Register now: Destination Westminster

The Westminster Collection (TWC) is pleased to welcome anyone in the business of booking corporate and private events, meetings and conferences to register now for Destination Westminster, its 10th anniversary London venue showcase. The event takes place on Friday 13th September 2013 at London’s most central venue, 8 Northumberland Avenue, from 8.30am – 11.30am.

The breakfast showcase event, which is free to attend, is an opportunity for event buyers and planners to spend a morning with the sales and marketing teams at 50 of central London’s most iconic venues. The Westminster Collection is renowned for its eclectic portfolio of member venues, which encompass everything from historic institutes and societies, colleges, museums and private members clubs, to luxury hotels, concert halls, modern training venues, churches and Thames river boats.

New for 2013 is an Unleash Your Creativity forum, designed to inspire new and innovative ways of creating cost-effective events. It will feature a panel of renowned creative talents from venues, suppliers, agencies and production. Details of the panellists can be found here.

Host venue 8 Northumberland Avenue will also take the opportunity to showcase its prowess as the first venue in the UK to offer clients a permanent high definition holographic projection system within its stunning Ballroom, with a presentation by Musion, the world leaders in holographic projection technology and telepresence.

Speaking of the TWC showcase, marketing director Robin Parker said: “It is 10 years since The Westminster Collection formed to create a community of like-minded venues that believed in championing Westminster as a top-class destination for business and events. In this time we’ve grown and gained prominence as a reliable venue sourcing service for event organisers and as a credible marketing platform for venues.

“Our annual showcase has always been a popular date in the calendar and with new features like the creativity workshop, a host of venues eager to introduce you to investments and brand new services, plus eight new member venues to discover since our last showcase, we hope that guests will make the most of this opportunity to explore, learn, socialise and better understand what’s on offer in Westminster. It really is the go-to destination for events, lifestyle, culture and entertainment.”

Registration is open now at http://destination-westminster.eventbrite.co.uk/. This is a free business event especially for professionals responsible for sourcing venues and planning events and as such, TWC does reserve the right to limit or refuse registrations.

If you wish to stay in London the night before Destination Westminster 2013, a number of TWC hotels are happy to offer promotional rates to event guests on Thursday 12th September and over that weekend. Click here for details.

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Banksy mural sells for $1.2m at London Film Museum

The Banksy mural Slave Labour, which depicts a boy hunched over a sewing machine making union jack bunting, has sold for $1.2 million at a one-of-a-kind auction held at super cool Covent Garden venue the London Film Museum. The artwork has a chequered history, having been stolen from the wall of a North London store in May 2012, just before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The auction saw celebrities, collectors and VIP clients come together to view and even buy some of the most important artwork of the modern era, including pieces from Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Mario Testino and other emerging young artists. Doors opened to complimentary champagne from sponsors Veuve Clicquot and canapés created by LMG under the guidance of the ex-head of celebrity restaurant Zuma.

WW2 sea battle exhibition now open on HQS Wellington

This summer, HQS Wellington invites event organisers to take a break from sweltering site visits and instead climb aboard the last surviving example of a Second World War escort ship in Britain, to learn about one of the most important sea battles of this time.

The ‘Convoy: The Battle of The Atlantic’ exhibition marks 70 years since the Battle of The Atlantic reached its climax and it is a fascinating, poignant reminder of HQS Wellington’s role in the struggle. The exhibition is open to the public from 11:00 – 17:00 on Sundays and Mondays until 16th December 2013 and admission is free.

Moored at Temple tube station, The HQS Wellington’s extensive deck area is the perfect outdoor venue for all your event needs, from its sunny Quarterdeck, to the stunning Court Room, it is a perfect setting for events up to 220 guests. Event organisers are also invited to enquire about bookings and availabilities on their visit to the exhibition, and a dedicated on-board events coordinator will be happy to conduct tours of the venue and demonstrate the unique facilities of the Ship.

For more information about HQS Wellington please contact the venue and events team on hqscookandbutler@btconnect.com or by phone on 0207 240 9888.

The Ri launches new venue hire website

The Royal Institution of Great Britain (Ri) is pleased to unveil its new-look website, which has undergone a virtual make-over designed to showcase the stunning and historic architecture of its Grade I listed building, near New Bond Street, London.

Built with the event planner in mind, the Ri’s new website has been made fully accessible, so it can be navigated with ease by event type or by room. It also offers a large choice of event packages, room specifications and event menus, which can be browsed at leisure.

Taking full advantage of the wonderful photography from past events, the new website offers visitors a unique virtual tour of the Royal Institution’s many diverse event spaces. Emma Hill, events and conference sales manager, said, “This new site underpins a wider digital strategy for engaging new clients. We recognised a need for an image led site to allow event planners and potential clients to fully understand the spaces we have available to hire. After all, we are delighted that the revenue from the venue hire business supports the charitable work the Royal Institution does in science education and communication.”

For more information on events at the Ri please contact the venue and events team on venuehire@ri.ac.uk or call 020 7409 2992. Visit the new website at www.venue.rigb.org.

Get creative whatever your event budget

It’s a misconception that cost limits creativity, says Robin Parker, marketing director for The Westminster Collection (TWC). Venues face this challenge daily but it’s incredible the impact you can make when you deconstruct each stage of the planning process and apply a little imagination.

Not every event organiser has the luxury of large event budgets at their disposal. Fortunately they needn’t panic that they have to work miracles alone. Just because funds aren’t excessive doesn’t mean events have to present any less of a wow-factor.

Venues are used to their clients’ tightened purse strings. In the same way that event organisers feverishly brainstorm for the hook that will snag delegates (who are dubious about whether it will be time well spent), so too do venue event teams and their suppliers. We’ve become extremely resourceful at conjuring up alternative ways of working to deliver maximum value.

The real definition of being creative is being resourceful, practical and (dare I say it) original. At Church House, generally we can be more flexible with our hire prices on Mondays and Fridays. Buying into a package with a fixed day delegate rate (DDR) is not always the most cost-effective option. Sometimes it is worth looking at the breakdown of costs and questioning if you really need everything that is included.

Plan ahead and think about what comes next. Expressing interest in booking a series of events in one go creates great bargaining power, as does trying to negotiate with people face-to-face whenever you can. It’s a lot easier to be shot down with a ‘no’ over the phone.

If entertainment is on your agenda, be smart about how you source your act. Is it really essential to blow so much of your budget on a big-name, high-cost performance? How about unearthing an act that’s less well known? Showcase new talent, introduce something new.

The Westminster Collection will be discussing the challenge of cost versus creativity and bringing practical solutions and advice within a dedicated ‘Unleash Your Creativity’ workshop at Destination Westminster 2013, our annual London venue showcase event, featuring all 50 members of TWC. The event will take place from 8.30 – 11.30am on Friday 13th September, at 8 Northumberland Avenue.

Here’s what some of our venue members have to say about how to marry resourcefulness and creativity:

Anna Peters, marketing director, Evolve Events at Kent House Knightsbridge, says:

“Creativity in the event industry is about bringing a brand or someone’s vision to life. Increasingly we are being asked by our clients how they can make their events more impactful, punchy and memorable.

“Providing an ‘umbrella’ concept, under which all activities fall, helps the event become more focused and effective. Taking 1920s style influences from The Great Gatsby and Bugsy Malone, we recently created a themed conference for our client Pret. Delegates were invited to dress the part with feather boas, spats and headbands galore and they were welcomed into our townhouse with Prosecco served in saucers. After lunch, a flapper girl troupe performed the Charleston and blackjack and roulette tables encouraged team play and socialising.

“Styles and themes are particularly successful for private conferences where we are seeing companies combining their annual conference with an away day, by adding an entertainment element to an information based day. Holding the two events together saves on time and budget and maximises the benefits of having all staff or delegates together.”

Charles Boyd, director of 8 Northumberland Avenue, says:

“Any fool can be creative with a pile of money. It doesn’t matter if it’s £500,000 worth of lights and software or an interesting toilet roll holder, show the client, your staff or your boss that you have engaged your mind positively and have created and tested an imaginative solution that will in turn engage the client and guests.

“But first you need to talk, get into the culture of the company or situation, then ask what do you want to achieve, what are the key concerns, what is the true budget?”

Nikki Hird, events sales coordinator, 41 Portland Place, says:

“It is paramount for us to create an environment that our guests want to spend their time in, whether for corporate meetings and press briefings or dinners and drinks receptions. The finer details really are essential.

“I use a lot of references from Pinterest, where I find ideas for DIY event dressing and creative ways to set up the rooms. The 41 Portland Place summer showcase was no different. The theme was Street.Food.Party which took influence from the fashionable street food culture of East London. Our venue isn’t in the east, nor does it resemble anything like a warehouse that could be found in the east end. It was therefore my job to bring Shoreditch to Marylebone.

“My favourite trick is to use fishbowls which I borrow from our florist, fill them with fruit (chillis, lemons, limes, apples) and top up with water. Instantly you have a centrepiece or room filler. We also made garlands from chillies to hang around the venue and we filled every surface with spice scented tea lights.”

Claire Bowman, sales manager, etc.venues Victoria:

“Creativity is a big focus at etc.venues as we try to have both creative and functional space in the venue. We have lots of contemporary art work and bright colours throughout the venue to provide discussion and stimulate the attendees. We also have a few pieces of art work from one of our members of staff that he created him self from recycled coffee stirrers.

“As we do everything in house at the venue it really gives us the ability to work with clients’ budgets closely. Our chefs can do food challenges and really get involved with the delegates and we work closely with teambuilding companies, which means they know the space well and can offer the best value for money. They’re also always happy to come along for a show-round with the client at our venue which means they can rest secure in knowing they are being looked after and can brainstorm face to face in the space they want to use!”

Feed your imagination with ideas for how and where to hold your next event within London’s most illustrious business and lifestyle destination, Westminster, at our special 10th anniversary venue showcase, taking place at London’s most central venue, 8 Northumberland Avenue.

This is a FREE breakfast networking and educational event for anyone* in the business of booking corporate and private events, meetings and conferences. Click here to REGISTER NOW.