meeting

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.

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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 August

So, throughout the month of August we thought it would be a good idea to allow others to write a few guest blogs for us.

While we know you avidly sit on tenter-hooks waiting for our next blog (we can but hope), we thought you wouldn’t mind others having a bit of a say about their thoughts on the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to venues and events.

It’s always good to hear what others have to say on a topic and while we try to write our blogs on a regular basis, as we’ve been pretty hectic here in the office over the last few months, we’ve been unable to write as often as we’d like.

So, over the next few weeks we’ll be posting the odd guest blog here and there, with a few of our very own in between, here on our blog.

If you fancy having a say yourself or know someone who might fancy writing a few words about their experiences of events, booking venues, or simply what’s happening in the events industry, get in touch with us, we’d be happy to have you onboard.

Happy reading!

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The Recipe For A Successful Event

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

Ingredients

A Nice Big Cake!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 5. Decorating your cake (event).

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

Step 6. Finalise arrangements and budget.

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

Step 7. See event through. (Eat Cake)

Slice of Cake

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

Step 8. Was the event successful?

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

Step 9.

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

 

Category : Blog
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Top Ten Tips When Booking A Venue

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

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

1. Location

2. Facilities

3. Cost

4. Response Time

5. First Impressions

6. Suitability

7. Accessability

8. Food & Drink

9. Accommodation

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

 

 

Location

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

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

Facilities

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

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

Cost

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

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

Response Time

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

First Impressions

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

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

Suitability

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

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

Accessability

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

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

Food & Drink

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

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

Accommodation

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

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

Quality of Customer Service

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

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

 

Category : Blog
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A Visit to the Countryside

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

Cottons Hotel Bedroom

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s To 2013!

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

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Summer Events – Are You Creative Enough?

Alternative London Venues for Events

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

The Ice Tank London

 

 

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

Science Museum London

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

 

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

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A Little Christmas Message from Top Venues…

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

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Our approach

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

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

Get in touch!

Contact us
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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