conference

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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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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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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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 

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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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Something Everyone Should Do….

Here’s a few pictures taken from a video one of our clients, Winning Pitch, created during their Christmas conference and party that we organised for them…gives you an idea of some of the festivities they got up to, something I think every business should do!

Lots of fun had and a brilliant event all in all:

It was absolutely fantastic, the whole day was perfect everyone loved it and the room was magical at the night time – all twirly lights all over!!! Thanks so much for sorting it all out, we really appreciate it.

 




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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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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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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.

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