The VisitBritain Business Events Association Conference held in Edinburgh was undoubtedly an exceptional event, one that resonated with all who attended. This three-day meeting saw the coming together of destinations, associations and  Professional Conference Organisers (PCOs) to discuss impact, legacy and what these terms mean.

Here are our six key takeaways from the conference:


1. Craft Compelling Narratives:

One resounding theme was the importance of storytelling. It became evident that successful events are not just about logistics, they're about taking people on a journey of compelling narratives. By permeating events with stories and experiences that resonate with delegates, together we can create more meaningful experiences.


2. Bridging Business Events with Community Wellbeing:

Another notable point was the emphasis on linking business events with the wellbeing of local communities. It's not merely about hosting events but about ensuring that these events contribute positively to local communities and the local economy. Such an example is a collaboration some destinations have made with Invisible Cities – a social enterprise that trains people affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides in their own city.


3. Regional Approaches and Initiatives:

Across the nations, each destination recognised the need for tailored approaches. Initiatives included (and this is by no means an exhaustive list!):

  • Menus for good
  • Building cohesive communities
  • Elevating business events into the same PR sphere as sports events
  • Instilling a sense of pride in the host community
  • Catching the attention of local government/s
  • Emphasising key sectors


4. The Power of Partnerships:

Destinations play a crucial role in supporting associations with funding applications and expanding their networks. This support extends to connecting associations with potential speakers, new members, new attendees, and potential sponsors, as well as providing resources for marketing collateral and the introductions of a PCO, if required. The relationship between associations and destinations should be viewed as a partnership, with an emphasis on collaboration and mutual benefits.  


5. Sustainability and Youth Engagement:

Sustainability emerged as a key focus area, not only for its environmental impact but also as a means to engage younger members in associations Whilst most associations admitted sustainability was not a key decision-making factor when choosing a destination/venue, they all admitted that in order to engage and attract a younger membership, it was critical to build sustainability objectives into their Request for Proposal (RFP); many young people are now choosing to work for and join organisations whose values mirror their own.


6. Sustainable Transportation:

An insightful talk from Rail Delivery Group shed light on sustainable transportation options, with rail travel being highlighted as the most environmentally friendly mode. Despite challenges such as rail strikes and varying booking processes, efforts are underway to make rail travel more accessible and consistent. Potential future plans include integrated passes that encompass travel by boat or plane, further promoting sustainable transportation solutions.


The Visit Britain Association Conference provided invaluable insights and opportunities for collaboration, reinforcing the notion that impactful events are not only about what happens within the confines of the venue but also about their broader implications for communities and the environment. As we navigate the evolving landscape of events, embracing sustainability and fostering meaningful partnerships should remain at the forefront of our endeavours.


If you're not sure what sustainability can do for your organisation, read our case study for The British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR).