Bookings for 2021
EICC looking to hybrid model for conferences
Marshall Dallas: ‘we remain circumspect’
Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has secured a number of major conferences for next year as it expects to benefit from a hybrid offering of online and physical events.
The EICC reported a record year to the end of December with profits of £1.5 million (2019: £1.4m) on revenue of £12.6m (£11.8m), but has been hit by the pandemic forcing venues to close.
It has been running online events since lockdown, ahead of a planned return to business events and conferences in 2021. It gave no indication of the impact of the lockdown on its finances in the current year apart from saying it has new business in the pipeline.
CEO Marshall Dallas said: “2019 was our best ever year, and we came into 2020 with a record number of events on our books before the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to close the venue in March.
“We continue to take bookings for 2021 and have recently secured a number of major conferences for next year which we will be announcing in the near future.
The EICC hosts some of the UK’s biggest companies (pic: Terry Murden)
“We, of course, remain circumspect about business activity in light of prevailing conditions, however we have focused our efforts on implementing extensive health and wellbeing measures in readiness for safely welcoming delegates back to our venue.”
In May, the EICC launched an online events platform, Make it Edinburgh Live, which was created to enable the venue team to run conferences and events entirely online or via a combination of online and in situ.
In turn, significant investment has been made this year in both technology and related training across the team.
Mr Dallas said: “What has been a hopeful prospect during the pandemic is that we have developed a market-leading online events platform that has enabled us to stage conferences which have a greater global reach for audiences around the world.
“When we combine this in a hybrid scenario once delegates return to the venue, we believe we’ll have one of the best offerings of any conference centre worldwide.”
He added: “In so many ways, our 25th anniversary will not be the occasion we envisaged it to be pre the Covid-19 pandemic.
“However, it’s a significant milestone and an important occasion to appreciate the many achievements to date, as well as our position as one of the world’s leading conference centres.
“Looking ahead, we know that conferences and business events will be different going forward, characterised by smaller-scale events in the first phase of the recovery.
“We also know that the business events sector, which is valued at around £35 billion across the UK, will be an important driver in helping to reboot the Scottish economy.”
The EICC is behind a hotel and hotel school development in Edinburgh. M&G Real Estate is funding the £350 million Haymarket Edinburgh development which will be developed by QMile Group.
The completed hotel will be operated by the EICC under a franchise agreement with Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
Earlier this month, the EICC appointed Stuart Bone as finance director.