HQ Report: London is Calling

9th Nov, 2020

London is unrivalled with its mix of historic venues, new hotels and urban developments. Now, the city is reinventing itself once again to be the perfect fit for your next congress. London & Partners exchanged a few words with HQ about the pandemic and the paths they have taken.

To say that London is the right city to host your next conference is an understatement. For the fifth consecutive year, the city retained the number one ranking as the most popular destination for business events, according to the Cvent Supplier Network. The UK capital powers a huge network of flight connections that attracts congressmen to unique spaces and top notch industry clusters, right into a cross-cultural and global environment. Benefitting from its status as a global tech hub and financial mastodon, London offers tradition and expertise for a wide range of sectors.

However, MIA estimates that there have been 126,000 job losses in the UK, with catering, front-of-house and event managers being the most severely affected by COVID-19. Something that Suzanne Singleton, head of associations at London & Partners, confirms: “In March, we saw a tidal wave of live events cancelled, travel scaled down and our hotels and venues closed their doors.” The London Convention Bureau team played an important role in supporting planners and venue partners in the following months, whilst its management team set about working on broader strategic plans with industry associations.

“We responded practically by enhancing our online resources as we adapted our content to offer virtual site visits and up-to-date listings of the 360-degree virtual tours available in London,” says Singleton. This trend was highlighted during London Tech Week, the most influential technology festival in Europe, that delved into the impact of tech ecosystems on key issues such as health, security and the future of work. Digital platforms are providing solutions to deliver essential content and data and, according to Singleton, “there is a real need for creativity and innovation for these events to be a success”.

“As Europe’s biggest tech hub, we are seeing an exciting wave of event formats evolving, provided by London’s innovative companies working with our unique venue solutions,” she adds.

On the other hand, the ‘Because I’m a Londoner’ campaign encouraged a sustainable recovery in consumer spending, while Visit Britain’s kite mark, ‘We’re Good to Go’, has been devised to give assurance and confidence to event planners. A series of pilot test events with the central government and public health of England is underway to help further refine logistics, health and hygiene and track and trace systems.

“This will enable us to open up for large events after the 1st October,” Singleton says. “There has been a monumental push across associations, venues and suppliers who have been working incredibly hard to create safe environments.”

In addition, London’s ambitions to lead the way globally in sustainability will continue to attract more events in the future with the ambition for a zero-carbon capital by 2030. “The last few months have shown the importance for London to become a cleaner, greener city and this is likely to become the new backdrop for future delegations coming to London,” Singleton concludes. London has always shown remarkable resilience in face of external challenges and this legacy will help the city stand up to COVID-19 and the next stage of Brexit.

Caption: Suzanne Singleton - Head of associations at London & Partners

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Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.