Article Published 28/10/2021

We caught up with Scotland's convention bureaux to find out how they have supported their partners over the past 18 months and their main focuses moving forward. This month, we spoke with Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism & Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau who discusses the upcoming COP26 and Glasgow's Go Greener Toolkit.

Aileen Crawford Headshot

Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism & Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau

The past 18 months have been incredibly tough for the events industry. How have you supported your partners during this time?

Never has partnership working been more significant than during these last 18 months. Glasgow has continued to win conferences for future years, despite the restrictions. This is a clear endorsement of the Team Glasgow approach, as well as the confidence that our global meetings industry has in the value of in-person meetings.

The Convention Bureau team have continued to work closely with our industry partners, by sharing news from across sector, celebrating businesses that have shown leadership in sustainability, while working with our city's academic community to support bids for conferences to be held in our city for future years. Since 1 April 2020, Team Glasgow has secured 41 new conferences for future years, attracting over 47,000 delegates, bringing over £100m to the local economy through delegate spend.

Have you launched/are you planning to launch any new initiatives which support your partners through the reopening and rebuilding phases? Can you provide an overview of the initiative/s and how this/these support/s the CVB and its partners?

Working closely with tourism partners; Scottish Enterprise, Green Tourism and the Greater Glasgow Hoteliers Association, the Conventions team are promoting reduced fee green accreditation to the city hotels as we prepare to welcome the UN Conference on Climate Change to the city in November 2021.
The ability to deliver a sustainable conference is a must for organisers and delegates alike. With this in mind, the Glasgow Convention Bureau has been updating its People Make Glasgow Greener Strategy with new initiatives to help conference organisers deliver a sustainable meeting in our city. Glasgow's Go Greener Toolkit offers a wealth of practical hints and tips for meeting planners and delegates to be as sustainable at conference, as they are at home.

What are the main concerns from buyers and organisers? How are you working with your partners to ensure that their offering is suitable for the current market?

As we have discussed earlier, delivering sustainable meetings is key for both organisers and delegates alike and offering support to deliver green meetings has been a key focus for the Glasgow team for many years. However, since the necessity for meetings to go virtual in 2020, there is a more fundamental question being asked of planners and delegates; what is the true value of in-person meetings.

According to research from the ICCA Kaohsiung Protocol, published in 2020, meeting organisers are looking to in-person events as the opportunity to offer their members and attendees enhanced engagement and a return on their investment in attending live events. The team in Glasgow is working with partners and organisers on how best to build events around the unique needs of the delegate, to improve engagement at conference.

Glasgow Convention Bureau has been a big supporter of VisitScotland Business Events' latest campaign, Journey to Change. How will the campaign add benefit and value to your businesses? And how do you anticipate event organisers and buyers will react to this campaign and why? 

VisitScotland's Journey to Change campaign recognises the need for the meetings industry to adapt to the needs of the organiser to deliver a successful and sustainable conference.  The campaign also recognises the huge benefit of meeting in-person to the social and economic renewal of cities and destinations.  As the Journey to Change campaign says; we meet today, to change tomorrow.

In 2021, Glasgow Convention Bureau joined VisitScotland as the first convention bureau in the world to sign up to Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency. The declaration recognises the complex nature of the tourism and conference industry; its impact on the climate but also its potential to influence positive change.
Glasgow is working towards becoming one of Europe's most sustainable cities and a world-leading centre for sustainable policy, innovation and action.  As the city gears up to host COP26, the UN Conference on Climate Change, the Convention Bureau is keen to do its bit. Signing up to Tourism Declares is an important step in the Bureau's support of the city's credentials as a world-leader in sustainable business events.

What are your main focuses for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022?

The main focus for Glasgow for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 is to support the successful re-start of conferences to the city. Glasgow welcomes its first in-person event to the Crowne Plaza Hotel on 16 September, when the Scottish Grocer's Federation hold their annual conference.
The team will also continue to work with the city's academic community and venue partners to prepare and present bids to host conferences for future years, ensuring the city's economy and global reputation is protected in to the future.

What is your advice for buyers and event organisers wanting to bring their events to Scotland in Q3 2021 and beyond?

Scotland has long been a location of choice for meeting planners and delegates over the years. The conference industry in Scotland understands that much has changed since the pandemic, with new business practices and new ways of working and learning that have been beneficial to many. However, Scotland also believes in the positive impacts for society from in-person meetings, so the team are here to help organisers deliver their vision and mission and ensure a strong return on investment from the engagement, positive brand endorsement and energy that is delivered through live events.

Discover more about Glasgow Convention Bureau here.