A brand-new project has been announced for Chester City Centre to help the city make its mark firmly on the conference, events & festival map, thanks to a local entrepreneur with 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, who sees its potential and is actively working to draw more trade into the hospitality industry locally.

A recognised figure with the “Conference, Events & Festivals Marketplace”, local Entrepreneur, Steven Hesketh, from Chester, is taking lead on the project – and is putting his money where his passion lies, investing £50,000 into the initiative. Working with support from Chester Hospitality Association with a vision to support growth in the local visitor economy across the city, the funds will be used to launch new events from independent organisers.

Steven’s aim is to initiate collaborative selling of the city between stakeholder venues and wider city spaces/assets to offer Chester as a single destination offering for Festivals, Events & Conferences, as part of his mission to revive hospitality in the region. Steven, who is Chair of Chester Hospitality Association and Vice-Chair of Liverpool Hospitality (Association), as well as a Committee Member for UKHospitality (Northern Region) is proudly flying the flag for the great Visitor Economy Sector in North West, UK.

Steven, 45, has recently developed a new strand to his hospitality career, stepping out as ‘The Hospitality Hero’ – a role he is taking on as a champion for the industry, dedicated to improving hospitality service, reputation & culture in the UK and Internationally through training, mentoring, conferences and more.

Steven said: “Chester is one of the UK’s smallest cities in terms of population, yet it is a beautiful, historic, heritage based city, full of independent operators, with a real niche opportunity to nurture and develop creative & idea based independent businesses to service the local, regional, national, and international marketplace and build back the economy from the ground up. Chester boasts some of the most historic and breath-taking backdrops, making it ideal to host an event, conference or festival with a unique, intimate offering using the full breadth and width of one of the most walkable cities in the country. I’m excited to see what talent we can uncover through this project which will put Chester more firmly on the hospitality map”.

Steven and The Chester Hospitality Association are inviting creators of new or largely improved events dedicated to Chester City Centre to apply for their ‘Dragon’s Den’ style fund to support events that create hotel stays and use of local city centre venues via the new ‘Chester Event Fund Subvention’, which is now officially open via https://www.chesterhospitalityassociation.co.uk

Steven adds:

“The city needs more events, conferences, and festivals to improve the Visitor Economy Sector across the calendar. Chester has a great programme of events including the Taste Cheshire Food & Drink Festival, Chester Pride, Chester Heritage Festival, Chester Racecourse and more, but for our city to thrive, we need to give more reasons for visitors to Choose Chester for short city breaks, and to ensure our locals can enjoy the city on even more special occasions too.”

Encouraging people to apply he said: “If you have a great idea for an event but need cash to turn it into a reality, then now is the time to go for it!”

Here is the criteria:

This must be a new idea. The panel is looking for brand-new event concepts never seen before in the city, so make sure your idea is original

Be creative! The idea is that the most innovative and compelling ideas will be awarded the biggest cheques, so don’t hold back

Your event must have staying power. The panel is looking for events that can grow and develop year on year. If your idea is a flash-in-the-pan, it probably won’t be awarded any cash. They are looking for events to complement the existing annual programme and become an important element of our What’s On guide each year

Share the wealth. Those ideas which have the capacity to impact the city as a whole will stand much more chance of winning some cash. Events must sell hotel room nights at the very least.

The deadline for applications is 31st January 2024

If you would like to make a pitch follow the instructions at:

Final decisions will be made by the Panel, led by Steven, and they are looking to make fast payments for successful pitches to get the planning and delivery of your new event underway. The money is intended to be split between multiple projects.

In addition to the above, it has been confirmed that BVA BDRC have been appointed consultants to deliver a project which will involve a detailed walk of all opportunistic space in the city, along with embarking on stakeholder 1to1 engagement to discover the full potential of the City Centre offering, and further discussions with key Regional, National and Global event agents to understand potential demand and opportunities in the marketplace.

From humble beginnings, Steven started his career in hospitality at the age of 15, cleaning windows in a hotel in Australia, but since then Steven has led hotels and restaurants across the UK.  For more information on The Hospitality Hero see www.thehospitalityhero.com