NEC Group utilises multi-venue operations to host event across two city centre venues

01 July 2021 Becky Humphries

The Utilita Arena Birmingham and International Convention Centre (ICC) have showcased the benefits of being operated by the same business, by successfully delivering a two-day conference across the venues.

Utilita Arena Birmingham (15,800 capacity), more commonly used to welcoming the world’s biggest recording artists, was last week transformed into an auditorium and exhibition space, to support sister venue the ICC.

The Inspiring Leadership Conference has been held at the ICC for many years, a venue renowned internationally for its conference hosting capabilities. Traditionally, the conference has been delivered alongside a large exhibition within one ICC hall – a layout favoured by their delegates. Whilst the ICC can still host other events with up to 1000 delegates under current restrictions, on this occasion, capacities would have needed adapting; both elements couldn’t take place utilising the same event layout, with an expected delegate attendance of 600+.

The ICC team didn’t want the customer to compromise on a layout that continues to work incredibly well for them. They therefore worked with colleagues at the Utilita Arena Birmingham to provide an alternative solution that permitted the conference’s high capacity and in an environment delegates would still enjoy.

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Photo Credit: Inspiring Leadership.

The hybrid conference held 24-25th June, benefitted from an academy layout auditorium, plus exhibition space behind the drape line in the bowl of the Arena. An additional virtual audience of 300 watched the live stream online, with plenary session keynote speakers including Lord Sebastian Coe CH, KBE, Priya Lakhani OBE and Professor Tanya Byron.

Music wasn’t completely written off as Rainer Hersch and his eight-piece orchestra provided the Day One closing keynote session of the conference. When it came to catering, refreshments were served inside the Arena, whilst the evening gala dinner on the 24th was hosted for 165 delegates, back in its traditional home at the ICC using Hall 4. All of this was provided by the Group’s award-winning caterer, Amadeus.

NEC Group Managing Director for Ticketing and Arenas, Guy Dunstan, said: “We know all too well the challenges our industry has faced, so to utilise our spaces in this way has been truly refreshing. This is where the Group’s USP really shines through; flexibility and an expert in-house team that supports each other to achieve fantastic results for our customers.”

Jackie Wellings Event Director at Blackberry Productions who manage the Inspiring Leadership event added: “From our first site visit to the Arena to the delivery of the event we had just 5 weeks in which to cover a huge amount of ground. Both of the teams at the Utilita Arena and ICC were incredibly helpful and keen to see a return to in-person events.”

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