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09/2020

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Meet Out to Help Out, the sales incentive scheme for the business events industry proposed by Venuedirectory.com is gaining momentum

Nigel Huddleston MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for sport, tourism and heritage at the department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), acknowledged the proposed scheme during an interview within the recent UKickstart Event 2020, initiated by etc.venues.

At the nationwide multi-hub live and virtual event Nigel Huddleston said: “We’re open to conversations and I’ll continue the dialogue with the Treasury. I think we’ve seen with various measures such as Eat Out to Help Out that if we need a kind of innovative intervention we are willing and able to do so. I’ve already been lobbied for the Meet Out To Help scheme and it is really important we get the information directly from the sector.”

Support for Meet Out to Help Out, put forward by Michael Begley, managing director of venuedirectory.com, is building with many hotels, venues and suppliers voicing their support. This includes Abstract Events, Studio Venues, Venues of Excellence, Jurys Inn (Hinckley Island), Classic British Hotels, Amaris Hospitality and the National Conference Centre based at National Motorcycle Museum. Support and interest is growing on social media under #MeetOutToHelpOut.

Heather Thornton, from business club and private sector lobbying group Downton In Business, says: “Meet Out to Help Out would be a brilliant initiative! We need to get people back together and networking in a safe and organised environment.”

Michael Begley, managing director of venuedirectory.com, comments: “We’re delighted that our proposal is gaining momentum. All sides of the industry - corporates, agencies and venues – need to work together to ensure it remains on the Government radar. We need their support in generating much-needed momentum and confidence in the industry and are confident Meet Out to Help Out is a workable solution.”

Explaining Meet Out to Help Out, Michael says: “I would suggest corporates need to commit to booking their next meeting or event and put down a deposit with the venue to demonstrate their commitment. If they can do this, then the venue can pass on 50% of the commission to the booking agent immediately after the booking is confirmed and the deposit paid. 

“This will not only generate momentum to keep the sector moving in what is an incredibly tough trading period, it will also boost the cash flow of agencies, many of which are vulnerable at this time. To further boost confidence and minimise risk, the corporates should be able to receive a refund up to 14 days prior to arrival if they choose not to hold their event.”

www.venuedirectory.com 

#MeetOutToHelpOut

Lex Butler, Chair of HBAA commented

“HBAA is obviously tremendously disappointed by the latest government announcements switching the green light for large events from 1 October to amber and therefore on hold. Hopefully the measures being put in place for reducing the size of social gatherings will bring down the rate of infection allowing the restart of business events and meetings to go ahead. 

We are also waiting for the promised statement from Culture Secretary and for clarification whether meetings of up to 30 people can continue to take place in permitted venues as, if they can, it would maintain the momentum that the industry’s recovery is developing. 

We did of course have a delay back in August for smaller meetings but were able to start a couple of weeks later, so we can only hope this will be similar. 

The recent pilot events and UKickstart event proved that our industry is ready to go ahead safely, but we must respect the seriousness of this situation. 

We must also seek significant economic support for every organisation and freelancer in the business events, accommodation and meetings sector, as our path to recovery is yet again challenged and we are already faced with massive uncertainty, huge impacts and risk to businesses and our people.”

"The events industry may have been undervalued in the past but that is not the case now; the industry has a real voice in government." - Nigel Huddleston, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage

Collaboration and unity throughout the meetings and events industry shone through as 1419 event professionals, including 305 in person at twelve venues, came together nationwide for UKickstart, a major industry event initiated by Adam Simpson, director of marketing at etc.venues and supported by twelve industry associations.

There was great encouragement for the industry and a positive outlook from the keynote panel which featured Nigel Huddleston MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS); Nick de Bois, Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board; Tracy Halliwell MBE, Director of Tourism, Conventions and Major Events at London and Partners and Simon Hughes, Chairman of BVEP.

Questioned by Calum Di Lieto, editor of C&IT, Nigel Huddleston said; "The events industry may have been undervalued in the past but that is not the case now; the industry has a real voice in government." Later he also recognised the professionalism of the industry and the safety procedures that venues have implemented when he commented that “The pilot events have shown that you know exactly how many people are coming in and venues are equipped to deal with new safety measures. The industry has done a great job on developing the guidance for reopening.”

Michael Hirst, Chair of the Events Industry Board tweeted “Really positive vibes from #UKickstart live event today. #eventprofs confidently raring to go.”

In an audience poll by Glisser asking what positive legacy to the industry has come from the last few months, ‘collaboration, together, unity, community and supportive’ were the most popular answers, a view backed by the panel.

Adam Simpson, leader of the UKickstart event and director of marketing at etc.venues said: “The joy of those who came to the many venues showed how much live meetings and events have been missed, and the commitment of the whole united industry and DCMS recognising that we are ready to run safe live events as soon as possible was clearly evident.”

Earlier a panel including Rick Stainton, founder and group executive director of Smyle; David Watt, CEO of CI Group and Chetan Shah, founder of micebook.com with a video contribution from Lex Butler, founder of Wolf & White and chair of HBAA gave an agency perspective on the impact of the pandemic experience and on how to kickstart events. Responding to questions from moderator Martin Fullard, editor of Conference News, the agency leaders explained how they had adapted their businesses to the financial realities and what they offer to clients to use digital and broadcasting technology to create first class virtual communications and now hybrid events.

After Rick Stainton provided a clear insight into the aims and development of the One Industry One Voice campaign behind which he has united many agencies and associations, Rick and David Watt both highlighted the need to instil greater confidence in the safety of events at the C-suite level of clients so that events, even in the UK only, can start to take place.

For many participants this event was their first opportunity to meet face to face and enjoy the irreplaceable experience of attend the first major meetings industry event since before lockdown.

www.etcvenues.co.uk

Worldspan has launched its own virtual event platform branded Virt-Us Live.

Virt-Us Live brings together the best of live video conferencing, pre-recorded content, live streaming, and content sharing into a single, fully customisable platform. The platform enables organisations of every size to host meetings and events that are engaging, interactive, and scalable; all with a core promise of creating a better delegate experience.

Built by the agency’s in-house digital development team, the platform is already helping transition existing live events, including an association conference, company conference, AGM, and fundraiser, into online events. The platform can be used by itself or integrated into Worldspan’s existing inhouse production, video, logistics, content, creative & digital teams as an end-to-end solution.

Commenting at the official brand and website launch, Sophie Morris, Worldspan’s Managing Director said, “It is incredibly exciting to both formally launch Virt-Us Live and to have already secured and be delivering reimagined live events, virtually on the platform. Virt-Us Live is designed by event professionals; we’ve used our knowledge and audience insights to create an intuitive platform that is focussed on delivering a better delegate experience.”

Morris continued, “With the continuing hold on live events, whether you’re a brand or an association, the need to involve, inspire, and interact with people essential to your success as an organisation or a profession remains as vital as ever. Whether for a conference, recognition event, AGM, meeting, team-building or product launch – we are truly excited with the possibilities that Virt-Us Live offers in reimagining live events online.”

The platform’s dedicated website can be viewed at virt-us.live.

Leading online venue resource, venuedirectory.com, has announced a 35% growth in enquiry volumes for meeting space for the last week of August.  

Managing Director Michael Begley explains: “August is always a quieter month for meetings and events enquires, but we’re in unusual times and to see a 35% growth is really positive news for the industry. This data comes from our 100+ booking channels that we serve and should be seen as a sign of growing confidence. 

“Although we’re working from a lower base than before lockdown, enquiry volumes have been steadily growing since the beginning of July. The last week of August - traditionally see as ‘softer’ compared to other times of the year – delivered unexpected but very welcome growth.” 

According to Michael, the numbers are likely to rise over the next few weeks as schools re-open and people return to offices. He continues: “We are all concerned about the possible impact of local lockdowns and changes to travel restrictions. That said, the success of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme has shown that consumer confidence is growing. Likewise, we want to see business confidence continue to grow. After all, our sector already has a well-established track and trace system for delegates, so attending meetings is arguably safer than dining out at a restaurant!” 

venuedirectory.com is a UK-based business established in 1993 and has a database of over 400,000 meeting and event spaces in 300 countries. It provides venue data, websites and venue sourcing software to the meetings and events industry and in 2019 over £300m of business was confirmed through its platforms and distribution channels.  

www.venuedirectory.com   

Twickenham Stadium has launched a new shared working space and business hub which will be available for local businesses and key account partners to the venue. The new facility has been created in partnership with HUB XV who will operate the space as part of a national network of stadia-based workspaces.

HUB XV provides a community based membership model aimed at local and regional businesses looking for flexible, socially distanced working environment at a cost effective price. The workspace also offers a new solution for businesses looking to either continue flexible working practices or make their traditional office spaces redundant post-Covid-19.

“The launch of HUB XV is an important part of our growth strategy and allows us to create new connections with the local business community and continue to strengthen existing connections across our hospitality, conference and events businesses,” comments Nils Braude, Managing Director, Twickenham Experience Ltd. “The team at HUB XV share our commitment to world class hospitality, and we’re looking forward to offering our new members the very best working space, one of the finest office views you can get, and the chance to work out of an international icon.”

“We are delighted to give professionals and corporate teams in the region the opportunity to collaborate, network and grow from a venue of such sporting heritage,” says HUB XV Founder and CEO, Alix Popham.

The stadium is aligning the launch of HUB XV with its meetings and events business with members also able to benefit from 10% discounts on all conference and event bookings. Twickenham will also be offering the space as part of its preferential partnership programme with key agency contacts and as an incentive for companies putting multiple events into the stadium. The space would also allow event organisers the option of working space in the stadium whenever they need it and a continued relationship with the team at Twickenham.

As well as the working space itself, members will have access to regular networking events hosted by some of rugby and other sports past and present legends and receive complimentary parking, speciality hot drinks, Wi-Fi, printing services as well as discounts on smaller meeting rooms. They will also have access to a priority booking window for non-match day ticketed events, 10% off the museum and tours and discounts off a range of hospitality packages.

www.twickenhamstadium.com/hub-xv

Following the recent announcement from the UK government that small meetings and larger conferences have the green light to take place from August and October respectively, Lime Venue Portfolio is delighted to announce that venues across the portfolio are opening their doors once again to meetings and events.

Government guidelines now allow meetings of under 30 to take place across venues, stadia and cultural attractions as long as they adhere to social distancing and COVID-safety measures. The industry will be using this period to implement hygiene and operational measures that will then pave the way for larger conferences in the Autumn.

Even though venues have been closed during lockdown, they have used the time to update operational procedures, making sure social distancing measures, food service delivery, and entry/exit audience flows, all work seamlessly. Venues are also working with customers to support their event enquiries and reassure them on the processes in place. Many of these venues are also providing physical show-rounds, with health and safety at its core, as well as live virtual tours to offer even further assistance to customers.

Most importantly however, LVP has set out a series of commitments to organisers, and their delegates, on how they will deliver the safest and most straightforward experience possible. This is outlined in the LVP COVID Secure Charter, which demonstrates how LVP will commit, at every venue it operates at, to:

  •        A strict adherence to public health guidance on cleaning and hygiene
  •        Detailed operational planning to ensure social distancing is possible and regulated
  •        Quality food and drink, whilst offering tailored serving packages that respect social distancing, and ensure good hygiene is paramount
  •        Specialist training - every member of the team gets special training to ensure they can work with organisers and delegates to keep everyone safe; and
  •        …all this is supported by Lime Venue Portfolio’s own Book with Confidence promise to make sure that every event gets the support it deserves

Read the full stay safe, feel safe LVP charter here.

Many of Lime Venue Portfolio’s venues have also secured Visit Britain’s ‘We’re Good To Go’ accreditation, which is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow government and industry COVID-19 guidelines.

Lime Venue Portfolio anticipates a staggered return of the meetings and events marketplace. Leading with training and smaller meetings but with the prospect of larger conference to come. Lime Venue Portfolio knows for its customers, the ability to communicate with staff and stakeholders has never been more critical.

In the meantime, Lime Venue Portfolio is talking to customers about bookings for larger conferences right now across its 84 venues, again in readiness for October, and encouraging customers to take advantage of the variety of venue choice and availability of dates where they can. Naturally, adherence to government guidelines and a close eye to the everchanging landscape will be paramount.

Lime Venue Portfolio is confident that with its unique environments, skillset, and the experience to reassure its guests as they return to meeting face to face, customers will welcome the opportunity to enjoy great experiences once again.

Wyboston Lakes Resort completes comprehensive transformation of The Willows Training Centre

The Willows Training Centre at Wyboston Lakes Resort has been refurbished to meet the current and future needs of learning & development professionals and those being trained with a comprehensive restyling of its interiors.

Located at one of the UK’s largest privately-owned single site conference and leisure venue, the Willows Training Centre has been created to accommodate both residential and non-residential meetings and training events. The result is a comfortable, flexible space, designed with the trainer and delegate in mind, offering self-service options and freedom to relax.

Long established training clients of Wyboston Lakes Resort includes NHS, Anglian Water, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Firebrand and the Kier Group, to name but a few.

Under the refurbishment programme, the venue’s 12 meeting rooms have been upgraded, an additional meeting room has been created, including a sophisticated new boardroom for up to 24 delegates, as well as a creative space, ‘Willows Parkway’, which has been designed like a London tube station. The refurbishment has focused on creating light open spaces that offer extensive easy to use technology and comfort with fun social areas, workstations and working areas suited to downtime with plenty of power points and wireless connectivity.

The public areas, reception, bar, restaurant and many of the venue’s 183 ensuite bedrooms have been upgraded.

The Cricket Kitchen, a self-service buffet restaurant, provides a bright open space with the added flexibility of a moving wall to provide clients with more options or added privacy. This is complemented by a newly created alfresco area and an easy self-service ‘Pit Stop’ by Paddy & Scott’s Cafes.

This development follows the £3million overhaul of the resort’s Woodlands Event Centre, which was finished just over a year ago and brings Wyboston Lakes Resort’s total spend on capital reinvestment to over £10m in the last few years.

Steve Jones, Managing Director said: “The Willows Training Centre is hugely popular with our guests and receives outstanding feedback. It was however very dated and this comprehensive refurbishment addresses that and sees the venue fit for the future. It also brings the quality up in line with our other venues and will continue to offer excellent value along with class-leading standards.”

For more information, please visit https://www.wybostonlakes.co.uk

Event Agencies Collaborate to Create ‘isla

Twelve of the leading event agencies have put their support behind the creation of isla, a new industry organisation that will support businesses to implement consistent standards of environmental impact, measurement and management of events.

isla has outlined its core objective of ‘accelerating the event industry’s transition to a sustainable future’ with the collaboration between agencies, brands, suppliers and in-house departments at the heart of its strategy. The organisation will look to initiate change by facilitating knowledge sharing within the events community, provide education and training, whilst also creating robust measurement and reporting metrics, allowing events to track progress against standardised sustainability ambitions.

The creation of isla will be seen as timely for many event businesses looking to implement a ‘green recovery’ and consider new ways of working that are positive for the global environment. isla is intended to build on some of the existing work being implemented by agency partners, encouraging knowledge sharing of best practice. The organisation will provide guidance to members, enabling them to better track the impact of their events using science-led environmental targets.

isla will also be working with other third parties to reduce the barriers that can inhibit the sustainability of  many events, including the use and waste of materials and the lack of circular design within the production process.

“When it comes to sustainability, collaboration beats competition and we’re delighted to have some of the biggest event brands in the world supporting our mission to accelerate the industry’s transition to a sustainable future,” commented Anna Abdelnoor, one of the founders of isla. “To do this we need a mix of knowledge sharing, education and robust metrics, this is the role isla will fill.”

Whilst isla will be an independent organisation, ensuring parity and transparency, it has already secured the support of leading agencies including:  Amplify, Brandfuel, Cheerful TwentyFirst, DRPG, emc3, George P. Johnson, Jack Morton Worldwide, Owl Live, Set Creative, Smyle, WRG and XYZ, with more joining the organisation and committing to the standards of measurement and commitment laid out by isla.

“The agency community have been with us from the very beginning and have supported the creation of isla and how we are shaping the products and services it will provide for the industry,” concludes Anna. “We’re calling for more to join our movement; from within the agency community, in-house organisers within business, and from venues and suppliers  who want to help their clients in delivering sustainable event programmes. It’s amazing what can be achieved when we work collaboratively.”

People can find out more at www.weareisla.co.uk.

Virtual and hybrid services boost Warwick Conferences’ offering as doors re-open

Warwick Conferences has responded to the ever-changing requirements of event organisers and their delegates by adding three new services, to its award-winning portfolio.

Following the rise of online platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic - which allows both audiences and speakers to receive and deliver content remotely - Warwick Conferences has combined its experience and technical expertise to deliver a number of hybrid and online conferencing solutions. Developed by Warwick Conferences, it will offer a flexible approach to future conferences and events, including services to accommodate online delegates participating from their homes, or online presenters streaming from overseas.

To accommodate the new services, a brand-new executive boardroom has been launched. The new space will incorporate innovative camera technology which follows the sound of the speaker, meaning those dialling in can see the speaker while they’re talking. The premium room is fitted with expansive windows, a dark wood walnut oval table and seats 12 individuals.

Warwick Conferences has recently opened its doors to meetings with up to 30 guests, in line with Government guidelines. The new offering will ensure that those unable to be in attendance physically can still get involved remotely.

The team at Warwick Conferences will work directly with event organisers to create a tailored event package that caters to the individual needs of each programme. Whether an event requires extra technical support or a studio setup for panellists, Warwick’s dedicated team will work with clients to ensure delegate wellbeing and event efficiency is maximised.

With previous experience of offering streaming with multi-camera broadcast setups, the event production team has further developed the pre-existing offer by transforming some of the larger spaces into broadcasting studios that can act as a hub for both online and hybrid events.

Paul Bartlett, Director of Warwick Conferences commented: “Building on the expertise of our wider team here at Warwick Conferences, we have worked together to offer a more dynamic range of services. This change has been brought about by the rise in demand for events to adapt to social distancing measures following the pandemic. Human interaction is at the core of the events industry, so we wanted to ensure that professionals were still able to connect and network safely following lockdown.

“Our experience of combining events with smart technology in the past to enable professionals from all over the world to be involved in events held at Warwick Conferences has meant that we have the knowledge and experience to provide a variety of packages to suit a wide range of needs.”  

The new services will see Warwick Conferences offer a number of digital options, including:

  • Hybrid Events: A physical conference with the opportunity for delegates and / or speakers to attend virtually at one of our venues (or off campus)
  • Virtual Events: A conference held online with no delegates attending in person. Warwick Conferences host the event in the format defined by the client
  • Small Hybrid Events (meetings and training): A physical event with the opportunity for some delegates to join remotely

To find out more about how the Warwick Conferences team can tailor events to meet your needs visit the website.

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