Accommodation BID helps city compete on global stage

ACC Liverpool competes for major conferences from around the world in a hugely competitive market and the city’s Accommodation BID is offering a critical edge, says BID CEO Bill Addy. Tony McDonough reports

Municipal Liverpool
One of the rooms in the new Municipal Liverpool hotel


With competition fierce ACC Liverpool needs every advantage it can get, which is why the city’s Accommodation BID (ABID), launched in January 2023, has become such a powerful tool.

In May LBN reported the BID had helped generate £47m in economic value for the city over a 12-month period.

For the period September 2023 to September 2024, ABID is investing around £700,000 in the subvention fund, an investment that will yield an estimated £47m in economic benefit to the city centre.

“That benefit of £47m from the conferences that we have supported and are supporting this year is through the subvention fund. The Labour Party conference alone is worth £29m to the city,” Liverpool BID Company chief executive Bill Addy told LBN.

“That event was supported by the subvention fund and will be supported again this year via subvention. Subvention is a mechanism that conference organisers use to supplement their event. 

“The cost of staging a conference is significant in terms of rental and installation costs. They can’t always make that back from the people paying to come to the conference.

“So the organisers know they can talk to the event’s hosts and look to get support towards the cost.”

When ACC Liverpool first opened its doors in 2008 its owner, Liverpool City Council, ploughed £1m a year into what is called a subvention fund.

Common in the UK, and across the world, subvention funds are used to support venues by subsidising the cost of conferences. Often the money paid by delegates to attend a conference does not fully cover the cost of venue hire and equipment.

Over the past decade or so, as austerity has taken a grip on public finances, it has become less common for subvention to be funded by local authorities, and Liverpool is no exception to that.

Liverpool’s ABID has helped to fill that gap. It was set up by Liverpool BID Company, which had already established the Retail & Leisure, and Culture & Commerce BIDs in the city centre.

That subvention fund is also boosted by a £1.25m grant from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.


ACC Liverpool
ACC Liverpool on the banks of the River Mersey


In 2022 Liverpool hotels voted in favour of setting up the ABID. Now 85 hotels in the city centre, which have a rateable value of £45,000 or more, pay an annual levy that funds the BID.

The ABID also offers subvention for smaller conferences and arts events. Bill adds there is a strict process in place for which events get funding with a board that assesses every application.  

“Hoteliers are giving positive feedback on the BID,” he said. “We have an active board who are fully in support of it. An indication of that is the rate of levy payment and it is more than 90%.

“We do what we do because we are supporting business visits during the week when the hotels don’t have the same demand they have from the leisure market at the weekend. It fills the rooms during those quieter times in the midweek.

“It is a big plus that Liverpool is back in the Champions League next season. The audience that comes with the Champions League is much better than the Europa League. It is not just the fans, there is a bigger corporate element.

“As soon as the fixture list comes out the hotel rooms are booked. This is also Everton’s last year at Goodison Park. I think the new stadium will bring more people into the city and it will be used seven days a week.”

Bill says that Liverpool’s offer as a destination is as good as it has ever been and this, combined with the subvention fund, gives those looking to attract major conferences to the city a powerful arsenal.

He offers a reminder that just a few years ago Liverpool city centre had just 2,000 hotel beds. Now that figure has rocketed to 9,500 across 85 hotels with more in the pipeline.


Bill Addy
Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company
Crowne Plaza
Crowne Plaza hotel in Liverpool which kicked off a new era. Picture by Tony McDonough
Hilton Hotel
Hilton Hotel, Liverpool. Picture by Tony McDonough


“I was involved in the project to open the first Crowne Plaza in Liverpool, which started in 1996 and opened in 1998,” explains Bill.

“I recall other hotels were hostile because they didn’t want the competition. We were also told Liverpool couldn’t support a four-star hotel.

“Now we have all the major brands here – Hilton, Accor. And some of them are operating more than one hotel. That change over a short space of time has been incredible.

“You saw those images of Cunard’s Queen Anne naming ceremony. That is what makes the big difference – the environment, the atmosphere and the history of the city. It all adds to the weight of Liverpool’s offer.

“We are not competing like-for-like with many other locations simply because of the quality that Liverpool has to offer. People want to come to this city. They enjoy the experience so much better.

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“It is the conferences that bring in the big money. I was speaking to one restaurateur and he was telling me having the Labour Party conference here was massive, possibly even more so than Eurovision, because of all the fringe events.

“The same happens with the other conferences. It is about people knowing that if they bring a conference to a particular location the infrastructure around the conference enables a far greater experience.

“ACC has the Royal Albert Dock right on its doorstep and you have the main city centre just a short walk away, not to mention the venues that are now in the Baltic Triangle. It all adds to the experience for the delegate.”

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