A stellar twelve months has seen one of Warwickshire’s best kept secrets stepping up to make an even bigger impression on the events and conferences scene.
NAEC Stoneleigh, the events venue which uniquely combines indoor exhibition space with thousands of acres of prime outdoor real estate, is on target to deliver an increase of nearly 20% in the number of large scale events that it hosts this year. With event enquiries doubling year on year, an array of new exhibitions and conferences have already been signed up to use NAEC Stoneleigh as their new home in 2019.
The new events added to the NAEC Stoneleigh roster for 2019 include Product Earth (a music festival and exhibition, raising awareness of the hemp and CBD industry) and Midlands Autofest (a “demonstration of mind-blowing cars” and a celebration of the culture that surrounds them). Also on the list are The Big One, Let’s Recycle and the Practical Shooting Show.
Car Chase Heroes have also checked in to make use of the venue’s miles of countryside roads and tracks for their car driving experience days. Newly established relationships with agencies like DRP and Capita have resulted in a number of large conferences being booked in. And there’s even a new Christmas Fair booking in place to round the year off.
Strategy pays dividends
According to NAEC Stoneleigh Managing Director, Chris Hartley, the upswing in the venue’s fortunes is a direct result of its sales and marketing strategy being overhauled a year ago. “There were several things we wanted to change,” he explains. “We wanted to improve the customer experience by working far more closely with our preferred suppliers. We’ve done that in areas such as security; AV and rigging; and design and production. We also created completely new customer offerings in marketing services and signage infrastructure.”
“A new website was created to showcase the venue in the best possible light. Behind the scenes, we also implemented a new event management and CRM system to help us work more efficiently. There was also a conscious effort to improve our agency relationships with a view to increasing our share of the corporate conference market. We’re now seeing the results of all these initiatives. Emerging as a viable competitor to some of our better known rivals, the only downside is that we might not be able to lay claim to being the event industry’s best kept secret for much longer!”
NAEC Stoneleigh’s recent growth has brought with it a few challenges that the team is now working through. Large conferences, for example, have required the venue to ramp up their catering offer, as Business Development Manager Ross Stewart explains.
“We’re well used to running large trade shows and exhibitions where we may have thousands of people on site, eating whenever they want across different catering outlets. However, conference catering is a different undertaking altogether. Clients typically need all the food – often for hundreds of people – to be served in a very tight time window so we’ve strengthened our catering front of house team. At one of our most recent events, we managed to feed all 650 delegates in less than 15 minutes – so I’d say it’s something we’re getting quite good at now!”
Alongside investing in its facilities and operations, NAEC Stoneleigh has also invested heavily in its personnel over the past year. New Heads of Finance, Operations and Marketing and Communications have all been added to the existing team, which has also taken on a new Business Development Manager and an Events Manager. If the business keeps growing at its expected rate, further additions in the near future would seem likely.
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One venue, limitless possibilities – located in the centre of England an exhibition, conference and outdoor event venue like no other.
With over 12,500sqm of indoor flexible event space, an additional 8000sqm covered multi-purpose covered space and 800 acres of outdoor space as well as a conference centre and equestrian facilities; NAEC Stoneleigh is one of the most versatile venue in the UK, hosting over 250 events per year.
On site facilities include a 57 bedroom guesthouse, off road 4x4 track, camp site, free parking for over 10,000 cars and an in-house catering team.
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