This year's Great Ambassador Networking (GANG) event, hosted in Leeds, put a spotlight on utilising knowledge hubs in a destination in order to win more association conference business.

Delegates from convention bureaux across the UK and Ireland came together to discuss best practice and share experiences in operating their own conference ambassador programmes.

Manchester had strong representation from its academic institutions, with the conference offices of The University of Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester in attendance, as well as Manchester Central and Marketing Manchester.

The day began with a session from Steve Lewis, CAT Publications, on how a city's knowledge hubs and ambassadors are as important as the meetings infrastructure itself. Steve continued this topic into the afternoon, hosting a practical workshop on how to maximise a destination's knowledge hubs to win corporate and association business.

During his update Anthony Cassidy, Senior Sales Manager at Marketing Manchester, conveyed the immense value of supporting local ambassadors and professionals in bidding to attract meetings to Manchester. In the last 5 years Manchester's Ambassador Programme has confirmed 80 successful bids, attracting circa. 36,000 overseas delegates to the city region with a value of around £80million to the local economy. The value of ambassadors was backed-up with compelling statistics - with Marketing Manchester reporting an 80% conversion rate on bids with an ambassador compared to just 15% without.

Anthony also presented to the group Marketing Manchester's recently launched Global Ambassador Programme which has been set up to support Manchester's strategic objective of promoting the city region on a national and international stage. Manchester has currently recruited 17 Global Ambassadors, all of which are well-connected leaders in target sectors and international markets, who promote positive national and international perceptions of Manchester, and support aspirations to attract talent and investment.

Additional highlights included Dublin Convention Bureau's emphasis on the ambassador relationship cycle. Marketing Sheffield  discussed the importance of adopting a bespoke approach based on local objectives. Well Met Conferencing in Leeds, discussed the benefits of a personal approach in recruiting ambassadors and stressed that trust is essential when working with key representatives.

For more information on Manchester's Conference Ambassador Programme and how Marketing Manchester can support in attracting conferences and showcasing your research, please contact