BCSC's hosts jubilee conference in Liverpool

The shopping centres association wanted to recognise retail's contribution to regeneration

FACTFILE
Client: The British Council of Shopping Centres
Event: Conference and showcase Group size 3,000
Agency: In-house venue team and the Liverpool Convention Bureau
Date: 10-12 November 2008
Venue: ACC Liverpool
Budget: Undisclosed

The Brief: The British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) wanted to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a conference and exhibition for 3,000 delegates in the 2008 European Capital of Culture. It also wanted to recognise the contribution of the retail property industry to local economies in the UK. Therefore, the client wanted a location where the retail industry had contributed positively to a city's regeneration and Liverpool's £1bn Liverpool One retail development fitted the brief.

Challenges: The BCSC conference and showcase comprised a conference, break-out sessions and a retail exhibition. The plenary space needed to accommodate 3,000 delegates and offer an exhibition area, taking the total space needed to more than 7,000m2. ACC Liverpool marketing manager Pam Carroll recalls that the event took place the day after the adjacent Echo Arena had been used for the MTV European Music Awards, so the biggest challenge was to secure all the space available and take over the Arena space as soon as the awards had ended.

"In addition, BCSC challenged our creative delivery," Carroll says. "The BT Convention Centre had been open for just six months and this event was a major showcase, for not only ACC Liverpool and BCSC, but the wider city and national retail industry."

Solution: Delegates did not start to arrive until 4pm on 10 November so there was enough time to add the Echo Arena and a multipurpose hall to the available event space. Carroll recalls: "This was not a typical conference - the showcase element needed a detailed social event programme from a 'Party in the Park' to a 'Tea Party' and other fringe events."

Execution: Delegates registered and then headed to a welcome reception in the BT Convention Centre. The next day, the conference opened at 9am with a 'Focus' morning featuring speakers such as Lord Heseltine and Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy. City tours and break-out workshop sessions were held throughout the two days alongside the exhibition. The final day of the conference concluded with an awards ceremony.

Verdict: The event's success can be measured in terms of positive client feedback and the fact that the BCSC returned to ACC Liverpool in March 2009 for its Shopping Centre Management Conference. BCSC chief executive Michael Green says: "In difficult times it was good to see the industry as upbeat and buoyant as ever. The city of Liverpool made us very welcome and if the opportunity arises we would not hesitate in bringing this event back again. The quality of speakers and their messages, together with the business generated within our showcase, made the event a real success."

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