UK buyers go head-to-head in bid to encourage more business events

Some of Perthshire's top venues and suppliers have put a group of UK buyers through their paces, in a series of challenges to encourage more business visitors to the area.

The Perthshire Agency Challenge, the first of its kind created by Meetings Perthshire (the operating name of the Perthshire Business Tourism Group) with support from VisitScotland Business Events and Perth & Kinross Council, gave seven agents from across England a taste of the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) sector in the area.

In a unique move which differs from the usual familiarisation (fam) trip, the buyers not only learned first-hand from each venue of the possibilities for corporate conferences, events and incentives but they were also pitted against each other in a series of mental and physical challenges which culminated with a mini Highland Games.

The buying agents came from major business events firms such as ArrangeMY, Capita Travel & Events, Sterling Travel and NYS Corporate who represent clients like PWC, RBS, 3 mobile, BGL Group and Diabetes UK.

The Perthshire businesses which took part in the Perthshire Agency Challenge from 4-6 September were: Murrayshall House Hotel; Ballathie House Hotel; Dunkeld House Hotel; Blair Castle; Fonab Castle; Scone Palace; Perth Racecourse; Gleneagles Hotel; BlueSky Experiences; Green Hotel. In addition, one of the races at the Scotland Food & Drink Festival Day held at Perth Racecourse was named after the Perthshire Business Tourism Group.

Located just 90 minutes from 90% of the Scottish population, Perthshire's beautiful countryside setting helps make it one of the top venues for conferences, meetings and incentive events – from corporate events to associations and political parties.

Among the major conferences hosted last year were Mountains of our Future Earth which was attended by 450 delegates from 60 countries over five days and the Scottish Labour Party Conference which was attended by 900 delegates over three days.

Theresa Ring, Market Manager – The Midlands & North England at VisitScotland Business Events, said:

"Business Events represents a £1.9 billion industry for Scotland in which Perthshire plays an important part. Perthshire is home to some of Scotland's top and unique venues and is an ideal location for those wanting to experience both our rural and urban landscape.

"Fam trips are an essential tool in encouraging organisations to bring their conferences, events and meetings to Scotland and we hope this unique twist will leave a lasting impression on our guests."

Catriona Anderson, Marketing Consultant and coordinator of Meetings Perthshire, said:

"Perthshire has a great range and wealth of expertise in hosting world class events and international conferences. The city of Perth, which is applying for the City of Culture award in 2021, is striving to give that edge for its residents, visitors and conference delegates alike. With such an easy space to explore and variety of entertainment, it offers delegates a good option to really bring a conference together.

"With its wonderful scenery, outdoor activities, and exclusive use venues for that truly incentive event, Perthshire really is the centre of Scotland for conference business, naturally."

Scott Robertson, Business Development Manager Blair Castle, and chair of Meetings Perthshire, said:

"Perthshire is a real find for the MICE industry, with its ability to cater for corporate, association and the incentive markets. Centrally located in Scotland and only a short drive from the main airports, Perthshire combines that city and rural mix that can really boost an event.

"With the Meetings Perthshire website bringing together the key players for the area, it makes conference agents and buyers life easier to find the perfect venue in Perthshire."

Councillor John Kellas, Convener of Enterprise & Infrastructure for Perth & Kinross Council, said:

"This new approach to selling the area to buyers has offered Perthshire tourism businesses a unique opportunity to portray the area as it really is, and gives buyers a chance to find out more about the broad range of what Perth and Kinross has to offer.

"An increased knowledge and understanding of the local offering means that they will be in a much better position in future to make connections between attractions, and increase opportunities to encourage visitors to Perth and Kinross to stay longer, visit more places and demonstrate the attractiveness of the area as a visitor attraction for the benefit of all."

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