Westminster venues’ acts of COVID kindness

As we look forward to the year ahead, we’re celebrating our favourite good deeds from venues across Westminster who have been helping others and offering their time, resources and generosity throughout the pandemic.

Lincoln’s Inn: opportunity in the midst of chaos
Working in an industry that’s main purpose is to ‘serve’ people, the furloughed hospitality team at Lincoln’s Inn did not rest on their laurels over lockdown. A huge proportion of the front of house and kitchen team assisted with the national effort by providing support for those in need, be it registering to become NHS First Responders, shopping for the vulnerable, volunteering at food banks or cooking for the homeless.

The venue’s Sous Chef, Aaron McLaughlin took this one step further by baking cakes for his local pharmacy and selling homemade sourdough bread and donating the money to a charity close to his heart, SSAFA, helping vulnerable veterans during lockdown. His charitable effort did not stop there as he raised £2400 for the same charity by running the virtual London marathon, and £650 for ‘Support our Paras’ by running 2.6 miles each day for 10 days carrying 26kg. His dedication to these charities elevated him to celebrity status as he was interviewed by Sky News talking about how the pandemic has affected charity fundraising.

Regent’s Conferences & Events’ dream wedding gift to emergency service heroes
Regent’s Conferences & Events gifted a local Wembley emergency services couple a dream wedding worth £20k, following a campaign to recognise the UK’s incredible key workers. The wedding venue was keen to give something back after thousands of couples have been faced with inimitable disruption this year when trying to plan their dream days. After hundreds of humbling accounts from couples around the country, Regent’s faced the difficult decision of choosing just one winner. A final shortlist of four worthy couples culminated in the decision to offer the wedding to paramedic Paige and police officer Rob, and 100 guests of their choice.

As part of the package, Paige and Rob will have grounds and marquee hire at the picturesque London venue with use of a secret garden, and three course wedding menu with drinks for up to 100 guests. The three runner up couples were also offered a complimentary wedding planning service throughout their engagement process as a thank you for their hard work as remarkable key workers.

Wedding marquee at Regent's

The QEII Centre’s PPE donations to St Thomas’s Hospital
During lockdown last year, and while the world was still getting to grips with dealing with COVID, the team at The QEII Centre stepped up to help their local hospital. Due to the lack of personal protective equipment available for frontline NHS staff, the QEII Taste team donated all their hand sanitiser gels and gloves to the key workers at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster. QEII Taste were supported by Compass Group colleagues in the initiative to arrange the safe collection and delivery of the essential resources.

IET London: Savoy Place’s respite for emergency workers
While the venue was temporarily closed for events last year, IET London: Savoy Place partially reopened its doors as a respite area for emergency workers. Adhering to necessary social distancing measures, Savoy Place welcomed emergency workers, including the Metropolitan Police, ambulance and fire services from around London to seek relief throughout working hours. The initiative, coordinated by Northbank, offered sanctuary to those still heroically patrolling the London streets during lockdown, with a comfortable place to sit, have a drink, sanitise their hands and use the private facilities. Up to six workers were permitted at any one time between the hours of 10:15am-3:45pm Monday to Friday. With wellness a key focus, the aim was to help relieve the enormous strain on many emergency workers through a small gesture of appreciation for the work they do to keep London safe.

The QEII Centre’s green renamed to commemorate UN’s 75th anniversary

Broad Sanctuary Green, the lawn situated at the front of London’s QEII Centre, has been renamed United Nations Green in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN).

The renaming of the space, which can be hired for events at the Westminster venue, was made on Monday 11 January 2021 as a permanent tribute to 75 years of the UN’s work.

Sunday 10 January 2021 was the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly at Westminster Central Hall in London. The date was celebrated with a virtual commemorative event, bringing together the UN Secretary António Guterres, Lord Ahmad, and civil society

The commemorative event marked the UK’s role in the founding of the UN, which has negotiated 172 peace settlements that have ended conflicts and over 300 international treaties from human rights conventions to agreements on the use of outer space, the arms trade and the oceans.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “In the midst of a second world war that was far from won, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt – later joined by leaders of China, France, the-then Soviet Union and other allied powers – courageously set out a vision to free the world of fear and want, through cooperation. This vision became the United Nations and, on this very day 75 years ago, the first meeting of the UN General Assembly was held in London.

“At this time of new global turmoil, I am honoured to virtually visit the United Kingdom to mark that occasion, renew our cause of overcoming global challenges together, and celebrate a country that was instrumental in creating the United Nations and which remains, today, a crucial member state, not least in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow.”

Over the course of its 34-year history, the QEII Centre has hosted many high-profile international events, including The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018 and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in 2019.

Chief executive of the QEII Centre, Mark Taylor, said: “The renaming of Broad Sanctuary Green to United Nations Green is a wonderful tribute to the UN’s work over the last 75 years and is synergistic with The QEII Centre’s business of welcoming and hosting delegates from around the world for global and national events.”

Cavendish Conference Centre predicts what the future holds for conferences and meetings

Rewind back to one year ago and who thought Covid-19 would have such a massive impact and for so long? We certainly weren’t expecting it.

The phrase “we expect to go back to normal” keeps shifting by a few months at a time, first it was October, then January, then Easter and now we are looking at June. Only this time, we have a good reason to believe things will finally start settling down – vaccine! So as long as folks in pharma industry can produce and distribute the long-awaited vaccines in timely manner, then we’re on track to resume where we left off.

We are almost certain that eventually conferences will go back to their full glory with packed conference rooms and buzzing networking suites, but how will it look in the nearer future?

Our predictions:
Hybrid conferences and events are here to stay. Even before Covid situation we’ve been noticing a rise in web streaming requests and AV facilities for remote speakers. Now with virtual systems booming and improving by the day, hybrid and virtual is here to stay. Technology is moving forward and we expect the trend to become a part of our normal conference routine.

Catering will carry on being served individually portioned, but we don’t expect this concept to last for very long. Once the nation is immunised and the virus is under control, we would expect the buffet style dining to make a return to conferences with a bang. In the meantime, we’ll stick to bento boxes, salad bowls and hot pots.

Social distancing will remain for a little bit even when restrictions are lifted. It may not be full distance as per government guidelines, but even the most social people in the world will need a transition period till we feel completely comfortable being within close proximity to other people. In result we’ll run lower capacities, possibly overflow rooms, spaced out networking areas and adjusted registration processes.

We have to remember this is only temporary and the world along with events industry and conference venues will bounce back, no doubt. But for now we can only hope and keep updating our COVID 19 Policies.

Regent’s Conferences & Events shares their experience of managing a venue through the pandemic

Manoeuvring our way around the unfathomable challenges of COVID-19 has been a real test for the whole industry, and as an events team, Regent’s has learnt more than ever the role that communication plays in success.

Regent’s Conferences & Events has been fortunate enough to continue trading safely for the majority of the pandemic due to its status as part of a University, given that a lot of our clients have been running training and educational programmes. We have had regular clients, where permitted, since August last year up to the present lockdown.

Aside from the stringent implementation of safety measures and thorough risk assessments both internally and for clients, the real winning formula has been the communication and perseverance of our staff.

 

Client liaison
All clients, regardless of event type or size, have undergone a thorough briefing before arriving on site so they are aware of their responsibilities around campus. This typically includes temperature checking delegates at reception and contactless registration, social distancing measures both within rooms and around the building, and group segregation within public areas such as cafes and eating spaces. Communicating our status as a Meetings Industry Association AIM Secure and a Visit Britain ‘We’re Good to Go’ accredited secure venue has gone a long way to reassure clients of our efforts to ensure safety.

Most importantly, the team has helped clients with risk assessments, method statements and keeping clear lines of communication open to reassure them and their delegates that conditions are safe. They have attended campus whenever there are delegates on site and for every potential show-round and managed to get through the period without a single case of COVID on campus.

The London School of Sports Massage has been hiring classrooms at Regent’s for over 25 years. Following a recent event, they said: “Their administration team have always given us a great service and it is a pleasure to work with them. In particular, their efforts to help us run our classes again after the Covid lockdown, and the health and safety protocols they put in place for us, were fantastic and we cannot thank them enough.”

 

Internal team communication
Communication within our small team has also been more important than ever as we’ve had to navigate new timetables, rotas accounting for furlough and limited staff on campus at any given time. Regular team meetings and the constant use of our team WhatsApp group has enabled everybody to be clear on shared responsibilities, maintain an awareness of client updates and crucially, to check in on each other and provide support through an incredibly turbulent time.

On the effect of the pandemic, our events coordinator Esta Verzoviti said: “My appreciation for being part of a small team grew tremendously during this past year. The uncertainty brought us closer together and we supported each other both professionally and personally.”

 

Cross-campus communication
The necessity to maintain communication across departments has grown significantly to share insights about the constantly changing regulations for education and its impact on the hospitality side of the business, and vice versa. As such a vast establishment across our 11-acre site, we have had to increase the frequency of meetings and increase the number of departments that we communicate with, to ensure that any other activities planned by the University as a whole have been taken into account. We had assumed some of the responsibilities of other departments required at weekends to minimise the amount of people having to come onto campus. We had also devised and implemented a more effective system of recording delegates visiting campus for our facilities department for track and trace, which was then extended to all visitors to campus.

Having held an introductory experience and CPD event with us recently, Bi-Aura International said: “It was very clear to us upon our arrival that the venue had everything in place to stay as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic: staff wore masks, the hallways were clearly marked with one-way systems and the meeting room layout made complying with social distancing very easy. The Catering Assistant helping us with refreshments was professional and very friendly, and we were pleasantly surprised by the offer of free delicious biscuits on arrival!

“We return time after time as the whole team does their utmost to ensure that we all enjoy the experience and would like to thank the whole Regent’s University Conferencing Team for their support with event planning during these ever-changing times.”

Another client commented: “Rafael and his team in events have made my events feel Covid safe with one-way systems, separate tables for lunch and lots of extra support if needed. I am thankful it has allowed my training with the London School of Reflexology to happen in a socially distanced and safe way and the feedback has been fantastic with everyone relieved to be able to resume their courses so thank you”.

If you’re looking to book ahead for your next training course, discuss with the team how we might be able to help.

Make Venues appoints Paul Martins as New Business Development Manager for Broadway House

Make Venues has announced the appointment of Paul Martins to its senior management team for Broadway House. Paul will join as New Business Development Manager, underlining the company’s commitment to investment in staff and infrastructure in 2021.

Paul joins the business from Cavendish Venues, but will also be recognisable from his terms with The Westminster Venue Collection and the London City Collection, where he served on the boards of both organisations and as Chair for the latter. Paul also served as a council member of the Meetings Industry Association and brings with him over 15 years of experience in the meetings and events industry specialising in both the London meetings market, but also in working with financial, insurance and legal institutions, ideally suited to the Make Venues group of venues.

“We took the decision very early on that we needed to be proactive with our business and invest in the two things our customers most associate with us; great people and great facilities. Paul’s appointment is an early example of this intent,” commented David Vaughton, Managing Director, Make Venues. “This is about looking at the bigger picture, and confidently planning for the demand of our clients as we move through the year.”

“We have a very personal mission to use our growth to give people back careers and allow talent to be realised within our business, as well as the wider meetings industry,” continues David. “We’re looking forward to announcing more people coming into our business in the future, more investment in our venues, and a new way of working in a more prosperous industry.”

“I’ve known Make Venues for a long time, both within London and across the UK. I’ve seen them pick up customer service awards on a regular basis, so it’s been hard to ignore their quality as a group,” comments Paul. “2021 is a massive year for our industry and it’s great to be joining a business with the vision and perspective to be investing now, while things are tough, so we can continue to offer our customers the award-winning products and people they associate with this brand.”

Bringing Bridgerton to life at 116 Pall Mall

Feeling inspired by Netflix’s latest hit? You’re not the only one! The first lockdown took us to the zoo with the Tiger King, the second to Buckingham Palace for the latest series of The Crown and the third has whisked us down the Mall to Regency London, through the stories, characters and costumes of Netflix’s Bridgerton. We’ve all been inspired to add a bit of Bridgerton bling to our everyday lives and what better excuse to go over-the-top than your wedding? The team at 116 take a look at how can you bring a touch of Bridgerton’s grandeur and elegance to your big day…

BRINGING THE BRIDGERTON SET TO LIFE
Sitting just a mile from Grosvenor Square, the London home of the Bridgerton and Featherington families in the series, 116 Pall Mall is also a short walk – or horse and carriage ride, if we’re staying on theme – from Buckingham Palace, adding yet another touch of regality to your special day. Within close distance to major stations and central London hotels, you and your guests won’t need to travel far to continue your revelry after the ceremony.

REGENCY ROMANCE AT 116 PALL MALL
Built at the end of the Regency era in 1826, the beautiful 116 Pall Mall was designed by celebrated architect John Nash – who did such a wonderful job we even named a ballroom after him! Also responsible for the designs of Brighton Pavilion and Marble Arch, Nash brought authentic Bridgerton glamour and romance to the building at 116 Pall Mall, with sweeping staircases, elaborate balconies and chandeliers – the most spectacular of which hangs above our grand staircase, a 15ft original Regency fitting that on your wedding day is reduced to being the second most beautiful thing in the building

A HELPING HAND FROM A PALACE PROFESSIONAL
We think our whole team deserve a crown, but Martin Dibben, General Manager for Benugo here at 116 Pall Mall, has got closer than any of us to making that a reality. Martin began his career working for the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace, ensuring every knife, fork and glass was in the right place and all manners, uniforms and attitudes were tip-top. His experience is in such demand that he is often found on the set of film and tv productions, providing accurate etiquette guidance to the actors and crew. So not only will your wedding be held in an authentic Regency setting, you’ll have genuine Royal guidance for your ceremony and dining!

DINING FIT FOR A DUKE
From intimate breakfast settings to a banquet fit for the Duke of Hastings, our dining packages can be customised to the size, tastes and dietary requirements of your party – no matter how grand or royal! So whether you’re looking to add a touch of Regency elegance to your celebration through our beautiful art, architecture and fittings, or dream of hosting your own high society ball complete with music, flowers and historical fashion, our dedicated team are on hand to arrange a wedding fit for the big screen.

Read the full article here and find out how to create your own Bridgerton inspired wedding >>

Church House Westminster becomes BT’s latest TV Outside Broadcast venue

London’s multi-purpose event venue, Church House Westminster, now offers film, media and TV production organisers fibre connectivity to deliver outside broadcasts to anyone, anywhere in the world.

The new TV Outside Broadcast venue service is provided by BT, one of the largest TV broadcast (TVOB) providers in the UK, with more than 60 years’ experience, providing the latest technology, infrastructure and capability.  BT’s packages offer a large choice of solutions in terms of the very best in broadcast quality and resilience. By delivering multiple HD visions across BT’s high capacity contribution network, clients are able to shift to remote production. BT’s HEVC over satellite solution allows broadcast in UHD from more places than ever before. BT also offers best-in-class security with its BISS-CA encryption technology

The TV outside broadcast service offers a convenient range of options at the historic venue, Church House Westminster:

  • Virtual and hybrid broadcast event studio hire in London
  • Live outside broadcast venue hire in London

The Covid-secure venue’s in-house audio-visual and production team manages a range of state of the art, broadcast media quality, hardware and software, including lighting and cameras and other technical equipment available for hire if required, as well as stable resilient broadband connectivity. In addition to relying on expert in-house technical support, the venue’s award-winning operational teams are on-hand to assist with any other event requirements including on-site catering.

The Grade II listed building, that hosted the Houses of Parliament for parts of WWII, not only boasts 19 versatile film and TV broadcast studios for hire but also a little-known rooftop with stunning views of Westminster – ideal for piece-to-camera filming and one-on-one interviews.

The easily accessible venue is located in the heart of London, within easy walking distance of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster station.

For more information, contact the team on 020 7390 1590.

IET London: Savoy Place shares top tech trends for 2021

In a pivotal year for the events industry, event organisers, venues and delegates have become even more reliant on technology to stay connected. Globally, we’ve all had to adapt to a virtual world, finding new ways of working, learning and communicating.

Technology innovation, and its rapid evolution, is nothing new, yet the Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt seen a surge in the use of certain software and platforms in order to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and keeping moving forward.

IET London: Savoy Place‘s Sean Spencer has put together some of the top industry tech trends to watch out for in 2021.

The resurgence of QR and digital health
While QR codes and Bluetooth connectivity have been around for some time, their use, especially in UK hospitality, has definitely seen an increase and is likely to continue to do so into 2021. Outside of various stages of lockdown, hospitality venues have been using QR codes for contactless menus.

The NHS Covid-19 app has also become a requirement for customers to check into when visiting public venues. Along with the test and trace app, facial mapping and thermal imaging scanners are a must for monitoring the health and wellbeing of delegates and visitors to venues. There’s scope for the introduction of a COVID passport, vaccine certificate or similar new initiative from the Government to determine ‘safe’ travellers and delegates.

Wearable technologies, fitness and health trackers are also continually on the rise. With many industries affected by restrictions and closures, companies are having to switch the narrative to the pros of smart exercise devices and digital workouts at home. For event planners notoriously known for their high step count during busy event periods and frequent show-rounds at larger venues, it’s a great way to track the natural exercise being undertaken during work.

Touchless tech
Remaining as ‘contactless’ as possible will no doubt be a goal for 2021, as it has been when the pandemic first struck.

From voice recognition in meeting rooms (used for controlling blinds, screens, lights etc), to sensors, facial recognition, Bluetooth access control and even contactless banking, the presence of touchless technology will be an important standard for all industries alike.

Hybrid events
With virtual elements becoming a necessary part of an event programme, hybrid events allow for a perfect blend of an in-person venue and high-quality professional event technology and AV.

As hybrid events become more prevalent, venues will need to ensure they’ve got the latest upgrades in internal IT networks, particularly increased bandwidth if streaming multiple events and handling large amounts of data is the ambition for now and in the future. Also, having good third-party suppliers or an in-house team, upskilled in all elements of hybrid events, will be key to future successes.