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03/2021

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“The follow-up on the rush of enquiries after the road map announcement is going well and has been boosted with a noticeable increase in site visit requests since they started this week. But the lack of certainty around the roadmap dates has made event bookers understandably cautious about contract terms,” says Adam Simpson, Director of Marketing and US Sales of etc.venues.

In the 24 hours after the Prime Minister’s road map speech, etc.venues received £2m worth of enquiries and incoming calls have continued at a strong level in subsequent weeks. They have been coming from corporates, public organisations and associations and were immediately followed up by members of its sales team who have been continuously available since before the announcement.   Enquiries covered many different types of meetings and events but predominantly major training programmes and conferences looking to get key dates on hold. These events, comprising of both live and hybrid, are scheduled for late Q2, Q3 and Q4 this year.

“It’s great to see that many requests for site visits are from potential clients who have not held events with us before, as well as from previous customers interested in new venues including the additional floor at 133 Houndsditch. Most of the potential bookings have been from organisations that have held events at our venues before and are familiar with them.

“Despite this, a typical conversation about booking is lasting 25 per cent longer than before the pandemic. Although planners are briefly touching upon safety processes, they are quickly reassured by our well-proven 18 Point Plan.  Most of their questions are around the possible inclusion of extra contract clauses to cover the consequences if the road map dates slip back or if new restrictions are introduced, for instance, limiting numbers of in-person delegates attending.

“Overall, there is a positive attitude and a strong underlying determination to return to live events as soon as possible, but they want to be covered in case the landmark dates or regulations change.

“We remain cautiously confident of confirming the vast majority of the enquiries over the coming months.”

www.etcvenues.co.uk

Twickenham Stadium is predicting increased activity around summer events, with enquiries for summer parties and receptions gaining momentum already in 2021. The venue is also seeing pitch-side experiences being booked throughout an elongated summer, including the previously slower month of August, running right into September.

“Like many businesses within the industry, we’re seeing a lot of activity as the market fires back into life; not just from our corporates, but also across our agency relationships,” comments Nils Braude, Managing Director, Twickenham Experience. “But what is really pleasing, is that these events are not just limited to the traditional May, June and July periods. We’re also seeing outdoor bookings in August and stretching into September as well.”

The venue puts this activity down to an urgent need for businesses to re-engage with staff, teams and customers, but also a relaxation among both organisers and delegates around travelling to events. Equally, with many dates already being booked up or held provisionally, many organisers are feeling more confident about hosting their summer events later in the year. 

“It’s going to be a strange year. For a long time, we’ve been seeing outdoor summer events in September, so that isn’t a surprise. What is interesting is that, with international travel still up in the air, many businesses are expecting more staff to be around and are looking to keep momentum in August as well. It’s great news for business and our industry.”

“At Twickenham, we’re fortunate that we’re planning for live events in our sporting business for later in the year and these are giving people, and companies, confidence,” continues Nils. “A lot of people are expecting a slow return as consumer confidence grows, but everything we’re seeing is telling us that it will be quicker than we originally thought.”

Twickenham recently launched The Studio, its broadcast facility for virtual and hybrid events, which can also form part of traditional summer events as organisers continue to look for hybrid options across their event portfolio’s. 

Brand Overwhelmingly Carrying Hygiene Accreditation

Following the government announcements around a potential reopening for the meetings and events industry, Lime Venue Portfolio has announced its own overwhelming support for VisitBritain’s ‘Good to Go’ accreditation, with almost all of the group’s 80+ venues carrying either the accreditation or a regional variation of it. 

The Good to Go accreditation has been widely adopted by venues and suppliers within the industry and provides a source or reassurance and confidence for both event organisers and future delegates. Many of the portfolio’s venues also have AIM Secure accreditation, which recognises the businesses dedication to offering an environment that is healthy and hygienic for both customers and staff. 

These accreditations add another layer of third-party endorsement that complements the strict guidelines, in line with Government regulations, on hygiene and safety found in each of the venues within the portfolio. 

Jo Austin, Sales Director, Lime Venue Portfolio comments: “Our aim is to take as much risk out of booking meetings and events, whilst making event organisers and delegates feel as safe and secure as possible at our venues – these accreditations go a very long way in helping to achieve this. 

Jo continued: “We want to get ahead of the game to instil reassurance. Alongside the high standards we have set as a business we are confident we can deliver meetings and events in successful environments.”

Lime Venue Portfolio has added the ‘Good to Go’ badge onto the web presence of all of its venues that have achieved the accreditation, found on www.limevenueportfolio.co.uk so that organisers can identify them easily online. 

 

Chicheley Hall, in Chicheley, Buckinghamshire has been bought by Hong Kong based Bonds Group and is to reopen as a hotel and wedding venue under the management of Countrywide Hotels.

The 48-bedroom hotel is the heart of the Buckinghamshire social scene offering the best wedding and event space near Milton Keynes. This stunning Grade I listed 18th century mansion house, filled with original features, offers the most amazing back drop to any bride’s big day. With private sculptured gardens and 80 acres of beautiful grounds it offers the perfect location for a garden wedding reception and photographs.

The hotel is ideally located for a relaxing weekend or family break, with many top attractions and sights nearby. For meeting and events Chicheley Hall offers 9 beautiful meeting and events suites with the largest one offering banqueting for up to 100 guests.

A key focus for the hotel will be to engage with all aspects of the local community, providing the perfect location for weddings and family celebrations, as well as being the place for friends to come and meet for alfresco dining, afternoon tea, dinner and drinks in our hotel bar and restaurant. 

Darren Patt of Countrywide Hotels said ‘We are delighted to be taking over the management of Chicheley Hall hotel and reopening it as a hotel and luxury wedding venue. We cannot wait to welcome the local community back to enjoy this stunning hotel and gardens.’

Owner comments ‘We are excited to have taken over the ownership of this impressive venue, and look forward to working with Countrywide Hotels in investing in this beautiful hotel to make it accessible to the community and one of the best venues in Buckinghamshire.’

The team at Chicheley Hall look forward to welcoming you to the hotel when they reopen for business travellers from 22nd March, Alfresco Afternoon Teas from 12th April and then fully for leisure guests from 17th May 2021 in line with government guidelines.

If you have any questions or would like to arrange a personal tour of the hotel, please do not hesitate to contact Jane McPherson, Sales Manager who will be more than happy to help.

HBAA is delighted to advise we have just received the following via BVEP from Duncan Parish, Head of Tourism at DCMS, following our hard campaigning on allowing site visits to happen for meetings and events:

I confirm that I have discussed with Cabinet Office and we have agreed that after March 29 - when the stay at home restriction is lifted - visiting a business event venue for the purpose of viewing the venue for a future booking for a work-based event (even if the venue is otherwise closed) is permitted if this cannot be reasonably done from home. Safety guidelines for workplaces should be adhered to. Viewings where there is not a permitted exemption for work purposes or otherwise, should not be taking place in closed venues at this time.

In practice that means venue viewings for leisure activities is being treated differently to venue viewings for business activities as the latter is permitted under the guidelines, whereas the former is still restricted. I appreciate there will still be concerns about that but hopefully it is at least progress.

Guidance will be updated in due course but hopefully that's helpful.

Please note that guidance is ‘to follow’ and this will provide the explicit detail.

 

BMA House has developed a series of filming and photography shoot options for clients following several successful ad-hoc bookings over the last 18 months.

Specifically, the grand Courtyard and driveway of BMA House have provided the backdrop to the likes of Speechless (starring Minnie Driver and comedy legend John Cleese), a Nike advert (starring Harry Kane) and was even used for the award-winning BBC one drama Spooks as far back as 2011.

Once home to novelist Charles Dickens, BMA House offers two outdoor spaces; the large, opulent Courtyard overlooked by two ‘royal’ balconies; and the botanical Garden, with feature pond, a beautiful, tranquil setting for any season, period or location shoot. 

Located in the heart of Bloomsbury but tucked away in a private setting, many of its indoor spaces provide a contemporary contrast to the feel of its heritage, period outside areas.

BMA House is also just a stone’s throw from Woburn Walk, an idyllic, Victorian style street providing a backdrop for films such as Christopher Robin, The Aeronauts and Cruella.

Kat Winfield, Venue Manager, BMA House comments: BMA House has already been used for a number of high-profile filming shoots, including several we cannot currently reveal.  The venue’s flexibility, architecture and unique features make it ideal for a wide variety of use, meaning we have been used for everything from period dramas to modern adverts.  We are currently in talks to be a significant part of a well know ongoing series.”

FAQs

  • Exclusive hire (weekends and evenings only)
  • Access from 06:00 – 23:30
  • Total indoor capacity based on 1M + distancing: standing 189
  • 22 indoor spaces, plus two outdoor areas
  • Natural daylight
  • Limited on-site / overnight parking
  • 3 phase power and generators can be brought on site
  • Green rooms available
  • Crew catering can be provided on site by our catering partners, CH&CO
  • Secure overnight storage for props, clothing, make up, etc…
  • Branding opportunities

Full details and costs are available from the venue hire team via: events@bma.org.uk or 020 7874 7020

As lockdown eases, teams are being re-united and unique opportunities are emerging, so the elite hotel group is grabbing these with both hands.

To this end, Lea Marston Hotel, The Abbey Hotel and Hilton Warwick have teamed up with the UK’s only Dr of Wellbeing to create The Ultimate Team Reboot.

Dr Andy Cope has spent two decades researching employee engagement and he wraps up all this analysis and learning into a world-renowned training workshop called ‘The Art of Being Brilliant’.

Andy explains “The partnership with the elite hotel group makes perfect sense. The teams need a get-together to help them thrive, it has to be much more than just a delivering a business update. The teams need to hit the ground running and to be able to take the ‘new normal’ by storm. Our Team Reboot is designed to do exactly that! It is designed to super-charge the team, which will be of great benefit to them and in turn, of course their customers.”

Emma Lawrence from The Lea Marston Hotel agrees. “We have the world class venues and Andy has the best training in the world… it’s a perfect match! We have an incredible team and we believe it is so important to invest time in them, and at the moment, it is the perfect time to give them a boost.”

The Team Reboot gives organisations a chance to book an off-site venue, have a business catch-up, but then add so much more. The aim is to deliver some themes from the science of human flourishing that will leave participants refreshed, energised and ready to make the most of new opportunities as they arise.

Dr Andy Cope adds, ‘This first face-to-face opportunity will only present itself once. It’s important not to waste it. Taking it offsite will create a wow environment and our team will create a wow experience. We guarantee there will be a huge business benefit. Best of all, the teams will leave with clarity of purpose and a spring in their step.’

  • How has the events industry changed over time?

The event industry has changed enormously in my few decades in the industry – we’ve become so much more creative, so much more ambitious, and I think we’ve grown up. We understand the value of events not only in terms of client ROI, but in terms of personal growth for attendees, knowledge exchange, and the value of events within the wider economy.as well as within the marketing arena.

  • What key advice would you give to the younger generation?

For the younger generation I’d still advocate that it’s a fun and exciting industry to be in, although not always the glamorous one some think it will be, and that’s where my advice is to leave the 9-5 mentality at home, and to get out there and make the most of the fabulous networking opportunities. Build a wide network across multiple disciplines as not only will that put you in good stead for future roles and opportunities but that’s where some of the innovative ideas and collaborations are born.

  • How have you juggled and thrived at the same time?

I’ve loved working in this industry – starting in the hotel world, before moving into destination marketing; I’ve made lifelong friends and when you’re working with ‘friends’ it’s always easier and more enjoyable and that’s what’s helped me to thrive. Having an understanding partner who’s a true co-parenter has also helped! 

  • Why is collaboration key?

Collaboration is key, whether that’s in planning and executing events, learning from other operations or destinations, or just simply in bouncing ideas around – there are always new pieces of the jigsaw out there that can help you to overcome obstacles, or help you to see something from a completely different angle, or even push you towards creating a completely new picture.

 

So my mantra is enjoy, don’t be afraid of hard work and long hours, learn to juggle, make friends and collaborate!

Focusing on the future with confidence

A rapid response to lockdowns, clear leadership and a strong survival spirit helped a national hotel group lay firm foundations for the future.

More than 90% of businesses run by Focus Hotels Management made an operating profit in 2020 despite the hugely unpredictable challenges created by the global pandemic.

The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by lockdown and social-distancing restrictions and despite the Government’s recent ‘roadmap to recovery’, many pubs, restaurants and hotels still face very uncertain futures.

But the Focus Group is confident its trend-defying performance in 2020 has put it in a good position for a brighter future, beginning with a bumper staycation summer when lockdown limitations are lifted.

Focus attributes its ascent over adversity to a ‘war-like effort’ by its teams at all levels; a swift strategic response from senior management provided clear direction to General Managers leading their highly-motivated teams to ensure performance in 2020 was significantly better than hotel owners had expected.

Lynn Hood, Chief Operating Officer for Focus, said: “When the pandemic hit, we were in unknown territory as leaders and had to plan a route through it quickly to reassure owners and our teams. Everyone understood the need to streamline the organisation and remove as much unnecessary cost as possible.

“It has not been easy but we have learned and appreciated that our management team has a great survival spirit and a determined will to do everything we possibly can to see our hotels through this crisis.

“Within a few weeks of the first lockdown being implemented, most of our hotels had re-opened to key workers, providing work for some team members while others were furloughed. The government support measures meant that, overall, we were able to keep the number of redundancies down to a minimum.

“Our general managers led by shining example, cleaning rooms, cooking meals, delivering room service and also welcoming guests. People follow great leaders, and this spirit was embraced by all those who were working.

“The flexibility they demonstrated, with a “can-do” attitude and willingness to learn new skills, kept our hotels running efficiently, allowing us to operate with fewer employees, which helped our sustainability and profitability tremendously.

“We focused our sales efforts into areas we knew we could still accommodate, such as launching an intimate wedding package, which were a highlight of the past year and have been a delight to host.”

Focus was quick to invest in Covid-safe measures and subjected itself to the most stringent scrutiny to gain independent accreditation through industry-leading Clifton Environmental Services for hygiene standards and cleaning practices, but the investment hasn’t stopped there.

Lynn said: “Despite all the uncertainty, our owners have still been willing to invest capital over the past year in raising standards even higher at hotels across our portfolio, which is a strong vote of confidence in Focus Hotels Management.

“We’re so excited about being able to open our doors fully again soon, to welcome back our guests and our furloughed employees. To come through a year like 2020 with 90% of businesses returning an operating profit makes us incredibly proud of the inspiring effort by every member of the Focus family, which has put us in a stronger position for the future than we could ever have hoped for when the pandemic began.”

 

Record number of event enquiries worth £1.2m in third week after roadmap news

Wyboston Lakes Resort last week saw strong indications that interest in booking meetings, events and training is building momentum.

In the three weeks since the Prime Minister’s roadmap announcement, the sales team at Wyboston Lakes Resort received 96 enquiries for new events worth almost £1.8m, with 54 of these coming through in the last week alone, totaling £1.2m – the highest amount in the last 12 months. The majority of these enquiries are for 2021.

Christine Gomez, Director of Revenue at Wyboston Lakes Resort, said: “We have received a wonderful mix of enquiries for all types of business and social events. This shows growing confidence among corporate and consumer event organisers as well as the desire to get back to face-to-face gatherings, to network and celebrate together, which we have all missed.

” We received a flood of enquiries within days of the roadmap announcement three weeks ago, including a national conference for 350-plus people in July, training events, meetings, conferences, weddings and family celebrations, and interest has only continued to rise since. Interestingly we are also seeing an increase in organisers wanting outdoor experiences, team building or small festival events, a different social experience for their delegates to enjoy following months of lockdown. It’s really good to see.

“To exceed the rush of the first week is exciting and very encouraging.”

www.wybostonlakes.co.uk

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