Earlier this year the Sheraton Grand played host to the European Relocation Association’s International Relocation Conference, which saw 650 delegates gathering in our dedicated events complex. The Conference is held annually in a different European city and is the biggest event of its kind in Europe.
Name of Client: European Relocation Association (EuRA)
Name of the Event: International Relocation Congress 2014
Dates: 9th – 11th April 2014
Group Size: 650
How did EuRA decide the destination and venue for this event?
We were very keen to run our event in the UK, but not to do the obvious London event. Edinburgh is a world capital and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – it was decided pretty much as soon as our Board stepped off the plane, that Edinburgh was the city for the event.
Our delegates have always told us they like to be based in a hotel where it’s easier to network and meet up. The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa was the clear choice as soon as we had done the site visit. It’s an amazing property and ticks all of our primary criteria (in order of importance):
- Faith in the staff and management teams – established during the site visit. We knew we would be in good hands from the walk around
- Size and flexibility of conference spaces
- Great guest rooms – size, quality of décor, bathroom, technology
- Immaculate public areas
- Size of bar and restaurant
- Quality and reputation
- Excellent location
What were the main objectives for the event?
- To give the delegates great value for money, an unsurpassed networking and knowledge sharing opportunity in a great venue in a city they’ll enjoy
- To provide our sponsors and exhibitors with a space and event that will increase their visibility to delegates
- To ensure the delegates have a great time and a memorable experience
- To build and maintain loyalty from the members
Why were Edinburgh and the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa selected as the destination and venue?
Edinburgh – because we knew delegates would love it and that many would never have been to the city before, which is something we factor into our choice of host city.
The Sheraton Grand was chosen for the reasons set out above. For us and our needs, the hotel had all the space, flexibility and style that sets it apart as a perfect venue. On top of that, it has the best staff and management teams we’ve worked with in the 17 years we’ve been running this event.
Were there any key challenges or did anything unexpected happen that had to be addressed during the event?
There are always key challenges - for us this year, it was the huge jump in delegate numbers which had stayed static at 550 for five years and suddenly rose to 660 and counting. We could have gone to 700 but didn’t want to fundamentally alter the tone and scale of the event, as it’s known in our industry as an excellent networking opportunity – probably the best in the world because of the quality of delegates and the fact that at less than 600, it’s much simpler to network than the big US conference which hosts 1200 delegates.
Did the destination and venue live up to your expectations?
Edinburgh – everyone loved the city. People were excited to come but were surprised by just how beautiful it is and what an easy place it is to fully explore.
Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa – unbelievable. This is the best venue we have used in 17 years of the event. It’s difficult to pick out why but here goes:
- Superb staff team – delegates were constantly commenting on how helpful and friendly everyone was, from concierge to front desk to food and beverage in the conference spaces and restaurant.
- Events Team – every need was anticipated and solutions found to any challenges before we had even thought of them. A kind and calming presence right the way through from event design to delivery. Carron is a total professional and gave us total confidence.
- Banqueting Team – attention to detail beyond brilliant. A great team who work seamlessly to deliver true excellence.
- Food & Beverage (Conference) – best we’ve had. Food at every turn was superb – lunches delivered to 600 delegates hot, fresh, delicious. Comments have never been so positive.
- Coffee and tea stations were always fully stocked – this is something that has been an issue in the past but never was at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa – quality of coffee break snacks was wonderful – carrot cake and flapjacks get particular attention! Great to have Irn Bru brought in – delegates really enjoyed the fact it’s Scotland’s national soda.
- Food & Beverage (Party Night) – first class, 5-star meal. A great menu, delivered perfectly. Again, delegate comments have never been so favorable.
- Meeting Spaces – some of the best meeting space we’ve ever had access to and the staff team turned layouts around with impressive speed and an attention to detail that we have simply not encountered before.
- Pre event brief – every minute of the event mapped out in our briefing packs meant that it ran perfectly. Every room layout, AV and Food & Beverage requirement was correct and again, this is a first and made the event so stress free. Knowing this was all going to be right, was a huge benefit to us.
Will EuRA use the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa again?
We will definitely use Starwood Hotels & Resorts again – next year we will be in the Sheraton Porto and we will be following up leads for Le Méridien and W Hotels Paris, and the Westin Palace, Madrid. Unfortunately for us, the association is currently not repeating conference locations. If we were, the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa would be used in rotation every four years. We will be revisiting the idea at the next Board meeting.