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University looks to conferencing to boost income

The University of Manchester could be a surprise winner in the battle for business in the recession.

As cutbacks bite, the institution is looking to its commercial arm to boost income, and conferencing and hotel trade appears to show huge potential for growth.

Managers at the University’s STARS department, who deliver Sport, Accommodation, Food and Conferencing, are now actively targeting the numerous organizations which are turning their backs on expensive hotels.

The financial climate means many public bodies are looking for cost effective venues to hold their events and the University is already capitalizing on this.

Conferences are held all year round at the plush Chancellor’s Hotel and Conference Centre (CHCC), which is situated in beautiful parkland in the south of the city.

“Not many people realise the University has its own hotel but it’s an increasingly popular venue,” said Layton Quinton, marketing manager for STARS. “It’s even been used as the backdrop for dramas made by ITV.”

Additionally, international events, meetings and conferences are held right across the University’s sites. Already booked up for next year is the International Chromosomes Conference, while the Royal Society of Chemistry has booked no less than four conferences in 2011.

University Place on Oxford Road has a Lecture Theatre which holds 1,000 people. With 23 seminar rooms for break-out sessions and a 400 seat restaurant it is well placed to attract big conferences.

“The University’s unique selling point is the sheer range of venues we can offer people at a variety of costs to suit all needs,” said Layton. “There really is something for everyone, from small meeting rooms to large lecture theatres, and all with in-house state-of-the-art AV technical support too which is saving clients lots of money.”

Turnover for conferencing and the CHCC in the year to August was more than $7.8 million and revenue projections for this year are looking very healthy.

There’s recently been a big rise in corporate booking, as well as an increase in the number of charitable organizations using the University to stage their conferences, seminars and meetings.

“Proximity to Manchester city center is a big attraction,” said Layton. “We’re a university situated right in the heart of a lively and exciting city and that means we can compete on a level playing field with bigger venues.”



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