By Robert Enefer

The Conference People



Brighton is an iconic international conference destination and needs a new conference centre. The recent £1 million investment to improve some areas and improve the broadband service is one thing, but we will have difficulty encouraging our clients to bring their events to the city after comments like “depressing”, “soulless with no atmosphere” and “way behind other venues”.

In fact, we’ve taken clients to view the centre and they have looked at the outside and refused even to go inside. It really does look like a monstrosity and this is such a shame as its location is fantastic, with everything close by including hotels which either have had or are now being refurbished – all key to the partnership of promoting a conference destination in an ever-demanding conference market place.

Brighton certainly has so much going for it, we are organising more events there than ever in the next year – all in hotels – and delegates love the all round facilities that the city provides. But, after location, the next part of conference planning is the venue itself and direct comparisons are continually made with Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham for example, all of which have new or totally redeveloped Centres.

Brighton will fall behind this competition. Of course, it’s not just UK venues that Brighton competes with and it is increasingly disadvantaged here also; in the past year two of our large events have chosen Dublin against Brighton for the key reason of standard of the main conference facility.

One can only imagine, if Brighton Centre has to last as it is for another eight or 10 years, how hard it will be then to encourage quality events with good budgets to book. It will be in danger of becoming a second string conference location and no one will want that to happen.

Brighton can only play on its resort heritage for so long; really the time has come to look to the future. In this economic climate it will take someone’s very deep pockets and vision for the future prosperity of Brighton to find a way to make Brighton’s conference dreams come true.