Summer usually means holiday time for most people but not the NEC, Birmingham, which is undergoing major improvement works; including revamping its car parking offer to introduce new pre-booked parking options, in direct response to extensive customer research.
Visitors and organisers highlighted new signage that would enable them to be able to navigate the site with ease, as well as arrive and depart quickly and simply, as part of their wish list on the NEC’s research survey and this is now being implemented on site during the improvement works, which are part of a £40m investment over a seven year programme.
With ease of access and manoeuvrability around the NEC being of prime importance to the venue’s visitors, this has led to a revamp of the car parking facilities and pricing structure.
The major summer upgrading works that are taking place, costing more than £2m, are aimed at further enhancing the customer experience and also include replacing hall Two’s heating and ventilation units as part of the venue’s commitment to sustainability, significant security upgrades, recovering of the LG Arena’s roof and work on the flooring of many halls.
The new parking products are designed to provide a hassle-free customer experience to those visiting the venue, and include guaranteed ‘NEC Express’ parking close to the event and designated ‘Exhibitor Advantage’ parking for exhibitors. There will also be an increase in the cost of standard parking from £8 to £10 and disabled parking areas, which will be undergoing a significant refurbishment to incorporate specialist assistance help points, will now be charged at the standard price.
“Acknowledge price rises difficult to accept – focus on enhancing our customers’ experience”
Kathryn James, Managing Director, the NEC, said, “We conducted visitor, organiser, contractor, promoter and exhibitor surveys last year, which gave us the opportunity to really hear what our customers wanted from us as a venue. In response, we have focused our efforts on making significant improvements to our site which will enhance our customers’ experience even further.
“We acknowledge that it is difficult for visitors to accept price rises, especially during these difficult economic times, but these changes are needed in order to make these investments to ensure our venue offers our customers a great experience that will set the NEC apart from the rest. It’s also about offering customers more choice, with a variety of parking offers now available – visitors can opt for the new pre-booked option or choose from the thousands of standard parking spaces provided on site thanks to our unrivalled flexibility as a venue.
“We’ve revamped our parking offer to include two dedicated visitor and exhibitor parking products, which will guarantee a parking space no matter what time they arrive. Our standard parking will increase by £2, which is the first rise we’ve implemented in five years and will go towards improving the venue for our customers. The same can be said in terms of us introducing a charge for disabled parking, which the majority of venues already do. We’ve worked closely with industry experts to ensure we offer a quality parking facility with a high standard of customer service for our disabled visitors.”
New convenient parking products
‘NEC Express’ allows customers to pre-plan their visit with a guaranteed parking space, close to the show they are visiting. This will be in a designated parking area away from the main car parks which means it will be easier to exit the venue at the end of the day, reducing queuing time when exiting busy shows. If you are running late for a show, if you’ve booked an ‘NEC Express’ space, you can have peace of mind knowing your space is waiting for you, only a short walk from the venue.
Booked in advance via The NEC website, ‘NEC Express’ is priced at £20 per day and confirmation will be sent as an e-ticket.
There are also changes to the NEC’s standard parking charges which increase in price to cost £10 (previously £8) although this is still cheaper than most major competitors and the sheer scale of the NEC means visitors are always guaranteed a parking spot.
For visitors attending performances at The LG Arena, parking charges will remain at £8 for all, including disabled customers.
The NEC’s central location also puts it in a perfect position for public transport links. The website will also be revamped to provide options of how to get to the NEC to ensure customers are well informed of their options. In addition, visitors are always guaranteed a parking space at the NEC.
From September, 12 new on-site coaches are also being introduced to improve journeys from the car parks and around the site.
Changes to disabled parking
From 1st September 2012, disabled parking at the NEC will move from being free of charge to costing £10 (with the LG Arena standard parking price frozen at £8 for all visitors), bringing it in line with the majority of the market who already charge for disabled parking. Having undertaken a thorough analysis of the industry, working with industry experts, the £10 price is competitive when comparing it to other major venues.
In addition, after listening to direct feedback from customers and industry expert opinion, the NEC’s disabled parking product will be completely revamped to include dedicated help points in the designated car parking areas that will ring through to a specialist assistance call service. Free wheelchairs will be available and mobility scooters will be more accessible via the help points. The parking area will be fully signposted and close to the venue front doors.
The disabled parking offer will also have more of a personal service feel, with a parking attendant on hand to help out and take payment, as well as a shelter in the dedicated car park where the assistance intercom will be situated.
‘Exhibitor Advantage’ – even closer to your event
Exhibitors are also set to benefit from a new parking product, ‘Exhibitor Advantage’ which will provide a guaranteed parking space in designated zones behind each of the halls, allowing them to put all their focus into having a great show and the reassurance of a guaranteed space, no matter what time they arrive – in direct response to exhibitors’ requests for their own parking areas with easy access.
‘Exhibitor Advantage’ is an exclusive product for exhibitors that can be purchased in advance of the show they are exhibiting at for the duration of the open period at the show, at a cost of £50 per day. Exiting the show each day will also be easier. It offers great value for money when exhibitors are bringing their whole stand team in one car.
In addition, the new ‘NEC Express’ offering can provide organisers and exhibitors with the option of purchasing spaces for key customers, giving them a VIP experience.
From September, as a further demonstration to our commitment of enhancing our customers’ experience of our venue, we will also be introducing contactless payment in our car parks. This is an exciting innovation that will ensure quicker and more secure transactions for visitors.
Category: Exhibition News