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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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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 

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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 !

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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.

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Notes from Down Under – Blogspot – Expos Expos Expos!

Here’s our latest blogspot from our regular monthly blogspotter – the lovely Emily…..


Expos Expos Expos!

It is coming to that time of year again when all the major venue expos in the UK and Europe are kicking off and preparations are well under way. This sector occupies a high percentage of the events industry in the UK and Europe and similarly on the other side of the pond.

Confex and Imex are approaching, two of the biggest and leading exhibitions for the event industry and event industry specialists will be flocking in their thousands to ensure they attend as a means of networking for business, getting up to date on industry trends, discovering fresh ideas and new event technologies and gain some inspiration for their year of events ahead. For individuals in the industry it really is a must attend. Strangely after much research it seems Australia doesn’t host an event of this sort for us event professionals which is rather baffling, Australia is home to some of the world’s finest event venues and spaces, not to mention the size of the market over here and the host to world renown events. Being the nosey parker that I am I have contacted several bodies and main convention centres to discover if they were aware of any and if there were none, then why not, I have yet to get responses.

The Australian’s sure love a good expo though. Since arriving in Melbourne in November there has been a number of large expos taking over Melbourne’s Convention Centre. There seems to be a pattern over here however, up to Christmas there was a series of Home/Garden expos leading up to the summer period including the Grand Designs Live show for people looking to undergo home improvements, followed by an array of music industry expos for the music lovers hoping to secure a place at the summer music events. It has seemed to quieten down throughout January but there is a whole host of new events in the pipeline in Melbourne and the trends appear to be Bridal Expos. With Australia being at the peak of their summer, most weddings tend to occur this time of year so wedding planners, excited newly engaged couples and those just wanting a nosey are flocking to the city to gain some inspiration for the upcoming year’s weddings.

Another key trend to kick off the new year seems to be health and fitness expos along with hair and beauty conventions for those inspiring towards a ‘new me’ for the new year. Coming up to Autumn here in Australia there appears to be a second wave of Home and Garden expos and Travel expos for those wanting to get their homes in order or take off before winter sets in. Of course I think the venue expo calendar here will be completely opposite to that of the UK and Europe as the seasons are the opposite. This seems to be the theme for expos in Australia, they seem to follow the flow of the seasons and what is trending at the time. This next couple of week as the summer is coming to a close, food and wine/beer expos are taking over Melbourne and people from all over Australia and surrounding countries are heading here in there 100s to experience Melbourne’s vast culinary delights.

Similarly to the UK and Europe, Australia also hosts a range of interest specific expos including craft fairs, mind and body, health and fitness, textiles and career specific events such as those in the medical profession, science, arts, design and illustration, construction & architecture and the list goes on. The space is also popular for the use of company award ceremonies, concerts, conferences and launches.

Now I am going to admit, shameless as an event professional, that in the UK I very rarely attended exhibitions unless it was of great interest to me. I think this is down to several reasons. Since I have been in Australia I have been to rather a few, the difference I feel is; 1 – There appears to be more on offer with a wide range of genres, 2 – The expos are either free or a very minimal cost, 3 – Accessibility to the venue and general marketing of the expos. In the UK I rarely saw anything advertised for expos of interest to me and I usually had to read about it in a review afterward. Expos here are highly marketed by the venues and they place a lot of emphasis on them and the visitor experience.

The only niggle is that of the lack of event industry specialist exhibitions but then I guess the ozzies have to count on us Brits to show them how its done, though I better not let any ozzies hear me say that.

Emily Dwyer is an event manager originally from the UK that’s just emigrated to Australia with her partner. Emily regularly writes blog of her experiences in the event industry and has a monthly blogspot here on the Top Venues website amongst writing her own. You can read other blogs Emily has written about her experiences here: www.theeventure.wordpress.com

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Note from Down Under – Blogspot

Our lovely blogger Emily treats us to the next installment of her monthly blog….

Reality Strikes Back!

Can you believe yet another year has past?! Time flies when you are grown up and have a proper job.

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and New Year, it was rather an odd one here in Melbourne but me and my partner made the most of it and got into the spirit of things none the less. Anyway, onwards and upwards to the new year and a whole new year of events to look forward to. In true spirit of things, this months piece is going to delve into something we all know all too well, those dreaded January Blues.

Melbourne Skyline

It is an awful feeling, you have had some time off work, been eating and drinking till your hearts content, spending time with loved ones you only see once a year and just are full of Christmas cheer. The weather is miserable, cold and dark yet you still have Christmas to look forward to to push you through. January hits and its back to work, back to routine, diets begin to shed the Christmas pounds and you’re still filled with dark, cold days and nothing to look forward to right? It is not a great time of year, lets be honest, but it has rather a different feel down under where January isn’t all that bad.

We are currently just hitting summer here in Australia so this kind of takes the edge off the typical ‘January Blues’. While we are still all heading back to work after a nice long break. We are welcomed with warm sunny mornings, beautiful sunsets and soaring temperatures which is an instant mood boost, just being able to sit outside to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner helps. We can look forward to the weekend as while we all may be a little strapped for cash, here you can just make a picnic and hit the beach or visit one of Melbourne’s many beautiful parks which are home to open air cinemas during the summer period while back in the UK we end up being couped up inside avoiding the weather which leads to further frustration.

 

A Stroll Over The Sand Dunes

The end of January also hosts a public holiday for ‘Australia Day’ which is rather a big deal over here with events taking place in major cities all over the country. Events range from large fire work displays and street parties to twilight markets, beer and food festivals and array of family fun events, think St Patricks Day but on a bigger scale. Another major event of the Australian events calendar this month is the Australian Open Tennis which people look forward to year round and book tickets well in advance to ensure they have the best court side seats where they can sip Pimms and eat strawberries and not have to worry about running for cover (an all to favourite past time at Wimbledon). A lot of planning an management goes into this event as expected and like Wimbledon it is that of a continuous success, my aim is to try and get involved some way this year, what an event to be a part of. The arena itself is set along the river and is rather prestigious to say the least, again the courts will be graced with some of the worlds best but who will win the trophy.

The summer event season is just kicking off and let me tell you, it looks to be a cracking year for events in Melbourne alone and I for one am stuck for choice on what to attend and get involved with, a slight change to what I would usually be doing at this time of year in the UK, so if you want to banish those January Blues I suggest you enjoy a nice wintry Christmas in the UK and then get yourself on the next plane and soak up some of this sun, there is plenty to go around thats for sure.

 

Emily Dwyer is an event manager originally from the UK that’s just emigrated to Australia with her partner. Emily regularly writes blog of her experiences in the event industry and has a monthly blogspot here on the Top Venues website amongst writing her own. You can read other blogs Emily has written about her experiences here: www.theeventure.wordpress.com

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Notes from Down Under – Blogspot

So here at Top Venues, we thought you might like to get the opinions and stories of an event planner Down Under to compare to that of event life here in the UK.

We’d like to introduce you to Emily Dwyer, an event planner who’s just emigrated to Australia and has agreed to post a monthly blog right here on our blogspot for all you lovely readers. Over to Emily:

 

Notes from Down Under – Its beginning to (not) look a lot like Christmas.

 

Hello Top Venue Readers!

Most of you probably won’t know me but I am the writer of The Eventure. I am rather new to this blog writing business but I am enjoying it. If you read my about me page, you will discover that I recently made a life changing decision to move to Australia in pursuit of my Event Management dreams. The blog will document my journey into the events industry down under and how it differs from that in the UK. Join me here every month to see how I am getting on.

Firstly I would like to say a massive thanks to Top Venues for having me write for them and rant to all their readers along with my own.

My first piece to you this month is going to discuss how the lead up to Christmas here in Australia differs from that of the UK’s and particularly with the events industry. I hope you enjoy and feel free to email me any comments.

So, It is that time of year again when the nights start drawing in early, the frost starts to take over, madness starts in the shops and the decorations and bright lights start to appear, its Christmas of course, my favourite time of year! As we know all too well in the UK the build up starts earlier each year, unfortunate for those with young kids who have excited little youngsters for about 3 months but it is a particularly busy and exciting period for event organisers and venues across the globe.

Australian Christmas Tree - no different to ours!

 

From experience, I know that within the UK in particularly Christmas is an event managers and venues busiest time of year. We are a traditional country and like to go all out over the festive period. Venues get booked a year in advance, parties have to be booked months prior to the actual event and larger council run events take at least a year’s planning so overall a lot of thought goes into this holiday season.

Now hold that thought, I am going to paint a mental image for you, here I am in Melbourne in the first week of December basking in glorious sunshine (30 degrees worth I may add) with the main topic of conversation being about the summer holidays, not a Christmas tree in sight and not even a Christmas song played in any shop and not much advertised around the city or in venues for Christmas events. Now not only am I the biggest kid at Christmas but I love the buzz and atmosphere around the season and the vast amount of events that occur over this period. A time to be merry and thankful for great family and friends and the year gone by and a time to celebrate all that was in the past year.

It started to occur to me that the Aussie’s do it a little differently to us, as this is currently their summer period its difficult to engage in the christmas type events that are on offer to us in the UK such as ice skating, drinking mulled wine and keeping in warm in front of a log fire in a nice country pub. In Australia you can expect the type of events that take place in our summer such as outdoor music festivals, Open Air cinemas and street parties with not much emphasis placed on Christmas parties, Christmas themed markets and venues seeming to do very little marketing for Christmas parties and dining events. Events companies across Australia are not planning for Christmas events but for summer weddings and outdoor garden parties along with outdoor events within the music and sport arena.

Its not all bad though, I can only speak for Melbourne but the council here make a reasonably effort for the kids by decorating the town hall as a massive present, placing large toy soldiers at various points around the city and having a large gingerbread house where the kids can see santa. One of the biggest Christmas events to take place here in Melbourne is the revealing of the Christmas window displays at one of the department stores and the Christmas Decoration trail around the city but I have got to say it is nothing spectacular but then I am bias. It is just a very laid back approach over here and not a massive emphasis placed on the season but fear not, I will be bringing the Great British Christmas to the shores of Australia this year and be basking in all things christmasy, well as much as I can anyway but for now have a very Merry Christmas Great Britain and I guess i’ll get a shrimp on the barbi or something like that.

 

Read other blogs Emily has written about her experiences here: www.theeventure.wordpress.com

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End of Another Year…

Well what can I say – it’s been one hell of a year for us here at Top Venues and Events.

With wedding bells, new team members and bigger events there’s been something to keep us on our toes all year (we’re not complaining!).

We’ve been that busy, particularly the last three months, that we’ve even failed to keep our lovely readers up to date with everything that’s going on. (Sorry about that)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s the score for 2014….

  • We have a guest blogger from Down Under that will be providing monthly blogs on everything event related to give us an incite into how our pals across the water work.(first blog will be this week)
  • We’re looking to find new offices as we need a bigger space so will keep you posted when we do.
  • We’re taking on even bigger events and working even closer with some of our regular clients to create better working partnerships.
  • We’re continuing to keep up the service standards we’ve set ourselves over the last few years.
  • We’re looking to keep you updated with more blogs that we hope you’ll find of interest.
  • We’re getting to know even more suppliers to be able to offer more to all our clients, old and new.
  • More importantly – we’re still the same approachable, happy people you currently work with and will continue to be 🙂

So, with all that to come and with this year coming to a close, all that’s left to say is:

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

from all the team at Top Venues & Events xx

 

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Blogspot: Entertainment? Here’s A List Of Things To Consider.

Guest Blogger: Susan Heaton Wright

There are many fabulous venues around and many brilliant people at those venues to help you. If you are including entertainment in your event, it is worthwhile asking the following questions, to ensure you choose the right venue for you.

1. Timing restrictions; some venues have a curfew on sound, for example, no music played outside after 8pm – so if you might need to re-think the idea of having a band outside for late evening dancing! Remember Hyde Park last year, where the microphones were switched off! You want to avoid that!

2. Noise restrictions – decibel limits. Many venues have maximum decibel meters where the power cuts. A DJ or band members are going to look stupid if their equipment suddenly stops working. Being aware of this will avoid disappointed guests!

3. Types of music: there could be restrictions on amplified instruments – so acoustic instruments and voices should be used in those cases, although we have found that occasionally a keyboard could be used – although do check!

4. Preferred suppliers: a few venues will only allow specific suppliers to work there. Check before you plan your event!

5. Loading/unloading equipment : how easy is it? Will you need to have someone on guard to avoid a parking ticket? Will you need additional people to help with the loading. Are there time restrictions of when equipment can be delivered?

6. Getting to know the porter/doorperson/receptionist who will know all the tricks to avoid parking tickets. The saints of any venue know everything about unloading, the easiest route to the performing areas, any top tips. Ask to have their contact details so you can build up a rapport.

7. Any fabric (historial) features that need to be preserved: will equipment need to be put on special flooring to protect the floors? Cellos protective spikes. But also certain venues have restrictions on the mix of sound – one venue we work at has restrictions on the bass levels, because it affects the windows!

8. Power sockets and the amount of power – particularly outside. It is okay for a venue to say ‘We have power outside’ but if there is only one socket, it could restrict equipment used therefore might need to arrange a generator or cabling.

9. Acoustics – some venues are very resonant, or dry: a space with no carpets or curtains can be very noisy; low ceilings create a different acoustic. The challenge is that when your guests arrive, the acoustic alters again. Ask advice from your venue and also your entertainment supplier, to see what will work. If necessary, arrange a recce to the venue – this will show you if they know what they’re talking about too!

10. Type of event: if you are having a network event, remember that people want to talk and hear each other. A noisy room, and one that also has entertainment, might be too noisy. Likewise an event for 50 people which normally holds 250 will have the guests and entertainment ‘rattling round’ the room. Choose your space according to the event as well as the number of guests.

 

About the Author

Susan Heaton Wright is Creative and Managing Director of Viva Live Music.

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Blogspot: Making an Event ‘Exceptional’

Ok people, here it is, our next blogspot. You may think we’ve already covered Making an Exceptional Event. However, this time we’re looking at it from a different angle…and looking at making an Event Exceptional! Happy reading….

Guest Blogger: Jilly Jones

Exceptional events happen because of the people involved. Right from the initial enquiry, it is vital to establish the event objective and to ensure that the venue can deliver and is the right ‘fit’. To be ‘mis sold’ to at this stage by an over eager events manager that may mistakenly believe that their venue and staff can supply what they want will end in disaster. For example hosting a corporate conference with a serious business element in a ‘family friendly’ leisure environment during school holidays may well have an adverse effect on the success of the conference.
Tools such as ‘Trip Advisor’ and ‘VenueVerdict’ help event organiser to properly research the venue and identify any particular strengths or weaknesses which may be addressed. Investigate any awards that the venue may hold, to identify the strengths of the venue and how this in turn may benefit the event. Awards such as Gold Standard in the Green business tourism scheme will contribute to assessing the carbon footprint of your event. Likewise venues holding awards for customer service will leave your delegates delighted.

 

From this stage on it’s up to the events manager and the client working together to ensure the success of any project. The planning is an integral part of the process. Objectives must be clear and understood by all of the parties involved.

A degree of marketing strategy in the planning process ensures that the audience (whether that be your internal or external customer) is considered fully and will be communicated to in the way in which is convenient. For example, to send out hard copy invitations and information to any delegates that may be field-based will end in catastrophe! Effective communication must exist not only prior to your event, but also during and post event to continually evaluate the event objective. ‘Goody bags’ remain a very popular part of the event: your delegates leave with a ‘momento’ and this can be a great way of ensuring that further branded material and follow up information is distributed.

Creativite and innovative ideas that will engage your audience and keep them talking about the event long after they return to the office benefit the longevity of any event. Keep things simple by inviting external professionals who can deliver those special touches such as facilitation and entertainment. This adds value and rewards delegates who have committed the time and energy to attend.

About the Author

Jilly Jones is Business Development Manager for Farncombe Conference Centre and Dormy House

on the Farncombe Estate and in her words ‘One of the most beautiful estates in the Cotswolds.’

 

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Blogspot: What changes have you seen in the events market over the last two years?

Guest Blogger: Holly Whitman

Some would say I’m merely a “pup” in the world of hospitality and events, having started my career in a hotel as a Conference & Events Co-ordinator in Bolton in 2008, moving into a Manchester city centre hotel in 2009 and then landing where I currently am as Sales Executive for Manchester Conference Centre & Hotel. But over the last 5 years since I started, much has changed in this industry… even for new eyes like mine.

Lead times for large bookings are getting shorter, gone seem the days of booking a large multiday, international conference 2 or 3 years in advance. Now large enquiries are coming in 8 – 12 months in advance… when you’re lucky! This makes it incredibly hard to plan your business on the books and forecasting as you don’t know when “that biggy” will appear. But we adapt, and we keep an eye on those rebookers!

The buyers appear far more savvy now too, probably largely connected to the recession where budgets were cut, jobs lost and belts tightened. Clients are now more confident than ever to question proposals to find the best deals, happy to pitch hotels and venues against each other to get the best price, and who can really blame them! The lines between competitor venues are now blurred, no more clear boundaries in pricing from your 5* to your 3*, purpose built venue or redeveloped site.

What does this mean for us… well for Manchester I think it means working together more than ever as a city and a destination for all conferences and events. We strive to make ourselves as desirable as possible and if we don’t win that main contract, we can push for fringe events, accommodation or overflow. I think we’re doing a pretty good job too! Hotels and venues are communicating more and obviously don’t want to give away their secrets or their biggest clients, but we know there is always someone at the end of a phone or email to ask for advice or pass on a referral.

Manchester has grown into a hub of international business, with the Convention Centre bringing in large events from across the globe. There really is something for everyone within this “walk-able” city! It’s not just hotels and purpose built venues like ourselves that host events, we’re fighting art galleries, restaurants, bars, casinos and even museums.

This is what makes Manchester great, and the venues and hotels within the city even greater.

So, what’s changed over the last 2 years… communication, competition, relationships, lead times and more than anything buyers who know what they want.

We welcome it with open arms.

About the Author

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

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Blogspot: What Makes An Exceptional Event?

Guest Blogger: Steve Jarvis

Everyone wants their next event to be remembered for all the right reasons. In my opinion there are three distinct elements which make an event exceptional rather than simply a good event. If any of these three elements aren’t just right you can struggle for the event to run smoothly.

Choosing the right event with the right elements

It is impossible to have an exceptional event if you don’t first take care to make sure you have chosen the right event.  The very first question you should ask yourself when planning any event is what you want to achieve from the event. This might be a simple answer of we just want to have fun or it might be more complex that you are looking to hold a conference tied in with some team building which is focused on improving communication. Either way you need to know the event’s objectives before proceeding much further.

The second part of choosing the right event is making sure the event doesn’t exclude anyone. You might love running through a muddy obstacle course but the chances are some of those taking part wont and some may be unable to take part. If there is food being provided you need to take care not to exclude anyone there either. So if you want your event to be exceptional make sure you take care when selecting the events and any related elements.

Choosing the right venue

It is vital to any successful event let alone an exceptional one to make sure you choose the right venue which has the best facilities available for your budget. There can sometimes be a bewildering array of venues to choose from for your event. The scope of choice for your event will largely depend on how you answered the question in the section above.

At busy times of year the choice may be limited by other bookings which have already been booked in. To give yourself the very best choice you should try and give as much time as possible to find the right venue. It’s also worth contacting a professional venue finding service to help you see the full range of venues you have available and which would be best suited to your event. You can often find they may get a preferential rate as they book many events each year and also save you money.

Having the right people

Probably the most important of these three elements is making sure you have the right people involved in the event. If you are holding a conference you may be limited to the speakers you can use. If you are holding a team building event it is important to make sure the instructors are fully trained so you gain as much as possible out of the activities. Just like with finding the best venue it’s often wise to employ event professionals to help make your event exceptional.

Summary

So to summarise these three elements can largely be combined into making sure you plan the event properly. If the event is properly planned in detail and has the right type of events in the right location with the right people you have all of the ingredients of an exceptional event. It is important however to make sure you get as much detailed feedback from the event as possible before you can really say how good the event was.  Part of any planning process must be to plan for potential problems including things like the weather in the case of hot sunny days suddenly changing to thundery weather as it has done this week.

About the Author

Steve Jarvis work’s for Demon Wheelers who are a Sheffield based corporate events and team building company who travel throughout the UK hosting events for clients. Steve has worked in a variety of industries in teams of all shapes and sizes over a career which spans over 15 years.

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