As countries around the world respond to the coronavirus pandemic, London’s events industry has been adapting their business offering to support the fight against coronavirus.
While the government takes small steps towards re-opening parts of the UK economy and the events industry considers the path to recovery, the London Convention Bureau is launching a new resource for event planners – London’s Virtual Site Visits.
From its royal palaces and distinguished museums to purpose-built conference centres and high-tech venues, London is home to a diverse range of venues, events spaces and hotels. Many of which are opening their doors virtually for event planners to explore.
The online resource provides an up-to-date listing of the 360-degree virtual tours available of some of London’s world-class venues and hotels, providing access when in-person site visits are not possible.
For MICE planners looking for something with a royal theme, Historic Royal Palaces boasts an impressive line-up of regal meeting venues like the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace.
For those wanting a venue with a view, Searcys at the Gherkin and Sea Containers London provide something special with views of the River Thames and St Paul’s.
Somerset House is also offering a range of virtual site tours alongside their online programme of events, including an upcoming virtual tour of their Mushrooms exhibition, which explores the colourful cultural legacy of the humble mushroom and its powerful potential in the planet’s survival.
The new ‘Virtual Site Visits’ resource launches alongside Visit London’s ‘Virtually London’ platform which provides a complete list of virtual events and experiences in the UK capital ready to explore straight from the sofa. With access to both resources, events planners can explore London’s exceptional cultural offering alongside its world-class venues and hotels.
As thousands of London’s cultural attractions go online, visitors can stream anything from west end musicals and concerts to food and drinks masterclasses and virtual tours of London’s museums and galleries.
Some of London’s leading events have also announced they are going online. The world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show will host a series of virtual garden tours, a school gardening club and growing tips from experts online and London Fashion Week will see the womenswear and menswear shows merged as the British Fashion Council innovate to create a cultural fashion week digital platform.
Tracy Halliwell, Director of Conventions & Major events at London Convention Bureau said: “At the London Convention Bureau we have been inspired by the resilience, generosity and creativity of London’s events industry in their efforts to support the wider community at this difficult time. London has long been a truly dynamic city for meetings and events, and we are confident that this will continue as we move towards a path for recovery.
Whilst face-to-face meetings and events are crucial for business, right now they are not possible. Therefore, we are pleased to launch the online London’s Virtual Site Visits and Virtually London platforms for event planners to explore the city’s world-class venues and hotels to suit all budgets and event concepts, as well as its cultural offering, from the safety of their homes. We look forward to welcoming events and business meetings back to London when the time is right.”
With the global hospitality and events industries heavily affected by lock down and social distancing measures, venues, hotels and restaurants in London are also doing what they can to help the wider community.
From hotels like Claridges providing free accommodation for NHS staff and key workers and ExCeL London transforming into the NHS Nightingale Hospital to Olympia London turning into a food bank to help vulnerable Londoners, the industry is demonstrating its resilience and solidarity at this challenging time.
Iconic venues in the UK capital also rallied behind the NHS for the #LightitBlue campaign – with the likes of Southbank Centre, Royal Albert Hall, London Eye and Somerset House illuminating their venues blue every Thursday to show their support for the NHS.
Lorraine Thorne, Head of Commercial Events at Somerset House added: “Our virtual site visit tours provide access to our extensive venue spaces and we are pleased to be involved with PlanetIMEX to connect with event planners and showcase what Somerset House can offer for future events. We are also working hard to provide a new and extensive online cultural programme for our audiences. We have launched our I Should Be Doing Something Else Right Now programme, much of it made by our residents responding to the current situation, and we are about to release a never-seen-before virtual tour of our Mushrooms exhibition to mark International Museum Day. Somerset House is home to a vibrant community of artists, makers and creatives and we want this to be reflected in our virtual offering at this time.”
London’s event spaces and hotels offering virtual site visits include:
- Central Hall Westminster – Located opposite Westminster Abbey, Central Hall Westminster is one of London’s largest conference venues. Its online site visit provides event planners access to impressive views on the Dome Tour, as well as their 22-room portfolio, exhibition spaces, auditorium and the grand Great Hall Foyer.
- Edwardian Hotels London – With their heavily anticipated The Londoner, the world’s first super boutique hotel, planned to open later this year in London’s West End, event planners can take a 360-degree virtual tour of three of Edwardian’s hotels; The May Fair Hotel, Radisson Blu Edwardian, New Providence Wharf and Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire.
- ExCeL London – Whilst London’s largest conference centre is currently operating as the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital, event planners can take an interactive tour of a number of unique spaces at the venue, from vast event halls to new state-of-the-art meeting facilities. ExCeL London also operates a “no plastic” campaign at events to help reduce waste.
- Hard Rock Hotel – a haven for music lovers and cultural explorers, the recently opened Hard Rock Hotel is built in one of London’s most iconic locations – on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane. Catering to the needs of both business and leisure travellers, Hard Rock Hotel London boasts 900 stylish rooms and suites, together with two vibrant bars and a lively Hard Rock Cafe®
- Historic Royal Palaces – From the Banqueting House in Whitehall and Kensington Palace to the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, Historic Royal Palaces provides access to six venues in some of London’s most iconic sites for event planners looking for a regal venue.
- Rosewood London – With work underway on the Rosewood’s second London property in the former US Embassy, event planners can take a look inside its first London location, a restored Edwardian Grade II-listed building with its Grand Ballroom and historic boardrooms.
- Royal Museums Greenwich – Boasting five key locations; Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Peter Harrison Planetarium, Queen’s House and the Royal Observatory, event planners can take a tour inside each historic venue with unforgettable views and unique locations.
- Somerset House – Located right on the River Thames, Somerset House is home to the UK’s largest creative community and boasts a wide variety of options for event planners, including 12 blank canvas event spaces. Its online offering also comprises the soon to be launched virtual tour of its quirky Mushrooms.
- Tobacco Docks – Historic London’s newest events’ space is located in the heart of East London’s thriving enterprise zone. The venue includes a newly renovated rooftop bar, 40 individual event spaces and 200-year-old architecture combined with state-of-the-art technology.
While London looks towards the recovery period, the business events industry has an important part to play in promoting London’s businesses and attracting global events to the capital for the future, whilst also ensuring public safety is met. As The UK Events Report from Business Visits & Events Partnership recently revealed, the UK events industry generated £70bn in 2019, with £31bn coming from business events.1
The London Convention Bureau will be stepping into the new world of PlanetIMEX along with a host of hotels, iconic venues, historic sites and two DMC’s from the capital (see full list below).