manchester

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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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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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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A Little Bit of Christmas Cheer

Ok, ok, so we’re supposed to be into the height of the summer months…and as I look out of the window to the rain, I have to say I’m not particularly feeling it.

What I am hearing is the call for Christmas events. Yup. You heard right. C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. There. I said it.

It doesn’t feel too long ago when I was discussing Christmas events last year on the blog but time does seem to fly and it’s important that you think about these things before they creep up on you and it’s too late.

For those of you thinking “You’ve got to be serious – Christmas thoughts in July” – well I forgive you. It does sound a bit ludicrous and almost feels like we’re wishing the year away.

I can assure you we’re not.

We’ve been receiving Christmas brochures in the office since the last Christmas party finished in January! I kid you not.

We’ve also been receiving Christmas party enquiries since February. I kid you not again.

While Christmas parties have changed somewhat over the last few years (namely down to a certain something happening with the economy – ssshh!) it’s still important to make your staff or work colleagues feel a bit of love from the office. While not everyone has the luxury of spending lots of money to reward staff throughout the year, it’s important that staff morale is kept high in order to keep the work flow going.

Royal Courts of Justice, London

So why not spend a little bit of money, put a bit of thought into the gathering and you’ll probably get a happier member of staff that wants to continue working hard so they can do it all again next year. It doesn’t need to be expensive to make someone feel special.

Prices range from £25.00 per head up to £150.00 per head depending on whether you want an all inclusive, drinks, food, theme and everything or just a meal. The average price for a party package in London for instance will cost between £50 – 80 per head whereas in Manchester you’re looking at more £30 – 50 per head. Obviously the price goes up or down depending on venue, date and what’s included.

If you really don’t have a budget for an external event, have it in the office. It’s not completely wrong to be sat at your desk with a glass of wine in hand – is it?!?

Alternatively, head to a local pub or restaurant and have a meal.

For those wanting to make it a little bit more formal or more of a party, there really is something for everyone. Think about joiner parties. If you don’t have a large group to accommodate, lots of venues offer joiner-parties where you can (as it says) Join A Party. Costs per head are lower and you still get the theming, entertainment and meal with novelties.

Alternatively, for something a bit more lavish, consider having a theme created just for you – while a bit more expensive, it will be exclusive and you can have it tailored to suit your needs.

Of course, there’s still the top venues that offer a themed private party and these can be fabulous and cost less than if you were to devise and dress a venue in your own theme. You could try somewhere like the Great Hall at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for a more formal event. Or the Bloomsbury Ballroom, again in London. Alternatively, somewhere like the National Football Museum in Manchester may be more your style.

National Football Museum, Manchester

In all honesty, most venues will offer you different packages for different prices depending on what date and day of the week you want to hold it. The options are endless…with more and more venues making a bit more of an effort to draw in business, you can expect good rates, more for your money and more exciting ideas.

 

But I warn those of you with large groups – you need to be booking now. Dates are filling up for private parties and once they’re gone, they’re truly gone, leaving you with limited options.

So go ahead…have a look around and see what you can find for your Christmas party.

Or, if you really don’t have the time, let us know and we can do it all for you – big or small we’re here to help!

Merry Christmas Everyone! 🙂

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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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A Visit to the Countryside

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

Cottons Hotel Bedroom

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s To 2013!

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

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The Start Of 2013 And Our Year Ahead….

The year gone by….

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

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

#Queenof Venue Finding

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

So what are our intentions for 2013?

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

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

Here’s to you and your events!

Sian

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A Little Christmas Message from Top Venues…

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

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A Conversation About Venue Finding Agents

Whilst sat having a break at a venue expo show recently I overheard a couple of ladies having a conversation about whether it’s better to source venues themselves or use a venue finder.

There are lots of opinions about whether venue finders are good for your business or not. I suppose it very much depends on the venue finders’ business ethics and what their main aim is. There are some agents that are only in business for the money. Those agents don’t care about the end result for the client and their event, they only care about the final amount of their commission or charge. These agents, in some ways, make it harder for the smaller or more caring agent and in other ways make it easier. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Getting back to the two ladies. Part of their discussion was that it was nice for them to see what’s on offer in person (relating to the venue Expo) rather than use a third party, as their colleague had done. Another thing they mentioned was that having the opportunity to see the venues themselves they could see what the actual rates were.  At this point I very nearly interjected their conversation to say that the agent obviously hadn’t done their job properly if they hadn’t shown them what the rates would be normally or explained to them in details about what an agent’s role to the client is.

For those of you who are unsure (and in my opinion), a venue finding agents’ job is to get an understanding of what the client’s requirements are, search and source options that fit their requirements, negotiate rates for the client and then present them so the client has an understanding of what there is on offer that best suits their event and the best rates available to them. In my eyes, if an agent hasn’t looked at and summed up the best options for their client then they’re not doing their job right.

For me, sourcing the right solution for the client is not totally money orientated. It’s based on the satisfaction of knowing that I have found the best solution for my client based on their budget and requirements. It’s also about getting to know my clients in such a way that I can easily source venues for them for all of their events and build up a relationship where they trust me and I understand them. The money is a part of it, yes, as it’s how we earn a living but it isn’t the most important factor.

I get a buzz knowing that I’ve done the best for my client and that their experience, not just of my service but of the venues, is beyond their expectations.

So, coming back to those agents that don’t care about the end result, and why this makes my job easier in some ways. Basically, they prove to me the reason why I do a good job and I have clients that have used me time and time again. A personal service! That’s what it’s all about. Getting an understanding of what my clients’ needs are and making sure those needs are catered for. Something that a lot of the bigger fish don’t and can’t do.

As for those ladies. I think that really they were just happy about the fact that they had managed a day out of the office (something us agents can help with when sorting out site visits to venues). It’s great when you can see lots of venues under one roof and certainly saves time but I don’t think they fully appreciate the time and effort that goes into venue finding and the fact that knowledge and good relationships with the suppliers are the key elements to the find. I’m happy to leave those ladies to do their own search if they want to and will continue to work with those clients that really do appreciate my help. However, should those ladies ever get in contact, I’d also be happy to help them too!

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Dare I say It – Christmas Events (There, I said It!)

It’s that time of the year when clients have to start thinking about planning for their Christmas party events.

I know, we’re only just in September, I hear you cry. I too dislike having to think about Christmas as it feels like I’m wishing away the year.

Sadly, if you want to get a decent place for your Christmas gathering now is the time and, for some, is probably too late to get the venue they want.

Since July (well actually, I received my very first brochure back in January!!) I’ve been receiving Christmas brochures from venues wanting to show off their Christmas parties and I have to say some of them look and sound amazing!

It’s also been up to me to supply ideas to clients of what they can do for both their smaller and larger Christmas gatherings. From finding small and intimate places for dinner with a difference to large marquees and extravagant themes.

I recently went to the Hard Rock Café Manchester who hosted a Christmas taster event where the venue went all out to show you what they can do for your Christmas event. I could go so far to say they really over did it (there were live reindeer and even a Santa on his sleigh!) but I won’t as it was lots of fun, if not a little random in the heart of summer.

Now Hard Rock Café Manchester isn’t somewhere to use if you want a big extravagant dinner, but it does offer something a little bit different with their regular live bands and exclusive events along with the mezzanine area that overlooks the whole of the venue and offers a bit of VIP treatment for those who are allowed up to this area.

With the ‘recession’ (shh!) in full swing and the media constantly reminding us of the trials and tribulations we’re having as a country, some businesses have opted to either cancel their Christmas events or change the way they host them altogether by making the attendees pay something towards them.

That’s not the case for everyone as some business bosses also realise the benefit of rewarding their staff with a little something to celebrate the end of the year.

So whether you’re looking for something big and brash or just want a small casual get together, now is the time to start looking. Some of the best deals are available if you’re able to book quickly but be warned, those larger event spaces are booking up so you might want to look into the options before the real rush takes place. If you’re still stuck, give us a call and we can help point you in the right direction!

Good luck! 🙂

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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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Testimonials

 

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

P.T, Gore Workwear