The West Midlands Growth Company showcases why Birmingham and the West Midlands is the beating heart of business events in the UK.
Birmingham and the West Midlands has a track record of success in providing the best welcome for meetings, conferences and events.
Nowhere else in the country is as easy to reach, and with more than 121,000 bed spaces across the region and a host of world-class event facilities, it’s no surprise that the West Midlands attracts more business trips than the national average and more international business visitors than any other destination outside London.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our region is increasingly becoming the destination of choice for some of the UK’s most significant conferences and exhibitions.
“Our outstanding connectivity, broad choice of venues and plentiful hotel accommodation all help our cause – combined with our positive attitude and the warmth of the welcome visitors have come to expect.”
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, added: “It’s the experience delegates get here that brings events back time and again. Food is very much the currency of the world and very much the language of Birmingham and the West Midlands. We are proud to be home to 11 Michelin-starred restaurants and the best Asian cooking in the world. Our infrastructure is second to none. We have the largest venue campus in the UK at the NEC, some 200,000 sq. metres of event space complemented by our universities across two cities: Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Many of our sporting venues also have incredible conference and event facilities.”
New research compiled by RJS Associates for the West Midlands Growth Company shows that the region is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic quicker than the UK average. Last year, the West Midlands hosted 8.3 million local, national and international delegates at 81,700 business events, generating £1.9 billion of direct spend. Its business events performance was at 78% of 2019 levels, compared to the national average of 73%. With a full calendar of events now back at major West Midlands venues including the NEC, it is expected that the region’s business events sector will return to normal during the 2023/24 financial year.
New openings and redevelopments across the West Midlands’ events and exhibitions sector during the past 12 months include the Leonardo Royal Hotel – with 20 meetings and events spaces – underwent a £8 million redesign and rebrand from Jury’s Inn Birmingham before relaunching in April. Conferences, team away days and private parties at the Black Country Living Museum – backdrop to the international TV smash hit Peaky Blinders – have been enriched by the attraction’s new 1940s-1960s high street, which was unveiled this summer.
Switch Hospitality Management will launch Aparthotel Birmingham on the site of the former Royal Angus Hotel in Snowhill, while work is being carried out on a new £6 million entertainment and events Box Space in the west of Wolverhampton city centre.
Diverse, dynamic destinations
Comprising two major cities – Birmingham and Wolverhampton – and towns and boroughs including Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall, the West Midlands was the cradle of the world’s first industrial revolution, kickstarting a tradition of innovation that remains ingrained across the region today.
In recent decades, the area has reinvented itself from an industrial heartland to a leading business, cultural and major events destination, which is bursting with a variety for venues that can accommodate events of all types and sizes.
Birmingham, the second city of the UK, is bustling with incredible cuisine, winding waterways and a cultural offer, which includes the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Symphony Hall and Birmingham Hippodrome. The city is home to one of Europe’s premier conference venues, The International Convention Centre (ICC), which next April will host the prestigious
SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit, bringing together the crème de la crème of global sporting federations and organisations. Fresh from hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the wider region’s status as a major sporting events destination has been boosted, with the 2023 World Trampoline Championships, 2025 Kabaddi World Cup and 2026 European Athletics Championships all on the horizon to keep sports fans on the edge of their seats.
In addition to the newly reopened venue The Halls, Wolverhampton’s events offer includes the 1,200 capacity Grand Theatre; Molineux, home to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC; Grand Central Station; Wolverhampton Racecourse; and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Tim Johnson, Chief Executive at the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “With our focus very much set on the future and working closely with partners, the council has a plan that not only involves Wolverhampton hosting major national and international events, exhibitions and conferences to boost the regional economy – but being able to do so with an improved infrastructure of facilities, including more venues and hotels.”
Known as the “town in the country”, Solihull is a thriving centre where urban living meets idyllic rural villages. With outstanding incentive options including Bear Grylls Adventure, the borough is home to the
UK’s largest event space, the NEC. As well as long-term shows like Spring Fair and Motorcycle Live, the venue hosted last year’s groundbreaking outdoor summer festival, Wireless, followed this summer by the UK’s first FRIENDS Experience and the Secret Cinema presents Grease.
The Bureau celebrated its 40th birthday in 2022. Working alongside event organisers, it offers expert advice, guidance, and insight with invaluable support to ensure that both organisers and delegates receive the best experience and welcome.
As part of the West Midlands Growth Company, the Bureau provides industry professionals with a range of free services to deliver successful events in the region. These include accommodation booking, venue location and social programme planning.
To learn more about the West Midlands Convention Bureau, call 0121 202 5100, email bcb.conferencesales@wmgrowth. com or visit Meetbirmingham.com.