ExCeL London: The Home of World Leading Events

Please give us thehighlight of and ExCeL London?

Our stand out feature is the ability to be truly flexible. For example, LinkedIn transformed our Event Halls into a London scene, complete with a traditional pub, road works, a London bus and black cabs; Adobe’s Summit Party had a festival theme with trees, camper vans, bumper cars, food stands and a grass hill (which was made out of real grass!); The Global Summit not only welcomed world leaders but A-list celebrities Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and then we rounded off the year by playing host to 150 international beauty queens and their families, when Miss World came to London. ExCeL has been purposefully designed to be completely flexible, allowing event formats to change week on week. This is coupled with an investment year-on-year of at least £2.5 million which allows us to retain a world-class facility and stay ahead of our competitors.

How may square meters of exhibition capacity does it has?

ExCeL London offers 100,000 m2 of flexible, event space and by definition a true International Convention Centre, offering the following facilities:

  • A fully, flexible auditorium for up to 4,600 delegates
  • 100,000 m2 of multi-purpose, flexible event spaces suitable for exhibitions, posters and catering
  • 86 meeting rooms for 10 – 1,200 delegates
  • 7 onsite hotels, with 1,600 rooms between them

How many people can it accommodate for a conference?

Our fully, flexible auditorium can accommodate up to 4,600 delegates. However, ExCeL is capable ofhosting much larger events. For example, ExCeL will be the host venue for Europe's largest medical association meeting later this year, for The European Society of Cardiology, which will welcome 35,000 delegates in August. Our largest event is a Christian festival called Festival of Life. The event takes place twice a year at ExCeL and uses a purpose built auditorium catering 40,000 – 45,0000 visitors.

Who makes up the bulk of your MICE guests atExCeL London?

ExCeL welcomes on average 3.6 million visitors per year and is responsible for delivering 25% of London’s inbound business tourists. ExCeL is fast becoming a home of world leading events, attracting visitors from across the global to association meetings and corporate congresses. As an example, EuroPerio 2015 (which took place at ExCeL in May) welcomed delegates from 110 different countries.

How does your venue stay competitive in the globally booming MICE market?

In the conference market, our venue stands out for its size, so we are in a fortunate position to offer clients a unique proposition, especially for larger events. Our strength is having London as such a strong business destination and we have worked hard to ensure that our strategy is aligned with London’s key industry sectors providing value to our clients through targeted messaging and the ability to assist them to achieve the best possible event outcomes. An example of this would be the technology sector where we have seen massive growth in events, securing 13 high profile technology conferences in the last 12-months.

Every year our venue has a significant budget for capital expenditure which has enabled us to listen to our clients’ feedback and make the necessary changes they need to maintain our position as an internationally competitive venue.

In 2014, we invested £4m in the venue and our infrastructure, with a further commitment of £15m in 2015. Developments include:

  • Opened a suite of 6 new board rooms providing a high-end executive facility
  • Added a further 4* hotel, The Sunborn Yacht, with 136 rooms
  • Upgraded our Ruckus Wi-Fi – allowing 16,000 concurrent users at any one time
  • Installed new screens in the venue showing live arrival and departures at London City Airport
From your perspective, how is the MICE industry in the world is evolving in the years to come? Any specific change in the Industry trends as recognised by you.

In the last 12-months, we have seen a trend of corporate brands utilising a greater proportion of their marketing budget, albeit cautiously, for events, with greater emphasis placed on direct customer and stakeholder contact. These forward thinking and inspirational brands are introducing a different type of event that allows them to convey one key message or product development to multiple stakeholders. For example, one event can combine an internal staff briefing, an external client event, an experiential platform for buyers and a launch event for media. These ‘multi-contact’ events allow for a common message to be tailored to individual groups, all within one overall programme. Interestingly, 52% of new corporate contracts won at ExCeL, in the last 12-months, represent a switch from a traditional hotel environment to a flexible venue format, such as our International Convention Centre. We’ve seen exactly this transition with organisers who have grown their events to deliver a personalised brand experience in larger creative formats.

How do you think that the Europe MICE market is affected by the other emerging MICE regions of the world?

The ICCA Rankings still show Europe as a main hub for international meetings and events, with 55% of ICCA rated events taking place in the region. However, it is important to recognise that there are fantastic destinations all around the world that would be attractive to event planners. Therefore we will continue to promote London and work with organisers to help them unlockour city’s amazing potential for events.

What do you think are the major challenges faced by the industry due to growing technology centric webinarsthat create a virtual platform?

We see technology as a positive part of the continued development of event formats and believe that people will always want to meet face-to-face, even in a digital age. In our experience, if a delegate engages with an event virtually in year one it often encourages them to come in year two. A good example of this is Cisco Live, which was held at ExCeL from 2011-2013, following a move from Barcelona. Delegate attendance grew by 90% in that time.

At ExCeL, advance bookings for 2015 are 40% up on this time last year. Part of the reason for this positive trend is that, in a post-recession era, events are once again becoming a crucial part of the marketing strategy with clients wishing to secure key dates as soon as possible. Generally the events that come to ExCeL combine a variety of different touch points, all within one overall programme, which in turn attracts a larger audience. Consequently we are seeing an increase in enquiries and bookings for this year.

What change would you like to implement to the MICE sector?

Internationally I would like the ability to support a reduction in taxes and duties on aviation. Meetings are crucial for the development of new ideas and we need to support activity that brings people together in order for new products, developments and innovations to thrive.

What is the impact of social media and digital marketing in promotion of ExCeL London?

Digital marketing has become an increasingly important part of the overall marketing strategy at ExCeL. In fact, in the last 12-months, we have re-shaped our marketing team so that we now have one person focused full-time on digital. For us, our digital strategy provides a great opportunity to engage directly with our visitors and demonstrate our brand promise of ‘taking every event to heart’ by listening to their feedback and responding accordingly. In addition, the growth of our social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook, provides additional promotion for our organisers with greater exposure for the events they host with us.

Any message that you would like to share with the Industry?

As ExCeL London prepares to celebrate its 15th anniversary since opening, the venue is more committed than ever before to working in partnership with clients to deliver record breaking events. Against the backdrop of one of the most dynamic cities in the world, ExCeL helps clients to unlock London’s potential and will work with them, every step of the way, to create the best possible event experience for visitors, exhibitors and delegates. ExCeL’s ambition is to be the ‘Home of World Leading Events’ and this means taking a different approach.

We recognise that for events to be truly successful there needs to be complete collaboration between the venue, organiser and PCO. Together we can ensure that we maximise the delegate experience and create truly memorable event experiences. From the arrival experience through to delegate catering and staying connected onsite, we will to listen to our clients’ feedback and tailor our investment to ensure that we continue to deliver record breaking events for London.