CHS 2022 group photo

CHS Leeds

Article Published 29/09/2022

Our business events team has had a busy summer attending and exhibiting at key industry meetings and events all over the globe, as well as helping to organise some of our own events in Germany.

We discussed how attending these events positively impacts VisitScotland Business Events and what their key learnings were.

Theresa Steven, Business Development Manager - UK

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to attend the CHS Leeds show where we exhibited with four partners. At the show we delivered a Destination Connection brunch, where approximately 50 hosted buyers joined us for an hour of networking and to hear the latest news from VisitScotland including progress of the Journey to Change campaign and the Transformation Protocol.

CHS Leeds is an important event to attend as it gives me the opportunity to connect face-to-face with my clients from the North of England. I'm really proud of our contribution this year, especially in terms of economic and social sustainability. We used reusable foliage to dress the stand space and incorporate the theme of nature and we also supplied each of our stand partners with a reusable water bottle which helped us to eliminate plastic cups.

It may seem small but following the event we delivered our stand flower arrangements to a local nursing home; it was such a rewarding moment. To know that you have brightened someone's day in difficult circumstances was a lovely feeling and is reflective of what we are educating our clients about when it comes to citizenship.

There was a real appetite from the buyers to learn more about CSR initiatives in Scotland, particularly for the corporate and incentives market. As a team this is something we are keen to continue to build awareness of and affiliation with, whether that's social, human or economic initiatives.

This summer I was also heavily involved behind the scenes helping to organise the inaugural C&IT Festival of Forums which took place from 26th - 29th July in Glasgow.

The event was attended by 60 buyers, the majority of whom were based in the UK. The three-day event consisted of education sessions, meetings and a private whisky tasting at The Clydeside Distillery. Our Head of Business Events, Neil Brownlee, joined a panel session with The Power of Events, Diversity Alliance and the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP). We also helped to organise post-event FAM trips with some of our key partners and venues.

Rory Archibald, Senior Business Events Manager

This year I had the opportunity to attend and take part in panel sessions at both PCMA EduCon, which took place in New Orleans, USA on 5th - 8th June 2022 and the Destinations International Annual Convention which took place in Toronto, Canada on 19th - 23rd July 2022.

At PCMA EduCon I was invited to be a panellist on an LGBTQI+ session discussing initiatives and data in creating diverse, welcoming destinations alongside the Austin Bar Association, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This session really stood out for me, it was clear that destination DEI strategies vary greatly and there is still a huge amount of work to be done across the board to ensure every destination is welcoming to all. However, it did show Scotland as an advanced nation in promoting human rights, DEI and sustainability and our role in guiding event planners to curate events that put people and planet first. I look forward to these discussions being moved from breakout to main stage in the future.

At the Destinations International Annual Convention, VisitScotland Business Events was invited to curate and moderate a session on sustainable destinations and to take part in the community calculator workshop. VisitScotland Business Events also joined the DI Pathfinders Initiative that leads their European engagement.

The highlight from this conference was understanding the importance of our communities and that for business events, sport, culture and general tourism 'what works for the resident will work for the visitor' is fundamental. A shift to communities being at the core of our work is taking place across the business events landscape and although there will always be work to do, Scotland is well placed at working alongside our communities to create positive social transformation from events.

Heather McNee, Corporate & Incentive Assistant Manager

Over the past few months, I have been lucky enough to be part of two great events; VisitScotland Business Events' own event, Journey to Change - Summer Nights, which took place on 12th and 13th July in both Hamburg and Munich, Germany and the M&I Forum - Europe Autumn 2022, which took place in Porto, Portugal on 31st August - 3rd September.

Our Journey to Change - Summer Nights events, gave us the opportunity to showcase Scotland to important German clients and we made sure that sustainability was at the forefront. Five of our partners joined us for both evenings, and they had the opportunity to speak about their venues and how sustainability plays an important role in their business.

We selected venues with great sustainability credentials and worked closely with them to create Scottish-German fusion menus which incorporated fresh local produce with a Scottish twist, including using a carbon neutral gin. We also used QR codes for the menu to reduce paper usage and encouraged attendees to use public transport.

The response to our Journey to Change campaign was incredible, both at the event and afterwards through social media. We had several attendees comment that they hadn't previously seen Scotland in a sustainable light; I am very happy we had the opportunity to educate clients and following the event we have had several enquiries asking to learn more. Visit Inverness Loch Ness also planted a tree in their corporate Trees for Life grove to represent every attendee, which was very well received.

At M&I Forum - Europe Autumn, we exhibited and shared a table with Hello Scotland where we attended appointments with 40 European buyers over the three days. We also had the opportunity to take part in networking opportunities including a fantastic boat cruise and gala dinner.

The event was incredible, and we were delighted that Scotland and the Journey to Change messaging resonated with all the agents we spoke to. Our table was also voted the 12th top supplier by buyers, which was an excellent achievement as there were approximately 230 suppliers attending the event.

Fiona MacKinnon, Assistant Manager - Associations & Sectors

From the 5 - 7th September I attended the Association World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, where VisitScotland Business Events exhibited as an NTO business partner.
During the event I attended several appointments with association clients and hosted a round table with European association clients where we discussed the issues they currently face and worked together to help find solutions. I really enjoyed meeting with our European colleagues for the first time in three years and connecting with new clients and contacts.

It really cemented for me just how much has changed for both suppliers and clients and how they are still operating in a world of uncertainty and constant change which makes decision making difficult. Suppliers are also dealing with a significant rise in costs including produce and energy and associations are tasked with ensuring their events provide engaging content, making decisions on whether to host the event online, in-person or hybrid and also dealing with the increased cost of travel and rising event costs. The feeling across the board was that we all understand each other's issues, but there is no crystal ball to make it easier for future planning, particularly over the next few years. However, both the suppliers and associations that I spoke to showed clear determination to find a way forward.

Patrick Lamont, Business Events Policy Specialist - Associations & Sectors

This September, I had the opportunity to attend the ICCA Global Association Community Forum, which took place in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This was an ICCA community event focused on learning and meeting with long-standing contacts with an overarching theme of legacy and impact.

VisitScotland Business Events had the opportunity to share updates on campaigns and to contribute to group discussions with our own view on how impact can be achieved at a national level.

We also had six appointments with associations and took part in a quickfire Ignite presentation session on day three, where we were able to do a five-minute presentation to all delegates on the Transformation Protocol. It was the first international presentation of the Transformation Protocol to a client and peer audience it was very well received, with some very positive conversations taking place as a result. It was great to see contacts and ICCA friends again after quite some time, and to hear news from across Europe. I will say that the wine tasting overlooking Lake Geneva was incredible!

There exists a true desire from associations to create impact. The Transformation Protocol can help with this and that's a real positive for us and the direction we are taking.