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VISITORS to one of the North East’s most popular attractions are being urged to help others do the same, through a new scheme.

Newcastle’s Discovery Museum, at Blandford Square, has joined forces with its in-house catering partner, Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events to launch Give A Little Extra – an initiative aimed at making the museum accessible to people experiencing homelessness or financial difficulties.

Under the scheme, visitors to the Museum’s café, on the second floor, can purchase an additional item or items – such as a hot drink, meal, sandwich or children’s lunch box.

The additional purchases will be credited for their value to the Museum, which will distribute them in the form of vouchers to local charities, such as Young Homelessness North East and the West End Foodbank.

Users of the charities – which also include Crisis Skylight Newcastle, Depaul UK and Streetwise Opera - can then exchange the vouchers for food and drinks at the Museum’s café.

Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events has kick-started the Give A Little Extra scheme by donating 20 sandwiches, hot drinks and meals and lunchboxes.

General manager, Laura Steel, said the company, which provides catering and event management at venues across the UK, was proud to support Discovery Museum in implementing the initiative.

“We are aware that some people find it difficult to visit our museums because they don’t have the financial means to pay for tickets for activities and events or to buy their family a drink or a meal in our cafés,” she said.

“And we believe everyone should be able to enjoy our venues, no matter what their circumstances may be.”

Carolyn Ball, manager of Discovery Museum, said: “Discovery Museum prides itself on being a welcoming and accessible museum, but we know that, even though it has free entry, there are other financial barriers to visiting, such as not being able to afford to buy a drink or meal in the café.

“We are delighted Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events is so passionate about helping us with this initiative and we hope our visitors will also see its value and give generously.”

Discovery Museum tells the story of Tyneside through hands-on displays and is home to inventions that changed the world, including Turbinia, once the fastest ship in the world and Joseph Swan’s early lightbulb. 

The latest addition to the museum is the PLAY + INVENT space, dedicated to encouraging families to make, invent and get creative together.

For further information call 0844 856 1074 or e-mail


BMA House has been shortlisted for the Conference Awards 2017 in the Best Conference Venue (under 300 theatre style) category. The Conference Awards recognise and reward excellence for events, teams and venues from across the globe.

Sarah Bright, Head of Events at BMA House says: “At BMA House we always strive to be better and do better for our clients; there is a definite focus and culture of continual improvement across the team. We’re incredibly proud to have been shortlisted for Best Conference Venue, as it is a recognition of the hard work we all put in each and every day.”

A record number of entries were submitted to this year’s Conference Awards and the winners will be announced at a glittering awards evening held at Tobacco Dock on 30th June.

The Best Conference Venue title will be awarded to the venue that best can demonstrate their first class, flexible conference facilities, that serve the needs of their customer base. Furthermore, attention will be paid to excellence in customer service including pre-event support, catering and outstanding venue amenities.

BMA House is a Grade II listed venue located in Bloomsbury offering a range of 29 spaces for up to 320 guests, for everything from evening dinners to summer garden parties. This includes two magnificent outdoor areas - the Courtyard and the Garden, all within easy walking distance of both Euston and Kings Cross stations.

For more information visit

A DYNAMIC new sales strategy to ensure that Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events retains its position as market leader is being spearheaded by the company’s new UK director of sales.

Amanda Brown, who has worked for the organisation for more than seven years, has taken up the newly created role as part of a restructuring.

And the sales director for Sodexo’s sports and leisure division believes that the creation of a customer-focussed “high performance sales culture” will ensure that Sodexo, the world’s largest services company, will stay ahead of the game.

“There is no doubt that we operate in a very competitive industry,” said Amanda.

“And the only way to stay ahead of the competition is to differentiate ourselves, to look at things differently and completely concentrate on a customer-engagement sales strategy.”

Amanda – who previously worked as director of sales at a number of leading hotels in Edinburgh before joining Sodexo - was instrumental in setting up the Central Enquiry Hub.

She also grew conferencing and banqueting turnover by £1m in its first year - successes which have made her the perfect choice for the new role.

Her plan of action is currently being unveiled to senior sales leaders before it is delivered across all of Sodexo’s 35 UK sites which now come under Amanda’s control, along with major events including The Open Golf Hospitality, Chelsea Flower Show and Henley Royal Regatta.

Austin Tilsley, Managing Director, Sports & Leisure Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “This is an exciting time for the business and our newly created sales leadership team gives us the correct structure to support our accelerated growth plans.

“We now have a fantastic opportunity to develop our sports & leisure sector and I am confident that Amanda, will provide the key leadership and expertise required to inspire our venue teams and measurably improve business results.”

Splendid Hospitality Group (SHG) has appointed Philip Bolson as General Manager for The Grand Hotel & Spa, York’s only 5-star hotel.

Philip steps in at a pivotal time as this much-loved iconic hotel enters the final stages of a major £15 million redevelopment which will include new restaurant concepts and additional bedrooms.

Stuart Bailey, CEO of Splendid Hospitality Group said: “We are thrilled that Philip is joining The Grand Hotel & Spa team. With the hotel’s exciting redevelopment project in full swing it is perfect timing for him to take the reins. Philip has superb operational skills which are ideal for launching and managing hotels. His flair for imbuing his team with his passion for good service, makes him the perfect fit for the job.”

Philip comments: “Over the years, The Grand Hotel & Spa has been a great success story for York and I am delighted to join the team as it enters a new, even more exciting chapter. We have really talented staff at The Grand and every one of them is committed to making sure that the hotel surpasses our 5 AA star credentials.” 

Philip joined SHG in 2015 bringing with him a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry. Working as Operations Director for SHG he oversaw the management of hotels across the portfolio as well as the opening of the boutique Hotel Indigo York in Walmgate and the acquisition of several key hotels including the Ibis York Centre and The New Ellington in Leeds.  Philip was also a key member of the team rolling out the company’s innovative approach to HR, The Splendid Hospitality Purpose & Way.

Philip is an avid cricket fan and as they say, whilst a Yorkshire man is Captain of England – all is good with the world.

The Grand Hotel & Spa is currently recruiting restaurant and bar staff for its brand new 140-seater restaurant set to open later this year.

Survey reveals insights into effects on business and recruitment.

Just over half (52 per cent) of hotels, conference venues and booking agencies say that Brexit has had a noticeable impact on their businesses, with 7 per cent saying that it has had a major effect.

These are among the key findings of a survey of HBAA members in the run up to the first anniversary of the referendum on European Union membership.

The survey also found that 20 per cent of members felt that Brexit had had an impact on their ability to recruit staff while 80 per cent said that it had not had any effect.

Observations from members as they completed the survey give interesting insights into where the impact has been seen. They reveal a range of different issues and both positive and negative results.

Diane Waldron of the QEII Centre in London said; “We have seen an increase in enquiries from international clients as London has become a more affordable destination for their events.”  LaiHa Diamond from the Kingsway Hall Hotel echoed this, reporting an increase in business from the USA, as did Jonathan Byrne of the Royal Foundation of St Katherine, also in London, attributing extra business from Europe to the weakness of the pound.

Hotel and venue members outside London did not report such benefits from the exchange rate. Instead several said that it had increased the costs of imported food and beverages.

Giving an agency perspective, Penny Banyard of First Choice Conferences & Events reflected the views of many members by saying “Clients are much more cautious.”


Looking at the recruitment aspect, Sally Raith-Riches of Foxhills Country Club & Resort said; “If we can’t recruit from Europe across our Food and Beverage departments this will have a severe impact. But until this is confirmed we will continue with business as usual.” However Rajesh Vohra of Sarova Hotels commented: “Recruitment was a problem area before Brexit, but now it is a major issue, and it is getting materially worse by the day.”  Philip Allsopp of Lea Marston Hotels also noted; “Recruitment has been difficult for many years, I think the Brexit debate is masking the problem. We need to look at more creative ways to engage people to want to work in our industry.”

The survey then asked whether members expected to change their recruitment policy in the near future. 12 per cent said they would while 88 per cent replied “No.”

However, looking further ahead, Mark Jones of Wyboston Lakes commented; “Whilst we have not experienced any notable changes to date, we expect recruitment to become tougher as we end 2018 and enter 2019.   At that time we do expect that recruitment policies will have to change and anticipate that if we are to continue attracting sufficient talent from the UK and worldwide, we will have to provide accommodation to facilitate this.”

Summing up the overall viewpoint, several members including Sean Philby of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Marc Webster of Jury’s Inn said that it is too early to know the impact of Brexit as most of the trends so far may be short term and not exclusively attributable to Brexit. Only once the post Article 50 negotiations have progressed will the effect be clearer.

Louise Goalen, HBAA Chair and MD of Bela Events commented; “We all have our own different experiences and opinions about the impact of Brexit so it is valuable to have an industry wide ‘snapshot’ with which to benchmark them and to provide an overall view. As our members say, it is early days and the variety of impact even seems to vary regionally. It will be very interesting to ask again them a year and two years from now!”

It’s official. With Article 50 invoked, Britain is finally leaving the EU in what may very well turn out to be a long and complicated divorce.

Since the referendum vote on June 23rd, not a day’s gone by without Brexit appearing on our screens or in our newspapers. So the possibility of it popping up at February’s Business Travel Show was highly likely in the least, given the implications it has for freedom of movement. And feature it did, in a conference session called ‘Brexit - what does it mean for your travel programme? In what proved to be an unusually positive discussion, led by Caroline Strachan, Managing Partner for Festive Road, panel members took it in turns to debate the topic.

For Rohitesh Dhawan, Director of the Brexit Global Centre of Excellence at KPMG, Brexit has put us all on a level playing field by exercising democracy and opening up debate around certain inconvenient truths about the EU. For all the hype about businesses relocating their operations out of the UK, he sincerely doubts that London will lose its place as a key economic centre. If anything, our leaving the EU has paved the way for greater trading with places like Singapore and the U.S., he added.

For serviced apartment agent, SilverDoor, that’s certainly the case. Contrary to a lot of the scaremongering, we’ve continued to grow as a business, and have expanded internationally. Between September and December last year we took on seven new members of staff across our London and Lancaster offices and had ten vacancies open - many of which we’ve since filled.

Capitalising on growth in the Asia-pacific, we opened a Singapore office and appointed both a Head Account Manager and Partner Account Manager. Work is currently underway to recruit a Client Account Support there as well. 

Admittedly, many of our clients have scaled back on travel and slashed budgets. However, with other clients we’ve witnessed expansion and an increased volume in occupancy levels.

Where the uncertainty of Brexit has meant a loss of business from one client, the push to relocate to new areas has meant growth in new markets.

The weakening of the pound has again had positive and negative impacts. For business travellers outside of the EU, across APAC and the Americas, for example, a trip to London now represents greater value for money.

As far as corporate travel goes, demand for it will likely shoot up, said Rohitesh, as UK businesses relocate and more people from outside the UK settle here. What’s key, from a regulatory perspective, is whether or not UK aircraft operators will need to obtain a new operating licence from EU member states, taking into consideration the fact that we currently fall under the jurisdiction of the European Aviation Safety Agency. Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), argued that such changes will add complexity to travel, and, in doing so, offer a much needed wake up call for the UK.

However disruptive, we probably won’t see the true economic impact of Brexit for the next two years at least. The Bank of England has repeatedly warned against the dangers to come, but such pessimism may very well help the UK prepare for better days. Here at SilverDoor, at least, we look ahead to a promising future on the global stage. 

The Doubletree by Hilton Bristol City Centre – which is part of the leading hospitality management company, Focus Hotels Management – is celebrating after winning a prestigious Sales Team of the Year Award.

The four-star hotel beat off competition from almost 140 other hotels within the Hilton EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Group to win the award.

John Dowling, General Manager at Doubletree by Hilton Bristol City Centre, says: “We are thrilled to have won this award – especially as we were up against so many other quality hotels.

“We have a great team here who all work really well together. Our two sales offices complement one another very well – the conference and events team are responsible for selling our meeting spaces and event facilities, while our bedroom sales team will look at what events we have coming up and up-sell rooms to accommodate attendees.

“On top of this, our sales teams also work closely with our conference operations team to make sure the events we hold run smoothly and that our guests are well looked after.”

The hotel received the award thanks to a combination of an increase in RevPar (year-on-year bedroom sales) and its Global Week of Sales results (the group’s annual sales activity).

John continues: “Last year we invested £650,000 in our new conference and meeting centre which has made a big difference to the facilities we offer, making this a superb destination for local and national businesses to hold their events.”

The hotel has the highest four-star hotel AA score in Bristol and also contributes to its local community. Last year the staff raised almost £4,500 for worthy local causes.

“It’s great to win,” John adds. “We will be celebrating with a very nice meal in Bristol.”

Peter Cashman, Chief Executive for Focus Hotels Management, says: “It goes without saying that we are delighted to have this accolade within our group.

“This is a prime example of the sales and customer service that all of our hotels aspire to provide, and what our guests and visitors can expect to find when they stay at one of our facilities.”

Located on Redcliffe Way, the Doubletree by Hilton Bristol City Centre hotel is ideally placed: it’s just a five-minute walk from Temple Meads Railway Station, there’s easy access to the M32, M4 and M5 and it’s close to Bristol’s thriving nightlife attractions, while Bristol International Airport is within a half-hour drive or train journey – making it an ideal spot for corporate events and family gatherings.

The hotel offers on-site parking and modern sound-proofed rooms complete with complimentary WiFi access, 42-inch flat-screen TVs with over 100 Freeview channels and 24-hour room service, while a fitness suite makes the hotel the ideal choice for those looking for extra comfort from their stay.

Focus Hotels Management is a leading independent hospitality management company with a UK portfolio of 16 hotels, with more than 1,500 bedrooms.

As well as operating independent hotels including Sketchley Grange Hotel and Spa and Oxford Witney Hotel, the company also operates hotels under franchise agreements with Hilton, Accor and IHG.

For more information about the DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol City Centre, call 0117 926 0041 or visit:

Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa has invested over £3000 in a new bespoke music system which is set to enrich the hotel’s ambience and enhance customer experience.

Music Concierge creates and supplies tailored music playlists to boutique, luxury hotels. Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa’s management team has worked closely with Music Concierge, helping them to understand the clientele, the property and its facilities, which has enabled them to create playlists that are carefully designed to match the audience, hotel area and time of day.

Noel Byrne, Chief Executive of Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, said: “The atmosphere and ambience of a hotel is enormously important to a guest’s experience, and music has a huge impact on this. The mood of a room changes throughout the day and it is vital that the music playing changes accordingly. By working with Music Concierge we have been able to create our own signature sound which aligns perfectly with the character of the Hotel.”

The management team at Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa is committed to continuously investing in the Hotel to ensure guests receive a first-class experience each and every time they visit.

Noel continued: “Our investment in the new system means music is now managed more efficiently – the Music Concierge team updates all playlists remotely – allowing our staff more time to focus on providing the best possible service for guests.”


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