The future looks bright for Conference Winchester

After an encouraging first year of business, the conference and meetings consortium for the Winchester District is looking ahead with confidence. Having generated a quarter of a million pounds' worth of enquiries to its members in the first year of operation, Conference Winchester made two important business moves last week.

At a working group meeting at Hotel du Vin, a formal agreement was signed with Right Location Corporate Services Ltd, the local agency which has been working in partnership with the consortium to provide its free venue-finding service. Based in Hedge End, Right Location won the status of 'preferred agency' for the group through a competitive selection process. The success of the collaboration over the past year has led to the signing of a formal agreement until April 2006.

Managing Director of Right Location, Diane Slater, said: "We are obviously very pleased to have this agreement. My team and I have spent time getting to know all the Winchester venues, and we feel very much 'part of the family' now. This was a new and unusual venture for us, but it is clear that the partnership is moving on to bigger and better things. We look forward to the year ahead."

At the same meeting, the working group elected a new chairperson to lead the planning and development of Conference Winchester. Sarah Hudson, Area Sales Manager for Marwell Hotel, accepted the role for the coming year. With a wealth of sales and marketing experience combined with a conferencing background, Sarah has wide experience of Winchester's hotels and meeting venues.

She said:"I am delighted to be asked to accept this responsibility by my colleagues at other venues. Marwell Hotel is keen to be involved in wider industry initiatives, and my work with Conference Winchester will enable me to keep abreast of local developments. I would hope that Conference Winchester will become established as a significant source of bookings and revenue for the district's meeting venues over the coming year."

Eloise Appleby, Head of Tourism for Winchester City Council, added: "Conference Winchester came into being as a result of requests from the industry to Winchester City Council. The council's tourism service has been instrumental in bringing the initiative to life, but it was always meant to be led by the industry for the industry.

"Business trips to the Winchester District already generate £9.3million per annum, which is around 17% of the total spend by staying visitors. Conference Winchester's activities will help to grow this important market segment, and increase its value to the local economy."

Local businesses who have not yet tried out the Conference Winchester 'one stop shop' are invited to give it a go on tel 0870 744 7022

Background on Conference Winchester
Conference Winchester came into being with the publication of a brand new guide by Winchester City Council's tourism unit featuring around 30 venues from hotels and purpose-built conference centres to museums and colleges. Since then, a programme of advertising, public relations activities and development work has been led by a working group of venue managers. May 2003 saw the launch of a free venue-finding service, managed on behalf of the network by local agency Right Location, to provide a 'one stop shop' for corporate customers looking to place business in the Winchester area.