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Earlier this month, The Mermaid announced the signing of a seven-year contract with niche hospitality company, KUDOS, to become the Blackfriars based events venue’s in-house caterer. 

The £8m partnership, which begun on 1st September 2016, will see KUDOS work alongside The Mermaid to introduce an exciting range of innovative food concepts and menus for corporate and consumer events.

Alicia Duncan, General Manager of The Mermaid comments: “We are elated to be working alongside KUDOS to offer our clients a brand new catering experience. The KUDOS team are extremely talented and their menus are both inspired and creative – something we pride ourselves on as a venue. Vowing to do things differently in 2016, we felt that it was time for a change and KUDOS is a perfect match for us.

The Mermaid’s catering contract instigated a competitive tender process, however with KUDOS’ original yet exciting food concepts, they were the unfaltering contender. The partnership announcement has created much enthusiasm amongst both parties, with both teams eager to create an all-new catering concept at the venue.

Jon Pryce, Managing Partner of KUDOS, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been given this opportunity. The team has put so much hard work and effort into both creating an innovative and engaging tender and building a strong relationship with the venue, so we are very proud to have won the contract. The venue has fantastic aspirations and a desire to offer the conference and events market something unique and we are excited to be playing a major part in this.” 

Rockliffe Hall’s Head Concierge has been shortlisted for the Hotel Cateys 2016 Awards.

Anton Coburn is one of only three people, and the only one outside of London , to be named as a finalist in the Concierge category. Now in their tenth year, the Hotel Cateys Awards are the hotel industry’s only truly independent benchmark of operational excellence.

Anton, from Darlington, was a transport manager before being made redundant about eight years ago. When he saw the job for a concierge at the then, yet to open Rockliffe Hall, he jumped at the chance, and has never looked back.

Anton said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted for this award. To be nominated by the team is so flattering and I look forward to flying the flag for the North at the awards ceremony in November.”

Anton is already in an elite group as a member of the Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, a worldwide network of professional concierges. To be accepted into the group a concierge has to have worked as one for five years, be nominated by two other members and attend a vigorous interview process in London.

Since their launch in 2007, the Hotel Cateys 2015 Awards have celebrated the most successful hotels, hoteliers and hotel employees across the UK. They were created to recognise and reward those individuals and teams that work tirelessly to make sure their business delivers an exceptional guest experience, day in, day out.

The winners will remain a closely guarded secret until they are announced at a glittering ceremony on 25th November at London’s Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel.

Inspirational Venue Solutions has created three new roles to support their growth strategy within their London Venue Finding and Event Support Services business. With recent "new" customer acquisition success, two support roles in the venue finding team have been filled and in line with plans to scale the business over the next 12 months, a Director of Sales role has attracted industry leading talent.

Jodie Widman now joins Inspirational Venue Solutions as Director of Sales after a brief time with PH Hotels as Director of Sales for Beaumont Estate. Widman brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge across all sectors of the hospitality industry and will be focusing on introducing new clients to Inspirational Venues Solutions and building long lasting relationships. 

Lisa Upton, MD of Inspirational Venues, said "Having worked with Jodie over the past 8 years, including whilst she was Group Business Development Manager at Exclusive Hotels, we are thrilled to have Jodie join our enthusiastic tribe of event professionals. Jodie brings with her an incredible passion for the industry and outstanding commitment to excellent service delivery. We know our clients and future customers, will hugely benefit from her experience and attention to detail. As we scale the business we have to ensure the support mechanisms are in place to maintain our high levels of service, customer support and strict turn around times. We've recruited two Venue Find specialists who will ensure we continue to deliver our unique brand of Inspirational Venue Solutions!"

Conference and event venue provider etc.venues have developed a unique and innovative way to show clients around a new venue before it’s even built! Through the use of virtual reality via headsets, etc.venues can show visitors “around” their latest event space in London’s iconic County Hall.

Using cutting edge technology they have created an engaging, story-telling experience that sets a new industry standard for virtual reality (VR).

Margaretha Welsford, Director of Sales at etc.venues commented “Although walking around a construction site and looking at CGI images can help build an impression of what kind of space is being created, we’ve found that VR technology provides a much clearer interpretation of the end product. It was a massive draw at both the Venues & Events Show in London and at the IACC Europe Knowledge Festival in the Netherlands – through the use of the headsets, clients experienced the venue without leaving their seats!”

The detail of the etc.venues VR tour transports clients through the venue seeing the impressively restored original parquet flooring, the exposed brick work and the stunning view of Big Ben from the Thames Suite window.

etc.venues is the first major company of its size and scale to launch this cutting-edge technology setting a new industry standard for how virtual reality can be used to enhance the client experience.

Although extremely clever, the technology is surprisingly easy to use and therefore allows for broad distribution – clients visit on their smartphones, click on the headset symbol and are transported via a headset into the venue. Clients attending onsite tours will be offered an opportunity to experience the space using virtual reality headsets which they will be given to take away.

The venue at a glance:
Opening in January 2017, 43,000 sq ft of event space will be created over a single floor offering 20 rooms. This includes The Thames and County Suites which comprise of 15,000 sq ft of connecting space with uninterrupted views over The River Thames to The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

  • 43,000 sq ft of event space over a single floor
  • 20 rooms, largest conference room capacity of 400
  • Thames and County Suites for events groups of up to 900
  • Interior design by Jestico & Whiles
  • High Spec AV and Wifi
  • Range of Hotel accommodation within walking distance

About etc.venues.
etc.venues is a leading provider of non-residential venues in London and Birmingham. There are currently fourteen venues, thirteen of which are in Central London – etc.venues County Hall will make it number 15. The group has over 250 rooms and specialises in the conference, meetings, training and event market. The group now hosts over 650,000 delegates per annum.

Barbican Business Events has added to its team with the appointment of Charlie Smith as an Events Account Executive.

Charlie has joined the Barbican following his time as an event manager on HMS President managing events ranging from summer parties to weddings. Prior to his time on HMS President he attended the University of West London obtaining an event management degree.

“It’s been great and I have learnt so much already with regard to events, networking and the Barbican itself,” he commented. “I’ve been familiar with the events team here previously and it’s wonderful to be working at this venue. It’s an exciting step to work at such a famous and unique venue managing bigger events but I’m also looking forward to learning more about the industry and making a name for myself.”

Charlie’s job role will see him win new business for the Barbican whilst managing existing relationships and promoting the venue at key tradeshows and events.

“Charlie’s experience with a unique venue meant he was perfectly suited to his role at the Barbican,” explained Oliver Hargreaves, Head of Sales at the Barbican. “Already, in just the space of a few short weeks, we have seen a real drive and enthusiasm whether it’s representing the Barbican at events or winning new business. Charlie has hit the ground running and I’m confident he will become an integral part of an already strong Business Events team.”

The Barbican is attending SquareMeal this week (21 & 22) on stand G21 and will also be at IMEX Las Vegas next month.

Further information about utilising event space at the Barbican can be acquired by contacting the Business Events Team: +44 (0)20 7382 7043 |

Ashfield Meetings & Events is delighted to announce the recent transition of Dan Walker into the role of Head of Content.

The move will take effect from October 1st 2016, and the role spans both the Ashfield Meetings & Events and SPARK THINKING brands. Dan will sit within the internal engagement team that already includes creative, digital and communication specialists. He will report to Jo Brook, Engagement Director at Ashfield Meetings & Events.  

Dan joined Ashfield Meetings & Events in 2008 as an Account Manager before progressing to Senior Account Manager and then Client Services Manager.  In this time he has worked with clients including Allergan, Amadeus, Bayer and Danone. More recently Dan has been working in a business development role focussing on developing the agencies internal engagement services, including client content development. His successes in this role have led to his promotion. 

Joanne Brook (Engagement Director at Ashfield Meetings & Events) commented on the move: “We are really excited to have Dan in his new role. He has a huge amount of live event and communications experience across a variety of sectors. His approach uses a combination of insight and understanding to challenge and define event objectives. He then has a natural capability to translate this into content and communications that create motivating experiences to inspire change in our client's stakeholders.”

Dan added: “More and more of our business wins have seen a demand for content development which has involved the skillsets of the engagement team. From a continuity perspective, I have remained involved in these projects designing and delivering content so the move is a natural transition both for our business, our existing clients and myself. I am looking forward to growing a team of specialists in the business to support our client's content requirements.”

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) has completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., creating the world’s largest and best hotel company. Marriott now offers the most comprehensive portfolio of brands including leading lifestyle brands, a significant global footprint, and leadership in the luxury and select-service tiers as well as the convention and resort segment. Beginning today, Marriott will match member status across Marriott Rewards – which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards – and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), enabling members to transfer points between the programs for travel and exclusive experiences when they link their accounts later today.

 “Throughout our nearly 90-year history we have never stopped searching for innovative ways to serve our guests. With the addition of Starwood’s strong brands, great properties, and talented people, we have dramatically expanded our ability to provide the best experiences to our customers.  We also welcome the tremendous responsibility as the world’s largest hotel company to be a good global steward, providing new opportunities for our associates and building the economic strength of the communities we call home,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International.

“We believe that Marriott now has the world’s best portfolio of hotel brands, the most comprehensive global footprint, and the most extensive loyalty programs, providing an unparalleled guest experience. Combining Starwood’s brands with ours better enables Marriott to reach our goal of having the right brand in the right place to serve our loyal guests and welcome new ones,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International. “We can now provide a better range of choices for our guests, more opportunities for our associates, and greater financial benefits for our owners, franchisees, and shareholders.”

The new company will operate or franchise more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, representing 30 leading brands from the moderate-tier to luxury in over 110 countries. With the completion of this acquisition, Marriott’s distribution has more than doubled in Asia and the Middle East & Africa combined.

Best-in-Class Loyalty Programs

Marriott Rewards – which includes the Ritz-Carlton Rewards – and SPG are the most recognized and awarded loyalty programs in hospitality. Together, these programs will offer members more benefits when they link their accounts, as well as new destinations such as Aruba, Tuscany’s Serchio Valley and Kruger National Park in South Africa for SPG members and the Maldives, Bora Bora and Santorini, Greece for Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards members.

“Marriott will draw upon the very best each program offers and we can’t wait to show the loyal members of these programs the power and benefits of Marriott and Starwood coming together,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Commercial Officer.

Marriott will launch a microsite later today,, for all members of the combined company’s loyalty programs to learn more about the reciprocal benefits now available and to link accounts.

Transaction Benefits

Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood enables the combined company to expand the scope of its distribution and portfolio while deploying its larger scale to realize cost efficiencies in its corporate and property operations. As previously stated, Marriott is confident the company can achieve $250 million in annual corporate cost synergies. Additional synergies at the property level should come in the form of leveraging scale in operations and sharing best practices. Combined sales expertise and improved account coverage are expected to provide both enhanced efficiencies and increased revenue opportunities for managed and franchised properties.

“These enhanced efficiencies and revenue opportunities should drive improved property-level profitability as well as greater owner and franchisee preference for the combined company’s brands, which will encourage new hotel development,” Sorenson said. “As new travel destinations emerge, Marriott can be counted on to be there.”

One-time transaction costs for the merger are expected to total approximately $140 million. Marriott intends to take the steps necessary to cause Starwood’s outstanding public debt to be pari passu with the outstanding public debt of Marriott International. Marriott remains committed to maintaining an investment grade credit rating and to continue managing the balance sheet prudently after the merger.

New Board Members and Shares Listing

Effective today, Marriott’s Board of Directors has increased from 11 to 14 members, with the addition of Bruce Duncan, Chairman, President and CEO of First Industrial Realty Trust, Inc., Eric Hippeau, Partner, Lerer Hippeau Ventures; and Aylwin Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Potbelly Corporation. Messrs. Hippeau and Lewis are also former Starwood board members. Full biographies on each of the three new Board members are available

Before market open today, Starwood’s shares will cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange. As previously announced, Starwood shareholders will receive $21.00 in cash and 0.80 shares of Marriott International, Inc. Class A common stock for each share of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. common stock.

Arne Sorenson remains President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, and Marriott’s headquarters continues to be located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Warwick Conferences is celebrating after winning the Business Tourism award at the second Coventry and Warwickshire Tourism and Culture Awards 2016, which took place last night (Thursday 22 September) at The Ricoh Arena.

Fourteen awards were presented at the awards ceremony, which showcases the wide range of attractions, venues and experiences on offer in the Coventry and Warwickshire region. The awards are organised by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and Quidem.

Warwick Conferences claimed the prestigious Business Tourism award, beating off stiff competition from Culture Coventry and The Ricoh Arena.

Rachael Bartlett, Head of Sales and Marketing at Warwick Conferences, said: “We are thrilled to have won the Business Tourism award at the Coventry & Warwickshire Tourism and Culture Awards. We are proud to support the region by attracting businesses to the destination to host their conference and training events with us, taking advantage of our high standard of facilities and first class service.

“It is fantastic to see the region doing so well and we are now looking ahead to the launch of our new venue this Winter, which will provide another high quality meeting space for clients. We are dedicated to offering a high standard of conference and training facilities, as well as a premium service, to ensure we continue to attract business to the local area.”

Warwick Conferences has received significant industry recognition this year winning awards at the M&IT Awards, Conference & Hospitality Awards and national Conference Awards.


Worcester based business travel company arrangeMY has beaten off competitors to win a high profile new contract with leading charity, Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

arrangeMY were selected for their industry knowledge as well as their dynamic, flexible, and friendly approach towards supporting their clients.

As part of a comprehensive package, the arrangeMY team will be supporting Cancer Research UK with transient accommodation, venue finding and event management.

Segolene Dubus, procurement & travel manager at Cancer Research UK, commented: “CRUK is looking forward to building a meaningful and successful relationship with arrangeMY. United, we will be stronger.”

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity and the UK’s most recognised charity brand. In 40 years, cancer survival rates have doubled, though CRUK’s Organisational Strategy has the objective to accelerate progress and see three quarters of people surviving within the next 20 years.

Nick Scott, managing director of arrangeMY, added: “We are delighted to have been awarded such a significant account against fierce competition and we look forward to a long and successful working relationship with Cancer Research UK and its dedicated team.”

arrangeMY is also encouraging clients to vote for them in the M&IT Industry Awards 2017. The Awards is the industry’s biggest recognition programme, rewarding excellence in service. arrangeMY would fall into the Best Intermediary Agency. Customers can nominate online at

arrangeMY has been trading since 1990 and has grown to be one of the most respected independent business travel agents in the UK. The company, which employs in excess of 60 members of staff at its head office in Worcester, offers a range of services including Travel, Accommodation, Venue Finding and Event Management. 

A company specialising in business travel has travelled a short distance to new premises within Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove.

Hotel and Travel Solutions has moved to Five Mile House on Hanbury Road, taking the ground floor, with property agents John Truslove advising landlord, the Jerroms Group.

Serving the corporate market, and promising “substantial cost savings” for clients using their hotel and travel management services, HTS has agreed a five-year lease.

Its expertise covers business accommodation, conference and meeting events, online reservations, corporate entertainment, credit administration and hotel bill back services.

Founder Julie Shorrock said: “Our customer portfolio ranges from SMEs, national and international companies, public sector and not for profit organisations.

“We chose Five Mile House because the accommodation was the right size and it was the right location.”

Ben Truslove, a director of John Truslove, said: “Five Mile House is a prestigious office building in a prominent position.

“Businesses of all kinds need hotel and travel arrangements handled efficiently and professionally and I am sure HTS will continue to prosper as a result.”


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