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NEC Group hosts hybrid conference across two city centre venues

by Joe Gallop

Two NEC Group-owned venues, Utilita Arena Birmingham and International Convention Centre (ICC) hosted a two-day hybrid conference across both sites last week in order to manage capacity limits.   

Utilita Arena Birmingham, which usually hosts music and sports events, was transformed into an auditorium and exhibition space for the Inspiring Leadership Conference from 24-25 June.

The conference has been held at the ICC for several years and is traditionally delivered alongside a large exhibition within one ICC hall. But despite the ICC still being allowed up to 1,000 delegates for other events under current restrictions, capacities needed adapting under the same event layout for this event, which had an expected attendance of 600+.

The conference used an academy layout auditorium and an exhibition space behind the drape line in the bowl of the arena. An additional virtual audience of 300 watched the live stream online, with plenary session keynote speakers including Lord Sebastian Coe CH, KBE, Priya Lakhani OBE and Professor Tanya Byron.

Music was performed by Rainer Hersch and his eight-piece orchestra, which provided the day one closing keynote session of the conference.

As for catering, provided by Amadeus, refreshment were served inside the arena, while the evening gala dinner on the first day was hosted for 165 delegates, back in its traditional home at the ICC in its fourth hall.

The event followed the ICC’s return to business earlier in the month, as it hosted 650+ delegates at back-to-back events.   

NEC group managing director for ticketing and arenas, Guy Dunstan, said: “We know all too well the challenges our industry has faced, so to utilise our spaces in this way has been truly refreshing.”

Jackie Wellings, event director at Blackberry Productions, which manages the Inspiring Leadership event added: “From our first site visit to the Arena to the delivery of the event we had just 5 weeks in which to cover a huge amount of ground. Both of the teams at the Utilita Arena and ICC were incredibly helpful and keen to see a return to in-person events.”

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