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Wyboston Lakes Resort has launched a comprehensive Hybrid Events solution that has been designed to allow event organisers the opportunity to create all the elements of a successful live conference and combined that with all the best engagement elements of a virtual event format.

The Bedfordshire conference, events and training centre has partnered with Maddison Media, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of staged events, to launch a virtual platform as part of its new hybrid events offering.

The virtual platform has a vast range of interactive functions that seamlessly integrate those who are taking part virtually with those who at the venue to ensure that speakers and delegates can make the most of the event from the content to networking opportunities.

Among the many features are polling, chat and Q&A, simultaneous captions and translation, data and video capture, bespoke graphics, chat windows, private messaging and unlimited ‘virtual’ speakers and a sponsor area. Delegates can also register and pay for event passes through the platform.

On offer are three new hybrid event packages that will enable organisers to book face-to-face events – currently permitted by the Government for up to 30 people in a meeting room – at the Resort’s spacious, modern and Covid-compliant venues, while also engaging a larger audience online.

Wyboston Lakes Resort is recognised as a Covid-secure venue following recent accreditations from three prestigious organisations for health, hygiene and safety standards, which have become paramount following Covid-19. Certifications include the AIM Secure Accreditation from the Meetings Industry Association, the ‘Safe, Clean and Legal’ badge from Quality in Tourism and the AA COVID-19 Confident scheme.

Louisa Watson, director of marketing at Wyboston Lakes Resort, said: “With current restrictions around large events, hybrid makes them possible, bringing teams, clients and suppliers together. We wanted to create a Hybrid Events solution that not only replicates but enhances the event experience. We can run a variety of events in a seamless hybrid format offering a bespoke service that always delivers results.

“Hybrid events are perfect for today because they are safe, infinitely flexible, enhance green credentials by reducing travel, reduce risk and help to keep costs under control – just what organisations need now as they maintain communication and engagement through events ”

Lee Francis, Managing Director of Maddison Media said: “Being asked to work with one of the UK’s leading conference venues has been an absolute dream and has most definitely enhanced our company profile.

“Wyboston Lakes Resort is renowned for its quality, service and technical excellence, so a perfect synergy with Maddison Media.

“We believe Hybrid and Virtual events will be with us for some time so the solution we have developed in conjunction with Wyboston Lakes Resort is unrivalled within the industry, and we are looking forward to a successful relationship.”

Wyboston Lakes Resort has reinforced its status as an industry leading venue by winning the award for Best Mid-Sized Meeting Space at the hospitality industry’s CHS Awards.

The Bedfordshire-based conference, training and leisure venue was recognised in the category for venues with a capacity for between 51 and 499 delegates at the sixth CHS Awards, which took place virtually via Zoom yesterday (27 October).

Louisa Watson, director of marketing at Wyboston Lakes Resort, said: “This award means so much to our team and this year more than ever. We are so delighted and enormously proud to be part of this great sector we call hospitality and events.”

The 380-acre resort, which boasts two conference venues, a four-star hotel, spa and golf course, has recently launched a hybrid events solution which enables organisers to host live events through a virtual platform and with up to 30 guests in-person at the venue, as permitted by government guidelines. The resort has also been certified as a Covid-secure venue following accreditations from the AA, the Meetings Industry Association and Quality in Tourism.

One Industry One Voice, the coalition of events industry associations and businesses supporting the coordination of individual sector campaigns, are now planning a national and regional media campaign #WeCreateExperiences, aimed at the public and corporate buyers.

The campaign planning work started in September and is aiming to launch before the end of the year, subject to the prevailing national situation and any developments in relation to the consumer/business market guidance for events re-opening into 2021.

Support for #WeCreateExperiences from across the industry has been huge, including from all key sectors, with 100s of agencies, promoters and event organisers from the biggest to the smallest across the industry, as well as key venues, suppliers and freelance communities, in addition to all the main industry associations that represent 1,000s of event businesses and 100,000s of event professionals. The campaign is truly representative of One Industry One Voice.

It is producing a number of digital assets to support the media campaign in conjunction with the appointed PR agency PHA, including high profile personalities support from across sport, music, charity, showbiz, regional government and the science sectors.

The campaign has three clear positive messages to put the focus on a medium and long term roadmap for the industry delivering and the nation attending live experiences into 2021, balancing with the other OIOV campaigns lobbying government for urgent short term financial support.

It aims to:

  1. Reassure

That as an industry, we are the event experts globally, especially in safety measures, as well as creative, digital and sustainability.

  1. Inspire

Showcasing what we do, the lives our work touches and the genres of events we deliver.

  1. Educate

Communicating our contribution to the economy in employment, GDP, exports, our cross regional eco-system including young employment opportunities and the range of skillsets.

A Just Giving PR fund set up for the campaign has already raised over £50,000 to date, details of which can be found here, which includes a recent direct donation of £5,000 from the Events Industry Forum (EIF). The campaign fully appreciates that many businesses and event professionals are not in a position to contribute to the Just Giving PR fund, but hopes that everyone in our industry can help – by spreading the word and supporting the campaign when it goes live.  

You can find out more at or on social media through One Industry One Voice channels #WeCreateExperiences


etc.venues has acquired close to £2m of workspace bookings for the second half of 2020 as a result of changes to requirements and working practices resulting from Covid-19.

Nick Hoare, Chief Operating Officer of etc.venues which has 18 venues in London, Birmingham, Manchester and New York City with more than 270 meeting rooms, says: “Regular workspace bookings have added an exciting additional strand to our business. We are expecting many of the bookings to continue into 2021 while new enquiries continue to arrive as organisations review their workspace needs and costs.”

Workspace has been taken up at etc.venues by a complete cross-section of organisations, from large corporations and the public sector to small businesses and associations operating in a wide variety of markets.

Nick Hoare continues “There are several reasons why our clients are choosing to book this space on a regular basis. Some need additional room to accommodate extra staff and activity resulting from Covid-19, but do not want to commit to office leases, as their needs may change in the near future. Other organisations have decided to operate without an HQ, with staff mainly working from home, so are booking rooms as a place to maintain connections with their team, suppliers and clients by meeting face-to-face on demand.

Completer flexibility is the key

“Our research has shown that the ongoing uncertainty is making commitment to workspace a challenge. Organisations are fleeing long-term contracts and complicated membership plans with ‘credits’ and choosing complete flexibility. When the future is uncertain, being able to adapt quickly is key. That’s why our fully flexible, instantly available, comprehensive Covid-secure workspace is already supporting so many businesses.

“We have rooms of all sizes, which are thoroughly cleaned after every use, a wide choice of food and beverage is readily available, so too are cycle storage areas and each room has in-built presentation tech. These can be booked up to 5pm the day before and configured to accommodate any arrangement in line with social distancing guidelines. In fact, we have received a variety of requests from our workspace clients who book different spaces each week to adapt room layouts quickly according to their needs (e.g. hybrid studio, boardroom, meeting room, classroom). It’s further evidence that being agile is now more important for organisations than ever before.” 

Workspace clients are an addition to the many organisations continuing to use etc.venues’ facilities to hold meetings and training courses with up to 30 people in the room and often with many more joining virtually.

Nick Hoare adds; “Some forward thinking event organisers are being creative within the bounds of the regulations, bringing together more people in person in separate locations connecting virtually, benefiting from our technology partnerships, enabling many customers to stage first class hybrid events with us.”

The Arora Group, one of the UK’s leading hotel owner-operators, today announced that in partnership with HALO it will be introducing ‘Test & Rest’ accommodation packages at its Airport Hotels which will include a COVID-19 test.

The package will initially be introduced at the Arora Group’s luxury hotel directly connected to Heathrow Terminal 5 – Sofitel London Heathrow. Guests will be able to book a package comprising of an overnight stay together with a self-administered saliva-based PCR COVID-19 test kit provided by HALO. Arora Group’s other Heathrow hotels will also be rolling out the package shortly.

The COVID-19 screening system behind Arora’s ‘Test and Rest’ programme is HALO™, a UK-based biotech firm based at the Imperial College i-Hub in White City, London. Guests at the hotel simply download the Halo app, scan their test kit, spit in a tube and put it back in the Halo pack. The sample is then whisked off to HALO’s state of the art facility where it is tested using some of the most accurate PCR protocols in the world. As soon as the results are through, they pop up on the guest’s app along with a certificate and, providing the test is negative, they’re ready to travel on as soon as they wake. Test and Rest packages prices at Sofitel London Heathrow will start from £179.00 inclusive of VAT and includes accommodation and testing.

Surinder Arora, Founder and CEO of Arora Group, commented: “Our beloved hospitality, airline and the wider tourism industry has been devasted by the pandemic and we felt the need to do something to give both business and leisure travellers the confidence to travel. The ability to stay in a hotel the night before a flight and get a recognised PCR saliva based COVID-19 test and subsequent result before the flight the following day – just made sense”.

Dr Nigel Kellow, Chief Medical Officer at HALO said, “We’re really excited to be able to work with Arora Group on this pioneering initiative to help get the world moving again. We believe that in HALO we have created a system that offers hotel guests and many others a safe, secure and simple way to travel and enjoy life again in confidence. We hope more organisations in the travel industry will follow Surinder Arora’s example.”

New conference and events venue, The Eastside Rooms have teamed up with On-Production to launch ‘OnLine at Eastside Rooms’, as part of the venues new hybrid and virtual event solution. The intelligent offering is designed to combat the devastating effect the climate is having on the events industry by offering alternative event solutions with industry leading technology. OnLine will launch with the new conference venue in early 2021

The resolution offering was designed to ensure that virtual, digital or hybrid events are approached with the same production values as within a live arena. The package is designed to make distant event content and structure both seamless and engaging. The concept evolves from a Meeting and Event appetite alongside the rules and regulations concerning the pandemic, ensuring that booked events can still go forth.

“We’ve no doubt that the direction of traffic will be a mixture of digital and physical meetings,” commented Matt Huddart, Regional General Manager, The Eastside Rooms. “This isn’t merely about social distancing, by working with On-Productions, we feel that technology will earn a place at the table when planning future events and allow event organisers to grow their audience outside of the room, whilst still providing a captivating experience.”

Commenting on the launch, Guy Eaton, Managing Director of On-Productions: “Creating engaging content for a digital or remote audience is difficult and can be daunting for event organisers. OnLine is a way of executing highly visual and managed content so that event organisers can ‘direct’ the onscreen event to the same level as they do the live event”.

Guy continued, “Having super powered technology within The Eastside Rooms means that we can offer clients a secure and robust event with production support that backs up their own creative execution. Ultimately removing insecurities that come with technology and film”.


Knebworth House Joins Lime Venue Portfolio

Knebworth House has become the latest venue to join Lime Venue Portfolio, extending the groups historic, heritage and country house options for event organisers looking for rural retreat-style meetings and events.

Situated in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, but with easy access to London, Birmingham and Manchester, Knebworth House is well known for its outdoor events. Now the venue is looking to attract more conferences and meetings, with incentive and team building space also ideal within the 250-acre grounds.

The venue joins Lime Venue Portfolio this month and will benefit from the group’s extensive sales and marketing support services, as well as access to the many event enquiries that flow through the portfolio’s central sales function every month. As part of the food and beverage proposition at the venue, carefully curated menus will feature seasonal ingredients from the Knebworth estate, grown within the vegetable and herb gardens, as well as Knebworth’s own venison.

“We’re already delighted to have Leeds Castle, Beaulieu, and Hever Castle already within the portfolio, now we have another of the nation’s great country houses,” commented Jo Austin, Sales Director, Lime Venue Portfolio. “Again, this is about giving our clients choice within our portfolio, be it sporting stadia, attraction or heritage. But it’s also about genuine wow factor and giving them access to venues that can absolutely get delegates’ mouths watering from start to finish.”


Knebworth House has already been recognised for its proactive response to the Covid-19 crisis and has gone above and beyond government guidelines to ensure the venue remains Covid-secure. Alongside the ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation by Visit England, the venue has devised an 11-point health and safety strategy that Lime Venue Portfolio will adhere to alongside their own quality practices.

For more information about Knebworth House, including upcoming events please visit:



£30 billion industry faces ruin over winter months

The outdoor events industry, which provides entertainment for millions each summer, is on the verge of collapse following the lockdown this year, according to the Events Industry Forum, the organisation that represents the sector.

Already some 50 percent of the full-time workforce have been made redundant and another 25% will lose their jobs when furloughing ends at the end of this month (October).  In addition, thousands of freelance operators and part time employees have had little or no income this season.

In all outdoor events employ some 589,000 people, according to research by Bournemouth University carried out in 2019 and generate over £39 billion in spend, much in local community businesses around the locations where events happen.   See

The Events Industry Forum has made a direct appeal to Government for a period of targeted financial support as fears grow for businesses large and small the length and breadth of the country that rely on outdoor and indoor events for their survival.

Representing a wide range of events familiar to many such as Agricultural Shows, Firework displays and music events, the Forum has highlighted the fact that all such events rely on a common supply chain supplying basic infrastructure seen at all such events.

Whether it be public address systems, security, fencing right down to portable toilets, companies providing these items have undergone a devastating year. Without some support these businesses will not survive which will threaten the viability of events for 2021 and beyond.

“What we are asking for is a time limited support mechanism to cover the basic overheads of these businesses until the next season,” says Jim Winship, Secretary of the Forum.   “Compared to the funding of other industry sectors, a relatively small amount is needed to secure the future of this sector until the next season.

“Many businesses in this sector are small independent companies, or even sole traders, and we know that some support covering the winter period from November – March would on one hand guarantee their survival and the preservation of Britain’s vibrant events programme, but if properly focused and time limited it would not present the Treasury with a huge cost. Given the Gross Valued Added of this industry is estimated at £30billion, the £151 million support we estimate that is needed to keep the sector going over the winter is small compared to the contribution we can make to rebuilding the economy in the long term.

“Outdoor events are widely recognised as being a factor that will help the UK’s recovery.   Economic impact research shows that many outdoor events bring considerable revenue into businesses around them, from hotels and restaurants to shopping centres, all of which need help.   Furthermore, the research by Bournemouth University shows that these events make a positive contribution to community spirit – something we are all going to need as we come out of this pandemic.”


First live event staged in New York City as etc.venues partners with NECTR

The events industry of New York City came together live and virtually for the first time for many months when New York City’s first hybrid event ‘The Future is Now’, took place at etc.venues’ 360 Madison Avenue as a result of a partnership between etc.venues and event agency NECTR.

19 event professionals were at the venue in person (within the maximum limit) and more than 300 from all across the country joined in virtually to hear engaging discussions by three panels of industry experts moderated by Christina Matteucci of David Beahm Experiences on key current issues.

Topics included; How to Make Safety Guidelines Work; Navigating through a Virtual & Hybrid World and Building Community and Celebrating Creativity.

Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company and National Co-Chair of the Meetings Mean Business coalition who was at the venue in person said: “This is a remarkable event. We believe this is the first live event for the event industry here so it’s a critical moment and I’m really happy that it is happening. I’m sure that what we are going through now will make us better for the future. Events are a critical part of the recovery of New York City.”

Lauren Longest, Co-Founder of NECTR said. “NECTR, a female led event agency is committed to connecting brands and consumers through creative strategies and thoughtful storytelling. Our mission was simple; to have a live conversation about where we are today, where we’re going, and how we can all get there safely.

“As a community of problem solvers, innovators and creative thinkers, we came together to share insights to motivate and inspire our industry. We were lucky to have three esteemed panels of peers collectively discuss real-time solutions on adjusting and adapting to live events as we now know it" Longest added.

Fiona Macpherson, vice president, business development at etc.venues New York said “Hybrid events are for the short term the future of the industry until we can return to unrestricted live events. We knew from the successful pioneering activities of our London based team how best to run them safely and we were really happy to work with NECTR to showcase them. Having now received enquiries and bookings for meetings to take place this year, it’s great to see how this first event and the measures we have put in place have instilled confidence into planners to start booking again. We’re now working on a New York version of the UKickstart event which had a massive impact in the UK recently bringing the whole industry together.”

HBAA is spearheading a new campaign with a supporting member action group to rectify misperceptions of government rules and build confidence to kick-start the meetings and events sector.

‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart 30’ (#MSMS30) has been created after new HBAA research revealed there is confusion over the number of delegates allowed to attend meetings in England – currently 30 – which is preventing planners from having the confidence to book and organise permitted meetings.

The survey’s respondents, of which 38% were from the corporate sector; 31% from charities and 31% from a mixture of Government, Association and Education organisations, also expressed continued worries over safety. In total, 71% had concerns over employee and delegate safety. 

Some 65% stated they will only run online meetings and events in the foreseeable future. Almost all of the other respondents said that they will organise virtual or hybrid and will leave it to the delegates themselves to decide whether to attend in-person or online. 

The responses not only showed confusion over government guidance, but also a lack of understanding and confidence in the measures taken at venues.

As well as building confidence, the ‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart 30’ campaign will concentrate on communicating and supporting government regulations, which currently allow meetings of up to 30 people to take place in England, as well as highlighting the level of safety and flexibility of contractual terms and conditions at all venues involved.

This is a ‘free to participate’ campaign for both the venues and the agencies that promote them, and it does not suggest reducing meeting or delegate rates as the survey confirmed that price is not a barrier to booking. The campaign aims to provide facts, drive confidence and showcases that booking these permitted venues offers delegates tangible assurances.

Guy Mason, Managing Director of Brief2Event, said: “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the business meetings and events industry in an unimaginable way. The confusion in the marketplace regarding permitted numbers is stopping planners from having the confidence to even contemplate any sort of meeting or event.

“Venues, organisers, delegates and councils all need to know permitted delegate numbers as soon as guidance is announced or changes. Daily we are arguing with venues that are given false information from local councils regarding numbers of delegates. With more than 70% of all meetings being for 30 delegates or less, clarity is essential. This HBAA campaign is leading the way to rectify perceptions and get the industry back up and running.”

Michael Begley, managing director of, which operates a Safe Meetings database, said: “Our database showcases over 20,000 venues that have implemented comprehensive Covid-safe policies and procedures so there is a vast choice of Covid-secure venues nationwide.”

Lynn Fraser, Sales Director of Village Hotels, stated: "Village Hotels is delighted to be part of the Meet Safe, Meet Smart campaign. Whilst it is far from 'business as usual', we are proud to offer a safe place for our guests, delegates and clients to meet and work. As you'd expect, we've had to adapt and we've undergone some big changes over the last few months.

“We've reviewed every step of the customer journey, from a booker and a delegate's perspective and we've adopted a host of new measures from enhanced cleaning regimes, new room layouts, virtual showrounds and new food packages - all with the aim of keeping our clients, guests and teams safe. We have to try and get back to some kind of 'normal', albeit a different one than we're used to, and we're committed to making sure our clients feel safe when dealing with us and have confidence to book."   

Adrian Mickleburgh, Regional Service Delivery Manager of Ancala Water Services, commented: ‘’We are a company that supplies MOD and associated sites with the main utility to allow it to function. Our business function depends on being able to run meetings and training. Covid-safe measures in hotels ensure we are comfortable that these environments are safe and workable.’’

James Honeyman, Regional Manager of Lantei Compliance, said: “Running meetings and training is essential to our business. How we can train using Zoom as trainers and trainees need hands-on learning?

Juliet Price, Consultant Executive Director HBAA, said: “It is clear from our survey that there is a long way to go in terms of customers understanding and appreciating how compliant the vast majority venues really are when it comes to Covid-19 protocols and also that the current government guidance supports off-site meetings for up to 30 people. ‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart’ aims to deliver on both fronts and drive confidence while demonstrating why people want to meet – and should meet – shoulder to shoulder – in line with the prescribed measures.

“There are many reasons why meeting in person is absolutely essential, from productivity to creativity, to positive mental health. However, we completely appreciate and acknowledge that that we must follow the government guidelines which are subject to rapid change, aligned to infection rates.

“Our industry must continue to unite to build customer confidence in resuming booking and attending small live business meetings, as these will pave the way for the eventual return of safe and secure larger live events in the future.”

#MSMS30 #HBAAfuturefit #wecreateexperiences

Full report is now available to download from HBAA’s website: please click here


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