MEETINGS and events are back with a bang, says one of Bedfordshire’s major conference and events venues.
Confirmed business is up by almost 50% on pre-pandemic levels for the first half of this year at Wyboston Lakes Resorts pictured above.
It has delivered a record six months of business for the first half of 2022, despite restrictions around events in January and February following the Omicron outbreak. Business on the books at the six-month point is up by 47% on 2019 with a solid base already in place for 2023.
Bookings remain relatively short lead but the venue is reporting an uplift in demand for long-term bookings and a commitment to securing multi-event deals.
Revenue director Christine Gomez said: “This year we have seen meeting agendas evolve and, whilst the meeting content itself is the priority, the social aspect is also very important. The fact we had products in place to cater for this has really paid off.”
The resort’s sales strategy has focused on specific sectors and the sales team has reported a 75% increase in demand for events when compared with 2019. “We know those sectors we specialise in but we are also clear on what business we do not take and we have moved away from non-core sales lines, such as weddings, said sales director Richard Smith.
At the start of pandemic in 2020, management opted to continue with £3 million worth of planned refurbishments. Along with an overhaul on the delegate experience, such as enhanced food and beverages and alternative dining options, average booking value has increased substantially since 2019.
“The resort’s commitment to the environment, to investing in the team and our physical assets will keep pushing the costs base up,” said Mr Smith. “Therefore, to keep offering our guests the high-quality, value for money and best in class service, our prices will need to reflect this. The focus now is to maintain the margin and we do this by being focused on what business is good for the resort.
The resort chose not to furlough its business development team during the pandemic, which enabled relationships with agents and clients to remain strong and open.
“We are delighted with the business performance so far in 2022 and the future looks extremely bright for us,” said managing director Steve Jones pictured. Wyboston Lakes is planning investment in further capital projects in the coming months, he added. “Ensuring we have a robust and stable business for our team members and shareholders is fundamental.”