training

A Fond Farewell…

So our girl, Laura, is finishing her time here at Top Venues HQ and she wanted to write a brief farewell blog about her time with us. We’ll miss having her in the office and as part of the team and wish her all the best in her next adventure….

 

So, where do I start? May as well jump right in, today is my last day at Top Venues! So I thought I would write a farewell blogpost about my time here. What I’ve loved and what I’ve learnt and believe me I’ve learnt a lot in the past year.

When I started working here last August I was very nervous and not very confident. It was my first job out of university and I had no idea what to expect. Now a year on I am so much more confident in general and have much more faith in myself and my abilities. Last August the thought of walking into a venue expo or attending a fam trip (I also didn’t have a clue what a venue expo or fam trip was) on my own was terrifying and now it doesn’t faze me at all. I’ll happily go to events and fam trips alone, talk to anyone and even get on a plane on my own! I think this has come from being thrown in, well not thrown in but encouraged to dive in, at the deep end. Within my first month of being at Top Venues I had been to the Venue Expo in Liverpool and to Cambridge for a fam trip on my own. After that I was happy to go anywhere alone including Barcelona for IBTM, even if in the process of going to Barcelona I had a minor melt down at the airport as I hadn’t checked in online (oooopsies) but we’ll forget about that part. The point is I got there and back alive without any major disaster.

Throughout the last year I have learnt to negotiate rates, manage clients and how to think on my feet to solve problems and issues. I also know more venues than I thought I ever could. When I first joined the team I was fresh out of uni and my event experience revolved around festivals. I didn’t know any venues except for the odd hotel here and there and gig venues in Manchester but now I’ve turned into a mini walking talking venue directory.

I think the highlights for me have been attending some amazing fam trips such as The Cambridge Experience, The Leeds Big Sleepover and The Curious Case of London City Selection (all of which I have written blog posts about so have a look back through our previous posts for more info on them because they were brill!). I’ve also had a great time working with all our wonderful clients and will miss them all a lot. Even though finding the perfect venue for an event can be stressful hearing good feedback from a client makes it all worth it.

So there we have it. I just want to say a massive huge ginormous thank you to my boss, colleagues and our clients for making the past year fabulous, I’ve had a blast.

Over and out!

Laura x

 

You can contact the team at theteam@top-venues.co.uk or by calling 0844 8709 963.

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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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Top Ten Tips When Booking A Venue

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

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

1. Location

2. Facilities

3. Cost

4. Response Time

5. First Impressions

6. Suitability

7. Accessability

8. Food & Drink

9. Accommodation

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

 

 

Location

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

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

Facilities

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

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

Cost

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

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

Response Time

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

First Impressions

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

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

Suitability

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

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

Accessability

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

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

Food & Drink

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

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

Accommodation

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

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

Quality of Customer Service

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

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

 

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A Visit to the Countryside

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

Cottons Hotel Bedroom

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s To 2013!

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

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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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University Venues Up Their Game

It’s amazing how perceptions can be based on the past experiences we’ve received and stick with us for years to come.

A few years ago, if a client had said they needed a conference venue that had equipment, a basic conference room and could meet their particularly low budget, one of the first types of venues that would spring to mind would be a university.

Universities have, until recently, typically been known as cheap venues with adequate equipment for training, only available out of term time and full of loud and scruffy students.

Not so much the case anymore. Yes you still get loud and scruffy students occasionally but with the lack of funding and a requirement to increase revenue to manage the growing costs to run, universities have quickly realised the potential in improving and selling their space to external clients.

So much so that some universities have built additional complexes to purely house the external clients for conferences and events.
This is the case with Warwick Conferences. Although based on the grounds of Warwick university campus in Coventry, the university have three venues purpose-built for conferences, training and anything else event related, with planning to build more in the near future. These three venues are nothing like the university of the past.

Having been recently refurbished to a high standard and with grounds to match, you wouldn’t realise you were on a university campus until you see the address.

I happen to know all this as I recently stayed as a guest. From the moment I walked into the reception I was greeted with a warm smile and very attentive staff, something that could rival even some hotels!

With everything included in the packages they offer (wifi, unlimited access to teas/coffees, free parking to name but a few) it made it very easy for me to check-in, log-in to my emails and find my way around.

Now, even in their improved state a university won’t be for everyone. They won’t work for the Incentive group that wants to be in the middle of nowhere in a unusual venue or for the client who wants a 5 star, all singing, all dancing venue. That’s not to say some universities don’t offer a five star service because some do. However, like with any particular ‘style’ of venue it works better for certain events over others.

In my mind, these new ultra slick and refurbished (both in the facilities and staffing mind-set) venues can offer a lot more than people imagine. Very good for training, conferences, and even perhaps for dinners and exhibitions, these venues are something to consider.

So next time you’re looking at somewhere decent to hold your training or conference, don’t discount the universities, you may be pleasantly surprised!

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Women’s Organisation and BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour

Radio 4 Women's Hour Broadcast

I’ve just spent a Monday morning in a room full of inspirational women. Now, I’m not all about the ‘girl power’ but I will say that when you’re a women (which I am) in a world that is most definitely separated by the sexes, a room full of women wanting to improve themselves and move things forward is certainly not to be missed.

I was at the Women’s Organisation in Liverpool. The multimillion pound building was built with the aim of helping and supporting the progress of women in business. Relying totally on funding, it arranges support, advice and direction for women who have ever thought about, have set up or are already in business. This morning they were to be host to the BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour – dedicated totally to women in business.

Four women, who are all brilliant in business but in very different ways, were on the panel hosted by Jane Garvey. They were Judith McKenna, Asda’s Chief Operating Officer, Sophie Cornish, co-founder of notonthehighstreet.com , Sharmadean Reid, Director of WAH Nails and Dawn Gibbins who helped build a multi-million pound business in a male orientated industry.

All four certainly have their own merits and one thing that came out of the morning was that of the confidence they had in themselves to succeed and the support of a mentor. These are two things I certainly believe are key points to think about when setting up a business on your own.

This morning wasn’t just a panel of women talking about business but an insight for anyone, male or female, that want to succeed in business. Key points were raised that you really must have in order for your business to move forward.
The women were also all willing to do their bit to help others, be it mentoring, advice or support in some way or another.
So whether you are male or female, remember that there are organisations and people out there willing to help – all you need to do is ask.

On another note – the venue was amazing, Fully equipped with up to date technology, clean and tidy with a very high calibre feel to it, the centre offers numerous meeting and conference rooms over the four floors and additional offices for rent.
Based within 15 minutes’ walk to Liverpool Lime Street it’s easily accessible and also has the facility for car parking (although charges may apply).

With facilities to provide catering onsite, the venue really can offer everything you need for a business meeting or conference and was, actually, perfect for this morning’s show.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this venue and its staff (who were all extremely helpful) and the BBC Radio 4 event really showed how well organised they are.

So, for anyone who is thinking of holding a small business meeting or conference (up to 150 people) in the Liverpool area, consider the Women’s Organisation as a possibility, I’ll certainly be considering them.

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An End To Another Year…

And so, we’ve come to the end of 2011.

What a year…it’s been manic to say the least. With lots of
conferences, meetings, exhibitions, trade shows, incentive trips…the list is endless…taking place this year, we’ve been very busy.

Along with all that we pushed the business forward by offering our Event Management services (although the website is still to reflect this – we just simply haven’t had time to update it!).

We’ve had some tough times with the economic crises having a knock on the market and clients being unable to do the events they want but we have hope…there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Careful management is the key and we’ve made sure that all of our clients have managed to get what they need within their budget and with the customer service they require (and should expect)!

Our aims for 2012 are:-

  • To continue to put our clients’ needs first
  • To continue to source new venue options and make sure customer service comes first
  • To work with our clients as much or as little as is required
  • To keep smiling even if things seem tough

With that in mind, we wish everyone a fantastic Christmas, a brilliant New Year and we look forward to speaking to you in 2012.

 

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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!

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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