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Summer Outdoor Events

We’re now nearly into July, which means the start of the summer events season is already upon us!

Cannon Bridge Roof Garden

Festival season is on our doorstep with Glastonbury this weekend and other festivals already having happened, as well as the start of some of the great outdoor events that are happening in London this year, such as Brick Lane Comedy Festival. So what’s stopping you from taking your event outdoors?

The weather is too unpredictable and it’s too risky!

The weather plays a massive part in an outdoor event and living in the UK means you’re subject to unpredictable weather. Waterlogged grounds, flooding and heavy winds can cause difficulties in the preparation and breakdown of an event, as well as the implications it has to the event itself. There are ways however to make the blow of bad weather a little softer. It is very important to prioritise weather contingency into planning, so why not create a Weather Action Plan? By looking at possible weather conditions for the day(s) of event and creating an action plan for any last minute changes, you can follow it simply and effectively without running into any trouble on the day(s)!

An indoor venue seems a better option!

Holding an event outdoors can give a different feel and dimension to an event, and there are plenty of outdoor venues around the UK and further afield which can be explored! The range of outdoor venues available are from countryside gardens and fields to inner city rooftops. Hilton London Wembley is a particular favourite for city people looking to hold their event outside. On the 9th floor is SkyBar-9 which features an open-air terrace overlooking Wembley Stadium. If you’re willing to travel for your event, why not head over to Slane Castle in Ireland? The venue is popular for large and small outdoor events, with the choice of hiring the castle grounds for a small gathering or the 100,000 seated natural amphitheatre for much larger gatherings!

I don’t know what kind of catering will be suitable!

Picnic by the lake at Blenheim Palace

You may not know, but there are restrictions on the kind of food you can serve at an outdoor event. Especially during the summer when it can be humid, it is wise to look up on the hazards that certain foods can provide.. And don’t forget about insects! Food is the main attraction for pests, but with a bit of planning they are easy to tackle. Place some bowls containing sugary water in different locations of the event to keep insects at bay. If you don’t want to disrupt the elegance of an event, instead use decorative mesh lids to cover platters.

 

If you thought having an outdoor event would be challenging, you were right. However, it can easily be planned and enjoyable if correctly prepared beforehand! By having a detailed back up plan, it’s like having a safety net underneath you, and it can easily be followed and executed if anything was to go wrong at your outdoor event. Take the plunge and organise your event outdoors!

Happy Planning! 🙂

P.S If you need any help give us a call on 0844 8709963 or email us at help@top-venues.co.uk and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.

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Challenges For Event Planners In 2013 And Into 2014

Since the first recession hit in 2008, the events industry has had to adapt to the changes, for example venues have had to continue offering quality service yet acclimatise to tighter budgets. The outlook for 2013 is a little more positive, with companies predicting over the up-coming years conferences and meetings will rise to make £21.8bn in 2015, a difference to the £18.8bn in 2010!

But WAIT! We event organisers are not out of the woods yet, as we are still looking to come face to face with challenges throughout the year. So what are some of the tests are we facing?

  • Shorter lead times mixed with tighter deadlines and limited budgets.
  • Venues and suppliers reducing discounts and incentives to make up for lost money.
  • Increased focus on sustainability and environmental factors.
  • Keeping ideas fresh and new!

With these problems in mind, what can we organisers do to help ourselves?

  • Organisers can push for budgets to be signed off earlier with additional time being used effectively to source cost effective venues and suppliers.
  • Why not use good old fashioned negotiation? As well as negotiation, make sure the venue sourced can be relied on for the event needs and budget, and that can also maybe offer a bespoke package, as a thank you for your commitment!

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New unique venue to open in London!

Exploring London Underground’s ‘ghost’ stations have been very limited to just a few small tours each year. However, this is about to change as The Old London Underground Company’s founder Ajit Chambers has been given permission to open up a number of the  abandoned stations as tourist attractions and venues.

The first project being undertaken is at Down Street station, 80 years after it was closed to passengers. During the Second World War, the station was used as an underground bunker for Winston Churchill and his war cabinet. The plan is to bring back that moment in the stations history in an interactive exhibit open to all.

Another station Ajit is looking to reopen is Brompton Road, who already has plans approved to transform the station from an antique Underground to a thriving tourist attraction, including a climbing wall and a rooftop restaurant.

Not only are these two stations being bought back to live, Ajit has proposed he open a further 26, so keep your eyes peeled for these unusual new venues!

London Underground Abandonded Stations

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Event Management of Fieri’s Frontline Event

Fieri - Frontline Event

A couple of weeks ago saw Top Venues & Events undertake the running of an event called Frontline – An evening of inspiration. The event saw five men injured during their time spent in the army give motivational talks to a room full of people with the view to inspire them to be the best that they could be. Part of the money made from the event went towards the charity Walking with the Wounded but the main reason for the event was to help the injured war heroes market themselves as professional speakers and provide them with a means of living in the future.

We faced a number of challenging issues from the moment we decided to take on the organisation of the event right down till the evening of the event itself. The initial problems were largely due to the fact that this was the first time the client had done an event such as this, up until now the whole thing had just been an idea and so there was a lot riding on it going well. Having never done the event before the client didn’t know how many people were likely to attend but they had already booked the event space and chosen The Point at Old Trafford cricket ground.

In the weeks leading up to the event we had numerous meetings with the clients in order to successfully establish how they wanted the event to run. We were sent signage by them which we in turn edited and finalised and we also helped out with the marketing of the event specifically the social media aspects.

Top Events - Event Management

Thus is the nature of venues we discovered the week before that there was another event being held in that room on the same day and so we had to be moved to another room, it also meant we would only have access from a couple of hours before the event was due to start and this meant an all hands on deck approach to the preparation. In the days leading up to the event we prepared everything from floor plans to running orders to receipts and it all began to come together nicely.

On the evening of the event we welcomed the guest speakers, went through what would be happening and explained how the night would be planning out. We liaised with all the volunteers as well as our own staff and the venue staff such as the sound engineers and the caterers in order to ensure that everybody knew what they should be doing. We successfully set up the venue space in the short time we had before the doors opened and got ready for the arrival of the first guests. Over the next hour the guests arrived where they were greeted at the reception, checked in and directed to the bar where they could purchase a drink before the first speaker began. The event ran smoothly from start to finish, everything from the videos of the men in action during wartime to clips of them at the top of a mountain or flying round a velodrome. The night ended at around 11pm after a Q&A session with all five of the speakers on stage at the same time and by this point it’s safe to say that all 200 people in the room were unbelievably inspired.

The event was a complete success especially when you take into consideration that the whole thing was done with only a month’s worth of planning.  You could tell just by looking around that everybody from sponsors to guest speakers were ecstatic with how it had gone, we received this message from the client a few days after the event:

You have all been absolute stars, we cannot thank you enough for your commitment and exceptional organisational prowess. We hope to work with you again in the future.

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A Little Easter Message from Top Venues

Happy Easter! 🙂

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The Recipe For A Successful Event

Following on from the recent Great British Bakeoff, here at Top Venues & Events, we thought we’d continue with the theme in producing our very own recipe for a successful event. If you follow it down to the letter, we’re sure your event will be every bit as successful as you anticipate it to be. 🙂

Ingredients

A Nice Big Cake!

– 100g – You
– 210g – Time
– Five teaspoons of budget (work out pre-event planning)
– A tablespoon of imagination

Step 1. Brainstorm Ideas – like a cake, what do you want the outcome of your event to be?

– Theme?
– Number of Attendees?
– Catering?
– Type of venue?

Step 2. Choose a theme, date, time and venue.

People enjoy different types of cake – chocolate, jam or possibly even carrot?
Make sure the flavours of your theme mix well –  mint and pineapple, in a cake, we think not!?
Co-ordinate a date and time for your event that works well for all guests.
Choose a location that will accommodate your number of attendees. Maybe go for a tasting session at a few venues – visiting your venue will give you a better idea of how your event will pan out and whether the venue is actually the right one.

Step 3. Add 135g of invites to send to your attendees.

Make sure your invites give a taster of what to expect – you want to make it enticing to your guests. Is it an event of fun and games – make your invite suggest so. Likewise, if it’s an informative event – give them something that will make them want to attend and get bums on seats.

Step 4. Choose what kind of filling (catering!) you want.

Three course meal or buffet?
Depending on your event, you can choose what kind of catering you want (if any!).
Think about the time of your event – will your attendees miss their dinner or lunch? If so, you may want to offer something to take the hunger pangs away – the last thing you want is people feeling hungry at your event as this will take their attention away from what you’re really trying to tell them.

Step 5. Decorating your cake (event).

What kind of entertainment will you have?
A few speakers, a cabaret act, a musician?
Make sure not to go overboard with the icing – having a range of entertainment can either be a great finale or a taste disaster.

Step 6. Finalise arrangements and budget.

Ccheck up on attendee numbers (dietry requirements – who can/can’t eat the cake)
The boring bits, like cleaning up the messy kitchen! (Get helpers, like they have in Great British Bake Off!)

Step 7. See event through. (Eat Cake)

Slice of Cake

Think this is fairly self explanatory.
Be prepared for things to go wrong on the night – there will always be something not quite right but if you can mask it with enough filling and are ready to act should anything happen, most likely no one will notice except you. Your event will look like it’s running smoothly on the outside, when in fact (to you) it’s a real mess!

Step 8. Was the event successful?

Take time to reflect on how the event went and whether there was anything that could have been done better.
Did the cake have the right amount of filling?
Did it lack in icing?
Ask attendees for feedback on your event so you can learn for next time

Step 9.

If a successful cake (event), do it again! 🙂

 

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Top Ten Tips When Booking A Venue

As part of our ongoing want to help you busy event planners, we thought we’d offer a quick run-down of tips for when booking a venue. We’ve split the list into a quick-fire list and a more detailed list. Use the tips as a tick-list or as a more detailed reminder. Whatever way you choose to use them, we’re sure they’ll come in useful!

However, if you’re still struggling once you’ve got through these tips and need some help – give us a call or contact us here and we’d be happy to step in and take all these things into consideration for you.

1. Location

2. Facilities

3. Cost

4. Response Time

5. First Impressions

6. Suitability

7. Accessability

8. Food & Drink

9. Accommodation

10. Quality of Customer Service! (Last but by no means least!)

 

 

Location

Setting is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a venue. It can determine accessibility, the facilities available for you and the suitability for your event. Things to consider –

  • Do you want a local venue or an international venue?
  • What type of location are you looking for? e.g. a countryside spot or an inner city area?
  • How far are your delegates travelling? Do you need access to public services/airports/railway/motorways, and if so how far away are they?

Facilities

Having the perfect facilities for your event can mean the difference between it running smooth and running wild.

  • Can the venue offer a room large enough to hold your delegates? Can guests travel around the space without trouble?
  • Are there suitable toilets nearby?
  • Can they accommodate disabled people?
  • Can caterers provide food and drink inside the venue, or is it in another room? If so, can guests easily access these areas?

Cost

Make a budget right at the beginning and stick to it. Provided you choose a good quality, experienced venue committed to making your event the best it can be then you’ll get far more from the experience –

  • Have you made a clear budget, and stuck to it?
  • Does the cost include everything you need for your event?
  • Are there any extra hidden costs?

Response Time

How fast or slow a venue responds to an email, or call can give a clear indication of what the service of the venue will be like on the day of your event. If they give clear instruction to wait at least 42 hours, and they have not responded within that time, it may be wise to have another search.

First Impressions

If possible, book a viewing at your chosen location. When you first view your chosen venue does it amaze you, or does it make you yawn?  If your first look is positive – great! If your first impression is a bit of a let-down, don’t give up – there will be other options! (it may be the inside inspires more than the outside – let’s face it, unless your event is outside, most of your attendees will only notice the inside.

  • Make a list of things you want to see in the venue. That way, you can thoroughly assess your venue in terms of your event’s needs. If at the end of the viewing you are still not satisfied, search again.

Suitability

You’ve viewed a few venues and have narrowed them down, but how does your venue suit your event?

  • Is the venue available on the date(s) you want? Are they flexible if change is necessary?
  • Does the venue fulfil your events purpose?

Accessability

Your venue is set in the beautiful English countryside, surrounded by thick forests and a large lake. But can you actually get there? And how are your guests getting there? How about disabled delegates?

  • If you need a venue which has good transport links for example a motorway or an airport then the countryside venue would be no good. If possible, make sure guests can access your venue easily and research into possible options and routes.

Food & Drink

Venues may provide catering or they may not. Whatever the outcome, discuss a few things –

  • What type of food/drink do they offer? Does it come under the price or is it an extra charge?
  • Ask for sample menus – maybe organise a tasting session. Make sure the menu offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.

Accommodation

Choose somewhere that can cater for everyone, not just a few people. If you’re event needs overnight accommodation, find out the following –

  • How much are they charging per room / per night?
  • Do they have the space for all your guests? If not, ask for an alternative near by.
  • Ask to view a few rooms – what are your first impressions? Do they offer en-suites, coffee and tea and towels? Would you feel comfortable staying there yourself?

Quality of Customer Service

When you visit your chosen venue, what is the overall customer service like?
From the initial phone call, to the visit itself and how they deal with you and others around you, there will be a clear indication of how they will treat you and your event.

  • Are they attentive and have good product knowledge or are they somewhere else and give you little to no useful information?
  • Can they identify problems and sort things out quickly or do they time waste?
  • How do they approach you? What manner do they talk to you with? Are they interested in your event? How do they respond to your questions?

 

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A Visit to the Countryside

Today we visited a venue called Cottons, a 4 star hotel located in Knutsford, Cheshire, and part of the Shire Hotel group which have properties spread across the UK.

Cottons Hotel Bedroom

Cottons is a perfect example of why choosing a venue outside of the city centre can often be the correct decision. The hotel is located close enough to Manchester, Chester and Liverpool to make an ideal day out whilst also having its own local attractions and acres of beautiful countryside to enjoy.

The shire group work on a three year plan which involves renovating and improving aspects of their hotels every three years, the main conference suite at Cottons underwent a complete renovation a couple of years ago, part of the restaurant is due to be done this year and the bedrooms will follow. There are three types of bedrooms, executive room, suites and family and each comes with complimentary water, fresh tea and coffee as well as free Wi-Fi Internet access.

Cottons prides itself on these thoughtful little touches and that mentality can be seen throughout the hotel with friendly and helpful staff on hand to help be it in the restaurant, bar & lounge or the 24 hour reception and room service. The hotel also boasts a beautiful spa which offers a range of treatments for male and female visitors as well as complimentary access to the pool, full equipped gym and even any gym classes that should catch your eye.

The hotel is a perfect destination for business as well as pleasure with 16 meeting rooms varying in size, the largest of which holding up to 220 delegates, and each boasting state of the art conference equipment and a dedicated conference team.

So if you’re wanting to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city and try something a little more peaceful or different, have a look at those venues on the outskirts – or better still, give us a call and we can do it for you!

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Here’s To 2013!

We thought we would create a little video to welcome you into the New Year (it is still January so we’re allowed 🙂 ). We hope you like!

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Summer Events – Are You Creative Enough?

Alternative London Venues for Events

It feels strange to be talking about summer at this early stage of the year but with time going quicker and quicker you can never start to plan your events too early. There are so many events going on in London during the summer it’s important to give yours that little something extra that makes it stand out against the rest. There are a number of ways to do this and perhaps the most important of all is by selecting the best venue for your event. When looking at venues people are often drawn to the same mundane features, price, location, accessibility etc. and whilst these are very important issues it is also vital that the organisers do not forget to be creative with their event. Being creative means looking that little bit harder for the perfect venue and not necessarily going with the first suitable one you find just because it ticks all the boxes.

The Ice Tank London

 

 

Whether it be a corporate business meeting, company training or a press event there are venues out there that can give your event that extra something that has been missing in the past. A good example of one such venue is the IceTank in Covent Gardens in London. The IceTank is a 2500 sq ft space spread over two levels, to look at pictures you might mistake it for a modern family home but it has all the necessary conference requirements and more. Amenities include Wi-Fi, plasma screens, a HD projector, a large skylight, luxury kitchen and even a fireplace. When it comes down to it the venue is just a room but it is the style and presentation of it that sets it apart from the usual venue spaces you find in the majority of London.

Science Museum London

The IceTank is a great example of a premium event space that has used style to turn what is essentially just a room into something different, this can often work great but sometimes you need an event space with even more creativity than this.  London has so many of these to offer, the Science Museum in South Kensington, the Imperial War Museum, the Tate Modern and even London Zoo all offer state of the art meeting rooms with facilities that can accommodate as little as two and as many as two thousand conference delegates. A conference at the Zoo may not be appropriate for all businesses but for some it will be ideal. The most important thing is not to settle for an average venue when the perfect one is out there just waiting for you to find it.

 

If you need help finding that perfect venue or something a little bit unusual then get in touch here and we’ll work with you to find what you need.

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The Start Of 2013 And Our Year Ahead….

The year gone by….

So 2012 went by in a flash! It felt like only yesterday when I was last writing an end of year report on how well the business was doing and looking at the following year.

Despite 2012 flying by here at Top Venues we seem to have managed to achieve quite a lot for a small business.
Taking on two new members of staff, updating our proposal system so that our proposals are even better than before and working on some pretty big events with new clients has been just a small part of our year.

#Queenof Venue Finding

On top of that we were crowned #Queenof Venue Finding on Twitter in October which was a fantastic surprise to us and one that we were so pleased to be part of.

So what are our intentions for 2013?

Well, with wedding bells ringing in May for me, it’s a big year in more than one way. Having spent the last year and a half managing my own wedding along with my clients’ events, it will soon be time to see the fruition of my work unfold. Very exciting, although quite a different experience working from the ‘clients’ side and aspect of things.

We’ve also taken on some new clients with multiple events taking place both here in the UK and Internationally which is extremely exciting and means we can look at continuing to expand the team. If that happens, it also means a new office!
So with the start of the new year really getting going this week, the team and I want to wish you all a very happy and prosperous year and look forward to working with some of you in the very near future.

Here’s to you and your events!

Sian

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A Little Christmas Message from Top Venues…

Please note: our office will be ‘Off Duty’ from Friday 21st December through until Wednesday 2nd January 2013. All emails will be responded to upon our return!

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Our approach

From start to finish we will help you find the right solution for you and your event.

No matter what size your event is, we can take the pressure off you by sourcing, negotiating and making the arrangements, allowing you to spend your time on more important issues.

Get in touch!

Contact us
Request a callback

Testimonials

 

"Thanks for all of your help - you really made the difference for me because of a) the time it saved me hunting around and negotiating rates, and b) getting such a good rate."

P.T, Gore Workwear