2017 was a momentous year which began with the announcement of the funding agreement to build the new International Convention Centre Wales here at Celtic Manor.
Since then we have seen much progress on the construction site close to the M4 motorway. After pouring many thousands of tons of concrete into the foundations, it’s great to see the first steel framework rising from the ground and the first section of roofing has now gone on.
We know the remaining 18 months until ICC Wales opens in July 2019 are going to fly by and we have made further important progress away from the site with the securing of the first two events to be held at the new venue.
The most noticeable trend we saw in our existing conference and banqueting business during 2017 was a move towards more experientially led events, so we’ll be focusing on this even more in 2018. Clients are no longer satisfied to just sit their delegates in the conference room – they want an experience that their delegates will remember, so the activity side of our offering has been exceptionally busy.
We’re lucky that we have golf and spa and many more indoor and outdoor team-building activities right here on site, but our culinary team has also got on board like never before over the past year and we’ve done everything from sausage making to cocktail mixing.
We anticipate seeing more of this in 2018 so we’re stepping up our experiential offering even further and we’ve produced a Group Experiences brochure for this year so clients can get an even clearer picture of what they can build into their event.
Healthy eating remains a key topic for 2018 and we’re committed to meeting client demands for food that nourishes the mind, body and soul; keeping the mind sharp, body strong and soul nourished through great food.
By feeding the mind, body and soul with goodness, we can increase attentiveness, concentration and ultimately productivity. As a result, our events can achieve more successful communication and networking opportunities, enrich table conversations at dinners and sustain energy levels across the exhibition floor.
A previous monthly business blog post has already focussed on the opportunity presented to us in South Wales by the UK Government pledge to abolish the Severn Bridge toll by the end of the year.
We have already seen the first ever reduction in tolls to enter Wales this month and, as the year progresses and the full removal of the tolls moves ever closer, we will see more and more companies wanting to conduct business in Wales. This will be the biggest positive influence on business in this region in 2018.
One major challenge that remains to be overcome is the political uncertainty that lingers around Brexit. Many conference clients are understandably nervous about the whole Brexit situation, with some unwilling to commit budgets to staging events in the current climate. People seem increasingly resigned to the fact that Brexit will come at a cost but the sooner we know the exact details of that cost, the quicker we can plan for the future.
This week’s news that Carillion has gone into administration serves as a reminder that the national economy is still far from booming, but we enjoyed our strongest year yet for conference business in 2017.
Celtic Manor saw a huge amount of repeat business and new clients were brought into the fold for ICC Wales. We’ll be aiming to build on this success in 2018.