This month’s Marketing Liverpool Member’s Event – held in partnership with Liverpool BID Company and Liverpool Growth Platform – brought together a broad range of private and public sector speakers, to highlight and examine the most pressing issues facing our business partners today.
The event was held within Knowledge Quarter’s newly opened ‘The Spine’ building, the new Northern HQ of Royal College of Physicians and one of Europe’s healthiest buildings. It focussed on post-pandemic business concerns, ongoing ‘build back better’ strategy and the importance of green issues, when it comes to securing new business. Each major international issues, viewed through a regional lens.
If you couldn’t make it to the meeting this time, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Watch the full video footage of the event below and Read our round-up of highlights from the day’s line-up of speakers.
(Comments have been edited for brevity and clarity)
CHRIS BROWN, MARKETING LIVERPOOL DIRECTOR ON RECENT ML ACTIVITY:
“Marketing Liverpool were very keen to ensure that we got the Liverpool ‘show’ back on the road as quickly as possible and ensure that we were not hanging back, in terms of getting our messaging out there.
“My team have attended Confex, ‘The Meetings Show’ and ‘The Travel Trade Show’ recently. The good thing about this activity is that we’ve generated a lot of new business partners and new business for the city off the back of these events, with a lot of new enquiries as well.
“We know that the visitor economy market for us over the past 18 months has been domestic, and we’ve missed European and international visitors badly. However, we’ve done immensely well with our domestic market and we want to retain that domestic market going forward.
“In terms of PR, I think the fact that we’ve secured coverage from the likes of USA Today, France’s TF1, National Geographic and Lonely Planet, strongly signifies the enduring international interest in Liverpool that attracts. That is really positive, for us, because it shows that there is an appetite for Liverpool from tourists all around the world.
“We also joined the Global Destination Sustainability movement to asses and improve our green credentials as a city. This move will benchmarked us against 70 other cities. We may not be in the top five. We may be towards the bottom, but this is about getting a base of understanding about where we currently are and from there we can progress.
“In addition, we’re also collaborating with several European Cities, who are far ahead of Liverpool, in terms of the green agenda, but we are keen to learn from then and get to where they are as quickly as we can. So, we’re delighted to have signed on with Green Tourism at a destination level.”
NATASHA ALLEN, HEAD OF COMMERCIAL EVENTS, ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS
“A lot of people thought we were absolutely insane to launch ‘The Spine’ as we were beginning to emerge from the pandemic. Nevertheless, a bit of good news goes a long way and we thought ‘why not?’
“It’s been amazing to watch this building slowly emerge over the last five years and we were really welcomed very warmly by everyone in Liverpool and Marketing Liverpool, in-particular. Their team have really helped us to immerse ourselves into the Liverpool scene. We’re really looking forward to welcoming you all and helping you all to ‘The Spine’ for future events. The building is a fantastic physical manifestation of where Liverpool City Region is heading.”
KATE NICHOLLS, CEO, UKHOSPITALITY ON THE CURRENT CHALLENGES OUR INDUSTIES FACE
“Based on the feedback I’ve received from many businesses, the overall view of the tourism, hospitality and event industry at the moment could be most accurately described as running to stand still. In the UK, the sector has had a positive bounce-back. We currently have 95 per cent of venues open and trading at around 85 per cent, compared to 2019 levels and we have been at this level of the course of the summer.
“But there is considerable lag in major towns and city centres. City centres are operating at about 60 to 70 per cent recovery, depending on the particular city or town. Therefore, although we’ve had a positive start, there’s much more that needs to be done to get our towns and cities moving forward.
“When it came to reopening we’ve had challenges that were unexpected and different from last year, when we reopened quite successfully in the summer of 2020. These challenges have become a drag on growth. In particular, there’s been a cooling effect on consumer confidence, which is so critical in this sector, where you need that long-term time lag, when you’re booking in major international events and conferences.
“Because of the government’s announcements around step four; the autumn and winter plan, the potential of vaccine certificates, and the possibility that we might have to go back to working from home; all these things have had a cooling effect on longer term business planning.
“And then secondly, there are now acute labour shortages. I think everybody knew we were going to go back into a tight labour market at some point in time, but actually, the labour market is much, much tighter at the point of reopening than anyone had anticipated. Across hospitality as a whole, you have a vacancy rate of 10 per cent. Within the food supply chain and the border supply chain, you have a vacancy rate of one in eight workers. When you factor all these things together, it’s quite clear that there are big challenges ahead.
SCOTT MACLEAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, GREEN TOURISM ON THE EVER-GROWING IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABILITY IN TOURISM AND HOW HIS ORGANISATION CAN HELP BUSINESSES GO GREEN AND INCREASE REVENUE.
“Over the last 18 months, society’s perception of sustainability has changed. This increased public awareness is affecting the green tourism industry like never before. In green tourism, we see from our engagement with the sector, that business is being won based on a destination’s or a venue’s capability to deliver a sustainable event. This includes the event itself, but also the accommodation and the local experiences associated with that.
“What we’re seeing now is the increase of online booking platforms that serve the buyer with information about sustainability credentials of venues and accommodation and this trend will increasingly be found online. Sales and procurement teams are now consistently asking about this, but Google and other search engines are also beginning to rank, based on third-party green certifications.
“Green Tourism’s awards certification programme recognises the commitment of tourism businesses which are actively working to become more sustainable. Our bronze, silver and gold awards are acknowledged worldwide as an indicator of good environmentally friendly practice. They are also a great way of progressing your green journey as well as acting as a hallmark of ‘green quality’, attracting custom from increasing numbers of eco-minded visitors.
“Our technical experts offer practical advice and lots of support – this means that saving energy and changing dated and unsustainable ways of doing things can be much more straightforward than you might think. We want acting responsibly to become second nature to businesses in our industry, and becoming a member of Green Tourism is a brilliant first step to getting greener.”
PETER SANDMAN, HEAD OF VISITOR ECONOMY, GROWTH PLATFORM ON BEHIND THE SCENES PLANNING TO ENSURE LIVERPOOL CITY REGION’S GROWTH AND PROSPERITY, POST-PANDEMIC.
“At Growth Platform we’re used to fighting for money for marketing or business events, but now there’s two sides and we have to fight for money to invest in business support and fight even harder for investment in skills.
“Our visitor economy is an incredibly important sector for Liverpool City Region. As you can see from my presentation, the region has been severely impacted by COVID-19, essentially cutting this vital economy in half. Our intention is to build this back to where it was and help it grow again and adjust.
“We keep a close eye on hotel occupancy, attraction footfall, and Liverpool John Lennon Airport passenger numbers and things are going in the right direction. We are up on 2020 figures across the board, but not yet back to the highs we witnessed in 2019.
“Along with our partners, we have developed a short-term recovery strategy, which focusses on maintaining clear alignment with government recovery plans, enhancing the visibility and connectivity of our city region’s key assets and resetting the city region’s long term investment model, through a viable public sector led approach.
“Our current priorities have been identified as demand generation, business support and resilience, resilient structures and skills. We are progressing against those priorities by building private sector confidence to invest, through the Strategic Investment Fund, which we’ve managed to generate to the value of £6.3 billion, funding that finance programmes until 2024.
“We’re also very keen to increase investment in sporting events. Sporting events can be really critical when it comes to securing midweek occupancy and sustaining that year-round demand.
“Key milestones coming up for us include the LCR Visitor Economy Strategy, the Liverpool Destination Management Organisation Review response, the Accommodation BID Ballot, Destination Development Partnership, and the Liverpool City Region Destination Development Plan, anticipated in the spring of 2022.”
NATALIE HEYWOOD, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LEAF ON RECOVERY SURPRISES AND BOOMING CITY CENTRE BUSINESS
“In terms of coming out of the third lock down, business has really bounced back. Particularly in terms of the leisure side of our business. LEAF has experienced unbelievable pent-up customer demand. We didn’t expect to trade as well as we have traded.
“We expected our branches of café’s to remain as busy in the suburbs as they were during lockdown and for our city centre branches in Bold Street to suffer but the reality is that it’s been the complete opposite. LEAF on Bold Street is busier than we have ever been since we opened, 11 years ago.
“I think that’s partly to do with the outside seating and the animation of the city centre, but I think in general Liverpool feels electric, it feels energetic and people are loving coming into the city centre at the weekends. Saturdays are so incredibly busy in the city centre. We couldn’t really have wished for anything more, in terms of customer demand.
“But we’ve struggled enormously, behind the scenes to meet demand, due to the jobs market, which is diabolical. We’ve struggled to get candidates to turn up for interviews. Sometimes they get the job and then don’t show up for their first day.
“The situation in the kitchens is really, really challenging. Therefore, whilst the demand is there and it’s been fantastic and better than we could ever have wished for, the operational challenges we have faced, due to staffing and supply have been some of the biggest we have ever faced.”
JENNINA O’NEIL, MARKETING MANAGER, METQUARTER ON THE RETAIL AND LEISURE DESTINATION’S EVOLUTION INTO THE HOME OF LIVERPOOL MEDIA ACADEMY
“We went into March 2020 with a number of options for diversifying Liverpool’s Metquarter. Once an exclusive high-end shopping destination, which never really sat very well with Liverpool, because Liverpool is a very inclusive city.
“One of the options was Liverpool Media Academy (LMA). I Initially thought ‘how are we going to fit 35 classrooms and multiple performance spaces into what was historically retail space, but the first lock-down made everything happen really quickly.
“We were able to get up and running, with legal and everything else sorted, opening the new Liverpool Media Academy in record time. We had these 35 classrooms created by September 2020. It was the most stressful period of my life, but what we delivered as a business is incredible. My CEO will say ‘we’re not just a shopping centre’ and that’s true. We’re so much more than that.
“We now have a new food hall, a new independent cinema and many new independent stores, and when you combine that with the Liverpool Music Academy and the creativity that brings, we’re now a much better fit for Liverpool.”
TO WRAP THINGS UP
In the grand scheme of things, the Marketing Liverpool Partner’s meetings may seem pretty small scale. However, this one event, held in a super-healthy building, provided a useful and informative ‘health check’ for our partners in the visitor economy.
The event highlighted Liverpool City Region’s strategic recovery direction, against a national backdrop; explored smart plans for business diversity; uncovered some surprising outcomes for small businesses success and investigated the growing value of green credentials for hospitality-focussed businesses.
Big themes, critical plans, an open forum for sharing ideas and friendly faces, ready to offer support. Simply put, the Marketing Liverpool Partner’s event is here to help our partner organisations achieve their business goals and we’d love to see you at the next event.
For more information about how to become a Marketing Liverpool Partner, contact:
T. + (0)151 233 5925