We were headed to Dublin for a meeting of the Ensemble Travel Group’s U.S. Marketing Committee when the folks at VisitLiverpool and Paull Tickner & Associates (Ensemble On Location partner) invited us to stop over en route. What we thought we might find was a cold, industrial city that offered nothing but a few Beatles-centric attractions. Instead we experienced a modern, on-the-move waterfront city, brimming with lively pedestrian streets and a bustling Albert Dock area.
Have you ever dined in a cathedral … not in the social hall, but inside the core of the cathedral itself? I’m excited to say that we did, along with 16 partners of various sectors of Liverpool tourism, for dinner in the largest Anglican Cathedral in the UK. The most unusual cathedral event ever? The European launch of the Range Rover Evoque, when three vehicles were driven into the Cathedral during a reception for 1,000 guests. Liverpool has stayed true to her culture and heritage, but the enterprising approach to cathedral facilities and funding and the collegiate working relationship of competing tourism representatives we experienced that night are evidence of the progressive heart and soul of the city. Talk about a homerun venue for meeting planners and travel agents working with large groups!
Attractions visited during our stay included The Beatles Story, Tate Liverpool (showcasing a truly avant garde exhibit, “Glam,” during our visit), Elvis and Me (describing Elvis’ influence on the Beatles), John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes as part of the extensive Magical Mystery Tour, the Cavern Lounge (where the Beatles played 292 concerts), the Museum of Liverpool (offering a global look into the city from its humble beginnings to present day), the Albert Dock, and a Mersey Ferry river cruise. In addition to dinner at A Hard Days Night Hotel, we enjoyed lunch at Gusto and in the executive skybox at Anfield, home of the storied Liverpool Football Club. We even recorded our own version of the Beatles’ “Love Me Do” at the SAE Institute. What they did with eight people who could not carry a tune was amazing! Suffice it to say that Liverpool’s juxtaposition of culture and history and music will come alive around every corner for your clients.
In my mind, the highlight of our trip was a tour of the Casbah Coffee Club – the Beatles’ first venue located in the basement of the childhood home of Pete Best, the drummer who was replaced by Ringo Starr. Our private tour was conducted by Roag Best, Pete’s half-brother and quite the entertainer! Roag provides a different slant on why Pete was replaced by Ringo in the fab four. Although open by appointment only, a tour of the Casbah is a must for your Beatles-aficionado clients.
Hope Street Hotel was the home base for our stay. The property’s convenient location, stylishly appointed rooms, and friendly service were greatly appreciated by our group. After a private dinner held on the top floor of the hotel overlooking the city, it was clear why award-winning executive chef Paul Askew is creating a buzz across the region’s dining scene.
Sounds exhilarating, maybe even a little exhausting? It was, but well worth it. Some of what we did requires special arrangements for your customers, but it can be done. Liverpool’s possibilities are endless. It’s an easy two-hour train ride, so when your clients ask for London, prove yourself the hero by offering and arranging for that special add-on to Liverpool. In winter, three nights; summer, whatever your client will give you. They won’t be disappointed!