The Harrogate International Centre (HIC) has said it is looking to take business away from local hotels by taking a slice of the smaller events, the mainstay of many local hotels.
This announcement follows the criticism by the HIC that local hotels are damaging to the conference trade that visits the town.
Simon Kent, director of Harrogate International Centre (HIC), said he wants to attract more intimate events, such as board meetings, seminars and focus groups, from a sector which has traditionally been dominated by the region’s hotels.
The International Centre has a UK-wide reputation for staging major conferences and exhibitions but Mr Kent said he was determined to “open new markets” for HIC by attracting smaller events from Harrogate itself and neighbouring York and Leeds.
Simon Kent said: This is going to be a tough market to break into because our region has a large number good of hotels and they are usually the first choice when businesses want to host things such as seminars, AGMs or corporate hospitality.
To open this new market our strategy is not only about competitive pricing of our smaller rooms and halls but also selling our expertise.
We have skilled technicians, caterers and event co-ordinators here with years of experience in providing the wow factor and that’s something unique to dedicated event venues like HIC.
It’s also a prestige thing, we want owners of small and medium-sized businesses to feel proud to be welcoming their clients or staff to a major international venue like ours.
Since taking the helm at HIC in 2012, Mr Kent has said he has worked hard to raise the local profile of the venue and strengthen links with regional partner industries such as accommodation, transport and leisure.
Simon Kent added: Hopefully we can also start to capitalise on the local links we have been building.
For example all delegates at HIC events can now get 25 per cent off their food bills at a range of restaurants and cafes in town.
Locally the HIC’s scheme of asking local restaurants to give a discount to conference delegates has come under criticism. The discount is being paid for and restaurants regular trade do not benefit from the discount. Many restaurants have declined to participate as they see it as damaging to their business.