A NEW online one-stop shop packed with everything you need to know about conference venues in and around Mid Devon, East Devon and Exeter has been launched.

Increasing demand for venues has seen the Heart of Devon Tourism Partnership launch www.conferencedevon.com, to help those looking to organise conferences, meetings and events ranging from team-building activities, business shows and festivals, to away days, award ceremonies and weddings.

According to Visit England, Exeter broke into the ‘top 20 most visited towns or cities for a business trip’ and ‘highest associated spend’, ahead of the likes of Cambridge, in 2012.

Latest figures reveals that business trips to Exeter increased by 123% from 73,000 to 163,000 in 2012, compared with the previous 12 months, with associated spend up from £13 million to £40 million in the same period.

Claire Toze, Exeter City Council Tourism Promotions Officer, said: “Exeter is starting to build a great reputation regionally and nationally as the destination to hold meetings, conferences and business events. The likes of the University of Exeter and The Met Office attract large business events, but we’re actually seeing increasing demand across the full range of venues – large and small.

“There is great variety, with purpose-built large venues like Sandy Park and Flybe Training Academy, along with historic character options like the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Exeter Castle.”

The website is an easy-to-use toolkit for event organisers and includes sections on organising a conference in Exeter and the Heart of Devon, unique and character venues, team-building activities, plus extensive information for delegates on attending conferences, what’s on, places to visit and stay.

In October, Flybe Airline will begin a new service between London City Airport and Exeter, whilst Sandy Park, home to the Exeter Chiefs, opens its expanded conference facilities, ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015, in September.

The three daily flights between the centre of London and Exeter will, believes Flybe Training Academy marketing manager Georgina Bowen, offer further opportunities to develop the local conference venue market.

The academy is one of over 70 venues listed on www.conferencedevon.com Flybe’s Georgina Bowen said: “We have a first class offer here in the South West, which is more than capable of competing against some of the larger business tourism destinations across the UK.

“We are delighted to be part of the new Conference Devon website. The partnership gives us the opportunity to showcase our unique, state-of-the-art conference venue to potential customers across the UK, whilst highlighting the county of Devon as a fantastic place to visit.”

www.conferencedevon.com provides details and the ability to book venues in and around Exeter for meetings, conferences and exhibitions for between 5 and 1,150 delegates.

Westpoint Arena, the University of Exeter, Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Flybe Training Academy, River Cottage HQ and Yearlstone Vineyard are amongst venues detailed on the site, which also provides extensive accommodation listings.

In recent years Exeter’s range of hotels has expanded to include Jurys Inn, Southernhay House Hotel, The Magdalen Chapter, The Rougemont Thistle Hotel, St Olave’s, The Mercure Southgate Hotel, Holiday Inn and three Premier Inns, with many increasing the number of bedrooms and improving meeting and conference facilities.

Claire Toze, at the Heart of Devon Tourism Partnership, added: “Conferencedevon.com is a one-stop shop for people looking for great venues, but it’s also a guide for people coming to Exeter on business. It makes things easier and quicker for organisers and attendees alike.”