Marshall Dallas: Giving something back after EICC’s record year

We explored why we do what we do, as well as how we perceived ourselves, says Dallas. Picture: Jane Barlow.
We explored why we do what we do, as well as how we perceived ourselves, says Dallas. Picture: Jane Barlow.
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We reported our annual results for 2017 last month, sharing our key operating and financial highlights with the media and other stakeholders.

2017 was a record year for the EICC and all our main metrics were up. We hosted around 200 events and almost one hundred thousand delegates. Operating profits rose to over £1 million and economic impact for the city rose to £55m.

Of course, numbers only tell part of the story and the thing that continues to make me most proud is our amazing team and their incredible commitment to excellence on a daily basis. In the events industry, you’ve got to be on top of your game every hour of every day because customer experience, in our case the experience of our conference organisers and their delegates, rules.

Delivering an incredible event experience is so important to us that last year we worked closely with the talented brand consultants H&A to examine how our brand values aligned with this goal. We explored why we do what we do, as well as how we perceived ourselves and, perhaps more importantly, how others perceive us.

One of the upshots of this process was the launch of a new vision statement, undoubtedly influenced by Barack Obama’s words when he spoke at the EICC last May, “to create an environment which inspires ideas that change the world”.

Underpinning this new vision is a set of values developed by the EICC team where we spent time exploring the principles most important to us as a team. Together we came up with ten core values, which are: Individuality, Sense of Humour, Creativity, Honesty and Integrity, Team Spirit, Meaningful Collaboration, Great Communicators, Ambition, Knowledge and Expertise and the Love of Our Environment.

The beauty of involving the whole team in designing our core values is that we have come up with something we all believe in and which we are living every day, from planning and delivering events to working with the community. Every now and then, some things just seem right and across the team our vision statement now underpins everything we do.

Take our Environmental value, which reflects our ambition to become the most sustainable conference venue in the world. We had the great honour of being chosen as one of eleven organisations to receive the prestigious SEAL Business Sustainability Award in November, joining Bridgestone, Office Depot and Arm as one of the inaugural winners.

True to our Knowledge and Expertise value, we are passionate about developing new talent and further professionalising our industry. Our belief in education and training inspired us to partner with Edinburgh Napier University to offer the first ever Master’s Degree in Business Event Management so we can bring more talented people into a fast-growing industry that is worth more than £40 billion to the UK economy.

Giving back to the community we work and live in means a lot to the team. In February, we raised money for Alzheimer Scotland at our annual team party and just before Christmas we ran a special screening of Miracle on 34th Street for the residents of St Margaret’s Care Home.

With inclusiveness high on the agenda, we recently introduced new signs on the accessible toilets in the venue. The signs were designed by 12-year old Grace Warnock who has Crohn’s Disease and like many other people, requires the use of accessible toilets. Grace came up with the idea of the sign, which shows two additional figures with hearts, to highlight that disabilities are often invisible.

Our latest commitment to our community and environment is in offering every member of the team one paid day each year to carry out charitable or voluntary work. We’re proud to be able to offer this initiative which represents around 50 days of voluntary work every year – and we’re looking forward to making a positive contribution to local and global communities alike.

Marshall Dallas is the chief executive of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre