Why are Visitor Attractions diversifying their product to offer conference facilities?

Authors: Whitfield, J.E.

Conference: The Second International Conference in MICE Tourism Education and Industrial Development in the Asian Pacific Region¨ And The Second Collaborative Forum for MICE Industry in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao

Dates: 27-29 November 2007


This paper discusses the rationale why visitor attractions are diversifying their products to enter the conference market. This paper will identify the demand and supply factors which promote such diversification. Additionally, the paper identifies the characteristics of the visitor attraction conference product. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of the conference product will be identified.

The demand for visitor attractions with conference facilities is growing, as companies become increasingly competitive in choosing venues that are designed to make an impression. After all, the attraction is not the room, but the venue itself. In today’s market place conference organisers look for venues that will fit the theme of an event. Visitor attractions are therefore no longer as much of an unconventional choice as they once were. In light of this realisation, so such venues have marketed themselves not only on the provision of conference facilities but also on the cultural aspect of their attraction. As more museums, castles, stately homes and theme parks and other visitor attractions identify the value of the conference market, the more they will respond to conference organisers’ needs.

Drawn from a wider survey population undertaken in 2001, this research is based upon a survey of 75 visitor attractions from across the UK. The survey results identify that many visitor attractions first entered the market place to diversify their revenue base, and did not invest heavily into providing a complete conference product. Indeed, the research identifies that cosmetic changes remain the most common refurbishment activities undertaken in order to create the initial conference facilities offered by many visitor attractions. However, the results highlight that since opening, visitor attractions have changed their strategy and are now willing to invest into their conference product. Such venues are increasingly aware of the intense competition within the market place and the need for investment to maintain a place in the ever growing competitive environment and to be able to supply a unique product. As such, the extent of structural changes involving the conversion and/or extension of the physical building increased in popularity once the conference facilities had opened.

Visitor attractions perceive their strengths as offering high level of service and customer-oriented staff, the venue has a unique experience and the venue provides wide range of meeting capacities. However, across visitor attractions weaknesses are perceived to be the provision of sufficient local attractions to entertain delegates, the venue has in-house accommodation and a conference bureau service is provided.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Julie Whitfield