We’ve had a busy end to 2019 and an equally busy start to the new decade, with two exciting conferences taking place on campus. The team were proud to welcome the 45th annual EIBA Conference in December, and just this month, the 2020 Quaternary Research Association (QRA) Annual Discussion Meeting.

Both events were a great success, welcoming 700+ delegates to campus. Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager at MEETinLEEDS, commented: “We’re delighted that EIBA and QRA chose Leeds to host their conferences. We hope that both the university and the city has left a lasting impression on all delegates, and we look forward to working closely again in the future!”

Hosted by Leeds Quaternary,  the QRA annual meeting welcomed abstract submissions in the areas of sea levels, carbon cycling and ecosystems. Bringing together researchers from both the School of Earth and Environment and School of Geography, the Quarterny Research Association “conduct research into the Earths system during the Quaternary Period (the last 2.6 million years to the present day)”.

Natasha Barlow from the School of Earth and Environment commented:

”Thank you ever so much for everything last week. You and your team were awesome.  We have received so many compliments on how well the meeting was run – thank you for being a huge part of that. Natasha Barlow, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds”

The EIBA 2019 conference aimed to widen the ”impact and footprint of international business through integration with research in other social sciences”, with a ”goal to investigate the lessons to be learned from the turbulent environment of the past several years”.



It’s a new year and a new decade, so why not try a new strategy? The start of the year provides the perfect opportunity for reflection, and more importantly, forward thinking for the next 12 months that lay ahead. To beat the competition, conference and events organisers should take advantage of this fresh beginning by looking at upcoming trends and thinking about how they can implement them in their own work.

Whether that means including new methods of technology within your event, offering sustainable catering options or creating experiential meetings, with competition higher than ever, it’s crucial that organisers and conference facilities are ready to hit the ground running in 2020.

So, without further ado, here are our top five conferencing trends for 2020.


Live Streaming

There is no denying that technology offers a wealth of benefits within the conferencing industry, helping us to create an overall superior delegate experience.

live stream

One particular aspect of technology that is becoming increasingly popular is the use of live streaming, as it offers the ability to widen a conference’s audience reach by bringing the attendees right into the room with you, even if they are hundreds of miles away.

Following the huge success that live steaming has had at the University of Leeds’ School of Music department, it is now used for a wide range of conferencing activities including broadcasting performance exams, assessed performances, concerts and keynote speakers within the music industry. The department has also recently invested in a new creative space specifically for live streaming.


Another huge benefit of live streaming is the ability to widen public engagement. For example, the University of Leeds’ concert hall sits 250 people, whilst its live streaming channel has over 53,000 followers. This means that performances and keynote speakers are now able to be reached far and wide. Live streaming also enables organisers to delve into the demographics of its audience, which not only showcases where their live streams are being viewed, but also can form the basis of future improvements.


The Choice of Catering

Within the industry, food is one of the most important elements for any event. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that the catering is planned in detail and well in advance.

One way in which organisers can truly bring their city to life via food is by opting for suppliers who favour locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. This not only offers delegates a more localised and personal touch to the event, but also furthers promotes the city and the surrounding areas.

What’s more, catering to special dietary requirements is more critical than ever. By showcasing that an event’s catering includes gluten-free, plant-based and lactose-free options, you can help to create an inclusive environment and encourage as many attendees as possible.

Finally, with an enhanced focus on sustainability in conferencing in 2020, vegan and vegetarian options are becoming increasingly popular choices within the conferencing industry. Ensure that your event caters to all dietary requirements whilst also enforcing a sustainable mind-set.



The trend of well-being across all sectors is no longer a passing phase, but is becoming increasingly more important within many industries, and will continue to grow into next year.

A conference presents the perfect opportunity to balance business with leisure and by taking simple steps, such as including the use of outdoor venues within an event, conferences can add a further sense of wellbeing for their delegates. What’s more, creative activities for delegates arranged before, during or after the event can also have a positive impact on the wellbeing of attendees. Whether that includes workshops, guided tours of the city, or even a simple outdoor networking setup.

For past conferences, MEETinLEEDS has arranged 5K runs, as well as countryside walks and public art trails. With a wealth of well-being benefits on offer to delegates who visit Leeds, including Galleries in Parkinson, the M&S archive and gym and pool facilities at The Edge, wellbeing is widely encouraged across all events within the city.

Sustainability on Campus

The move to more sustainable events is not something that happens overnight, but is a long-term commitment that will continue to be a high priority in 2020.

The University of Leeds is increasingly taking into account the social, environmental, economic and cultural responsibilities of its institution, which will allow campus to be operated in a more sustainable way. This includes focusing on building knowledge and capacity, acting as a positive partner in society, making the most of the available resources and embedding sustainable practices through collaboration.

By focusing on an integrated approach across the entire university, it is able to work together to ensure that improvements in sustainability are continuously being strived towards, whilst also responding to global challenges through research and education.



Over the past 12 months, all of the team here at MEETinLEEDS have been working hard to make sure that we’re delivering our very best with every single conference, and going above and beyond meeting the needs of our customers.

As 2019 draws to an end, we reflect over some of our most unique and busiest conferences, that have not only made huge impacts within their respective industries, but have also offered pivotal learning opportunities for team to learn and develop from.

Students focus on Sustainability

Kicking off 2019 with a positive start, we were delighted to support an event that saw students unite over the Leeds Student Sustainability Research Conference. Welcoming over 200 attendees, the conference showcased the latest research in cross-disciplinary sustainability studies, as well as offering the opportunity for like-minded students to network and discuss.

Not only was this conference a wonderful opportunity for students to get involved with sustainability research, but the event also perfectly aligns with the University of Leeds’ ongoing strategic commitment to sustainability.

Sustainable Garden

Taking a step back in time with the International Medieval Congress

As the largest humanities congress held across the EU and the largest in medieval studies all over the world, we thoroughly enjoyed welcoming the International Medieval Congress (IMC) onto campus for its 26th year. By working closely with academics within the University of Leeds, we welcomed over 2,000 delegates from across 66 different countries, and brought together medieval experts for a series of discussions, demonstrations and debates. The public were also invited to get involved on its final day, which saw a medieval market serving historically inspired street food, a full medieval craft fair and medieval demonstrations taking place.

International Medieval Congress lampost signage

Photograph taken at the International Medieval Congress

5 July 2018. Thursday at the IMC, University of Leeds.

Summer school for teachers with Teach First Summer Institute

Marking its sixth time in the city, Teach First Summer Institute was a wonderful conference which welcomed over 1,700 trainee teachers, who were all due to start training in schools serving disadvantaged communities across England and Wales. Not only was the conference a fantastic chance for teachers to get together and kickstart the two-year Teach First Training programme, but it also offered a great opportunity for us to work as part of a city-wide collaboration. This involved working closely with our partnership organisers including First Direct Arena and Leeds Beckett University, as well as collaborating with wider stakeholders including LeedsBID, Conference Leeds, Leeds City Council, and many university accommodation providers, to enhance a city-wide approach to the event.

Communication Matters

As the University of Leeds’ Positive Impact Partner, we were delighted to support Communication Matters with the UK’s leading annual Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Conference for the seventh year. Welcoming over 430 delegates from 19 countries, including as far as Japan, the USA and Denmark, the AAC offered a unique forum for representatives to meet and exchange information, including AAC users, parents, personal assistants, professionals and more.

This conference also presented our team with the perfect opportunity to go one step further in the preparation process, by undertaking important face-to-face training with the aim of helping trainees identify ‘good communication’. This event was a perfect demonstration of how we’re able to work in partnership with our conference organisers, whilst providing the best customer experience possible.


We were also extremely proud to support Communication Matters’ very first AAC awards ceremony, which was an evening dedicated to celebrating those within the AAC sector who have made honourable and inspiring contributions to the industry.

AAC Awards sign on TV

Internal successes and celebrations

Conferences and events are what makes us tick, but we wouldn’t have had such a successful year without our incredible team behind us. This year, we were delighted to welcome multiple new starters onto our team who will be enhancing our expertise in digitalisation, internationalisation and sales. This not only extends our offering, but also means that we’re able to further meet the needs of our organisers to the highest possible standard.

What’s more, this year we were also delighted to have been awarded the Customer Service Excellence® standard award as part of the University of Leeds’ Commercial and Campus Support Services, as well as achieving the Best Accessibility award at Academic Venue Awards.


Here’s to looking back on 2019 and going forward to an even more successful 2020!

books on a shelf