unusual

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!

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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! 🙂

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New unique venue to open in London!

Exploring London Underground’s ‘ghost’ stations have been very limited to just a few small tours each year. However, this is about to change as The Old London Underground Company’s founder Ajit Chambers has been given permission to open up a number of the  abandoned stations as tourist attractions and venues.

The first project being undertaken is at Down Street station, 80 years after it was closed to passengers. During the Second World War, the station was used as an underground bunker for Winston Churchill and his war cabinet. The plan is to bring back that moment in the stations history in an interactive exhibit open to all.

Another station Ajit is looking to reopen is Brompton Road, who already has plans approved to transform the station from an antique Underground to a thriving tourist attraction, including a climbing wall and a rooftop restaurant.

Not only are these two stations being bought back to live, Ajit has proposed he open a further 26, so keep your eyes peeled for these unusual new venues!

London Underground Abandonded Stations

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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!

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A Dickensian Christmas Market

(Event management experience and words from a Top Venues Intern)

Dressing for the part!

As part of the International Events Management course that I am currently on each student is tasked with attending a week long placement working on a real life event, helping out from the preparation stages to the management of the event whilst it’s on. I was assigned the Dickensian Christmas Festival held at Lightwater Valley in Ripon North Yorkshire which is a Victorian themed four day event that offers a huge range of high quality contemporary and traditional merchandise. Originally I was apprehensive as one of the first things I learnt about the event was that everybody involved dresses up in traditional Victorian Clothes and stays in character whilst the event is on. On top of this the event is aimed at elderly cliental and I wondered whether this would put me outside of my comfort zone.

Upon arrival at the event venue, Lightwater Valley Amusement Park, the events manager gave us a brief description and history of the company and the event we would be working on. The event has been running for 7 years and has grown in size each year; it now has over 100 stalls exhibiting over the four day period with thousands of people visiting during that time. As well as high quality services and merchandise the festival also offers entertainment with carol singers, a school choir, bell ringers and a magician all featuring. The event has a real Christmas feel to it with the whole thing being Dickensian themed, the decorations and the opportunity to meet Santa and his Reindeer. The Dickensian theme extends to the exhibitors and the people working on the event such as myself, during the course of the event I wore a fetching traditional Victoria outfit consisting of a waistcoat, neckerchief, jacket and top hat.

The first couple of days spent at the event were focused on the exhibitors and it was my job to ensure they all arrived and got set up in their area as smoothly as possible. Having spoken to the event manager I learnt that a huge amount of planning had already gone into the event for something as basic as the layout, the whereabouts of each exhibitor had been meticulously planned for a number of reasons. The first was the type of stall; they had to ensure that stands selling similar things were not placed near to each other. The second was the exhibitor’s requirements as each exhibitor had different needs, some required electricity and so had to be placed round the outside of the halls or marquees to ensure this could be accommodated. Some required additional tables so they could correctly display all their products.

Before a single attendee had walked through the doors I had already experienced numerous problems which gave me a real taster of what it’s like to be hands on at an event. The first was a dispute between two exhibitors over boundaries; each exhibitor is given a certain space which they must stay within and a gentlemen selling shortbread believed that the lady next to him was taking up part of his space. Having consulted the regulations and the master plan for the event I was able to reach an agreement that both exhibitors were happy with and the conflict was settled. The next problem came from a gentleman in the corner of one of the marquees who wasn’t happy with the space he had been given, in a large exhibitor event such as this there are sometimes people who don’t turn up or have to cancel, in this case I was able to swap the man to a table which had been cancelled leaving him pleased with the new space he had been given.

Once the event had begun I was assigned the task of ensuring the entertainment went smoothly, something I was very happy about as it is something I can see myself doing in the future. I greeted the entertainment as they arrived, relayed the information to them regarding where and what time they would be performing and ensured they had everything they needed. Again I was faced with the kind of problems that arise frequently during events involving live performances; some of the acts were running late and so with the help of the event manager we shuffled round some of the other performances to ensure that there was no area left quiet for too long.

Whilst there I was involved in all aspects of the planning and management of the festival from the setting up of the stalls to organising the entertainment during the event and I left with a real sense of satisfaction that I was taking some invaluable experience away with me. Working on this event has given me a great insight into how events work from an operational point of view and the problems that are faced by event planners during the course of a live event, the best thing I will take away from the past week is that events truly are unpredictable and it’s the way you react to the things that occur that define you as an event manager.

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Center Parcs – Something a little bit different!

I decided it was about time I made the trip to Nottingham’s Center Parcs (the largest of the venues in the group) to see what all the fuss was about in relation to using the venue for events.

I’d been to the ‘village’ over ten years ago, purely on a leisure basis and I have to say, while I loved the place for leisure, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work for business events.

In my head I had the picture of a large event space and facility that, by day, was a resting place for those families that wanted to get away from all of the activities on site, and by night, would turn into an event space similar to that of the cabaret acts you’d find at those well-known leisure seaside resorts we all know about.

How wrong was I!

I got to the ‘village’ (which is what the staff lovingly call the resort) early afternoon to be greeted by fake snow on the way in, lots of fairly lights in the trees and Santa’s reindeer on the roofs of the buildings dotted around the place. It reminded me of Christmas. In fact, it basically is set for Christmas which is fair enough considering we’re close enough to December.

My site inspection consisted of walking around all of the facilities, which actually didn’t take as long as I imagined it would, past real reindeer and Santa’s grotto through the ‘square’ (a street with all the food outlets) through the indoor leisure spaces including ten pin bowling, indoor badminton courts (that can double up as exhibition space or a large space for corporate dinners or awards ceremonies). I was then taken through ‘The Venue’ which is the private event space that is totally separate to any of the leisure space and consists of one extremely large floor space that can br subdivided into smaller rooms.

Center Parcs - Santa's Reindeer!

With its own bar and foyer area and located in an area that the general public don’t tend to frequent, this space is perfect for keeping the business, business and moving into the leisure side as and when you need or want to.

It’s location in the middle of woodland with its man-made lake (which looks as natural as any normal lake), beach and plenty of options for both food and activities provides the perfect option for a venue with a difference!

With easy access to the M1 motorway and fab new rates of £39.00 for a day delegate meeting rate (from Jan 2013) or from £79.00 to include 2 activities, it makes meetings more affordable and interesting.

Accommodation can be provided in the lodge facilities onsite, a little bit higher in price but then, you get a lot more for your money than staying in a standard (if there ever is such a thing) hotel.

So all in all, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the venue options and choices that you have for mixing a bit of business with pleasure. Consider it for your next meeting, if you’re travelling, as all of the sites have meeting facilities onsite and with a new location opening in 2013 near to Woburn Safari Park, it will provide options up and down the country.

(plus it’s well worth the visit, even if you only want to sample the spa facilities – something I’ll certainly be returning for!)

Happy Christmas from Centre Parcs! (and me)

 

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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! 🙂

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Top Venues’ Top Tips for Event Planning

Here are a few of Top Venues’ top tips for event planning and providing your delegates with information based on events within large towns and cities (some of these tips will also work for smaller towns too):

#1.    Prior to your event, send your delegates location guides so they have the opportunity to understand where they are going and get the most out of their stay.

#2.    Work with Blue Badge Guides in the city to give your attendees a local’s insight into where to find the city’s hidden gems. Blue Badge Guides will have knowledge about the city that sometimes even locals don’t know and it’s great to have that opportunity to learn some history of the city.

#3.    Check out if the city has an event schedule and plan the conference around one of the free events, providing free downtime activities for delegates.

#4.    Make use of unusual venues. Book your next conference in a sport stadium, converted Church or somewhere else equally unusual.

#5.    Try to avoid peak times in order to keep cost down. If you can be flexible, ask the venue when they have more availability and therefore lower costs.

#6.    Take advantage of the free museums and galleries in the area. Delegates can see some amazing works of art without costing them anything.

#7.    Be creative! Think of offering something different for your refreshment breaks. Try a macaroons stall or curry stand or look at what’s local to where you are.

#8.    Find local knowledge. Contact the local council and find out what’s going on in the area. Speak to your agent and get them give you information on the location of your event and details of what else is available to you.

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

London City Selection Weekend

The Morris DancersI can honestly say that this weekend is probably one of the only ways to view a number of venues and get a real understanding of a destination.

It’s a genius idea.

Take a handful of agents who book with multiple clients on a regular basis. Then take a group of venues, all within a short distance to each other that can offer space for these events, add a lot of fun and games and you have the perfect mix of business with pleasure.
Having gone on the original weekend back in the days when this group of venues were known as ‘the EC Collective’ (predominantly as they were all based within the EC postcode), this group of venues has grown to an impressive 27 and don’t seem to be stopping.

The group consists of hotels such as The Hoxton, Apex Hotels and Crowne Plaza Shoreditch, conference centres such as ETC.Venues, Barbican Centre and The Mermaid Conference and Events Centre. Livery halls such as Ironmongers’ Hall, unusual venues such as a shopping centre and historical venues as well as companies that service these venues such as caterers are also included.

The group renamed to ‘London City Selection’ a couple of years ago as they wanted to establish themselves as a ‘select’ group of venues, not allowing just anyone to be part of it. Their aim to offer the finest venues working within the city of London and that includes excellent customer service!

The weekend consists of an informal dinner at one venue on the Friday (this year was the Brewery incorporating the newly built Montcalm Hotel – one of the newest 5 star venues in London) and a chance to get into your teams supported with a teamleader from one of the venues. You stay for two nights also in one of the supporting venues from the group.

On the Saturday morning you meet at another venue for breakfast – a leisurely affair allowing you to get your team together and create your costumes (this year my team were Morris Dancers so we donned our hats, bells, sashes and anything else we deemed fit for a Morris Dancer) whilst having a fantastic breakfast to test out the catering!

Then, you’re off.

Each team were given an order to visit certain venues within the group and do a task or game of some kind whilst there. The games would either have a link to London or the venue in some way and allowed you to see for yourself how easy it was to get there and what the venue could offer your clients.

After a full day of running around the streets of London, the Saturday night consists of photos taken from the day and a mini awards ceremony based on the tasks that had been assigned throughout the day for the different teams along with dinner and, for those who like to party into the night, a trip out to a bar/club.

Although a rather full-on weekend, you can choose to do as much or as little as you want, allowing you to see the venues at the pace you need.

I only wish other venue groups would consider this as the way to present their venues.

Category : Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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
Request a callback

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