, with over half of the UK population lying within two hours and 90% within a four-hour travel time.
£450 million has been invested by Birmingham Airport – including an extended runway to accommodate more long-haul airlines and a redeveloped terminal to handle wide-bodied aircraft, including the A380. In total, Birmingham Airport now handles a record 12 million passengers annually (a 14.2% increase in 2016) and serves 150 direct global destinations plus a further 340 one-stop worldwide flights, with 50 airlines.

Nearly half of all visitors to Birmingham arrive by train, with Birmingham New Street – fresh from a £600 million redevelopment – Moor Street and Snow Hill stations all located in the city centre. The region is also at the centre of the UK’s road network – with the M1, M5, M6, M40 and M42 all linking in to Birmingham.

HS2 will be operational from 2026, bringing the Greater Birmingham region just 38 minutes away from London. The largest project of its kind in Europe, HS2 is expected to generate £14 billion for the Midlands economy, trigger new local transport schemes and boost connectivity between Greater Birmingham and other regional economic hubs.

Smashing Records
Birmingham’s hotel sector has seen its most successful year in history, with occupancy rates for 2016 peaking at 99% capacity and averaging at 75% – both the highest on record.

The figures come from the West Midlands Growth Company’s Regional Observatory. The data reveals both the proportion of international visitors and overnight visitors to the city have doubled in the last three years, bolstering Birmingham’s standing as a global tourist destination.

Overnight guests now account for 45% of all visitors, compared to 21% in 2013. The proportion of international visitors has grown from 6% to 12% respectively, with the most visitors travelling from European countries such as France and the Netherlands, as well as from the US.

In a boost to the city’s business tourism credentials, Birmingham this month maintained its status as the top UK regional destination for conferences and events according to global meetings specialist Cvent. Birmingham moved up three places to 19th in the annual Cvent ranking of more than 2,650 cities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. London again topped the list in 2017, followed by Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. The index is compiled using qualifying criteria including how often a destination is searched for by Cvent clients and the total number of room nights generated by events.

Birmingham has also jumped more than 100 places to 152nd in the 2016 International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) city rankings, released this month. The worldwide rankings represent one of the industry’s most important benchmarks. They are based on the number of meetings held by membership-led organisations taking place on a regular basis with at least 50 delegates and rotating between a minimum of three countries. Birmingham saw its number of qualifying events for the rankings nearly double in 2016.

Ian Taylor, Venue Sales Director of NEC Group Conventions & Exhibitions, added: “It’s an exciting time for Birmingham. The city has gone through a huge transformation over the last decade and is now well established as a leading events city. With even more infrastructure developments in the pipeline, from transport improvements to further additions to the city’s leisure offer, Birmingham’s reputation is set to grow even further in the next few years.”

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Birmingham Has Its Say

Emma Gray, Director of Marketing and Communications at Meet Birmingham:

“The incredibly diverse range of associations and businesses that choose to host their event in Birmingham is testament to the city’s growing reputation as a leading MICE destination. High profile events in the region have ranged from the Conservative Party conference and the Qatar Trade & Investment Summit, to sector-specific events spanning life sciences, health and social care, and the digital and creative industries. These events play a vital role in the city’s visitor economy, which hit an all-time high of £6.5 billion in 2016.

Thanks to its world class offer, Birmingham is named as the UK’s number one regional destination for conferences and events by international meetings specialists Cvent. We’re working hard to ensure the city maintains this lead, exhibiting the region’s tourism offer in the UK and across international markets including North America and Europe.”

Marta Retenaga, owner of Birmingham restaurant, Amantia:

“Amantia is an independent family-run Spanish restaurant situated in Bennetts Hill. Amantia specialises in homemade traditional and modern Spanish dishes, paellas cooked fresh to order and Spanish themed events.

We offer private dining and different party options in our private room, from 20 to 75 people. Larger parties can be accommodated in the main restaurant, with capacity for 120 people. Here at Amantia, flamenco dancers, salsa workshops or live music can be arranged to add a Spanish twist to your event. For corporate events, presentation and sound equipment are available too.”


Fiona Allan, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Birmingham Hippodrome:

“Birmingham Hippodrome is proud to have some of the most versatile and creative event spaces in the city and has recently been refurbished to the highest contemporary standards. A brand new atrium has added to our portfolio and offers a spacious break-out space or relaxing area for a reception.

Our teams are able to deliver memorable events with theatrical flair of every kind, from small-scale meetings to large conferences, including in the magnificent auditorium. The spaces lend themselves perfectly to exhibitions, networking events, interviews, gala evenings or team building workshops.

Meeting organisers can be confident in close relationship management by the dedicated team throughout the event process, from booking to follow-up. With a superb in-house technical team and experienced head chef we can fulfil complex briefs with excellent results and feedback. And by holding an event at the Hippodrome our clients are making a direct contribution to our wider artistic and community ambitions as an independent charity.”


Rebecca Kitson, Sales Manager at No.8 Waterloo Street Apartments, said:

“No.8 Waterloo Street Apartments is a Grade ll listed building in the heart of Birmingham’s business quarter. A unique and luxurious place to stay, with all apartments fitted to a very high specification; our venue offers the ideal alternative to hotel accommodation.”

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