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Destination focus: Liverpool

by Nicola Macdonald

EN heads to Merseyside to check out the growing cultural hub, home to the Beatles and the all-new Exhibition Centre Liverpool.

“Liverpool has experienced a cultural and economic renaissance and is a forward-thinking city that never stands still,” Adrian Evans, assistant director – conference and exhibitions at The ACC Liverpool Group, tells EN. “It boasts unique attractions, exciting events, world class sport offerings, unrivalled musical heritage and famously warm welcomes, making it the ideal destination to host events.”

Like many cities in the north of England, Liverpool has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past few decades, hosting world-leading events and a cultivating a thriving network of venues, hotels and tourist hotspots.

“The last five years have seen some major developments in the exhibition offer in the city,” says Jennifer Jensen, head of business tourism at Liverpool Convention Bureau. “Most obviously, the opening of Exhibition Centre Liverpool has been a massive boost and attracted lots of new high-profile events which have been successful.”

ACC Liverpool opened in 2008 with the arena and convention centre. By 2011 it had welcomed around two million visitors across 500 events and announced plans to build a new waterfront exhibition and events campus as an extension to our existing offering. In 2015, Exhibition Centre Liverpool opened, doubling the campus’ event offering by adding an extra 8,100sqm of flexible space.

“Organisers appreciate that the venue is a blank canvas that can be transformed into a multitude of configurations, with the entire space sub-divisible into three halls,” says Evans.

“As well as the top-class facilities you’d expect in a major European city, Liverpool boasts several significant sector strengths which have helped organisers to grow their attendances and audience satisfaction,” continues Jensen. “The city region is a hub for advanced manufacturing, maritime and life sciences, with several international organisations and world-leading academics in these areas.

“A good example of this recently has been The Manufacturer’s ‘Digital Manufacturing Week’ event, which has more than doubled its audience since switching to Liverpool from Birmingham two years ago and has reported excellent feedback from its attendees.”

The city has also seen the opening of Rum Warehouse, a flexible space in the surroundings of the city’s historic docks, and Hinterlands in the trendy Baltic Triangle area.

“As you would expect in a city where tourism has grown year-on-year for the last decade, we have also seen a lot of investment in new hotels – properties as varied as Titanic Hotel, Pullman Liverpool and the Shankly Hotel have all brought something new to the city and increased our ability to attract visitors,” Jensen says.

One thing she hears frequently from visitors is how friendly and welcoming the city and its people are.

“It goes a massive way to ensuring that attendees have a brilliant experience and one that is truly memorable,” she explains. “It’s not just us saying this anecdotally – Conde Nast has declared us the UK’s friendliest city and surveys from Which? and TripAdvisor customers both have us in the top three destinations in the UK, scoring particularly highly on welcome.

But what does the future hold for venues like Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the city as a whole?

“We are continuously looking at how to develop and enhance our offer,” says Evans. “Plans are ongoing for the development of Kings Dock, where Exhibition Centre Liverpool is situated. The flexibility of the venue means we are able to provide space where events can grow with us. This is a particular advantage for start-up exhibitions, which are looking to expand in the future and are able to do this thanks to the nature of our venue and combining tailored commercial packages with support from our highly experienced team.

“Events are our business, and we will support organisers every step of the way.”

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