VENUES across Newcastle and Gateshead have united in a major campaign to bounce back from Covid and recapture the £150m a year business events and meetings market.
A total of 35 venues ranging from major hotel chains to historic buildings have joined forces to help build back event organisers’ confidence in staging everything from international conferences to team building sessions in Newcastle and Gateshead.
The campaign – called Tyne To Get Back To Business – has seen all 35 venues gain coveted AIM Secure accreditation. As the only Government-recognised accreditation for business meetings and events, the quality standard has been especially enhanced over the last two years to help venues adapt to deliver events as safely as possible in a world with Covid.
NewcastleGateshead is the first destination in the UK where venues have joined together to create a co-ordinated group of AIM Secure accredited hotels and meeting places.
Tyne To Get Back To Business will now take the message of NewcastleGateshead’s post-pandemic confidence across the country with a comprehensive marketing and publicity campaign extolling the many virtues of staging business meetings and events in the area.
The campaign is being led by the NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau in collaboration with industry body the Meetings Industry Association (mia) and has been funded by Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council.
Paul Szomoru, Director of Business Events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Before Covid struck, business events attracted almost one million people a year to Newcastle and Gateshead to attend meetings, conferences and exhibitions.
“It was a huge part of the visitor economy in the area, accounting for an estimated £150m in revenue every year, but it was virtually wiped out due to lockdowns and restrictions during the pandemic.
“Venues and hotels in Newcastle and Gateshead have faced a very challenging time over the past two years but they are determined to bounce back and that’s what Tyne To Get Back To Business is all about.
“As well as helping venues gain the AIM Secure accreditation, we are raising their profile to regional and national audiences, helping to build confidence and encourage events professionals to host business events in Newcastle and Gateshead.
“We’ll be sharing venues’ stories, showing off their facilities and capabilities and showing business event organisers why they should choose NewcastleGateshead.
“Our iconic cityscape and vibrant atmosphere coupled with the assurance of AIM Secure accreditation means there are even more reasons to sample our famous Geordie welcome.”
The Meetings Industry Association has been working with NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau on Tyne To Get Back To Business, helping the 35 venues through their journey to secure AIM Secure accreditation.
Kerrin MacPhie, Chief Executive of the Meetings Industry Association, said: “The pandemic has tested the business meetings and events sector like nothing else before, but it has shown tremendous resilience and agility over the past two years.
“This fantastic initiative is typical of the determination and tenacity of the sector, its people and venues who operate within it.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, there is a real appetite for more face to face meetings and events, but there is still understandable caution amongst organisers about the welfare of their delegates.
“AIM Secure accreditation gives a confidence boost to organisers and bookers – it ensures that venues who achieve the enhanced quality standard adhere to 24 very specific health and safety protocols, helping to provide reassurance, and it confirms a venue’s commitment to safety and operational excellence.
“We’re delighted to be working with NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau and the 35 venues on Tyne To Get Back To Business – it’s a really ground-breaking campaign that will act as a great case study to learn from.”
Cllr Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Development, Neighbourhoods and Transport at Newcastle City Council, said: “Business events are very important for the city, not just in terms of the direct spending which they attract from organisers and delegates, but also as a way of showing people, particularly from outside the region, how much Newcastle has to offer.
“We hope that Tyne To Get Back To Business will not only help to bring back many of our previous visitors, but also introduce a whole new audience to the many delights of Newcastle.”
Councillor Malcolm Brain, Cabinet Member for the Economy at Gateshead Council, said: “With the continuing reopening of the economy, Gateshead Council is supporting the Tyne To Get Back To Business initiative to help bring the business community back together. Gateshead has a wealth of business opportunities and fantastic venues which are ideal for a wide range of business events, so it is vital for us to champion them as we look to recover from Covid.
“We hope by encouraging organisations to get back to business we can rebuild the local and visitor economy back stronger than before and make Gateshead a place of thriving people, places and businesses.”