EN heads to Glasgow to check out the city’s growing events offering and discover why People Make Glasgow.
Glasgow has long been leading the way as a UK MICE destination. With the continual expansion and evolution of the SEC and a productive, cooperative city-wide offering from venues, attractions, hotels and local government, there’s a lot for organisers to love in Scotland’s biggest city.
“The city is invested in the success of its major events and meetings industry and offers a cohesive, supportive and can-do working environment,” Aileen Crawford, head of conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, tells EN.
In 2013, the SEC opened the SSE Hydro, a 13,000-capacity arena which has seen the city host a wide range of acts and major sporting events.
“Glasgow is inherently aware of the benefits events bring to the local and national economy,” says Dan Thurlow, director of exhibition sales at the SEC. “The SEC contributes over £1m per day to the Glaswegian economy, putting events at the heart of the city’s strategy.
“The award-winning Convention Bureau and Glasgow City Council provide exceptional levels of support, subvention, infrastructure, marketing, hotel bookings and a network that can add value to events either as speakers or ambassadors. The venue and city complement each other, some of the large event wins and successes really are the result of a broader team effort.”
In 2014 the city hosted the Commonwealth Games, giving Glasgow a chance to show off its chops as a truly global events destination. The Games also saw the launch of the ‘People Make Glasgow’, campaign, with Glasgow being voted ‘World’s Friendliest City’ by Rough Guides readers shortly after.
“As a newcomer to Glasgow, you notice signs all over the city saying, ‘People Make Glasgow’, not only is this a great thing to incorporate into an event advertising campaign, but also very true,” comments Greg Cherry, MD of Glasgow-based QD Events. “Glasgow is the cultural hub of Scotland. As a destination city and venue, it provides a real alternative to London and Birmingham.”
Thurlow adds: “Glaswegians love events and organisers find the audiences here are second to none.”
For both Crawford and Thurlow, sustainability is high on their list of priorities: “In Glasgow we recognise that for organisers and delegates alike, being sustainable at conference is as important as being sustainable at home,” says Crawford. “Glasgow in Old Scots means ‘Dear Green Place’ and the city continues to live up to its name.”
In 2016, Glasgow became the first city in the UK to join the Global Destination Sustainability Index, ranking in the top 10 of green conference cities.
“All of our developments are considered with sustainability at the front of our minds,” adds Thurlow. “Our reduction in paper use has seen us replace traditional poster sites and signage with over 200 digital screens. The network provides more flexible wayfinding, engaging advertising sites and a media channel that can be monetised by our customers.”
Looking to the future, the SEC has recently submitted a planning application for an expansion which will deliver a state-of-the-art conference and exhibition space. The new SEC will be larger, more flexible and with the potential to add an additional £123m of economic benefit to Glasgow per year.
“Above all, the SEC will continue to invest in the development of our teams,” concludes Thurlow. “Our people are the key to us delivering on our vision – the best people, best events, best venue.”