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Two senior members of the Rockliffe Hall team have been shortlisted for industry awards.

Victoria Rickett, Spa Manager, and Anton Coburn, Head Concierge, have been selected for the Boutique Hotelier Personal Service Star Awards. Victoria for Spa Manager of the Year and Anton for Concierge of the Year.

The awards celebrate the crème de la crème of the hospitality industry, showering praise and recognition on hard-working staff members.

Now in its third year, these are awards with a key difference because rather than handing out accolades to business owners, they search for individuals and teams who work tirelessly every day to give their guests the best possible experience.

Victoria said: “I’m delighted to have been shortlisted for this award. It’s a credit to the entire Spa team at Rockliffe Hall and I look forward to attending the event next week to find out if we’ve won.”

Anton said: “It’s great to be shortlisted to win an award for doing a job I love so much.”

The winners in all 11 categories will be announced at a special ceremony at the Independent Hotel Show at the Hilton Olympia next Tuesday 18th October.

Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) have been recognised by Developing the Young Workforce North East Scotland (DWYNES) for their inspiring work with schools and third parties in the region.

As the largest venue in the north of Scotland, hosting a wide range of events such as concerts, comedy shows, exhibitions and conferences; many young people entering the jobs market are attracted to working at AECC. 

The venue, who hold an accreditation with Investors in Young People (IIYP), work with local schools and education bodies, including the Robert Gordon University and the North East of Scotland College, to bring groups of students to the venue for informational talks and behind the scenes tours.

In addition to this, AECC have partnered with local schools to offer work experience places to pupils both those interested in working within the events industry, and those looking for a general foundation in the areas of the business, such as Finance, Operations, Business Tourism, Human Resources and Event Management. 

AECC also work closely with social enterprises such as Aberdeen Foyer, a charity who work with individuals to create opportunities for learning, skills development, work experience and volunteering to increase employment prospects; and social enterprise Momentum’s Employment Development Team Programme.  Over the last five years AECC have employed seven individuals through these ventures. 

AECC’s Human Resources Manager, Louise Mackie, commented: “As a company whose business revolves around people, we want to inspire and encourage future generations into the industry.  We have a first class team at the venue and our strong links with local schools and educational establishments are important to us; we are constantly looking at ways of nurturing and continuing to develop these.”  

HBAA has launched the industry’s first simple meetings rates benchmarking tool, and has committed investment to the solution to enhance the value that membership provides.  Following a 2016 membership survey, HBAA identified that having access to on-tap meetings benchmarking data would be hugely beneficial when negotiating rates for simple meeting enquiries, and for supporting customer retention, allowing agencies’ energy and expertise to be utilised more effectively.

Leigh Cowlishaw, HBAA chair and director of supplier partnerships at Capita Travel and Events said “The HBAA set out clear objectives this year, with the launch of an industry leading, simple meetings Benchmarking Tool being high on our priority list for deliverables. This tool will not only provide value to our association members but will also give our corporate customers further confidence that rates being provided for such meetings are in line with the market.”

Michael Begley of said, “It’s great to be working with the HBAA on this meetings benchmarking initiative as an HBAA Supplier Associate, and as a supplier to the industry. We believe this type of large scale analysis is only possible due to the advancement of technology in the MICE market. We endorse the view of the HBAA that this ongoing exercise will give valuable information to the industry and allow for more accurate strategic planning for venues whilst offering efficiencies in the venue sourcing market. We look forward to working with our existing HBAA clients and other members to help collate this data to give a robust reporting platform.”

This tool provides the ability to reduce the need for multiple options for simple meetings, allowing agency resources to be spent on more complex meetings enquiries and bookings.  There is the additional benefit that market rates will not be inflated due to false demand, which can happen when space is held for benchmarking purposes.

The tool is offered to “opt in” agencies at this stage, with the appetite to roll this out to venues in the coming months.

The Conference Doctor was approached to support the project as an independent organisation equipped to deliver the bringing together of data and technology.  All data provided is anonymised and aggregated to produce average DDR, 24hr and group accommodation rates.  This data can be filtered by location, venue classification and a date range that can look backwards as well as forwards.

Jim Quintrell of The Conference Doctor says “The industry has been crying out for an impartial data source for robust benchmarking of meeting rates for many years. We were delighted to work with the HBAA and use our knowledge and technology to provide a solution specific to their requirements. The HBAA has become the first association to genuinely tackle this issue on behalf of their agent members and we believe the early adopting agents within membership are at the forefront of finally overcoming a perennial challenge for agents, venues and clients alike. These agents clearly demonstrate that transparency, innovation and industry knowledge are not just words on marketing collateral. We look forward to continuing to work with the HBAA as the application grows and evolves.”

On launch the HBAA Benchmarking Tool will already be aggregating over 60,000 meetings to produce the average delegate rate results. The meetings are taking place, or have taken place, in more than 400 locations across the globe in venues ranging from conference and training centres to hotels and unusual venues. There are 25 opted in agents with 8 more in the pipeline, and all of these numbers will increase daily.  

The Benchmarking Tool is accessible via the HBAA website and is only available to those who have contributed data.

imago has appointed a new marketing manager as it looks to raise awareness of its portfolio of venues.

Rob Chamberlin took up his position having previously held marketing and event management roles at Warwick University, Body Power Expo, and Keele University. His experience has seen him manage a wide variety of live events with responsibility for the marketing and promotion of venues and brand portfolios.

He joins imago at a crucial time – one of his first tasks will be to oversee the rebranding of the conference and events arm of Loughborough University, which is due in 2017, as it seeks to consolidate its position as one of the UK’s leading academic venues.

Speaking of his appointment, Rob said: “I’m delighted to have joined imago team. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to work for such a fantastic portfolio of venues and its great time to be coming on board. There are lots of exciting initiatives in the pipeline, including the launch of imago’s new branding, to raise awareness of everything imago has to offer and I am looking forward to being involved in its continued success.”

Emma Boynton, Head of Sales and Marketing at imago, comments: “Rob is a welcome addition to our team and joins at a crucial time as we look to enhance our marketing strategy. His experience of academic venues and the events industry as well as his creativity is a huge asset as we look to promote imago to a wider audience.”

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of imago, which unifies Loughborough University’s conference and events venues under one brand offering high quality meeting spaces, venues and accommodation along with excellent sports and leisure facilities. imago manages the AIM Gold accredited Burleigh Court and Holywell Park as well as Loughborough University’s conference and events facilities and The Link Hotel.

HBAA is enjoying record levels of membership in 2016 and the members meeting held at Village Hotel Club Farnborough today delivered the highest levels of attendees at any member’s meeting event.

Relevant content and topics included the meeting being opened by Liz Hall, PwC’s Head of UK hospitality & leisure research. Liz shared the latest stats and forecasts on occupancy, Revpar, supply and demand. Liz revealed that in 2015 and up to the 1st sept 2016, 66 new hotels opened with 5000 rooms in London and for the rest of 2016 and into 2017 there are another 8,770 rooms and 67 hotels still to come.  This has doubled the 20 year average.

HBAA Chairman Leigh Cowlishaw commented “The HBAA members’ meeting is a really important date in the association calendar. Today’s high quality, relevant content and speakers have provided our members with value in the form of actionable takeaways. This will help them enrich their business approach, customer experiences and business results.”

The meeting also included a session from Tim Molden of the Met Police.  He highlighted risks today for hotel, apartment and venue security and advised the audience on every day security measures along with how to minimise risk for our guests, travellers and employees.  Tim talked of ‘Table surfing ‘this is the practice of thieves targeting guest items to steal from the table. This could be as simple as asking for directions and placing a map over a phone or tablet and stealing it.

He talked of thieves dressing for their environment - they won't look like thieves as you would think; they will match and form their surroundings. The most prevalent offence in the hospitality industry is bag theft with various means and ways. Buffet breakfast is by far one of the top targets for any hotel with 2 to 3 bag thefts a day in London hotels.

Simon Clayton from RefTech talked to members about data security.   Simon disclosed that 38% of small businesses have experience outside data attacks and 69% of larger organisations has suffered too.  It can cost a small business between £75k - £311k for a security breach and up to £3.14m for a larger organisation, concluding that this is no small threat to our industry.

HBAA also continued raising funds for its chosen charity Beyond Food throughout the year and todays raffle .   The raffle today raised £285 which moves closer to the annual fund raising target of £20k.


Venues of Excellence hosts its annual culinary competition ‘The Cook and Serve Challenge’ in October, and the heat is on with a record entry of 15 teams from within the venue consortium.

Now in its 18th year, the competition previously known as the Chefs’ Challenge, has been renamed to reflect the addition of the team element to include a chef and waiter or waitress. This format reflects the team ethos in member venues, where the production and delivery of the finest cuisine is one of the most fundamental and distinguishing features of the consortium’s members.

Taking place on October 29th at the Cambridge Regional College, the competition asks each team to prepare and serve to two invited diners a three course meal, suitable for an end of conference banquet, accompanied by cocktails, appropriate wines and coffee. 

Judged on the day by a panel of industry experts, the event continues into the evening with a celebratory gala awards dinner to be held at Wyboston Lakes. The event is a fitting celebration of the skills of all the team, and has traditionally proved to be a very successful networking event for the membership group.

“Our food and beverage offering is a fundamental element of our service and it is therefore no surprise that this event is one of the key dates in our year”,  Barry V Stonham OBE, Cook and Serve Chairman. “It’s an invaluable experience for young and talented F&B teams and they more than rise to the challenge, with standards being exceptionally high year after year. We rely on the extremely generous support of our sponsors, judges and host venues without whom this longstanding event could not take place. We wish every team the very best of luck and look forward to a great competition.

Follow the competition and awards announcements on social media using #VenExCookandServe

The champagne corks were popping on Friday night with great gusto as our very own AV Manager; Kevin McLoughlin won the highly acclaimed award for AV professional of the year at the AV Magazine AV awards. We also celebrated as our very talented AV team were highly commended in the AV service team of the year category.

The award is aimed at recognising best practice, innovation and excellence within the AV industry and we are so thrilled to have won this year as we were up against some really strong competition. The team lost out to the global team from Bloomberg but were very proud to have been classed above those who won in 2014 and 2015.

The evening was held in the distinguished Great Room at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane and the awards were hosted and presented by Colin Murray.

‘Obviously I am extremely proud to win the individual award but I think this is also acknowledgment of the great team I work with and the support I receive from my employers.Customer feedback plays an important part in our success, but just as important is the level of investment in new technology by The Royal Society of Medicine at 1 Wimpole Street matching a great team with the tools to deliver amazing experiences for those attending conferences and meetings with us.’ said Kevin of his award and his teams’ backing Nigel Collett, Director of 1 Wimpole Street said ‘We are thrilled that Kevin has won this award and indeed to have the entire AV team be highly commended. These achievements are testament to the fact that the significant and continuous developments in our AV infrastructure and in-house AV team confirms that we remain to be one of the best conference and event venues within Central London.’

2016 is proving a very successful year for 1 Wimpole Street and specifically within our AV team. In June Maddie Vining, Senior AV Technician won a Rising Star Award from install Awards; plus, the awards season is not over yet, we’ve also been shortlisted for the most Innovative and Tech-friendly Venue by the Event Technology Awards, we’ll be donning our glad rages yet again in anticipation of whether we score a hat trick this year on the 9th November….so watch this space.

Follow @1WimpoleSt on Twitter to find out about the venue’s latest news and special offers.

During a record year of growth, ACE has won new events business from CBRE, NFU Mutual and PSA Finance UK.

CBRE is the world’s leading commercial property services advisor, and ACE is currently working on their Supply Partner event for over 1,000 delegate, their Management Conference and a Christmas party.

Anna Williams of CBRE said of their work with ACE: “ACE understood our event brief and its parameters, and delivered an exceptionally successful event. The team were flexible, approachable and engaging at every step of the event planning”.

NFU Mutual is an award-winning insurance provider of all major insurances, and ACE have won a contract to deliver the company’s annual sales conferences, delivered to all sales staff in 7 venues across the UK in Spring 2017, and also an annual incentive event that this year takes the group to Iceland.

PSA Finance is the financial arm of Peugeot Citroen. Every year they reward their top performing dealers and ACE is currently working on events to Barcelona and Peru for this year, whilst also researching destinations for a UK conference.

Paul Hume of PSA Finance said of the appointment: “We have been encouraged by the flexibility of the programmes and the understanding and knowledge the ACE team provide in the development of our events”.

Chris Parnham, MD and owner of Absolute Corporate Events said, “It’s always a genuine thrill to win new business, and I am truly proud to welcome these very well respected brands into our portfolio of treasured clients. Jacquie Freer, my Sales and Commercial Director is responsible for the CBRE account, and my Director of Incentives, Claire Okrafo-Smart, is responsible for PSA Finance. I am personally working as Producer on the larger CBRE events, and the NFU Mutual conferences.”

Rockliffe Hall has been nominated as a finalist for Best Spa for Luxury in the Readers’ Choice National Awards, organised by The Good Spa Guide.

The Spa was selected by special Spa Spies™ who visited dozens of venues around the country to carry out an extensive and thorough review.  The category is defined by the Spa Spies™ as ‘pure bliss, outstanding facilities, indulgent treatments and impeccable service’.

The Good Spa Guide is considered the expert guide to the best spas and treatments in the industry, and since the awards were first launched in 2010, The Good Spa Guide has seen rising standards, new developments and a huge growth in the popularity of spas.

The shortlist is now open to a public vote from readers around the country which will close at midnight on 31st October.

Rockliffe Hall is running a competition as a thank you to all those who vote for the Spa to win this award:

One lucky voter will win a Sheer Luxury Spa Break at Rockliffe Hall, including an overnight stay for two, unlimited use of the spa throughout their stay, a 60 minute treatment each, two hours in the Spa Garden, a la carte dinner in The Orangery restaurant and full English breakfast. Worth £550.

Click here to vote:

Victoria Rickett, Spa Manager at Rockliffe Hall, says: “We are delighted the spa at Rockliffe Hall has been shortlisted among the very best in the country. We strive to provide the very best luxury experience for every guest so to be named in the Best Spa for Luxury category is a credit to every member of the team here.”

The winners of the Readers’ Choice National Awards will be announced at a spa-kling live ceremony at the Gala Dinner at Spa Life UK, Telford International Centre on the 15th November 2016. For more details or booking information, contact or call 01325 729999.

The Client

O2 is the commercial brand of Telefónica UK Limited and is a leading digital communications company with the highest customer satisfaction for any mobile provider (according to Ofcom). With over 25 million customers, O2 runs 2G, 3G and 4G networks across the UK, as well as operating O2 Wifi and owning half of Tesco Mobile. O2 has over 450 retail stores and sponsors The O2, O2 Academy venues and the England rugby team.

The Tender

NYS Corporate have been working in partnership with O2 since 2010 as their sole venue sourcing and strategic meetings management provider.  O2 launched an RFP in March 2016, as their extended contract with NYS Corporate was coming to an end.  The aim was to instigate a competitive process to select a single venue find provider to support their UK businesses.  The chosen supplier would be expected to work closely with O2 to deliver events, conferences and strategic meetings management. They would need to demonstrate a detailed understanding of the O2 brand and an ability to select appropriate venues.

As always, NYS Corporate’s quality assured, personalised service performed well in the tender, but it was their newly enhanced conference tool, Sbooker, which was the deciding factor.  Sbooker v2.1 accesses over 23,270 venues in the UK.  The ultimate in convenience, the tool displays search results within 2 seconds, which can be instantly filtered according to room capacities, star ratings and layouts.  Other enhancements include interactive feedback sharing, live data feeds to update the booker on the status of their enquiry, and a budgeting facility which displays actual costs both on past data and future committed spend.  Further enhancements to the system are currently being implemented, and will include automated quotations and internal meeting room inventories.  

“O2 have been working with NYS Corporate for over six years and following a competitive tender exercise we are pleased to have re-awarded our MICE contract to them. 

Since 2010, NYS have consistently exceeded expectations and agreed target levels,

The primary reason we have chosen to re-contract NYS Corporate, is not just the savings they promise, but the highly personalised service we know they will continue to deliver and the innovative online meetings management system sBooker they have launched.  Every aspect of the service we receive has been tailored to our requirements, ensuring the right venue is sourced and in keeping with our brand values.  We have developed a close working relationship with NYS Corporate over the years and it was evident during the process they fully understand our needs and continue to drive new innovations, with new additions to their service offering including live data reporting, feedback and delegate traveller tracking. It is a partnership that we are proud of and we look forward to continuing to work together.” 

John Worthington, Event Team Lead, Telefonica UK (O2)

“I have worked with O2 since the beginning of our first contract with the brand back in 2010.  Over the years, we have come to understand the distinct requirements of each of their different business areas, from the Events Team through to their Learning and Development Department, and I have personally enjoyed working closely with key bookers in Slough, Leeds and Dublin to deliver conferences and meetings across the globe.  I was pleased to take part in the tender bid to retain this client and am thrilled that I will now be able to continue working with them.”   

Shona Buchanan, Conference Team Supervisor, NYS Corporate 


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