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In anticipation of Holiday Inn Express Bridgwater opening in spring 2019, Barnaby Kean has been newly appointed as General Manager.

Barnaby (37) will lead the team at the new 138-bedroom hotel, which is operated by the UK’s leading independent hotel management company, RBH.

The experienced hotelier boasts a varied background within the industry, honing his expertise as a Sous Chef, Head Chef and Operations Manager, before taking on his most recent role as Hotel Manager at Holiday Inn London – Regent’s Park.

Barnaby said:

I am eager to kick off this new chapter of my career, and am looking forward to leading the team through the opening of what promises to be a fantastic new hotel in the local area. The building progress is going as planned and we are excited to see the finished result.

We hope to attract a variety of customers into the hotel, which we are confident will prove to be the perfect business venue with fantastic meetings and conference facilities and a warm, welcoming team.”

Holiday Inn Express Bridgwater is set to be the biggest hotel in the area, located in the Regional Rural Business Centre on the outskirts of the Somerset town. The hotel will offer a spacious bar and restaurant area, alongside two meeting rooms and an on-site car park.


Work has officially started on a multi-million pound hotel, which will see the Courtyard by Marriott brand make its debut in the city.
Owned and developed by Molo Hotels the property will be operated by RBH, the UK’s leading independent hotel management company, when it opens its doors later this year.

The new 130-bedroom modular build will be situated within Inverness Airport Business Park, affording quick, easy access to Inverness Airport. It will also boast thoughtfully designed guestrooms, as well as meetings and fitness facilities, a bar and bistro.

Contractor Polcom Construction has already begun building the hotel bedrooms at its factory in Gdansk, Poland before they are transported to the hotel site ready for the final build.

Ground breaking on the site represents the start of construction on the ground floor of the hotel, which will be built using traditional methods.

The new Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport represents RBH and Molo Hotels’ third partnership in the past two years, having worked together to launch Courtyard by Marriott Luton Airport and Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh West.

Andrew Robb, Chief Business Development Officer at RBH, said:

We’ve forged a strong working relationship with Molo Hotels and Polcom Construction over the years, and are thrilled to be working with them on what promises to be another outstanding property.
“We are also pleased to yet again work with Marriott, in particular the Courtyard brand – of which Inverness will be the fourth to join our growing portfolio.

“The start of works on site comes at an exciting time for us, as we kick off a year which will see us undertake more hotel openings than ever before. We look forward to seeing the hotel take shape, and working with Molo Hotels and Marriott to open our doors to guests later this year.”

Ross Morrow, Managing Director of Molo Hotels, added:

Breaking ground on site marks a major milestone in our journey towards opening the first Courtyard by Marriott in the city of Inverness – and opening the first new-build hotel in the city for a number of years.”

“We’ve gained a vast amount of experience in developing airport hotels, as well as developing successful partnerships with Marriott and RBH, having recently worked alongside both to open the 250-bed Courtyard by Marriott Luton Airport.”

James Campbell, Chairman at Inverness Airport Business Park (IABP), said:

The Courtyard by Marriott hotel brand is wonderful news for Inverness Airport Business Park (IABP) and we are delighted that groundworks have commenced on the new hotel.

“Having a hotel onsite is a major boost for both IABP and Inverness Airport and I'm sure many tourism and other local businesses will benefit when the hotel opens later this year. It is important to recognise the significance of this announcement as it's the first new-build hotel development in Inverness for many years and I'm confident the hotel will play a key role in supporting the regional economy's continued growth.”

Graeme Bell, Manager at Inverness Airport, said:

We are delighted to have a world-class brand establishing a new hotel adjacent to the airport and I am certain it will be a real asset to the wider region.

“Inverness Airport continues to grow and is playing an ever increasing role in improving connectivity in the Highlands. Passengers will soon be able to enjoy the comforts of the Courtyard by Marriot as part of their journey plans.”



Leading furniture retailer, DFS appointed creative communications agency Top Banana to lead a transformational internal communications project as well as their annual conference for 450 of the businesses store managers and leaders in 2018.

The team at Top Banana have been working closely with the retailer, taking on a strategic and creative role in helping develop a new internal communications brand and message. The aim of the project was to unite DFS plc’s four brands; DFS, Sofology, Dwell and Sofa Workshop with a new, all-encompassing group communications campaign as part of the business’s strategic move forward as a group structure.

Martin Clark, Organisation Development Director, comments “It has been fantastic working with the Top Banana team over the last 12 months on our ‘GreatTogether’ project. They have worked hard to really understand who we are and where we want to be as a business that they now feel like an extension of our team. The work they have done on helping create and communicate our new group values and comms strategy has been a great first step in defining who we are as a business and how we communicate internally across the group.”

In December 2018, Top Banana managed the retailers' annual conference, with Victoria Warehouse providing the perfect blank canvas space with its unique industrial backdrop.  The event invites 450 store managers and senior colleagues for an annual business and strategy update, with Top Banana being responsible for everything from the creative strategy, logistics and delivery right through to the video production, venue management and post-event communications.

Richard Bridge, Founder and CEO of Top Banana, comments “Welcoming DFS to the Top Banana client family was a great win for the business in 2018 and we’re looking forward to building on our relationship in 2019. They’re going through an exciting time of change and growth and we aim to support them in every way we can.”

With over 14 years of industry experience, Paul has been Director of Sales at Cavendish Venues for five years as well as board member of LCS for the best part of that time.
Previously, Paul spent three years at the Emirates Stadium with Arsenal FC, four years with Sodexo Prestige, and two years with the Crown Group, where his events career began.

Paul has consistently driven progressive developments within the LCS: the significant 20% increase in new LCS members whilst Membership growth Chair last year and he also secured added value propositions for members with the MIA.

As well as bringing fellow established professionals onto the board, in his first LCS Board role as Events Chair, Paul introduced effective long-term partnerships such as with Right Angle Events to support successful agents' FAM trips.

Paul significantly contributes to lead generation from exhibition representation and follow up campaigns from shows like Square Meal as well as with referrals. Both instances have seen Cavendish Venues lead by example as a member.
As a long advocate of the London City Selection, Paul and Cavendish Venues have been able to track and consistently deliver significant returns on investment. This has brought business returns just shy of £100k in the last 2 years. Achieving this has been through maximizing influence and involvement in the marketing opportunities offered.
It’s these results that continue to provide an outstanding case study for the advantages of LCS membership.

Virtual Tour technology is proving to be a useful tool in supporting the venue booking process, according to a recent panel discussion that took place at the Lime Venue Portfolio ‘Beyond’ conference. The panel, which featured Skevi Constantinou, Founder of The PA Way and Letty Hill, Events Manager at the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), gave two contrasting opinions on the use of virtual tours.

The debate followed Lime Venue Portfolio’s decision to implement virtual technology across the venue group, and organisers were keen to discuss the impact of this technology on event and venue selection. Skevi represented the PA sector of the event industry, and was more open to the use of virtual tours, whereas Letty, who represented in-house event organisers, was more interested in personal relationships, built through face to face interaction.

Firstly, the panellists were asked if they still need to visit venues in the run-up to selection: “Sometimes we have to trust our instinct and rely on virtual tours to capture what the venue looks like, perhaps supplement this by speaking to other assistants who have booked the venues,” commented Skevi. “Virtual tours are a great tool when you are initially starting to make a shortlist, you can view time and time again until you make a decision. But I would also try my best to visit venues pre-event if I can.”

Letty commented: “Personally, I would much rather do site visits than virtual tours. It’s more than just ‘seeing it for myself’, the interaction and relationship with your contact is also really important. Equally, you may find something that you wouldn’t see on the virtual tour, some venues could make the space look amazing online, but then in person it isn’t that special.”

Skevi, agreed with the limitations of the technology, “Virtual tours can only show you so much, sometimes there are snug areas that are ideal for one to one catch ups, or there may be another area that would be perfect for refreshments that isn’t situated near the room but has a great view of the scenery. You need to try and blend both so that you can make an informed decision.”

“At Lime Venue Portfolio, we’re advocates of both approaches,” commented Jo Austin, Sales Director, Lime Venue Portfolio. “The venue tour is a really useful tool when perhaps looking at a new venue for the first time. Taking a more interactive look could persuade an organiser to then visit somewhere new and that’s what we are about at LVP, introducing new and different options into the selection.  They can also serve to help cut down the amount of venue visits an organiser needs to have before making a decision. However, we would always advocate a show round; there is so much more that can be found before you arrive including travel and area infrastructure.  We do firmly believe that it’s crucial to have a great relationship with the venue team before choosing the venue and perhaps that is the single most important factor… however with technology that doesn’t always have to be face to face.”

The idea of time and resource was one that resonated with Skevi: “Where time is limited or location is not feasible, virtual tours are brilliant. If I am planning an event in Scotland, and I am based in Birmingham, a trip represents an expense to my company and we have to make a judgement call. It is here where a virtual tour would help alongside other research and planning.”

So, from Letty’s point of view, how far can you get in venue selection just through virtual tours?  “If you need a venue last minute and don’t have time to leave, then they can be helpful. I do like to take the time to visit venues though whenever I can, so going forward I will always be able to say ‘oh yes I have been there before, and not be reliant on virtual experiences.”  

Jenner Carter, Head of Marketing at Lime Venue Portfolio, commented: “It’s great to hear from colleagues in the sector about the positive impact virtual tours are having when it comes to venue booking. As technology improves, virtual tours are able to provide great initial feel for the look and scale of a venue where time or distance prohibits teams from carrying out a visit. It means clients can also look at a wider range of venues that they may not have considered before.”

Customer service rewarded at EEF Venues with a spate of awards to kick-start 2019

EEF Venues is celebrating double success in the BVA BDRC VenueVerdict Awards 2018, after being named Best Small & Medium Sized Group and Best Value for Money Group for a sixth consecutive year. 

Engineers’ House in Bristol, which sits within the group alongside Woodland Grange in Leamington Spa and Broadway House, in Westminster, London, also won two Venue awards.

The Grade II-listed conference venue located in the Bristol suburb of Clifton Down was awarded No.1 Conference Centre and No.1 Venue Overall for the fourth year running.

David Vaughton, EEF Venues managing director said: “I’m thrilled that our facilities, customer service, and an ethos that places our delegates at the heart of the venue experience, has consistently been classed as award-winning for six straight years. It is a true reflection on the hard work and passion shown by our teams to ensure positive customer feedback at each venue location.”

VenueVerdict is the only accreditation programme determined entirely by the voice of the customer and based on the meeting experience. It provides an independent measurement and improvement tool for venues to understand the end-to-end journey of event planners, identify service gaps and benchmark against the competition. 

Awards are presented based on results from the VenueVerdict customer assessment at the end of 2018


The Conference and Hospitality Show (CHS) Awards which showcase the best of the UK hospitality industry - from hotels and venues to suppliers and buyers – is now open for 2019 entries.

The CHS Awards, now in its fifth year, recognise and celebrate groups and individuals that don’t normally get an opportunity to share excellence, across a variety of different disciplines.  To commemorate this landmark anniversary, and in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Conference and Hospitality Show, organisers have introduced ten new categories.

Alongside established award categories for Best Independent Venue or Hotel, Best Catering Provider and Best External Event Space, new for 2019 are Rising Star, Lifetime Achievement, Best UK Conventions Centre and Best Conference Planner Awards.  Emma Cartmell, CEO of CHS Group UK, explains: “The new-look awards are more aligned to us as a business and our future direction of travel. 

“We have learned a lot over the last ten years and have matured as a business.  This has given us a clear strategy and understanding of how we want to continue to grow and develop.  We think the new award categories are progressive and incorporate how our business and the industry have changed over the last decade. 

“Introducing new categories, such as Lifetime Achievement and Unsung Hero, allow us to shine a light on those, who consistently deliver great service and can often be the backbone of a business, but rarely get the recognition they deserve.”

The awards are judged by an independent panel of 50 event and hospitality professionals from leading agencies across the UK.  The awards are free to enter, and nominees can enter as many categories they like and there is a relevant award for every individual, venue, event space, organisation or supplier involved in the industry. 

Acknowledged as one of the UKs premier award celebrations for the events, conference and hospitality industry, the CHS Awards offer great exposure and an industry seal of approval for a job well done to our winners and runners up.

The CHS 2019 Awards are open for entries and details of the categories and entry criteria are all available online.   The timeline for the CHS 2019 Awards is:

Now                                        CHS 2019 Awards open for entries

Friday 1st March 2019           Deadline for CHS 2019 Awards

Monday 29th April 2019         Shortlist Announced at The Conference & Hospitality Show 

Thursday 6th June 2109        CHS 2019 Awards at Royal Armouries, Leeds

Lime Venue Portfolio kicking off 2019 with a weekend Boot Camp which saw over 40 event professionals get together with elite athletes and motivational experts. The initiative, supported by World Obesity’s Healthy Venue campaign, took place last weekend, during National Obesity Awareness Week (14th – 20th Jan 19)

The boot camp bought together both event professionals and their families, to focus on health and wellbeing, including fitness activities, nutritional education and a mindfulness session.  As well as representatives from across the Lime Venue Portfolio, the boot camp also welcomes representatives from, DRP Group, Conference Care, Inntel, Off Limits, Crème Conferences, All about Venues, Venue Search, CBA Events, Venues, Events International and Jigsaw Conferences. 

LVP also bought in elite coaches to run the weekend; Harry King, UK Sport Elite Coach, former GB International Sprinter & British Record Holder, and former advisor within the National Athletics Association and the Olympic Committee; and Zena Weeks, events planner organising Domestic, European and International Coaching Conferences for England Athletics for the Coaching & Participation Teams. 

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