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One of the great moments in planning the IoIC annual conference - IoIC Live 2016 - is when we visit the venue and start to visualise how all the sessions will run.

This is especially exciting when it is somewhere we’ve not been before. This week my fellow conference conspirators Claudi and Brenda and I went to the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham for a look around and to start planning in earnest. The hotel is fabulous, modern and light and airy, with some great facilities – and for those who will stay the hotel, really comfortable beds! I've taken a snap, so you can have a sneak preview of the venue.

But one of the really interesting/nostalgic things for me is that this is one of the very few times that I have been back to Birmingham since I was there as a student (many) years ago. It is absolutely incredible to see how much the city has changed, especially in the area around the Hyatt. There are some now very established ‘new’ sights such as the Convention Centre, but the amount of construction and new commerce on display shows just how much the city continues to change.

Brindley Place alongside the canal, just opposite the venue for IoIC Live, has just about every eating style you could wish for in an interesting and pretty setting – not at all like the dingy and frankly slightly dodgy canal area of my student days. And the shopping in the city centre (John Lewis and Selfridges anyone?!) is a world away from the shops where I made some ‘interesting’ fashion decisions all those years ago.

All this and a fabulous conference packed full of great speakers and a whole range of session subjects - #ioiclive16 is definitely the place to be on May 5 and 6! And don't forget, you can save £50 by nabbing an 'early bird' ticket until Thursday (Feb 11)...

Justine Stevenson
IoIC Events & Awards Chairman
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