Conference Care is the UK’s leading event agency, established in 1995 by Chris Peacock and Andrew Deakin. We offer a highly personalised global solution; from Venue Sourcing to complex Live Event Management.
Working in the events industry can be hard work; last minute changes, multiple suppliers, cancellations, and circumstances beyond your control (the #beastfromtheeast springs to mind) all contribute to a stressful working environment, however events do have a high energy, creative and fun atmosphere which can make it incredibly satisfying!
Conference Care recently conducted a client survey, asking questions on event catering, technology, WiFi, trends and favourite venues to name a few. We knew why we enjoy working in the industry, but were curious to see whether our clients agreed! We asked Event Planners, PA’s, Marketing Managers and HR Executives their opinions on the best and worst things about working in events…
Top three best bits…
The reason Conference Care’s service is so personal is because we understand no two events or clients are the same. We approach each event knowing that everyone’s requirements are particular to them, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Our clients agree, with 13% saying that the range of events, locations, venues and day to day tasks are what keeps them interested.
‘No two days are the same, in an ever changing fast moving world, companies want their events to be memorable, and keeping at the forefront of new concepts, venues and trends makes my job fascinating – and is why I come to you!’
2. The People
It’s unusual to meet someone in the events Industry who isn’t a people person; after all events are normally about bringing audiences together, and it’s often those people that make the job so interesting. 26% of our respondents said working with people from a diverse range of backgrounds, sectors and locations are what makes their job engaging. Networking opportunities provided by attending events are also something everyone enjoys.
‘Working with different people and being part of something special is a great feeling. It’s always good to see a happy face after the event.’
3. Job Satisfaction
Some of our clients run events day in day out, some are required to find a venue for team meetings or product launches as part of their role and some are tasked with organising the office Christmas party. However everyone agrees that despite the challenges that you can sometimes face when working in events, the satisfaction you feel when everything runs smoothly is hard to beat; job satisfaction is top of the list with 41% of the respondents saying that it is the best thing about the job.
‘The best thing about my role is the challenges of putting together an event; I get a great deal of satisfaction seeing the end result after months of planning.’
1. Long hours
‘Everyone thinks it’s glamorous – it’s NOT :-)’ said one client! Prep before the event; follow up after the event, travel, unsociable hours and staying away from family are mentioned by 15% of respondents as downsides of the job.
19% of respondents said stress is the worst part of their job, with many saying the pressure to deliver a great event without support or understanding of what’s entailed being big contributors. Last minute changes and unforeseen circumstances (reasons four and five on the list of worst things) are also major contributing factors!
‘If something goes wrong on the day or you are relying on something that isn’t under your control you have to deal with it instantly. My motto is to make sure you have a back-up plan for as much as you can!’
3. Venue Issues
Having issues with venues is unfortunately the highest factor of dissatisfaction, with 42% of those surveyed saying that poor service and inflexibility contributes to venues not meeting expectations. Lack of technical support, organisation and communication are all cited as reasons why clients feel let down.
‘Nothing worse than when the venue turns out to be a disaster and my colleagues don’t enjoy their day’
Of course, not all venues should be tarred with the same brush; as part of the same survey we also asked about our client’s favourite venues and why, and we had a huge range of venues applauded for their fantastic spaces, exemplary staff, great facilities and professional attitude.
However, it does highlight that asking an expert is going to ensure that you get that number one feeling of satisfaction at each and every event! For a chat about your next event, give our friendly team a call on
02476 369720 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an event planner the chances are you have a pretty good idea of the essentials needed to pull off a great event: memorable content, delicious food, the perfect venue, but how many of you know what actually takes place behind the scenes in order to make this happen?
Conference Care recently took a key client to The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh for a site visit with a twist; instead of simply viewing meeting space and doing a menu tasting, they were granted access all areas passes to the luxurious five star hotel. Conference Care’s Head of Sales – Scotland, Pauline Beattie and The Sheraton’s Director of Sales Stewart Elder created the programme for the day, so we caught up with them to find out more…
The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh
CC: What was the objective?
PB: Our client organises and delivers numerous events, but wanted in particular to gain a better understanding of day to day operations in a venue so they could enhance the smooth running of events during their own planning process. We floated the idea of ‘lifting the veil’ with Stewart and he was very happy to be involved.
SE: Yes, we have a great working relationship with both Conference Care and the client, so we already had a good foundation to build on – we had to be confident before we gave away any trade secrets! The client was keen to understand how the hotel operates, and it was a great opportunity for us to share with them the reasons behind why we ask certain questions in the lead up to an event, what the purpose is for the timescales we set and so on.
CC: What was the itinerary?
PB: We all met in One Square Restaurant to run through the schedule for the day and I then left the client in Stewart’s capable hands!
SE: We kicked off the day with a personal tour of the back of house by me; I found it most entertaining opening doors to back of house staff with the client in tow, their faces were a picture! We met with Sales & Events to discuss Sales Phase to Event Delivery and the client was able to witness a number of event operations throughout the day including final checks, start of Lunch Service, banqueting team briefing and a room turnaround from Conference to Dinner Set.
CC: What were the benefits?
SE: We already had a good working relationship with the client, so we were both happy to approach the day with an open mind; full disclosure has further built the trust between all parties and taken that step towards us being viewed us more as a trusted advisor, rather than simply a supplier.
PB: The client found it hugely beneficial. They met a number of key personnel throughout the day: Maria Seisdedos, Front Office Manager, Becci O’Meara, Conference & Banqueting Manager and Craig Hart, the Executive Chef, which was a particular highlight. Everyone found the information which Craig shared on the technical side of food preparation totally fascinating; and will definitely use that knowledge of timescales and detail to enhance their event programmes in the future.
Craig Hart, Executive Chef
CC: Would you do it again?
SE: Yes, we would be open to doing it again. It’s not something you would necessarily offer to everyone carte blanche, you have to have some rapport and experience of the client initially in order to create a programme that is beneficial to everyone, and it is imperative to have a trusted partner such as Conference Care. Having said that we found the experience of complete transparency very liberating, and over 24 hours have built more trust with the client than we could normally achieve over a much longer period. It does put pressure on us to deliver over and above every time though – there’s nowhere to hide!
PB: Yes – the client is absolutely buzzing! The insights from the day have been hugely beneficial for them and they really enjoyed it. From our perspective this has reinforced our client’s trust in us; they’ve seen first-hand that we have strong and dependable relationships with venues, and by working in partnership with them they will benefit from the very best results for them – win win!
Organising the office Christmas party can fill you with dismay and delight in equal measure; sure you get to choose where and when, but you also have to try and keep everyone happy, and within budget, which is not always the easiest of tasks!
It might seem strange to be talking about Christmas parties in April, but trust us, if you want the pick of the best, now’s the time to start the thought process. Our fantastic venue finding experts have made a few recommendations for you to consider for your party, no matter how big or small…
10 + guests…
If you’re seeking a festive experience with lots of atmosphere, it can be hard to cater for the smaller group. Shared parties or ‘joiner’ parties give you the option of booking a table at a larger event without having to pay a hefty cost for all the festive trimmings. Best Parties Ever are a leading Christmas party supplier and entertained over 200,000 guests in 2017 in 22 spectacularly styled venues. For the first time, in 2018 they are bringing a Dream Circus theme to the Airfield Estate in Dublin and in Belfast, a Masquerade Ball hosted at S13. They also cater privately for over 300 guests, but it’s a good place to start if you have a small group.
Another wintery option is to book a dinner at the Ice Bar London. Book a table in their restaurant for a delicious seasonal meal and then enjoy a 40 minute session in the ice bar with a personal ice glass to mark the occasion. Not London Based? Revolution Bars have a Cuban Inspired Christmas buffet this year available or a three course meal option; with over 50 bars across the UK, there is bound to be one near you. North of the border there are a number of wonderful places that can provide a stylish setting to your festivities; Ghillie Dhu, Hummingbird and The Corinthian Club all come highly recommended.
If you would prefer not to sit and eat, why not do something completely different like Bounce. The home of Ping Pong, Bounce provides the ultimate events venues, in both Farringdon and Old Street London, with tailored spaces and custom options for all corporate, social and private requirements – who says Christmas has to just be crackers and turkey?! In the same vein, Namco Fun Scape provides fun for all ages; Pac-man, dodgems cars, American Pool and ten-pin bowling in nine locations across the UK.
100 guests and over…The Slate at Warwick Conferences
For the first time, Warwick Conferences are open for Christmas in and around their newest venue, The Slate, creating the ultimate ‘winterful’ party. You’ll enter the extravaganza through a forest of fir trees to be welcomed by an arrival drink, a festive three course meal, followed by an evening of entertainment. Offering an exclusive experience, guests can spend their night chilling out in the igloo bar, or dancing the night away on the ‘ice’ dancefloor. The Slate will be dressed in Christmas magic to ensure guests become lost in their very own winter wonderland for the evening.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
From the end of November, The Making of Harry Potter will be dressed and ready for Christmas. Enjoy unforgettable festive experiences at the studios where all eight Harry Potter films were produced with special packages from 200 guests to 1000 which have been carefully created to shape your celebration around these iconic film sets. All packages include exclusive access to the Studio Tour, allowing guests to explore the authentic sets, props and costumes after it closes to visitors for the day. Christmas at Hogwarts will certainly be an experience your guests are unlikely to forget! Packages are available from 200 guests to 1000.
Glasgow Science Centre
In 2018 the Glasgow Science Centre are promising to change your perception of what a Christmas party is. Designed to be very much extraordinary, their private parties can cater for between 80 – 160 guests and the stunning Atrium provides a fun, modern and exciting setting that’s a million miles from cheesy clichés. If the party itself wasn’t enough each guest also receives a free Science Mall pass so they can return with the family to play and discover something new about the world we live in.
500 guests or more…Arena MK
For 2018, Arena MK are offering the ultimate festive Après-Ski experience; Festive’L 2018. Entering a themed Alpine Village the chalet team will welcome you with a glass of glass of Glühwein or schnapps from one of the log cabins, followed by a delicious three-course dinner. Throughout the night there will be live acts including fire and ice performers, aerial acrobats, alpine activities, DJ, and a live band. Round off the evening with late night Bratwursts, and an on-piste bedroom at the DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes. Arena MK is available either as a join a party, or privately for over 500 guests.
This year The Brewery has created The Golden Palms lounge & casino. Offering exclusive packages from 350 – 1000 guests, if your party requires the full works this is the option for you! Organisers of Christmas parties are even invited to attend their annual tasting event where you can try their menu, taste the wine and see table layouts so you get a sneak preview of the event ahead of time. Perfect if you’re trying to please the masses.
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museums Scotland offer a stunning range of spaces. The Grand Gallery at the heart of the National Museum is a magnificent setting and requires no gilding of the lily to impress your guests, it can seat 950 guests for dinner and 700 for a dinner dance. Equally Hawthornden Court and the Early People Gallery also offer stunning contemporary options for up to 700 if you don’t want to do the traditional turkey dinner
Christmas in a nutshell. Get ahead of the rest and give our expert team a call on 02476 369720 or . Not only will we find you something right for you, we can take all the stress out of the planning process so you can look forward to the festivities!
Keeping on top of new venues can be a challenge, and nowhere is this truer than in London!
We’re often asked for new and unique venues, particularly bars and restaurants, so we asked our wonderful venue finding team for their top picks from London’s diverse portfolio. Here we share with you eight rather distinctive options that are either new or just a little bit different for you to consider…
Petersham Nurseries brings nature and elegance to the heart of Covent Garden. This is a second, central London site for the original destination restaurant in Richmond, and the home shop, garden shop/florist and delicatessen is already open. The Petersham will serve British-Italian food while La Goccia’s menu will focus on food cooked on the grill or in a wood-burning oven. Both restaurants, due to open soon, will open onto a courtyard, where you can expect laid-back glamour and plenty of floral influences.
Eclectic design set in the heart of London’s theatreland, Library is a hub for creativity and innovation drawing particular inspiration from literature, theatre local community and sustainable design. Available to hire to members and non-members this venue provides six fantastic spaces for everything from product launches to fashion shows, book clubs to celebrations.
The brain child of chef Neil Rankin, Temper Restaurants are unique BBQ and open fire pit restaurants with a focus on New World wine and innovative cocktails, created in house. They cook everything in front of your eyes using only wood and charcoal in a huge open kitchen fire pits in the middle of the room. Current Restaurants in Soho and the City have private spaces which can be used for intimate dinner parties or evening events, and will be joined by a new restaurant in Covent Garden, due to open May this year.
Ballie Ballerson is a ball pit cocktail bar with one million balls, retro sweetie cocktails and fabulous food; it is the ultimate adult playground. This Shoreditch venue provides masses of space and nostalgic hedonism with unparalleled photo opportunities, and can accommodated up to 500 guests for an event; perfect for parties, product launches and lots of fun!
Horatio Street Social club is a basement cocktail bar and social club located beneath The Nelson’s Head in Shoreditch. This speakeasy is run by a pair of barkeeps who worked at the award winning cocktail spot Callooh Callay. Available for private hire this nautical club rotate their cocktail menu with their artwork, giving a completely different feel to the venue on a monthly basis.
Bluebird’s Café in Chelsea is opening up its doors at Television Centre, White City in April. Taking the buzz and familiar charm of the café at the original Bluebird, this new sister will bring a chic, all-day drinking and dining destination to West London. Exclusive hire for 70 seated guests and up to 150 standing guests with a cosy heated terrace, this venue will be a perfect spot for impressing clients and colleagues.
As of January 2018, The Spread Eagle became London’s first vegan pub; all their food, drinks, fixtures and fitting are plant based and sourced sustainably where possible. One of East London’s oldest pubs, its large and beautiful space makes it the perfect spot to host events of all shapes and sizes.
Swingers West End is the second site for the crazy golf, bar and street food destination, located on John Prince’s Street near Oxford Circus. Opening this month this venue is themed around the glamour of 1920’s English Riviera and combines all its elements including two 9 hole crazy golf courses and four bars to create an incredible social experience. Totally unique and outrageously fun, this is an ideal venue for a host of occasions ranging from team building to client entertaining.
These are of course only a snapshot of what’s available! If you are looking for new London bars or restaurants for your next event and don’t know where to begin, do give our expert team a call on 02476 369720 or .
If you regularly have to find venues for meetings and events as part of your day to day role, chances are you’ve learned a few tricks along the way. Perhaps you’ve nurtured some great relationships and contacts in the Industry, perhaps you have a tried and tested list of venues that ‘work’ for you, or maybe you’ve got years of experience and are confident you get the very best deals…
Or maybe not! Whether you are a seasoned event planner, or have just had something thrown at you last minute why enlist the help of a venue finding agency? We spoke to Krishan Pankhania, our New Business Manager for five reasons to call Conference Care:
1. Time is money
Just because you are perfectly capable of calling around venues, or googling your potential choices doesn’t mean you should spend your valuable time doing it!
We all know how easy it is to waste time scrolling through pages and pages of information so why not save time and allow us to conduct your search while you focus on other pressing tasks? Within 24 hours of providing us with your brief, you’ll have a customised list of venues that are perfect for your event, are available, with relevant costs. This is particularly helpful if, as many events are these days, your lead time is short and you are pushed to get results fast.
2. Ok, money is money!
Ultimately a lot of choices in venue finding come down to cost, and Conference Care can not only help you stay within budget, but help you achieve the very best value for money in the process.
We are proud of the relationships we have with venues, many of which have been built right from when the company was founded over 20 years ago, and will harness these to work in your favour. We also have the buying power of all of the business we conduct, which ensures that with every booking our clients benefit from negotiated rates, cost savings and flexible terms, even cancellation fees. There is no charge either for our venue finding services – bonus!
3. Two heads are better than one
You may have years of experience under your belt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a whole team working on your behalf! Our professional Events Consultants provide award winning, impartial, expert advice from start to finish, and from the outset you will have a dedicated point of contact to guide you. Need to negotiate minimum numbers? No problem. Unsure about hidden costs? We’ve got it covered.
4. Creative venue options
By tapping in to the knowledge of our extensive team you can find out about new and interesting venues, venues that are due to open which you have not yet heard of, or amazing refurbishments of a once tired option. Our team are out and about visiting venues all the time and can actually tell you what a venue is like, how it compares to the pictures on its website and what feedback we have received about it from our diverse portfolio of clients.
We have a global reach with over 160,000 venues worldwide and cover everything from the quirky to the sublime, from a barn in the middle of nowhere to a lavish five star city centre hotel – the choice is yours. We can even accompany you on site visits once you have shortlisted your favourite options (see our blog – the secret to successful site visits for more advice on this).
5. One stop shop
The advantage of using Conference Care is that not only can we help you with your venue finding; we’ve got a few other tricks up our sleeve too. Should your event grow arms and legs we can help you with team building activities, accommodation, incentives, motivational speakers, private dining, restaurants and audio visual solutions. We even have a dedicated Event Management team who can assist you with onsite event support, delegate management, logistics and event registration sites. Simply let us know what you need and you can pick and choose exactly what’s right for you and your event with ease.
What’s not to love?! Call our friendly team on 02476 369720 or email us email@example.com see how it could work for you!
Our Scotland Sales Hub at Pitreavie Business Park, Fife, opened as a direct result of the high volume of business we conduct north of the border; did you know around 30% of our business is generated from our Scotland based clients?
However it is increasing in popularity as a destination for meetings and events for our clients outside of Scotland too; clients in the Retail, Association and Education sectors have all been looking to Scotland for their events due to the quality and scope of venues, as well as value for money.
VisitScotland’s first social medial campaign especially for Business Events, Legends, was designed to showcase Scotland’s knowledge economy and give organisations worldwide reasons why they should choose Scotland as their next events destination, so we thought we’d take a look at what’s new and share with you what’s so special about it.
With its unique geography Scotland is like a global village – you don’t have to travel very far from the main cities to find unique venues and locations; castles, mountains or even ships are all within reach. Great transport links into the country by road, air and rail make the country really accessible and the recent investment into the trams in Edinburgh ensure travelling from Edinburgh International Airport into the city is fast and easy.
The country doesn’t just rely on its rich history to offer venues with a wow factor. New spaces such as The Cow Shed in Crail, which opened in 2016, provide original features and a truly unique setting to which clients can add their own personality for a range of events. On the other end of the spectrum The V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum, is due to open on the 15th September this year and promises to offer a range of atmospheric settings for unforgettable events.
Glasgow, with its edgy urban culture, has had new office spaces popping up everywhere and venues are hot on their heels; the studio chose The Studio Glasgow for its first Scottish location back in the summer of 2016, and the new Radisson RED Glasgow, which is due to open in April this year, will be another stylish addition to the city and will have a fabulous large rooftop terrace and bar.
Artist’s impression of the Red Sky Bar, Radisson RED Glasgow
Edinburgh has seen a huge growth in new venues; The Ivy on the Square was the first Ivy to open outside of London in November 2017, the brand new five star Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square also opened at the end of last year and Brewhemia, the city’s largest restaurant and bar opened directly opposite Waverley train station boasting five separate areas across two floors to choose from.
There are more new venues and developments planned for Edinburgh too; the Edinburgh Grand, 50 luxury serviced apartments are due to open later this year and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts have announced plans for their fourth property in Europe to be built in the former Royal High School in 2020. The Edinburgh St James, from the luxurious W Hotels brand, is also to be part of a major redevelopment in 2020.
Scotland really is the land of the diverse, or indeed of legends – the venues we have mentioned only scratch the surface of what is available! If you would like more information about these or any others for your next event please do get in touch with the Scotland Team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 02476 369729.
Conference Care deliver over 100 event management projects each year through our fantastic Event Management team. Lindsey Smith gives us an insight into her life as an Events Manager…
My first event:
A media client’s training roadshow was my first event management experience. With so many events running simultaneously in multiple locations across the UK it was a case of sink or swim, and I absolutely loved it.
The event I’m most proud of:
A corporate garden party with classic British food, London taxis, photo booths, live Karaoke band, stalls, funfair rides and bungee volleyball. Both a celebration and a farewell our brief was to completely transform their onsite normal working environment into something fun and vibrant. It worked brilliantly; the event looked and felt like another world entirely, despite the great British weather!
My most disastrous event:
Although the client was blissfully unaware, a high profile VIP international event for one of our long standing clients was incredibly tough behind the scenes. There were multiple challenges throughout the event from suppliers, to logistics to the venue. Fortunately, we had contingency plans for our contingency plans!
My next big event:
One of our retail manufacturing clients has their sales conference in the New Year. They really enjoy showcasing their products in innovative and creative ways – last year we had 700 delegates crawling through tunnels into ‘Alice in Wonderland’ rooms to discover new products, a carnival theme for the gala dinner and some fantastic fitness themed goody bags so I am excited to go one bigger this time.
My fantasy event:
I’ve always enjoyed the energy of musical theatre and Broadway shows so I would love to organise something like a talent show or the Royal Variety Performance.
An event I wish I could have attended:
Occasionally it happens that you pour your heart into an event and then you have to hand it over – it is always disappointing to miss those. Looking back I wish I had attended the 2012 Olympics, it was a great year of sporting events and sadly I missed the lot!
If you would like more information about onsite venue management, event liaison, registration sites, speaker support of exhibition management please call us on 02476 369720 or email email@example.com.
Conference Care is often asked who the largest venue group is that we work with. In fact the biggest group may surprise you – it is not a global hotel chain, but independent venues. Around 35 – 40% of our clients’ business each year takes place in these fantastic venues, from bars to castles, academic venues to boats, and part of maintaining our high standard of service is ensuring we stay up to date on what’s hot and what’s new.
One of the key factors to our success as a business is communicating openly and working in partnership with venues, so in 2012, we started a series of mini expos specifically to connect and build relationships with key independent venues. Events were so beneficial to both our team and the venues who attended (and of course subsequently our clients!) that a programme of events now take place every year.
This week’s expo began (after the all-important cup of coffee) with a brief overview of the company’s history by Director Andrew Deakin followed by an open and honest Q&A session. One of the recurring points which came up during the discussion was how venues can stand out when working with a venue finding agency; in a competitive market what is it that gives them the X Factor when responding to an enquiry? Team Manager Jayne Turnor said that it’s always important to highlight at the start what really sets you apart from the crowd; the trend to seek something innovative, unusual and unique continues – unless we know a venue’s unique selling points we can’t share them with the client!
With that in mind, here is a snapshot of things you might not know about the venues who attended this week…
The oldest hotel in Cambridge is currently undergoing building work to transform the University Arms Hotel. The work is led by John Simpson, a world leading architect whose previous projects include Buckingham and Kensington Palace! The venue will reopen in 2018…
Set in 350 acres of parkland, Trinity Park is a unique, purpose built conference and events venue. Home to the Suffolk Agricultural Association, not only does Trinity Park host the Suffolk Show each year, but all profits from their commercial activities are ploughed back into supporting the Association’s charitable programme.
This venue is currently undergoing a 12 million pound refurbishment programme. Due for completion by October 2018 it promises to make the hotel one of the most modern hotels in Oxfordshire, it will reopen as the Hilton Garden Inn Abingdon Oxford.
Ellenborough Park is the only five star hotel in Gloucestershire. Set in 90 acres of land it is a historic hotel with meeting facilities for up to 120 delegates; an indulgent 15th century country estate which has evolved into a 21st century retreat.
Set in 80 acres of grounds is this 18th Century Georgian mansion. A micro cider producer, they also have a gin distillery, a tree house and can even pick you up from the station in one of their eight classic cars…
Birmingham’s largest residential Conference Centre, Conference Aston has 163 bedrooms and 27 conference spaces. It is also home to a fantastic sports centre complete with Birmingham’s oldest working swimming pool, beautifully set in original Victorian features.
Home to Hull City & Hull FC this venue has been part of Hull’s City of Culture celebrations this year. The stadium offers free tours of the venue as part of meeting packages over 20 delegates and you can even utilise their changing rooms as a meeting space.
A collection of contemporary southern hotels, each hotel features award-winning restaurant concepts, the ‘Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant’ and ‘The Jetty’. The Southampton Harbour Hotel is a stunning contemporary hotel with a striking super-yacht design and rooftop destination bar.
A diverse portfolio of individual venues in key locations across the UK, the group includes Victoria Warehouse; a historic, flexible and completely unique space perfect for corporate events with an industrial urban edge.
1. What type of meetings or events do you get involved with as part of your role?
I work within the Marketing and Digital Directorate at VisitScotland which comprises around 130 people, and my role involves organising a number of different events. We regularly hold “Away Days” to ensure team cross-collaboration on our projects which helps us to refocus on priorities and reconnect with each other. I also arrange ad hoc meetings, private dinners, and assist with events for our Marketing Academy which includes sourcing venues, and organising speakers, catering and transportation.
2. What top 3 things are most important to you and VisitScotland when arranging a meeting or event and why?
When choosing a venue it is important that it is of the right calibre. Being in the public sector we do have to be smart when it comes to budget, but of course that doesn’t mean we are willing to compromise on quality or health and safety. Easy access by public transport, plenty of car parking and a good in-house support team at the venue is essential for any event. Good quality catering is also hugely important – it always seems to be the one thing everyone remembers!
3. What do you look for in a venue, do you have any particular favourites?
We tend to choose venues which match the event’s purpose, and being in the marketing department, we’re always open to trying something a little different to energise our events. Ultimately we like something light, bright and airy to inspire our delegates and encourage positivity and engagement. Once we’ve made our selection, having event staff and particularly an AV technician on hand on the day is helpful too for those last minute changes or potential hitches with presentations. We recently held an event at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh after Conference Care helped us with our initial search and negotiations, and their events team were very helpful, enthusiastic and supportive.
4. What are the biggest challenges for you when organising meetings or events?
I would say time is one of the biggest challenges. PAs handle many tasks simultaneously, and organising an event on top of your day to day routine can really have an impact on your workload. I was asked to organise a large event shortly after joining VisitScotland, and I was very conscious that I needed to make a good first impression, so the pressure was on! Luckily I picked up the phone to Conference Care and within 24 hours I had a comprehensive list of venues to choose from that were perfect, available and in budget.
5. Do you find you plan events well in advance or do you find yourself dealing with last minute requests?
Events tend to be planned fairly well in advance but of course nothing is set in stone; PAs always expect the unexpected which is why having Conference Care on speed dial is essential!
6. How did you find out about Conference Care’s venue finding services?
I met Pauline Beattie, Conference Care’s Head of Sales – Scotland, at an Edinburgh PA Networking Group event a couple of years ago. It struck me how personable and knowledgeable she was, and I could see myself easily working with her. Then one of my colleagues at VisitScotland recommended Conference Care’s services to me after having used them herself, so I decided to find Pauline’s business card and email for advice. Their support throughout the whole process saved me so much time and a considerable amount of stress.
7. Having had the experience of Conference Care, what really made the difference to you when working with us?
What really stood out for me was the standard of service, high level of experience and great communication from everyone I came into contact with at Conference Care; I was able to draw from their extensive knowledge and had total confidence my event was in safe hands. They took care of everything, providing me with a fantastic selection of venues, negotiating rates, adding value and accompanying me on site visits and assisting with negotiation of venue contracts. The follow up support after the event was also invaluable.
8. Would you recommend Conference Care to your peers? How would you describe the benefits or working with us to others?
Yes I would definitely recommend Conference Care’s services – in fact I already have! As a PA, building personal relationships is a very important part of your role. Working with Conference Care was just so easy, everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful; they almost felt like an extension of our VisitScotland family. If you have a last minute request, need a venue, want to save time and money and want a hassle free, zero cost venue finding service then give Conference Care a call!
Stripy deckchairs, bustling piers and colourful carousels – we can all conjure a vibrant image of the great British seaside, even if we can’t always picture the sun! It’s part of our heritage and culture as much as newspaper wrapped fish and chips. However from an event planners’ perspective seaside resorts have become more associated with leisure and family holidays in recent years, with the big cities overtaking towns such as Blackpool or Brighton as the go-to locations for conference and events.
Whilst a big city undoubtedly has a number of selling points, these ‘traditional’ conference destinations have plenty to offer the discerning event planner; flexibility in rates, free parking, breath-taking scenery and a more leisure orientated feel – we’ve hand-picked seven seaside destinations just for you…
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Gateway to the new South Downs National Park and home of Beachy Head, a filming location famous for being used in Hollywood blockbusters such as Harry Potter, James Bond and TV series including Luther, Eastbourne’s seafront consists largely of Victorian era hotels, a pier and a Napoleonic fort and military museum. The Grand Hotel is the most luxurious hotel here, indeed it’s billed as a ‘Palace by the Sea’, but we rather like The View Hotel, which offers a purpose built conference and events centre, and also provides activities such as a BBQ with stunning pier views or a treasure hunt on the beach to complement your event.
2. Brighton, Sussex
Approximately 20 miles west of Eastbourne, Brighton is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Home to the annual Pride parade it is kitsch, cool and fun with a good mix of traditional and modern venues. The Grand Brighton is one of the landmark destinations on Brighton’s famous seafront and is currently undergoing a restoration project, due to be completed in Autumn 2017, which will see the beautiful Victorian building restored to its former glory. The Jury’s Inn Brighton Waterfront is just minutes from the pier, has 210 stylish and comfortable rooms, and has a lovely high glass ceiling in the Atrium Bar and Lounge.
King Deluxe Room, Grand Brighton
According to Visit Blackpool, over the last five years Blackpool has been the beneficiary of more than £400m worth of investment in regeneration projects – and by 2020 that figure will have risen to over £500m. The Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Tower (home to the Skywalk if you’re feeling brave) and the famous illuminations, this resort on the Irish Sea is renowned for the sheer volume of B&Bs and hotels to choose from. A state of the art conference and exhibition centre is being built at the Winter Gardens Blackpool. Due to open in Spring 2019 the space will be based at the Leopold Grove side of the complex and will have a double height entrance foyer, with exhibition space on the first floor. Already popular for its crystal domes, theatres, gardens, fountains and promenades this will bring the venue’s capacity for conferences up to 7000!
Skegness, or ‘Skegvegas’ is home to one of three Butlins resorts, is where Butlins began in 1936, and is the biggest resort of the three with capacity for any team from 10 to 7,000. A short hop for Midlands businesses (two hours from Nottingham), the venue offers charming New England-style accommodation and conference facilities which can be hired out exclusively at certain times of the year. Whether you are planning a board meeting for a dozen people, or a product launch for thousands, the resort has onsite team building activities from treasure hunts and fairground challenges to high adventures. Butlins is a great option for a one stop shop that’s full of energy and fun.
The jewel of Britain’s South Coast, Bournemouth is a vibrant and colourful resort with miles of sandy beaches and panoramic views of the coastline; majestic period hotels perching on the cliff tops overlooking the sea have become synonymous with Bournemouth. The Highcliff Marriott Hotel is a typical example with panoramic views over Bournemouth Bay to inspire vision and help drive creativity. The Dorchester Suite can host up to 350 people, or if you need more space the Bournemouth International Centre is conveniently adjacent and has a range of meetings spaces up to 3,700 theatre-style in Windsor Hall. A little further out The Sandbanks Hotel is situated on the glorious Sandbanks beach and offers six versatile suites with Sea or Harbour views.
St Andrews, Scotland
St Andrews is a place of history, learning and culture and is a wonderful coastal resort. Known for its many golf courses, including the Old Course, with the landmark Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole, there is also the ruins of St. Andrews Castle, with its medieval bottle dungeon and of course the University of St. Andrews. The five star Old Course Hotel overlooks the famous links courses, the West Sands Beach and the beautiful Scottish coastline and boasts 144 rooms, 35 suites and a variety of meetings spaces from the cosy Captains Room to the Hall of Champions. Alternatively Hotel du Vin & Bistro St Andrews has been lovingly transformed into a stylish, boutique hotel, has lots of nooks and crannies in which delegates can take time out and is the perfect base from which to explore the old town’s historic buildings and medieval streets.
Lake Windermere , Cumbria
Ok – so it’s not technically the seaside, but we think it’s worth an honourable mention. Lake Windermere in Cumbria’s Lake District National Park, is the largest natural lake in England surrounded by mountain peaks and villages. Bowness-on-Windermere, Lakeland’s most popular holiday resort, is an excellent centre for boating activities, is home to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction and a large selection of Adventure Activity companies. Our top pick is The Belsfield Hotel, which sits on the Eastern shore in the picturesque village of Bowness. Set in six acres of landscaped gardens this boutique hotel offers unparalleled views over Lake Windermere and has 62 designer bedrooms, an award winning restaurant and six stylish conference suites which can accommodate up to 120.
Belsfield Hotel, Lake Windermere
There’s more to Britain’s seaside destinations than buckets and spades! If you would like more information about the venues we have mentioned, or would like to explore these destinations further for your next event please do get in touch with our expert team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 02476 369720 – we’re here to help!
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