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 Lime Venue Portfolio, the UK’s largest collection of unusual, sporting and cultural venues has appointed Julia Cook as Conference & Events (C&E) Development Manager - South.

In this newly created position, Cook will be responsible for supporting venue based sales teams and increasing conference and events enquiries at Lime Venue Portfolio’s southern venues.
With over a decade of experience within the hotel and events industry, Julia joins from Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. She was also previously Director of Sales, Marriott Hotels and Director of Sales, De Vere Venues.

Cook joins at an exciting time when key venues are making significant investments to further enhance their C&E offer. As well as this appointment, Tracey Astles, who joined the Portfolio in 2012, has also been promoted to Head of C&E Development for Lime Venue Portfolio, which is a part of Levy Restaurants UK. 

Jo Austin, Head of Sales for Lime Venue Portfolio said: “The work we have undertaken to drive best practice and provide training and support to our venue based sales teams has delivered real value to clients. Our commitment to delivering excellence means the time was right to expand our team and Julia has the experience and track record to take us to the next level.”
Julia Cook, C&E Development Manager - South said: "There are of some beautiful properties within the portfolio across southern England and Wales. I’m excited about getting to know the clients and working with them to drive the venues forward and deliver even more for them.”


A leader in quality of life services has launched a unique ‘Sales Toolkit’ as part of its constant drive to ensure high standards and consistency for clients.

Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, catering and hospitality partner to several of the UK’s most esteemed venues, including Ascot Racecourse, Hampden Park and Dundas Castle, introduced the innovative new Sales Toolkit to improve the level of support and guidance for sales managers at venues.

Pioneered in Scotland by National Accounts Director, Amanda Brown, the new Sales Toolkit intends to provide staff with all of the sales training they will need without the use of external training courses.

The Toolkit, which is believed to be an industry first, is underpinned by Sodexo’s core competency framework and is aligned with sales key performance indicators. It will act as a step-by-step guide for sales managers on how to fully plan and deliver the results expected by clients.

Furthermore, the new Sales Toolkit will act as a coaching manual for all sales managers, who are required to train and develop their teams to the highest standard.

The creator of the new toolkit, Amanda Brown, said: “Ultimately, the main objective of the Sales Toolkit is to develop a high performing sales team within Sodexo Prestige to support our clients’ venues.

“The new Toolkit is a tailored resource for all conference and events sales managers within Sodexo Prestige and recognises the complexity and diversity of our business.

“We are committed to the training and development of our sales teams, and so ultimately we are hoping the Sales Toolkit will encourage succession planning and help managers spot talent and potential within their teams.

“The new resource is in place to encourage development of sales teams as a whole, as well as individual performance improvement, through proactive sales drivers and continuous measurement of results.”

Sodexo Prestige’s general managers at each venue throughout the UK will receive an ‘Executive Summary’ – a condensed version of the Sales Toolkit – to help ensure maximum support for sales managers.

Yoon Chang, Sales, Marketing and Strategy Director for Sodexo Prestige said: “The Toolkit is an inspired idea and has allowed us to create a sales strategy that fits well within the diversity of our Prestige Venues & Events portfolio.

“This means that regardless of whether a venue is a  football stadium, racecourse, visitor attraction or any other unique site, the Sales Toolkit can accommodate each venue to ensure we deliver positive results on a day to day basis, as well as  allowing us to develop and stretch our sales teams to their full potential.

“We intend for the Sales Toolkit to act as a blueprint for the standard and quality that we, at Sodexo Prestige, expect of our sales teams across the UK and we truly believe it will further drive pro-active selling and help grow our clients’ top-line in this competitive market.”

General Manager Gillian has big plans for award-winning venue

Farncombe Conference Centre near Broadway in the Cotswolds has appointed a new General Manager to oversee the operation of its conferences, events, weekend courses and growing leisure business.

Gillian Roe, aged 47, is a leading venue and events manager with experience of launching and transforming hotels and venues around the UK.  She joins Farncombe this autumn with the aim of steering the business through an exciting stage in its evolution.

“I want to redefine Farncombe into a place you can’t define!” she says.  “It has a wonderful history of conferencing and events. But the rule book hasn’t yet been written here and there’s so much we want to achieve. It’s really exciting to be part of the start of something new.”

Gillian’s career began at venues like Alveston Manor in Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford’s famous Randolph Hotel. She has been General Manager of many more, including the Bull Hotel in Gerrards Cross, Bowden Hall in Gloucester, the Mill and Old Swan in Minster Lovell and Warbrook House in Hampshire, the last two for De Vere Venues. She also launched the Holiday Inn, Oxford in 2001.

 “I have always had a leaning towards conferencing and events,” says Gillian.  “At The Bull and Warbrook House we would do 120 weddings a year. I have also been privileged to work in places with extensive grounds. What I love about Farncombe is that this beautiful 400-acre estate has great people and so much potential.”

New wave of leisure guests

At the heart of the estate is the 87-bedroom Farncombe Conference Centre, where companies like Balfour Beatty, Ecover and NFU Mutual meet for conferences, training and team-building. At the weekends, the village of buildings becomes home to Farncombe Courses, a much-loved programme of art and crafts, history topics and music-making. 

Gillian’s brief is to integrate these businesses with a new wave of leisure guests seeking an affordable but wonderfully-located Cotswold break. New business licences mean that holiday makers are just beginning to appreciate the venue’s long views over the Vale of Evesham and its peaceful, well-managed parkland setting. 

Twickenham Experience has announced the re-opening of Twickenham Cellar and has launched new VIP banqueting packages for events ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

The fine dining packages offer a luxury seven course menu and will be available in the Stadium’s Presidents Suite or for more intimate parties in the newly re-opened Twickenham Cellar. Both spaces are in the newly-redeveloped West Stand.

Known as ‘Project X’ during the Stadium’s construction, the Twickenham Cellar is concealed deep within the West Stand  and is available for exclusive events for up to 14.

The same fine-dining experience is also available for larger parties of up to 40 in the Presidents Suite. 

Twickenham Experience managing director, Chris Morris said: "Our chefs have designed a truly decadent, seven-course menu for our banqueting guests to enjoy. It’s an exciting time at Twickenham Stadium as we re-open our exclusive dining facilities that will provide our clients with an unforgettable fine-dining experience."

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French-owned hotel giant Accor has signed deals to open two new hotels in Scotland in 2015.

The move will bring the total number of hotels Accor operates in the country to 20.

In Glasgow, Accor has signed a franchise agreement with MCTH Trading Limited to open an ibis Styles on Miller Street in the current Telfer House, which is undergoing a refurbishment. This is the city’s first ibis Styles.

Management company, Redefine|BDL Hotels, will take on a new team to operate the 101-room, eight-storey hotel, creating 25 jobs ahead of the scheduled opening in autumn 2015.

In Edinburgh, Accor has signed a deal to open a brand new Mercure hotel at 38 Gardner’s Crescent in central Edinburgh. The 110-room, midscale hotel will be opened with a franchise partner; Edinburgh City Hotels Limited, in spring 2015. All bedrooms boast Apple TVs and there will be high-speed internet throughout the hotel.

Thomas Dubaere, managing director, Accor UK & Ireland said: “These new hotels will help us to expand the Accor brands in Scotland, where our business is already enjoying great success. We’re especially pleased to be working with franchise partners for these economy and midscale hotels, as these are segments where we see a lot of growth potential. Scotland is an important region for us, with its enviable tourism industry and flourishing business ecosystem, so we continue to seek new opportunities to grow and participate in the local economy.”

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A change in property regulations could result in widespread changes to the way London’s serviced apartment providers vet their properties.
Amendments proposed for ‘Clause 34’ would mean residential property owners who are looking to repurpose their premises to let accommodation on a night-by-night basis wouldn’t require any planning approval to do so.

This change could be a double-edged sword for serviced apartment agents. An influx of new apartments may be available to market, but the existing assurances regarding the safety of properties may now be bypassed.

The onus would be on the capital’s serviced apartment agents to ensure any properties that haven’t acquired planning approval can meet the standards required for their clients to have an enjoyable and safe stay.

“The agents need to ensure that they are carrying out their due diligence thoroughly in the event that they want to offer this kind of product to their clients.” comments Stuart Winstone, Business Partnerships Director at serviced apartment agent, SilverDoor.

“Private landlords may want to consider renting to an existing serviced apartment operator as their knowledge will ensure that the landlord’s inventory is operated at a consistent level.”

Serviced apartment operators will be watching closely as ‘Clause 34’ continues to be discussed in the House of Lords.

Regional hotels trumped their London counterparts with an impressive set of growth figures during October, according to preliminary figures from business advisory and accountancy firm BDO.

Strong conference and corporate business, reflecting growth in the wider economy, helped hotels outside the capital achieve an increase in room yield by 10.5%, driven by a 6% rise in average room rate to £59.76 and occupancy of 80.4% (up 4.3% year-on-year). Meanwhile, London hotels saw a 1.7% increase to £124.63 in average room rate. Occupancy grew by 1.1% to 88.1%, resulting in a room yield increase of 2.8% to £109.85.

Robert Barnard, partner at BDO, said the new figures were a reflection of the “vast improvements” in the UK economy over the last year. “Confidence is high and is reflected by the increase in conference attendance and events – which in turn, has driven the growth in the hotels sector," he said.

“Since the beginning of 2014, a number of environmental and economic factors have created the perfect setting for UK hotels to thrive in, from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to the warm summer and the continued rise of the staycation. This is good news for hoteliers in London and the regions and should provide a strong foundation to build on in the coming year.”

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London has been once again been named number one European city for events by the American Express Meetings & Events Global Meetings Forecast.

Based on the activity of American Express Meetings & Events clients, the list of the top 10 European cities has once again remained quite stable and contains a list of familiar and traditionally popular meeting locations.

All top four cities have retained their spots from last year’s forecast, with the biggest change coming as Berlin traded places with Brussels as a slightly more popular location, now in fifth position.

Barbara Jamison, head of European business development at London & Partners, said: "London is a world-class destination for meetings, events and incentive travel and we are delighted that the city's events industry has been awarded this latest accolade.

“London's connectivity and ease of access was underlined by American Express Meetings & Events and this combined with the city's rich culture and heritage, its thriving tech, medical, creative and financial industries, and its wealth of fantastic venues, makes London an exciting proposition for meeting organisers.

“London is a city that people are excited to visit and eager to do business in and we welcome the opportunity to showcase this to event planners around the world at this week's EIBTM."

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Venue finding agency Trinity Event Solutions has named Anthony Hyde as its new MD.
The former Barbican business events general manager left the London venue earlier this year to be an industry consultant and, from January, takes the role of managing director while company founder Jacqui Kavanagh moves to CEO, in which she will concentrate special projects, her position as chair of the HBAA and the long-term strategic direction of the agency.
Trinity, which employs 30 members of staff at its Lincolnshire base, has claimed an 11 per cent increase in turnover and a 22 per cent increase in profitability in unaudited accounts.
Hyde said: “I have been a long-time admirer and fan of both Jacqui and Trinity Event Solutions. I fundamentally believe that success is built on the development of great relationships and there is no denying the whole team’s skills in this area and their commitment to ongoing growth in their venue and destination knowledge.  
"Whether client or supplier, you can guarantee Trinity will treat you fairly and professionally, and it is this level of credibility and trust I respect most about their operations and activities. I really look forward to taking on my new role in January, working with the whole of their dedicated team and developing Trinity Event Solutions for years to come.”
Kavanagh added: “He brings a wealth of industry experience, contacts and knowledge to the role as well as a fresh eye. Anthony joins us off the back of the most successful trading period in the company’s history, making it the perfect time to seek out new opportunities and grow further. We look forward to the impact his creativity and leadership skills will bring to company.”
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Docklands venue Excel London has announced three major association wins for the capital, taking place in 2016.

The European Society of Anaesthesiology's 2016 congress will be held at the Docklands venue from 28-30 May. The following month will see members of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) gather for its event from 8-11 June. Finally, the European Respiratory Society congress will take place from 3-7 September.
It will be the first time the European Respiratory Society and Euroanaesthesia, which seeks to alleviate suffering from respiratory disease, will host its event in the capital. EULAR returns following a successful 2011 event.

The city is currently celebrating a succession of record-breaking delegate numbers for international congresses hosted in the city.

The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) saw more than 10,000 delegates join its congress in London from 9-13 April, representing their highest ever attendance, while the European Society of Pathology saw a 23 per cent increase in attendance at ECP, compared to 2013. ESCRS, EURETINA and EuCornea also saw the largest ever gathering of eye specialists in London this year.

The venue says next year will be its best ever year for congresses, with more ICCA rated events than ever before including the European Society of Cardiology, which is expected to welcome 35,000 international delegates in August.

James Rees, executive director, Excel London, said: "The record number of associations that are now choosing London is an endorsement of the decision to open our International Convention Centre. The world renowned attraction of London is responsible for delivering record-breaking attendance and is why so many associations are now seeing our city as a prime location for their events.

"London continues to invest in its product and infrastructure and now, more than ever, is in a position to deliver the best possible delegate experience and value for money. We are committed to continuing our investment in the venue, in the build-up to the opening of our Crossrail station in 2019 and beyond," he added.

Dr Eliot Forster, executive chair of MedCity, launched by the Mayor of London with the capital’s three Academic Health Science Centres to promote innovation and investment in the life sciences cluster of London and the south east, commented: "This is a hugely exciting time for life sciences in London and the south east, with a number of ambitious new initiatives and infrastructure developments under way to promote collaboration across all the sectors that make up this cluster. It's terrific for those of us who do business in the region that these events will bring in experts from around the world to London in such numbers to network and collaborate."

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