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A Fond Farewell…

So our girl, Laura, is finishing her time here at Top Venues HQ and she wanted to write a brief farewell blog about her time with us. We’ll miss having her in the office and as part of the team and wish her all the best in her next adventure….

 

So, where do I start? May as well jump right in, today is my last day at Top Venues! So I thought I would write a farewell blogpost about my time here. What I’ve loved and what I’ve learnt and believe me I’ve learnt a lot in the past year.

When I started working here last August I was very nervous and not very confident. It was my first job out of university and I had no idea what to expect. Now a year on I am so much more confident in general and have much more faith in myself and my abilities. Last August the thought of walking into a venue expo or attending a fam trip (I also didn’t have a clue what a venue expo or fam trip was) on my own was terrifying and now it doesn’t faze me at all. I’ll happily go to events and fam trips alone, talk to anyone and even get on a plane on my own! I think this has come from being thrown in, well not thrown in but encouraged to dive in, at the deep end. Within my first month of being at Top Venues I had been to the Venue Expo in Liverpool and to Cambridge for a fam trip on my own. After that I was happy to go anywhere alone including Barcelona for IBTM, even if in the process of going to Barcelona I had a minor melt down at the airport as I hadn’t checked in online (oooopsies) but we’ll forget about that part. The point is I got there and back alive without any major disaster.

Throughout the last year I have learnt to negotiate rates, manage clients and how to think on my feet to solve problems and issues. I also know more venues than I thought I ever could. When I first joined the team I was fresh out of uni and my event experience revolved around festivals. I didn’t know any venues except for the odd hotel here and there and gig venues in Manchester but now I’ve turned into a mini walking talking venue directory.

I think the highlights for me have been attending some amazing fam trips such as The Cambridge Experience, The Leeds Big Sleepover and The Curious Case of London City Selection (all of which I have written blog posts about so have a look back through our previous posts for more info on them because they were brill!). I’ve also had a great time working with all our wonderful clients and will miss them all a lot. Even though finding the perfect venue for an event can be stressful hearing good feedback from a client makes it all worth it.

So there we have it. I just want to say a massive huge ginormous thank you to my boss, colleagues and our clients for making the past year fabulous, I’ve had a blast.

Over and out!

Laura x

 

You can contact the team at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or by calling 0844 8709 963.

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The Meetings Show 2016

This year’s meeting show took place from the 14th – 16th June 2016 at Olympia Exhibition Centre, London. Our girl Laura headed down for one night and one day for a busy but productive whirlwind 24 hours in London….
It all began on Tuesday 14th June. I hopped on a train to London at 5.04pm, arriving at 7.20pm I headed straight to check in at my hotel for the night, the Melia White House.  The Melia White House is beautiful and quite possibly has the best smelling lobby area ever! It was a vacation for my nose (my house tends to smell look cooking but not the nice kind, the kind when you are full and smell food and you just think ‘nope’. I’m not making myself sound great here am I?). Moving on, I checked in, collected an envelope with my pass and important details about the show from the concierge and then headed to my room. Okay, that sounds simple but funny story I’m a numpty and didn’t know how to use the lift (highly embarrassing). A kind man had to show me how to make the lift doors open. Heads up, you use the touch screen machine to the right of the first set of lifts, select what floor you want and then it tells you what lift to go to and it takes you there, it’s simple really once you know what you are doing or if you aren’t a numpty like myself. The Melia White House not only has 581 lovely rooms in eight categories it also has great event space. They have 10 meeting rooms and the largest can hold 150 delegates. Day Delegate Rates are between £60.00 – £70.00 for a full day meeting and include: 2 coffee breaks, 3-course buffet lunch in the restaurant, Wi-Fi, water, stationary, roll up screen and flipchart.

On Wednesday 15th June I woke up bright and early to get ready for a day at The Meetings Show. I headed down for breakfast which was lovely, checked out and boarded the coach that took us straight to Olympia for the show. I believe this is the first year that the event has taken place in the larger hall and it was a good and manageable size. Not too big, not too small.

Whilst at the show I had meetings with venues that we currently work with and found some new ones to start building strong and positive relationships with. One of the new venues I met was CentrEd at ExCel, London.

CentrEd (with a capital E, that was not a typo) is located at the Royal Victoria Dock in London. Although a bit further out than the sought after City area of London, CentrEd is easily accessible via public transport and heading out of The City has its benefits. For example, all 29 rooms have natural daylight and balconies with views of the beautiful Royal Victoria Dock. The rooms have flexible walls so the venue can create spaces for 20 delegates all the way up to spaces for 400 delegates. Plus you are only 20 minutes away from The City so should you need to get back there after it won’t take you long.

Next up is the Ibis London Earls Court Conference Centre or ILEC for short. This venue claims to be the most versatile space in West London and I can most definitely see why. The venue has an innovative modular space called The London Suite. This suite can then be partitioned and divided up to create smaller rooms. The whole hall can seat 1200 in a theatre style but then can be divided up so many ways that it can create as many as nine individual rooms. Not only can the venue cater for pretty much anything and everything they also have 504 bedrooms on site making it a great option for large conferences that also require bedrooms.

If you’re interested in any of the venues above or want to find out more on how we can help, get in touch!

You can email myself or the rest of the team at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or give us a ring on 0844 8709963. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Conference & Hospitality Show Leeds 2016

Our girl Laura tells us about her recent trip away from the office…..

On the 26th April 2016 I went to the First Direct Arena in Leeds for the Conference and Hospitality Show #CHSRocks and I can safely say this show did ‘rock’. The day started in glorious sunshine on a First Trans Pennine train to Leeds and ended in on a First Trans Pennine train back to Manchester in drizzly rain/ sleet and miserable grey skies. Basically a day in which Leeds was hit with 4 seasons in one day.

Anyway enough of the weather (so typically British, always complaining about the weather, pretty sure in my last blogpost I moaned about snow) let’s get onto #CHSRocks.

I was a VIP (oh so fancy, I know) which meant a received a lovely little pack pre show with my lunch voucher and competition opportunities to enter. At the show there was a VIP Lounge which was great when you needed a quick little rest some snacks and a glass of prosecco. I also got gift bag of goodies on the day (below). It was a great day where I got to catch up with other agencies and venues I already know as well as meeting new venues and new contacts which we can now offer to our clients.

From the show I have two (new to me) standout venues I would like talk about. The cool and edgy Titanic Hotel & Rum Warehouse in Liverpool and beautiful and quirky Camp Hill Estate in North Yorkshire.

The Titanic Hotel & Rum Warehouse are located at the beautiful Stanley Dock in Liverpool. If you haven’t heard of them then they are quite similar to Victoria Warehouse Event Space and Hotel in Manchester in that they are both converted warehouses and both have hotels on site. Both venues are quite unusual and have a very cool and rustic vibe about them.

The Titanic Hotel has 153 bedrooms, all the bedrooms are large and have earthy rustic furnishings to make for a relaxing stay. The hotel also has a gym and spa which features a Roman-bath and aqua thermal experiences.

Joint on to the hotel is the Rum Warehouse. This area is so versatile and can accommodate pretty much anything and everything. The whole of the Rum Warehouse can be branded up to make for an event that is all about you and what you do. The warehouse has 8 event spaces and the largest, the Ground Floor, can hold 850 theatre style and 448 cabaret style.

Next up we have the Camp Hill Estate which is in Bedale, North Yorkshire. This venue is so quirky and the things dreams are made of. It has something for everyone. It is set in 300 acres of countryside so is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. This venue is perfect for team building away days and trips.

Onsite they have quad bikes, segways, rage mud buggies and a climbing wall to name a few. The venue provides all the team buildings activities such as raft building and scavenger hunts so there is no need to bring in an external team building company.

But the fun doesn’t end at the activities, when you go to Camp Hill Estate you can stay in bunk barns, a safari tent or a yurt.

But the venue isn’t only for team building events, they have conference facilities for up to 250 people, smaller meeting and syndicate rooms and a rustic barn for up to 100 people. I meant it when I said there is something for everyone.

Whilst at CHS Rocks I attended a talk by Bianca Robinson on Social Media Campaigns. Bianca was full of usefull tips and tricks to make your social media campaign successful. Such as the importance of branding. Every touch point with your customer is a reflection of your brand so you need to make sure that every single interaction your customers have with your brand is showing your brand the way you want it to. Another top tip is to engage with people with good social media outlets.

Overall, I had a great day catching up with old and new contacts and learning more about social media. Thanks CHS Group! The show really did ‘rock’.

Laura

Ps. I also met Olly Murs!! (Okay okay, it wasn’t the real Olly Murs but it’s probably the closest I am going to get so I’m taking it).

 

If you are interested in knowing more or putting on an event at any of these venues then please get in touch with us.

You can email us at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or give us a ring on 0844 8709963.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Curious Case of London City Selection 2016

A load of new venues and experiences, our girl Laura tells us all about the Curious Case of London City Selection…..

 

On Friday the 4th of March I woke up and looked out of my window to be greeted by thick snow. Snow. In March. Madness. Only in the North would this happen. Lucky for me I was heading down to London for the Curious Case of London City Selection and escaping the pesky snow.

I arrived and checked in to the ultra-modern M by Montcalm Hotel. This hotel is a technology fanatics dream. You don’t have light switches or close your curtains by hand. Your hotel room has 3 tablets which control everything. The hotel also has event space. The second floor is purely event space, no bedrooms just meeting and event rooms making it more self-contained. The hotel has 6 event spaces that can be hired individually or certain rooms are attached to others so they can be joined together. The largest room is the Roundabout room which holds 137 theatre. This room can be combined with other rooms to create an even larger space if required.

After a quick relax at the hotel I headed to the beautiful One Moorgate Place. Here is where we were put into our teams for the murder mystery event. We then had to go around a meet all the venues who are part of London City Selection and answer a question at each to crack a code the next day.

I had a quick show around of One Moorgate Place and it has a great mix of event spaces. My personal favourite room was the Members Room. This room has a bridge which was inspired by Sir John Belcher’s love of Venice. The room has bookcases all around which are filled with books dating way back.

The venue also has some more modern spaces. The rooms have large windows making them bright and perfect for smaller meetings and presentations.

The next day we headed to Sadlers Wells Theatre for breakfast. The first thing we saw when we walked into the venue was the ‘crime scene’.

Throughout the day each team had to visit venues within The City of London, the square mile, to complete a task that gave us a clue to who had murdered the victim. Tasks included swabbing the murder weapon, getting the murderers finger prints off items and meeting up with a witness to get the rest of the information. We also had a show around of the event spaces on offer at each of the venues. The venues my team, Murder She Wrote, visited were The Furniture Makers Hall, Middle Temple, Two Temple Place, St Pauls Cathedral, The Barbican, Museum of London, Montcalm The Brewery Hotel, Holiday Inn Express London City and Trinity House. All the venues have great event spaces for a range of different events and budgets.

The Furniture Makers Hall is a small venue with only 3 event spaces. The largest room, the David Burbidge room, is a flexible event space that is located on the ground floor and can seat 70 theatre style. The other two rooms, the Mike Clare room and the Arnold Moore room, are smaller spaces that are ideal for smaller executive meetings and private dining.

The Barbican has a range of event spaces from meeting rooms for training to an indoor garden for weddings and drinks receptions. The Barbican has 19 spaces that can cater for 2000 delegates all the way down to 20 delegates.

Fun fact for you, the corridor that Bridget Jones ran down in the Edge of Reason and declared her love to Mark Darcy who then proposed to her, was filmed in The Middle Temple.

On the Saturday evening we were collected from our hotels by our Routemaster Red Bus and taken to The HAC for a gala dinner. The dinner and the venue were both beautiful. This is where we were told who out of the 8 teams had won. My team didn’t win but we did come third. Yaay!

The HAC has 7 event spaces. The largest can seat 480 theatre style and the smallest can seat 12 boardroom.

London City Selection has a collective of 26 unique venues. If you are interested in knowing more or putting on an event at any of these venues then please get in touch with us.

 

You can email us at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or give us a ring on 0844 8709963.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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IBTM World 2015 – A Trip Back In Time

One week in November 2015 was a week of firsts for Laura. Her first time flying on her own, first time to Barcelona and her first time attending IBTM World. See what she has to say about the experience, what she learnt and what she got up to below….

 

I attended last year’s IBTM (the first year not being EIBTM I am told) as a hosted buyer. I was hosted by Barceló Hotels who have over 140 different venues around the world. I stayed in Barceló Sants a very cool and quirky hotel that was space shuttle themed which felt like I was in James Bond film or something (if you have read any of my other blogposts you will notice an recurring theme of me feeling like I am in a film).

I also got to see the equally quirky but boutique style Barceló, Raval. On the Wednesday night after a day at the show Barceló took all their hosted buyers for a lovely meal at the Raval. This was a really nice evening with plenty of wine and it was a great opportunity to network with other agencies and get to know more about Barceló in a relaxed environment.

I arrived in Barcelona on the Tuesday night and after checking in to the hotel headed straight to bed for some well needed rest before the show on the Wednesday. Throughout both the days I spent at IBTM I met lots of venues that would be great for our clients. Stand out venues for me were the Barbican, 1 Wimpole Street and Arcotel. The Barbican and 1 Wimpole street are both located in London and have some really unique spaces to offer to clients.

The Barbican has 19 spaces that can cater for 2000 delegates all the way down to 20 delegates. The venues largest space is the Barbican Hall which is a raked auditorium making it perfect for large scale events. But the Barbican can also cater for smaller events such as training events and meetings in their Frobisher Boardroom which can hold up to 20 people.

1 Wimpole Street has 16 event spaces that are perfect for meetings and conferences. The venue is also really easy access as it is located between Oxford Circus and Bond Street tube stations, making it a great option for events that have delegates attending from all over. 1 Wimpole Street has three auditoriums which can seat 80 people, 150 people and 300 people. The venue also has a really unique space called the Toynbee Mackenzie ENT Room (ENT stands for Ears Nose and Throat). This room has exhibition cases around the room that have old medical implements in from when 1 Wimpole Street used to be part of the Royal Society of Medicine making this quirky room absolutely perfect for events for clients within the medical sector.

Arcotel have 11 hotels. 4 in Austria, 5 in Germany and 1 in Croatia. The 11th is opening in Salzburg in January 2016. All the properties are 4* and each hotel has a different feel to them so you don’t feel like you are in a hotel anywhere in the world as they are all different to one another. Dietary requirements such as vegan are an option on their menus as standard. This is something that I feel all hotels, venues and restaurants should follow.

IBTM was a great experience not only for myself and to improve my venue knowledge. But also for our clients. By attending events like IBTM we are able to meet new contacts and discover new venues to offer to our clients so that they are always provided with the best rates and venues for their events.

Overall I really enjoyed IBTM. It’s a very fast paced and hectic few days but that’s what the events industry is like and it does take some getting used to (I was pretty much a zombie for three days after). The only thing I would change is the amount of time you get to see the city the event is being hosted in. It would have been great to see a bit more of Barcelona and see a couple more venues there.

If you want to find out more on how we can help, get in touch!

You can email us at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or give us a ring on 0844 8709963.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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The Cambridge Experience

A few weeks ago Laura took a trip to beautiful Cambridge for a couple of days of looking at the university buildings event spaces, feeling like you’re in Harry Potter and reliving your student days. Here’s what she got up to at The Cambridge Experience…

 

On Thursday I took the train to London and then back out to Cambridge. After the four hour journey, I arrived at the Robinson College, which might I add is the nicest student accommodation I’ve ever been in; much nicer than the shabby Rusholme student flat I lived in. Cambridge University is split into colleges where the students live and study. This is something that took me a while to get my head around as it is such a unique university experience compared to all other universities in the UK. After being shown to my dorm for the night, I did a quick sprits of perfume and a speedy lipstick reapplication before making my way down into the college building for drinks and to meet the lovely Conference Cambridge team.

 

The Robinson College has just opened its new £5million conference and event space. We were lucky enough to have the chance to look around the amazing top of the range event spaces it has to offer. The Crausaz Wordsworth Building has a bright and functional foyer area that is joined onto the kitchens that can be shut off or opened up making this space perfect for drinks receptions and networking. The Plenary room is the largest space in the building and can hold 72 delegates in a cabaret style. This space overlooks an outdoor area that is perfect for outdoor breakout space in the summer months. Upstairs there are many syndicate rooms that all boast natural light and top end AV equipment. They can also seat up to 18 people cabaret.

 

After a look around all the fresh and impressive spaces Robinson College had to offer, we took a trip into Cambridge for a drink in a quintessentially British pub, I mean it would be rude not to take a look at the Cambridge nightlife. How else can we sell the city to our clients if we can’t give an all round view of everything the city has to offer?

 

The next day we started with breakfast and show around of the Møller Centre. The Møller Centre is a dedicated residential management and training centre with a lot to offer to potential clients. The venue has 23 meeting and event spaces the largest seating up to 140 delegates. My personal favourite area of The Møller Centre was the indoor but still outdoor garden that can be used by anybody visiting the venue.

 

Next up was a look around the Churchill College – another one of the colleges that students live at during term time. The Churchill College’s largest space can hold 420 people and the college can sleep 400. In terms of style, this college felt and looked a lot more traditional than the Robinson College, which was a lot more modern.

 

Now for the part I had been most looking forward to and dreading at the same time (balance isn’t my thing and I had visions of me falling out): punting down the River Cam. After a relaxing punt ride in the sun (and no falling into the river thankfully) we had a quick tour of the Kings College Chapel before heading for a delicious lunch in The Kings College itself. As the trip drew to a close we had a walking tour of Cambridge and a look around the Gonville & Caius College.

 

Cambridge is a beautiful city with some incredible buildings making it a great conference and event city. The city is small and compact and every corner you turn there is another beautiful building to greet you. Also, you feel like you are in Harry Potter, so what more do you need?

 

If you’re interested in any of the venues above or want to find out more on how we can help, get in touch!

You can email myself or the rest of the team at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or give us a ring on 0844 8709963.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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A New Experience In London

New girl to the Top Venues team, Laura Maguire, tells us about her first real trip into London doing site visits:

Vine Tree Hotels & Venues promotes a collection of luxury, high quality venues in the UK and Europe so last week Top Venues took a trip to London to go and see four of these venues to help update our own venue knowledge and establish new working relationships to help our clients.

Merchant Taylors’ Hall

Firstly, this venue is stunning!

Located on Threadneedle Street and not far from Bank Tube Station, this venue is very easily accessible. The Merchant Taylors’ Hall has 9 spaces available for events. The largest space is the Great Hall that can hold up to 380 delegates. Looking down onto the Great Hall is The Kings Gallery that can hold up to 30 theatre style. Story has it that this room was made for a king who didn’t like to eat in front of people because he had a rather long tongue which caused him spit a bit when he ate. So he had this room made so he could still look into the Great Hall but eat alone. Across from The Kings Gallery is The Drawing Room, these two rooms can be easily used together. There is a stunning courtyard in the centre of the building allowing an easy flow around the venue. There is onsite catering and a head chef who is happy to cater in any style. The kitchen here is actually the oldest working kitchen in London. The venue treats every event enquiry on its own and creates a bespoke price package that fits in your requirements.


The Landmark London Hotel

Next up we took a taxi to The Landmark Hotel, which is by far the fanciest place I have ever been so far.

The Landmark has 11 event rooms, the largest holding up to 512 delegates theatre style. The Landmark Suites are perfect for small meetings but unfortunately they don’t have natural lighting, which could be a draw back. The hotel has around 300 bedrooms that can also be used for small meetings. It has 4 restaurants and bars for guests to dine at or relax with a drink or two. The Landmark is easily accessible as it is located opposite Marylebone rail and underground station. Although this is a beautiful 5* hotel personally I wouldn’t pick it for a stay as it’s not my style but for an event it is perfect.

 

Lord’s Cricket Ground

Lord’s Cricket Ground has a mix of very traditional event spaces and modern space. The Pavilion is very traditional and has a strict dress code of suit trousers and jacket, which is not negotiable. Across the pitch from the Pavilion you find the Media Suite that can seat 75 delegates. This space is very modern and would be perfect for events where there is a trainer teaching the delegates. Lord’s also has various spaces that can be used for conferences and meetings. However, there will be some disruption to when events can take place over the coming year due to the rebuild of The Warner Stand. The venue also has a museum on site, which is home to the world famous ashes. It’s an odd feeling when you are at Lord’s because you are in the middle of London and yet feel like you aren’t in a city at all.

 

The Arch

The Arch, my personal favourite of the 4 venues.

This venue is 7 townhouses converted into one hotel, which gives the hotel some lovely quirks. For example, there are hidden staircases to nowhere and if you look down the corridor through the houses, it’s not straight because of when it used to be separate houses and all the rooms are different shapes and sizes. Another reason I fell in love with The Arch, besides it’s beautiful rooms, suites and bar/ restaurant area is the hotel is opposite Madonna’s house. This sent me into a bit of Madonna frenzy that resulted in me taking multiple photos of her house (I can assure you I’m not a stalker!). The hotel has a few beautiful areas for events, including the quirky and luxurious Martini Library. This space can hold 14 in a boardroom for meetings or is perfect for welcome drinks and/ or a sit down meal. Everything about The Arch has been carefully thought about by the owner. He has taken all the things he dislikes from his experiences of staying at hotels around the world and done something so that his hotel doesn’t have that. For instance, apparently he hates the little cartons of milk you get in most hotels as part of the tea/coffee offering in the rooms and instead has a small bottle of fresh milk in the mini fridge for guests to use.

 

Whilst only being in London for only a day I can certainly say it’s been a great experience and opened my eyes to venues I wasn’t aware of and can use moving forward for our clients. Being able to view them first hand makes it much easier to understand what the venues can offer in real terms and realistically explain to our clients details on why they work for their events if they fit the bill.

If you’re interested in any of the venues above or want to find out more on how we can help, get in touch! You can email myself or the rest of the team at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or give us a ring on 0844 8709963. We look forward to hearing from you!

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A Bit Of Twitter Fun!

Here at Top Venues HQ we’ve been coming up with some ideas to keep you entertained. We know you’re all twitterers and so figured maybe you’d like to be involved as a bit of fun…

 

  • Tweet us a picture of your most amazing space and every month we’ll tweet the winner and feature the space/venue in our twitter header.
  • Don’t forget to follow us so we can DM you if you win as we also like to (when we’re feeling specially nice) send something lovely to you as a thanks for being part of the fun.
  • Make sure you include the name of the place/venue/location and #topspaces #topvenues in your tweet.

TOP TIP: Make sure the picture will catch our attention. 🙂

Good Luck and Happy Tweeting!

From The Top Venues Twitter Team

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Lucas on the point of The Customer Is Always Right

The customer is always right.

We all heard it, especially in the hospitality industry, where there are no “Nos” and the guests are by far closest to being self-proclaimed gods (outside of banking obviously). All knowing. Always having an opinion, and even more, since it is their own opinion it has to be right. If they decide to have two opinions these are both right too. It takes a lot of guts and truly a Machiavellic style of conduct to persuade a strongly opinionated guest in any way; something like explaining to a four year old child it is ok to be Spiderman, but without actually swinging from skyscrapers or the sofa. Another good comparison of explaining to the client they are actually wrong would be an ancient, Roman advisor to emperor Nero, known for his love of art, music, good food and burning down the Rome because it smelled. The advisor explained that in order to convince the Caesar, one must always squeeze a massive and clearly visible compliment into a very small and superficial “no”, obviously handing over the whole decision making power to the emperor/guest. Insulting a sensitive soul of the emperor was usually rewarded by a visit from Praetorian Guards, equalling to a death sentence.

We live in a very tolerant, accepting and forgiving society, everyone is sensitive, everyone can be offended by someone else celebrating a holiday (tut, tut). Cutting through three lanes without indicating at eighty miles per hour can be seen as creative and Barraco is the president of the world. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Everyone can express it via social media while review websites terrorise and terrify hoteliers and restaurateurs to the point where they would rather offer a complimentary Kobe beef steak than deal with an online troll who cannot be touched, criticised, reasoned with, and as per statistics is going to let all other trolls know about “poor experience”.

The list of complaints we discussed with a venue recently only reinforces the feeling that little has changed since Roman times.
We include the list of the most interesting “issues” below.

  • We could not take the guest’s bags to the bedroom straight away – We did take the bags but the guest had to wait a few minutes.
  • The guest found a hair on the bed – we changed all the linen. Then the guest found another one, so we changed it again. We think it could have been guest’s own hair, but obviously could not prove either way.
  • We had to change the clock in the meeting room to a less reflective one.
  • The flipchart was too tall, so we swapped it.
  • The guest had to go outside to get to the restaurant, but it is still within the same complex.
  • The guest complained that the teabags were unhygienic as they were not individually wrapped. We sourced an alternative.
  • The hot water was too hot.

All these terrifying, horrible and life threatening issues happened during a one day booking for approximately 10 people. Instead of the course contents, the attendees have watched in horror how the organiser’s emotions jumped up and down, finishing with an audible and distinct rant at the management about the venue quality, service etc etc. Obviously, since the training was interrupted by some 7-8 extra breaks when the organiser had to go and release the boiling abundance of neurotransmitters in a bottleneck between amygdala and prefrontal cortex (anger management and emotions controlling parts of the human brain) in a form of half-coherent sentences thrown at random members of staff; there wasn’t that much material covered during the day and the self-fulfilling prophecy fulfilled itself – it was a disaster.

The final of the story was classic, the organiser demanded a full refund and got it. The interesting part was, we knew this venue for its consistency, good, stable standards as well as financial awareness and flexibility. The more interesting part was, that we listened to this client’s rant about the venue (obviously omitting the above bullet points and using general expressions) being so bad, we actually questioned our own knowledge and experience. The best part however was…the client ranting about us, to us, and trying to extort us. This happened after the client completely ignored ALL communication from us, including dates, rates, rooms, locations; literally, if there was any detail vital to holding a meeting/seminar/conference, it was entirely ignored and replaced with the client’s own interpretation. It sounded like this:

TV: we have proposed rates of £38, £45 and £47.
Client: No, I want £40 everywhere.
TV: Yes, but in that location these were the best we could achieve, they are very, very competitive for Central London (!?!)
Client: I didn’t see them.
TV: Right, I believe we have discussed these on the telephone, prior to visiting the venues
Client: Yes, but I want them to be £40, your proposal was very unclear, you should improve your system
TV: How would you improve our system ?
Client: Make sure that individual prices are clear and visible, not only the totals. I was misled to believe the rates were £40 everywhere, I only looked at the totals. (the brief was for 20 people, ideally at £40.00 per person per day)
TV: OK, so the totals were not £800.00 each ?
Client: I don’t know, I don’t have time for checking these and scrolling through all the paperwork, you should improve your system and your proposals (just FYI the proposal is usually 4x A4 pages PDF document, with venue options, pictures, itemised and explained individual prices and totals on the bottom in a separate box)
TV: I thought we have discussed these rates on the telephone and you said they were steep, but doable, obviously you have visited all three venues ?
Client: Yes, but I thought they were all £40, because I only looked at totals, your system doesn’t work, I don’t have time to be looking for information !
TV: OK, these rates are already reduced, I don’t think the venues will be able to do anything else.
Client: Can you tell them I would be paying by debit card on the day ? Surely that should help ?
TV (in their mind only, wishing they have not given up smoking some time ago as it would be a great moment to start): Did you know that a new-born baby giraffe travels about six feet to arrive on the ground ? What are your thoughts on the Middle East process ? Do you think there is a possibility for discovering silicone and not carbon based living organisms in outer space ?….
Client: Unfortunately I will not be able to work with you.
TV: Sorry to hear that…

We have terminated all arrangements with this client, which is unusual for a small company, but the valuable lesson we have learned (again) was – if it sounds impossible, it might actually be impossible to work with someone.

Value your time; you will never get back the energy and nerves. Extra work will cost your company more than the actual revenue achieved. Most importantly, have no doubts, you are not creating a healthy client/business relationship, you are creating complaints, whether you like it or not.

All the best and good luck to all sales people.

Category : Blog & Uncategorized
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Why Me?!

Here’s the latest Blogspot from our lovely blogger, Holly Brailsford, all about how to embrace being given the task of sourcing and organising any event….

 

So… since you’d been chosen to plan the office Christmas get-together which was a huge success you’ve drawn the short straw to book an off-site 2 day meeting for all of your senior management or… “bestowed” the honour of organising and running the company’s annual conference!

Inside you whisper… Why me??

When this planning malarkey isn’t part of your main job role, and you’ve never organised anything larger than a dinner for 30 at your local pub for your Christmas Do’, where on earth do you start!?

The whisper of “Why me!” has now grown to a scream!

First of all, there is a reason you have been given the job of planning, implementing and heading up such an important date/s in your company’s calendar so “hurrah” is really what you should be thinking.

How many people will be attending? Find out will the event be compulsory, invite only or do your delegates sign up to attend? You’ll need an idea of minimum and maximum numbers you expect, as well as an idea of room layout. If you’re unsure what would work best, the venue will be able to advise you.

Location of this event is your first point of call, find out what is important to the big bosses. Who is attending and where are they coming from? Do they have a preferred location, such as near Head Office or a flagship site. This will help you narrow down your venue search.

Are they looking for the buzz of a city centre that is easy to access by everyone attending by car, rail or plane, or the peace of the countryside with free parking in abundance? Do they want your attendees to go free into the city in an evening to explore, or keep them in all in one venue for networking and relationship building?

Do you need to think about being near an airport to accommodate your international guests? If so, there are now almost micro-cities on the doorstep of major air links so you can literally watch the planes take off during your event which can add a really quirky edge to the day.

Budget – What do they want to spend on this shindig and how much will be included for the each person attending? Are delegates paying to attend or is this one “on the house?”

Once you know the answers to these questions you’re on the right track to start looking at potential venues.

A Conference & Events Agency is always a great help when venue searching, they will have a list of varied and preferred suppliers at their finger-tips ready and eager to accept your new enquiry. You can also go one step further and choose an agency that can assist in the planning and logistical side of your conference.

Just like buying a new car or house, you’ll know which venue is right when you get there. You’ll get “that feeling” that the atmosphere and staff will create, if you can picture yourself behind their registration desk ticking off names and see your delegates eating their lunch then this is the venue for you. However… You need to look with your head as well as your heart.

  • How easy is it to get from the main plenary room to your break-outs?
    Are your break-out rooms split up over different floors?
    How good is their signage and can you provide additional?
    Do you need the venue to be DDA compliant?
  • Where is lunch & is there room for an exhibition if needed?
    Do you require seating for lunch?
    Will your delegates be queuing for lunch if you’re planning a buffet?
    Is the buffet self-service or will staff be on hand to assist?
  • What is the standard of the food & can you try some?
    Do you need a bespoke or themed menu and is there an extra charge for this?
    Listen to the venues recommendations regarding food and how to fuel your delegates.
  • Is there WIFI for everyone?
    Is the internet key to your event for streaming or video link? Find out the bandwidths  and do some testing if you can.
  • Are you able to provide pop-up banners, uniformed staff and “brand up” as much as you like?
    This will help create the delegate journey, from arrival they’ll  be seeing your logos and company colours making them feel at ease straight away.

The list of questions is endless and this is where your C&E Coordinator at the venue will help and so will your chosen agency. So don’t feel like a rabbit in head lights, it’ll all come together!

Also listen to your Coordinator at the venue too, they know the building and how to make it work best for you. Their advice will come from experience and if you’re ever unsure you can ask for past examples of how something worked or didn’t work for a previous client.

When it comes to signing the contract for your venue, make sure you read all of the terms and conditions. They can differ from venue to venue so ensure you’re fully aware of all the minimum number charges, cancelation policy should you need it and any other important points they may have failed to mention on confirmation.

The most important part of planning any event is to enjoy it!

As long as your open with your communication, ask questions when needed and you’re organised it will all go swimmingly and you’ll feel an immense sense of achievement when it all comes together.

Event planning isn’t for everyone, but anyone can do it.

 

About the Author

Holly Brailsford is Sales Manager at The Midland Hotel 

Category : Blog
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Lucas (Our BDM) Provides Advice and Talks About Cold Calling

There is a negative image of cold calling, usually  projected by people with experience from “clucking” call centres. The reason I have not called them “sales people” is because they are not sales people. With the labour turnover of 150% a year these “call factories” grind through literally anyone with proficiency in English.

I have experienced different styles of cold calling, hated some of them (2-3 minutes dialler powered mass calling, 100+ a day), but after growing rhino’s skin I started developing my own pitch, and squeezing my personality and some fun into the script. Despite leaving the call centre job I have always kept this experience in high regard (and people who were happy in this line of work even higher), as it has provided a great base for developing my own style.

Some would probably argue that we all pick up bits and pieces listening to others’ sales pitch,  as well as invent our own style as we go. It is true, but in my opinion what is most important in cold calling is that the call has to be relevant. It has to be relevant for the client, it has to be relevant for the caller. This can be achieved by research and learning. Without understanding how is the call relevant to the potential client the call becomes an unpleasant experience, affecting both parties. It might be a desperate “thousand shots”  speed conversation, when the sales person fires all benefits and features hoping something will stick. There is a jargon expression for this – “A feature puke” and is really a monologue, not a conversation. And we all have been there – you are trying to get something out of the person on the other side, while you both quietly pray for someone or something to accidentally end this unfortunate conversation.

In order to avoid this, I have always made sure to maintain certain key points in a cold call:
1. Research
2. Relevance
3. Being concise
4. Being original
5. Timing
6. Avoid Neanderthal pauses e.g. “eeeh” “yyy” “aaa” “uuummm” when delivering the message.
7. Closing the call
8. Follow up.

I am sure there are people who can easily relate my experience to books, studies and research; young and pro-active generations will dismiss it all as “thing of the past”, while Twitter and Facebook will do it all for them, but I am strongly convinced cold calling isn’t dead at all, I just think there are not that many people who do it right.

I wish all BD people good luck; to those who have not got the liberty of choosing their own calls and clients I say “Stay strong!” 🙂

Have a great day !

Category : Blog
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Blogspot: New Year, New Event: Better Late Than Never!

Ok lovely blog readers, this one’s a bit late, but rather late than never right??
So here’s what our lovely friend, Holly Brailsford had to say about new years and events….

 

Now that 2014 is in full swing, everyone can start to plan their yearly event calendar, whether big or small. Some may even begin thinking about what might be coming up for 2015 and after. Post-Its and note-pads are covering desks up and down the country, as cups of tea and coffee are drunk whilst ideas are thrown back and forth. What a wonderful time of year!

Year on year we see the same events and conferences hit our doors, it’s fantastic to have the repeat business and we love seeing a familiar face. What is even greater is when the event gets better and better, we love nothing more than an enthusiastic organiser! Numbers rise, delegates are more excited to attend and the whole experience becomes more well-rounded for all. What are these organisers doing differently? Whether their field is medical, charity, financial etc, they keep people attending time after time and keep them engaged with the topic.

One of the key points is changing with the times, it sounds so simple but embracing the new can make a huge difference to the delegate experience. We have events now that can stream internationally so delegates and companies whose budgets have been cut can login and watch from afar, keeping the interest going for those who can’t attend in person. It’s also a great way for those people who do attend, but miss a key speaker, to login afterwards and watch their talk at a later date.

Twitter and hashtag-ing is becoming more and more popular and powerful, giving your event its own hashtag is a brilliant way of drawing in a younger and more tech savvy audience and also broadening your reach across social networking. Your hashtag can be included on promotional material prior to the event, to create a buzz before you’ve even arrived. It can be printed on banners, hand-outs and event t-shirts to push the message that you want your delegates to interact! If you want to go one step further you can include a live news-feed during your conference.

We see very formal events, who sometimes are dealing with incredibly difficult or troubling topics lighten the mood with brightly coloured welcome packs, banners and matching t-shirts and hoodies for staff. This is a great way of taking the edge of a conference which could otherwise be very emotionally draining.

As you head into 2014 and think about a new event you plan to hold, something totally new for you and your company think about “you” as the delegate. What will make you excited to attend, what will make you comfortable throughout and most importantly… what will make you want to come back for the 2nd year it’s held. There is nothing more valuable than constructive feedback and opinions of others who attend events regularly. Ask them what made a particular event stand out for them, you’ll probably be surprised by the answer!

If you’re gearing up for your annual event… what can you shake up to cause more interest and a buzz! If you’re bored of planning the conference, the chances are your delegates are bored of attending. What would make it fun for you, even when covering the darkest of subjects? How can you engage and interact with the attendees more effectively and what do they need to take away with them at the end.

Large events are also fabulous networking opportunities across companies or within larger frame-works of people who only see each other a few times a year. Sharing best-practice between colleagues and peers during these times is something to consider as well, giving your delegates enough down-time to work the room.

2014 is going to be about experimenting and trying something new, and sometimes a little out of the norm. But, who says the norm has to be dull…. Throw in some colour and a sense of humour and even the heaviest of subjects can be met with a smile.

About the Author

Holly Brailsford is Sales Executive at Manchester Conference Centre and Hotel and is responsible for all New Business and Account Management at the venue.

Category : Blog
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