For a number of years there has been a steadying increasing need for a slick and professional events management organisation to operate within the Plymouth travel to work area at VIP level.

A decade ago the Armed Forces used to take the lead. Two decades ago, the local authority used to lead. Today, the private sector leads and the Plymouth Area Business Council (with 250 individual key sector leaders) takes central position.

In the average year, there are now two formal banquets for 100 run along City of London Livery Company lines and in between there are a range of lunches and smaller dinners with numbers attending varying from between 20 to 100.

The level of guests is nationally significant and has recently included the following:-

  • HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
  • Chief Executive, Barclays plc
  • Chief Executive, First Group plc
  • HRH The Duke of York
  • All local Members of the House of Lords
  • All local Members of Parliament
  • County Leaders from Devon & Cornwall
  • Visiting Ministers of the Crown

In every case, there is a waiting list of local organisations who wish to co-host these functions through a degree of direct sponsorship whereby they:-

A. Invite a number of personal guests.
B. Control the seating plan
C. Meet and greet the guests
D. Display their banners in the assembly location
E. Display their logo on menus and place cards
F. Control an ingredient of the key speech
G. Have a special photograph taken with the Guest of Honour
H. Have a message and description incorporated in the menus.

This position is known as the  co host or “key sponsor”.

The framework for these functions originated from the Plymouth Economic Development Group which became the Plymouth Area Business Council and which has no membership subscription but membership is by invitation. “Members” simply cover the cost of catering for their own and their guests’ formal meeting functions in conjunction with a “meeting host” who is appointed annually.

The costs of food for these functions and liquid refreshments is thus split between the membership, and the “meeting host” with any additional direct meeting costs met by the “meeting host” and by the venue owner, usually Plymouth City Council.

The “meeting host” contracts with Eko-Tek Power Ltd, their engagement constituting a “service” to which VAT is attracted.

Membership of the PABC does not automatically entitle a member to attend all functions, which are instead generally organised on a first come, first served basis. All functions costs are however individually and collectively self-accounting.

Membership of the PABC merely entitles members to attend up to 5 meetings a year, and covers the catering costs at £10 per meeting together with the various email newsletters, some of which themselves are sponsored if in hard copy depending on bulk and production cost. Again sponsorship is through Eko-Tek and attracts VAT.

This annual cost of membership which is not a subscription has remained static since 1999. On occasions the PABC has as a body hosted other similar bodies as well as their own collective guest list of VIPs at their various functions. On average there are 75% members and 25% PABC guests at any specific function.

The key sponsor has effective control of a number of facets of the function and much values the service agreement that is put formally in place around this.