Edinburgh conference venue taps into US market

Bosses at one of Scotland's largest conference venues are targeting further growth from the lucrative US market after striking a partnership deal.

EICC boss Marshall Dallas with SFA's Sarah Fleming. Picture: Jane Barlow

Business driven by international associations now totals more than half of all related revenue at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), with the city rated number one UK conference destination outside London.

The venue, which has hosted some 3,000 events and more than one million delegates since it first opened its doors in 1995, is to “redouble its efforts” in the North American market thanks to the new tie-up.

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The partnership with Sarah Fleming Associates (SFA) is an exclusive arrangement with the EICC that means SFA will not be in a position to work with any other Scotland-based conference groups.

It centres on lead generation and follows a number of recent high-profile US delegation trips to Edinburgh and the EICC team gearing up for one of the conference industry’s largest events of the year, IMEX America, in Las Vegas in October.

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Marshall Dallas, chief executive of the EICC, said: “The development and expansion work completed in 2013 delivered world-class facilities that are now starting to pay real dividends and the EICC is now viewed as a destination to match any other – not only in the UK but worldwide.

“While we already have a significant amount of association and corporate business coming in from the US, market research indicates that we can attract even more.”

Sarah Fleming of SFA added: “We’re really excited to be partnering with the EICC as they focus in on the North American market. By working smart, we will work closely with the EICC’s sales and marketing team to convert prospects into business wins.”

The venue has been ramping up the number of events for typically quieter periods while adding some diversity to what is staged. Recent examples have included An Experience with Arnold Schwarzenegger in January and the recent Comic Con and Insomnia Gaming Scotland events.

The EICC enjoyed its busiest year in 2015 hosting 139 business events for the corporate and association markets. Highlights in the calendar included HRH The Princess Royal officially opening the Lennox Suite in January and George Clooney attending the UK’s largest business dinner ever in November.

Dallas, who has been in charge for about 18 months now, has already flagged an improvement in the venue’s finances after EY previously predicted an operating loss of £1.4 million for 2015.