A ground-breaking study which delves into the perceptions that Paralympic volunteers have about disability and disabled athletes is to be undertaken by a Leeds Metropolitan PhD student.

Ellie May, who is based in the University's International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality will have full access to London's Olympic Park and stadium between August 28-September 6, during the 2012 Paralympic Games and will interview at least 20 volunteers - also known as Game Makers, as part of the research. The project was one of just six worldwide to be accredited to take place during the 2012 Paralympics by the International Paralympic Committee.

"The Paralympics is the perfect avenue to address social attitudes and perceptions of disability," commented Ellie. "I'll be conducting four interviews in total with each of the volunteers; before, during, afterwards - and then the final interview will be six months on.

"The idea is that I get to engage with the volunteers and record the journey that they make in terms of their volunteering experiences and attitudes towards disability. With some people I might find that their perception doesn't change at all throughout the experience, but I expect with others I'll find dramatic differences between what they think now and what they think when I interview them for the final time.

"There is so much research that has been done surrounding the Olympics - but when you look at the Paralympics, the volume of research pales in comparison. I hope my research will help to increase the profile of Paralympic research. My research has a dual purpose, first to focus questions around volunteering. For example, I want to find out why these volunteers are doing this. Have they volunteered before? Are they doing it to bolster their CV? Did they put their names forward to volunteer in the hope they'd be selected for the Olympics - or was it always their intention that they'd volunteer for the Paralympics? More broadly, I also want to explore how the volunteers understand disability and athletes with disabilities. Perceptions are important and have impacts far beyond sport. There are so many questions to be asked, and I'm really looking forward to sharing my results with sports organisations."

Ellie, added that she had found there to be a vast age range in the volunteers that she had interviewed so far - with one woman in her early twenties and a retired couple in their sixties.

And while Ellie's PhD won't be completed until 2015, she has already been asked to contribute to the publication - Eventful Volunteering: International Perspectives on the Volunteering Experience at Events, edited by Karen Smith, Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Kirsten Holmes, and Tom Baum.

Ellie added: "My completed study will be timely for Rio 2016 - the next Paralympics. Hopefully the findings will be of use to the volunteering organisers of those games and other key international disability sport events. It's fantastic to think that this work could actually have an impact and make a difference."

Academics from Leeds Met have undertaken the first ever UK Economic Impact Study on behalf of the UK meetings and events industry.


The International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Met were commissioned by Meetings Professional International (MPI), the professional community for the global meetings industry to undertake the study which received 3,350 responses in total.

Senior Lecturer and Director of the research, Dr ShiNa Li, said: "The number of surveys received compares very favourably to the previous studies conducted in the US, Canada and Mexico. We are delighted about the level of engagement, which will enable the research team to capture the profile of the industry and evaluate the economic contribution from both the supply and demand side to the UK economy. We are certain that the results of the wide range of surveys will reveal the critical role the meetings industry plays in the UK economy."

The 3,350 responses are broken down as follows:

. 548 meeting organisers

. 457 venues

. 695 exhibitors from UK, US, Germany, Irish Republic and France

. 1617 attendees from UK, US, Germany, Irish Republic and France

. 33 destinations management organisations

The project is being led by the MPI Foundation. MPI UK & Ireland chapter president and Barbican sales manager, Samme Allen, who commented: "The industry has thrown its full support behind this initiative and it is fantastic to see such a range of responses. For this research to benefit the industry we need maximum engagement as we promote the results and our importance as a sector to the wider commercial landscape, government and captains of industry."

The results will be released in two waves:

. Industry Profile - to be released at International Confex, on 20th March, 2013 at Excel, London.

. Economic Impact - to be released at The Meetings Show UK from 9 to 11 July, 2013 at Olympia, London,

IMEX, Chairman, Ray Bloom, said: "We are very pleased to be supporting the UK Economic Impact Study. It is vital for our industry to measure the wider impact of our events at a local and national level and to highlight the benefit that our industry brings to the economy. This is the first step in being able to adequately communicate the importance of meetings and events at the political level and will inevitably help to garner understanding and greater support. Without such figures we cannot argue forcefully enough and cannot display our strength as an industry. Of course, figures on their own are not enough; but together with a strong and coordinated message about the value of events and the benefits they bring both socially and to the knowledge economy we can build a truly powerful voice."

Barbican Business Events, General Manager, Anthony Hyde, added: "This study is vital to the future of the UK meetings industry. The results will allow our sector to compete on a level never previously seen. We will finally have the figures to back up what we already know - that events are a force to be reckoned with, they are powerful education, networking, marketing and sales tools - and we are an industry with both a genuine and substantial impact on the UK economy. The response to the surveys has clearly demonstrated the industry's desire to support this research and we look forward to the results."

Visit Wales, Head of Tourism Marketing, Gill Berntsen, commented: "Visit Wales is fully committed to the UK Economic Impact Study and welcomes the opportunity to obtain some meaningful insights into the contribution of the meetings and events industry to the economies of Wales and the UK; something which in the past has been difficult to establish. I hope it will provide a strong evidence base that will help inform our policy making and shape our future direction."

The UKEIS final report is scheduled to be released in July 2013 at The Meetings Show UK at London Olympia.

Further information on the UK Economic impact study will be available via www.mpiweb.org/UKEIS or keep track on Twitter using #UKEIS

Researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University are calling for event professionals to take part in a landmark study for the meetings and events industry.

The UK Economic Impact Study aims to calculate the economic value of the meetings and events sector in detail, using four surveys aimed at different roles in the sector.

The Meetings Professionals International (MPI) Foundation commissioned the team at our University to conduct the study, following similar research in the US, Canada, Denmark and Mexico.

The study will use the databases of funding partners including Confex, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the Barbican, London & Partners, Visit Wales and Visit Scotland to invite as many event professionals as possible to take part.

Dr ShiNa Li from the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality at our University, who is leading the project, said: "This research is a call to action for the whole industry; a chance to come together and produce something that will be of benefit to all. We are calling on everyone involved in meetings and events to take part: organisers, venues, destination management organisations, delegates and exhibitors."

Samme Allen, president of the MPI UK and Ireland Chapter, added: "The results of this research will give us the information we need to lobby the government, make waves in boardrooms across the country and firmly place the meetings and events industry at the centre of the UK's commercial landscape.  This is without doubt the most important research ever to be undertaken within the sector and I implore everyone involved in the industry to respond. Quite simply: the more data we collect, the more credible the results - and the more credible the results, the more they will do for our industry."

The study also aims to calculate the number of people working in the meetings and events industry, which includes conferences, trade shows, business and consumer exhibitions, corporate events and incentive events. The results will be released next year.

Jackie Mulligan, Director of Enterprise at the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Beckett University has been named as one of 12 mentors for a national career scheme.

The initiative, known as Fast Forward 15 (FF15), has been designed to nurture, develop and inspire the event and hospitality industry’s most talented rising female stars. After a formal application and interview process, 15 candidates will be announced at a launch lunch at London’s Savoy Hotel on Friday 20 March.

Jackie, who is a Principal Lecturer for Enterprise within the UK Centre for Events Management in the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Beckett, has been selected as one of 12 industry experts to mentor the chosen candidates.

She commented: ““I am delighted to be working with industry stakeholders to help to both address the gender imbalance and to make the most of the talent in the events industry.”

The free, not-for-profit scheme was launched at The Rosewood London hotel last week. FF15 is unique to the event and hospitality industry.

For more information please visit: www.fastforward15.co.uk/

The School of Events, Tourism & Hospitality at Leeds Metropolitan University has become the first in the UK to be recognised by the Institute of Travel & Tourism (ITT) as 'excellent'.

In 2010, the ITT recognised our tourism education provision, research, consultancy and publications as being 'excellent' and we became the first university in the UK to be recognised in this way. This Centre of Excellence status has now been endorsed for a further two years and, on this occasion, relates to all our provision within the School, making our School of Events, Tourism & Hospitality the only such school in the UK to be awarded this honour.

David Hind, Head of the School of Events, Tourism & Hospitality, is currently developing a proposal for online learning courses with the ITT which will be designed by the industry for the industry and delivered by our School.