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Wednesday 11th May 2016

Visit Scotland Expo Dinner

Visit Scotland have been organising the annual Expo event since 1980, showcasing the best of Scotland’s tourism industry to travel buyers from around the world. The dinner itself is an evening event held for all those attending the Expo to showcase Scotland’s hospitality industry further and to allow networking in a more relaxed environment. 

On the 20th April 2016 the Visit Scotland Expo Dinner was hosted at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange.  This gala evening was the culmination of the first day of the Visit Scotland expo, Scotland's premier business to business travel trade event.

Organising 

The initial proposition for this event came through in October 2015 and as with all public funded events the Corn Exchange had to put in their bid and tender. This involved a lengthy process of developing a proposal to meet all the event specifications as clearly outlined by Visit Scotland. Targeted towards a detailed list of requirement we knew we needed to develop a strong pitch, competing with many other venues throughout Edinburgh. 

One of the main focuses for the event was the catering. The dinner menu had to be a relaxed informal service but at the same time highlighting and promoting Scottish produce. Guests needed to receive a varied and diverse experience of Scottish food that could be locally sourced, endorsing the amazing produce on Scotland’s door step. 

Working with our in-house caterer, Prestige Venues and Events, we developed two menus to complement the evening and the event started to take shape. After arriving to a welcome drink of choice, guests were invited into our main banquet hall, the Exchange. With the help of our preferred audio visual partner, Vision Events, the room was enhanced with Visit Scotland branding, mood lighting, and black table linen. Visit Scotland chose the second out of the two menus put forward, a standard plated two-course meal or alternatively, a plated starter followed by a buffet centre piece that guests could pass round the table to encourage discussions regarding the food on offer. This was then followed by a beautiful Scottish Rhubarb dessert. The dinner finished with an awards ceremony and then the fun began with a ceilidh. 

New developments

The week before the event, the main organiser called to discuss final numbers, and after the original event quote being for 700 guests, Visit Scotland had had a record number of responses of those attending, and numbers had increase to 850 guests. As the Exchange could easily hold this number of guests, we were able to accommodate this increased without any problems, much to the relief to the Visit Scotland team. 

Final Event

On the event day, after an extensive morning of setting up the venue and coordinating with suppliers, we opened our doors to the exhibitors and attendees. They were welcomed into the venue with a traditional Scottish piper, flaming flambeaux and red carpet drinks reception. 

Once dinner was called guests got to experience the well-designed setup of the Exchange and the final menu chosen by the Visit Scotland team. As an industry first Prestige had followed the client brief to find local Scottish produce so diligently that even staple  ingredients including sugar, garlic and onions etc were sourced within Scotland. The main course was the highlight of the show, with the table centre pieces being built as tiered stands to show case this.  Below is the final menu exhibitors got to enjoy - 

Menu

Shetland salmon home cured with Edinburgh gin, Shony seaweed from Mara and Hebridean sea salt, chilled veloute of wild garlic foraged by our chefs and Knockraiche Farm crème fraiche, sprouting broccoli salad and toasted Fords of Edinburgh soda scone

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Robertson’s of Ardrossan pork three ways; twice cooked crispy belly, roast mini joint glazed with handpicked crab apple jelly and crunchy crackling, Stornoway black pudding

Served with a selection of seasonal vegetables from Gordon Caldwell in Girvan to include; heritage carrots, pickled white cabbage, salt baked beetroot, steamed baby potatoes

Homemade sauces and artisan chutneys to include; Craigie’s Farm apple sauce, onion relish from

Pettigrew’s of Kelso, Isle of Arran whole grain mustard and Swede chutney from Henshelwood’s on the Isle of Bute

The evening then continued with a very successful stand awards presentation and ceilidh with traditional dances and funky Ceilidh band organised by the main entertainment supplier Reel Time Events. 

Feedback

The event itself was a great success, not only for the Visit Scotland team who had been working a full day at the Expo itself but those who attended, including the Corn Exchange staff working on the night. The higher attendee numbers had been one of the best on record for the event and the purely Scottish menu impressed many of those that attended, most of whom had experienced many of these events in the past. The Corn Exchange impressed attendees with our venue space that seamlessly combined the tradition of a historic venue with modern setups, highlighting it as a destination location. All the hard work and preparation had paid off.

Testimonial

“Thanks for your note and for hosting the event last week. All the feedback has been extremely positive regarding the venue…everything about it the dressing, the food, the service and so on were spot on. A great evening and venue” - John Donelly Chief Executive, Marketing Edinburgh.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ “Thank you for all your help in the prep and running of last night's event. Right from the start of the process nothing has been any trouble for your team and the night ran like a dream. The feedback we've had through already this morning has been excellent” - David Martin Events Executive, Development - Events Industry, Visit Scotland
Case study by Elizabeth Squair - Sales Executive

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