M&IT SHOW PREVIEW: Meet the venues - This month's Meetings & Incentive Travel Show features a host of venues, all keen to shout about their latest developments. Sara White previews what will feature on the exhibition stands

Fifty new exhibitors have signed up for this year's Meetings &

Incentive Travel (M&IT) Show at Excel from 20-21 June.

Venues set to make their debut at the event include Aston Villa Football

Club, The Brewery in east London, Central Hall Westminster and Edinburgh

Conference Centre. More unusual venues making their first appearance

include Leeds Castle in Kent, London Aquarium, London Zoo and Royal

Wildlife Camp in Nepal. Also new for 2001 is the Cookery Demonstration

Theatre, which will let catering and hotel firms demonstrate their

cooking skills.

Good early response

The first e-mail to VIP buyers has already attracted more than 1,200

pre-registrations - 14% up on the same mailing last year. The first in a

series of personalised postal mailings to VIP buyers has also had good

early response. More than 300,000 invitations will be distributed during

the run-up to the show.

Harrogate International Centre (HIC) will be at the show to promote its

eight exhibition halls, which offer a combined 16,500 sq m. But the

centrepiece of HIC's presence will focus on the new hall M, which was

completed on schedule in December 2000 at a cost of pounds 2.6m. It has

already won 20 bookings. The hall's high ceiling means HIC can now

accommodate double-deck stands. The centre has also signed a partnership

with Crown Catering which boosted investment in catering facilities,

including the completion of new kitchens. HIC will also use the show to

promote an on-line hotel booking facility.

Historic Royal Palaces will be at M&IT to promote corporate hospitality

packages at Hampton Court Palace, Tower of London, Kensington Palace and

Banqueting Hall, as well as the music festival that is being held at

Hampton Court from 7-16 June.

Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) will use the show to

announce major upgrade plans. By mid-2002 the facility plans to be able

to accommodate 2,000 delegates.

"Three years of research and planning have been invested in the pounds

18m scheme," says AECC managing director Clarke Milloy. The development

includes two new halls, each offering capacity for 700 theatre-style,

expansion of the tiered theatre from 300 to 500 seats, an increase in

the number of breakout rooms to 25, upgraded IT and audio-visual

facilities, and a dramatic new frontage and atrium.

Telford International Centre (TIC) will be at M&IT as it prepares to

embark on a pounds 7m redevelopment at the end of the month. The

overhaul will provide a dedicated conference and banqueting suite with

capacity for up to 750, multipurpose rooms holding 1,000 theatre-style

and a series of breakout rooms.

Phase two and three of the redevelopment are planned over the next few

years, and will include the completion of the new exterior of the

buildings, plus improvements to public circulation areas - including a

new main entrance.

The final stage will be a fourth exhibition hall taking the centre to

15,000 sq m. The venue also benefits from an on-site Holiday Inn.

Face the consequences

TIC sales and marketing manager Matthew Lambert says: "We know we cannot

afford to stand still if we want to continue to be successful. All our

key competitors are spending money on improving their facilities and we

have to respond or face the consequences.

"The redevelopment will give us the opportunity to raise Telford's

profile against competitors such as Manchester, Birmingham, London and

Glasgow for major blue-chip business."

Birmingham's NEC Group will be promoting its conference and meeting

facilities which offer 100 options including facilities in the NEC,

National Indoor Arena and International Convention Centre.

The country's newest facility - Manchester International Convention

Centre - will also be present. The facility, which only opened last

month, has an auditorium seating 800 facing a 250 sq m presentation

stage with lighting, sound and the latest technology. Adjoining the

auditorium is the 1,900 sq m Great Northern Hall. Breakout rooms are

also available.

The 6,000 sq m Main Galleries of the Commonwealth Conference & Events

Centre in Kensington, London will be at M&IT giving details of its major

external restoration taking place in the summer. The highly unusual

Grade II listed building will get a new copper roof and its blue glass

external facade will also be replaced.

The Barbican Centre will be promoting the refurbishment of Barbican Hall

which closed at the end of May for four months. The pounds 6m investment

involves changing the air-conditioning units, significant changes to the

stage to improve acoustics and installation of a new lighting system.

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