London’s Convention Bureau (CVB), London & Partners, has experienced a major increase in enquiries from US event planners this summer due to the city offering better value than ever before.
In the two calendar months after the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, there was a 66 per cent jump in enquiries from the US, compared to the same period last year.
A number of suppliers, including ExCeL London, Maybourne Hotel Group and Spectra DMC, have also experienced an increase in enquiries and overseas planners have been requesting to settle the cost of their events upfront due the fall in the value of the pound following the referendum results.
James Rees, Executive Director at ExCeL London, said: “At ExCeL London, it has very much been business as usual since the result of the EU Referendum. In the short-term, the weaker pound has been positive for our North American clients, a number of whom have called us to arrange early payments for their events in order to take advantage of the preferential exchange rate. Whilst we do not yet know what sort of deal the UK will secure from the EU, we have been pleased at how both the Mayor of London and the UK Government have responded to the vote and moved quickly to reinforce a message that the UK remains open for business.”
Brona Kelly, Director of Sales & Marketing at Maybourne Hotel Group, said: “Following Brexit, London hotels have seen a surge of bookings across the city and our three hotels within Maybourne have been particularly busy following the referendum. We have seen a specific increase in suite business from the North American market, which is no doubt due to the slight dip in sterling allowing US travellers to receive more for their dollar during their visit to London. The recent launch of various new suites at The Berkeley therefore has been very timely for this boom in business. Regarding MICE business, we have also seen a demand with clients preferring to pre pay for their event booking in order to lock in competitive exchange rates.”
Julian Haddon, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, Europe Rosewood Hotel Group, said: “Much has been said and written about Brexit and what happens next, but the reality is that we haven’t seen any significant impact on Rosewood London. Both leisure and business guest numbers for September were up on forecast, enquiries are strong and there is still huge global appetite for people from all over the world to visit the UK.”
Paul Miller, Managing Director at Spectra DMC, said: “The fact that London is now better value for money has definitely had an impact on Spectra’s activity this summer. Following the result of the referendum we received an unprecedented surge of new enquiries, both from outside and inside the EU, for sizeable conferences and meetings for later this year and early 2017. Thanks to the exchange rate going down, clients have also been willing to pay more substantial deposits.”
Rob Russell, owner of AC Tours DMC, said: “Immediately after the referendum, we saw a desire to prepay for forthcoming events to make the most of the decreasing value of the UK currency. Subsequent business levels have certainly increased from international visitors and we are going into the winter season seeing an increasing number of large group requests with very short lead in times. We recently had an event for a group of 100 people book and travel within a window of 10 days.”
Between June and September 2016, US enquiries went up by 22 per cent and accounted for 30 per cent of the total number of enquiries.
Enquiries from Europe, the Middle East and Africa also went up by 22 per cent, while domestic enquiries jumped up by 83 per cent. Overall, over the same period, enquiries went up 41 per cent.
In recent years, London has been welcoming a string of high profile corporate and association events, such as HPE Discover, TechCrunch Disrupt Europe, AdWeek Europe and the European Respiratory Society congress.
Looking ahead, the British capital will also be hosting other key major events such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and the European Association of Urology congress in 2017 and Sibos in 2019.
This summer, London’s CVB launched its own version of the city-wide #LondonIsOpen campaign, which aims to provide information to event planners looking to host their events in London.
Chris FJ Lynn, Vice President, North America & Emerging Markets for Business Tourism at London & Partners, the official convention bureau for the city, said: “It’s been an exceptionally busy summer for both our teams in the US and on the ground in London. The drop in the exchange rate has proved a real draw for event planners all over the world, making it the ideal time to host an event in the city. London remains the leading city for sectors such as tech, life sciences, finance and the creative industries and it is one of the best destinations in the world in which to hold business events. London is, and will remain, open!”
Americans visiting London in the upcoming months will be able to experience a raft of new venues such as Switch House, the newly opened Tate Modern extension, the new Design Museum, opening up in November in Kensington, west London and the first Smith & Wollensky restaurant outside the US, located in London’s West End.