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EICC books three events as vaccine lifts conference hopes

EICC

EICC: ready to welcome back delegates

The Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has secured three conferences for the latter part of 2021 as it looks to welcome delegates back to the venue.

EICC chief executive Marshall Dallas is putting his faith in the Covid-19 vaccines allowing mass gatherings to return and hopes that there will be a full revival of international conferences in 2022.

The EICC came into 2020 celebrating its 25th anniversary on the back of a record year in 2019, but has been running online events since lockdown.

The conference and events industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and forecasters believe hybrid events are here to stay as they acknowledge the benefits they have produced.

The majority (93%) of event professionals plan to invest in virtual events, according to new research by Bizzabo, the world’s fastest growing event technology company, which also found that an overwhelming majority (80.2%) of event organisers were able to reach a wider audience with virtual events.

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That said, it found that almost all (96%) of event professionals do not believe virtual events will replace in-person events. Over half (68.8%) of event marketers believe it is more difficult to provide networking opportunities when hosting a virtual event.

Half (52.9%) of event marketers believe it is more difficult to create unique and memorable experiences for attendees through virtual events in comparison to in-person events.

The EICC’s new bookings are a sign of an upturn for conference venues and it is due to welcome the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine conference in September, Cleantech Forum Europe in October and the Society for Endocrinology in November.

Marshall Dallas

Marshall Dallas: ‘business events will be a key driver in rebooting the Scottish economy’

Mr Dallas said: “It would be a huge understatement to say we are looking forward to the return of conferences next year, particularly in light of the challenging time our team has faced since the pandemic took hold and we closed doors at the venue back in March. 

“There are typically long lead times in the conference and events industry, so we relish the opportunity to plan ahead for these three major conferences, and we continue to take bookings for large scale conferences for late 2021 and into 2022.

“What is going to be key going forward, is the rapid and successful implementation of the vaccine.  We are confident we will see more UK conferences and events feed through next year, with a fuller return to international conferences in 2022. 

“We also know that business events will be a key driver in rebooting the Scottish economy as we come out of the pandemic.” 

Richard Youngman, CEO, Cleantech Group, said that staging its event next autum is “good timing” since Scotland will also host the postponed COP-26 next year. 

“Our innovation-focused forum, a generator of climate solutions, has not been in the UK, Europe’s largest venture capital market, since 2006,” he said.

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Mr Dallas added: “Healthcare, health technology and CleanTech are among the greatest societal issues for the world as we approach the end of 2020, so it’s fitting we have these important conferences in place next year.  It also squares with our mission to create an environment to inspire ideas that change the world.” 

The EICC has produced economic impact of over £720 million since opening its doors in September 1995.  During that time, 3,500 events have been held at the venue , attended by 1,475,892 delegates.

In March, the venue announced the go-ahead for a pioneering hotel and hotel school development in Edinburgh on the £350 million Haymarket site.

The completed hotel will be operated by the EICC under a franchise agreement with Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

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