Getting to know: Marina Papadopoulou

For the last two and a half years, Marina Papadopoulou has been the Business Development Manager for Church House Westminster – a Grade II listed, multi-purpose events venue, located in the heart of Westminster.

Marina offers an extensive experience of 21 years in the events industry. Her journey started as a TV and movie producer followed by a quick transition into events. She worked with the biggest DMCs, event agencies and hotel chains as an Event and Sales Manager delivering a significant amount of corporate, incentive and charity events.

We spoke with Marina this month to find out how her role has changed over the past year and what it means to finally be returning to live events.

What’s been the biggest change to your role over the past 12 months?
As a Business Development Manager there is always an element of diversification and proactiveness, but also going above and beyond. Over the past 12 months all these aspects fell into place and it was a year to try new things and to experiment. On the other hand, as a Business Development Manager, I longed to be around people, to connect live, to engage face-to-face, and this was a real adjustment for me.

What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me has been the continuous changes that we had to face as a team, as a building, but also as an industry. The uncertainty and not being able to plan was nerve-wracking. Seeing Church House Westminster almost empty and without clients made me feel very sad.

What’s been the most exciting project you’ve worked on with Church House this year?
As mentioned earlier it was the year of thinking outside the box, a year of thinking collaboratively. Most of my projects involved the creation of strategic partnerships to promote Church House and Westminster as a destination. Whilst I can’t share specific details now, watch this space for exciting announcements!

What type of event are you most looking forward to hosting again?
As a team at Church House Westminster, we always loved innovative and unusual events. With our clients we were always working together to create unique experiences. So, from hybrid conferences, gala dinners, award ceremonies and fashion shows, really anything with just a twist, I can’t wait to be hosting all of these experiences in our lovely spaces.

Are you open now for events?
We have in fact remained partially open since August last year for essential meetings, filming and outside broadcasting (without an audience) but we have all been massively excited to reopen properly again for 50% capacity events as of 17 May.

What’s your favourite thing about Westminster as a destination?
For me personally, Westminster is the heart of London, vibrant, innovative, with cultural and historical influences. It’s impossible to think of a more central place to work and live.

Top London team building venues for reintegrating staff

Check out our top venues for hosting your next team building event in London or virtually as keeping teams connected continues to become more important than ever.

Regent’s Conferences & Events
With four acres of beautiful gardens, innovative and challenging activity ideas and one of the finest caterers in the capital, Regent’s is the ideal London team building venue. Having hosted dozens of team building events each year, the team is well versed in the complexities of accommodating all personality types through a range of games and challenges. Working with some of the industry’s best suppliers, Regent’s has previously hosted everything from competitive cooking and tango dance-offs to forensic crime scene challenges and Krypton Factor-style mazes. The idyllic York Lawns, offering four acres of stunning outdoor space in central London, can host ambitious set-ups such as crazy golf, inflatable assault courses and boot camp challenges.

To find out more about hosting your team building away day at Regent’s, get in touch at [email protected].


IET London: Savoy Place
Savoy Place’s central London location, spaciousness and innovate in-house event team make it an ideal venue for corporate team building days. It offers a range of indoor and outdoor spaces for in-person delegates as well as the cutting-edge technology needed to effectively connect remote teams. The team’s collective experience hosting team building activities, as well as its strong relationships with suppliers, opens up a whole realm of creative possibility, from cupcake and pizza making, to outside yoga on its stunning Johnson Roof Terrace. To make the most of the venue’s convenient location, guests are often encouraged to explore the area during their breaks, with Embankment Gardens directly next door and Covent Garden just a stone’s throw away.

Contact the team at [email protected] to book your corporate team building day at Savoy Place.

Church House Westminster
For those still cautious of travel, Church House Westminster offers a range of virtual team building experiences to keep teams motivated and entertained from wherever they are. With many larger companies still not planning for a full return to the office until winter, there are still lots of ways to keep the whole team engaged. Partnering with Team Building Experiences, Church House provides the tools to arrange team events, from virtual game shoes for up to 40 guests, to quirky joke-writing workshops and vegan candle-making online workshops.

To find out more about virtual team building with Church House, visit https://churchhouseconf.co.uk/virtual-team-building-experiences/.

110 Rochester Row welcomes back guests for live, virtual or hybrid events

From 17 May 2021, 110 Rochester Row is reopening for business meetings and events.

Smaller meetings for up to 30 delegates will be permitted until restrictions are re-evaluated for 21 June, but those seeking to reach a wider audience in the meantime or to include delegates who may not yet be comfortable travelling, the venue has introduced a range of simple hybrid event packages.

The London venue uses the latest in-room technology to support live events, featuring high-specification equipment and touchscreen controls. Teaming up with its expert AV partners Crossover & Bowerman Production, this offering extends to include virtual and hybrid events. As every event is unique, 110 Rochester Row has created a range of packages designed to suit your needs. All meeting rooms are equipped with wireless conference phones and extendable microphones are available, covered within the cost of room hire.

Details of the hybrid packages can be found here and for more information please get in touch with the events team.

Evolving event skills as the new currency with Church House Westminster

On Tuesday 20 April, Church House Westminster interviewed Anna-Marie Trzebinski, founder of AMTEvents and Hazel John, MD of Oxygen on “Evolving event skills as the new currency”.

Every week Church House has been interviewing a range of expert guests from the UK events industry to bring inspiration to events – from creating personal event experiences, harnessing the newest technology, how to find innovative and relevant sustainable solutions, clever event production ideas, engaging event marketing hacks, developing new event skills, mental health, and well-being, and so much more.

During this session, delegates were invited to find out how the pandemic has instigated upskilling and enhanced job profiles. The speakers looked at examples of how challenging career situations were overturned, the importance of keeping positive, and how to find purpose and balance when the chips are down. The speakers also shared their outlook on the future of recruitment for the industry and event skills, along with tips on how to make your CV stand out and ace that all-important job interview.

The whole interview can be re-watched on YouTube here.

For more information about events at Church House, get in touch with their virtual event experts via a contact form or call 020 7390 1590.

Central Hall Westminster launches new brand to replicate own model

Central Hall Westminster has created a new venue management organisation called Central Hall Venues (CHV) to replicate the success of its own model across the United Kingdom.

Central Hall Venues (CHV) has been launched to help other similar sites, which are all situated within Methodist Halls originally built as meeting places for the public, to run as successful conference and events venues.  The organisation will support, launch and manage each venue.

CHV’s first venue to launch is Nicolson Square Edinburgh (NSE), in the heart of the Scottish capital, with plans to open more in other UK locations in the future.

Central Hall Westminster, a social enterprise, is a large conference and events venue in central London and offers 25 versatile spaces over four floors which includes its iconic Great Hall – famous for the largest self-supporting domed ceiling in Europe. It has run successful events for over 20 years including conferences, meetings, exhibitions, concerts, seminars, graduations and awards ceremonies.  CHW is also a popular location for TV production, media and film. Central Hall was first inaugurated as a meeting place by the Methodist Church in 1912 and has welcomed many illustrious figures through its doors including Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Prince of Wales.

It is this rich heritage and longevity of expertise which provided the perfect model for launching Central Hall Venues and helping other Methodist Halls in the country to run their own events.

Paul Southern, Managing Director of Central Hall Venues, comments: “We are extremely excited to be launching our new group and support network at this time, when good news is very much needed.  Having run Central Hall Westminster as a highly successful events centre for over 20 years, we felt it was time to replicate our expertise to other similar venues with the same ethos.”

“Our close ties with Methodism ensure we maintain a transparent approach to business, and we are proud to uphold established principles of ethics, integrity and sustainability,” he adds.

Reimagining event catering in a post-pandemic world with RIBA

Ahead of RIBA at 66 Portland Place re-opening in June and taking into consideration physical distancing measures, the venue’s event catering partner, CH&CO, has reimagined its menus and service styles, with some ideas below to help you plan the perfect catering offering at your next face-to-face event.

Breakfast
Served in a smart Bento box, which can be collected from a central point and taken to a designated catering area. Alternatively, pre-packed breakfast bags can be provided featuring fresh fruit pots, natural yogurt and granola and sweet muffins.

Hot drinks
We recommend serving hot refreshments from a central catering space to reduce contact points and avoid self-service. Compostable disposable cups are available on request, while individual sugar sachets and wooden stirrers are available with milk served in a jug to guests.

Working lunch
Served in a Bento box, as with breakfast, with the option of a traditional packed lunch featuring Artisan sandwiches, or freshly boxed salads.

Buffets
We can pre-load our bento boxes with the side dish and pudding leaving a space for your guests to choose their hot main course available from our central buffet points. This minimises queuing times and contact whilst being able to provide the usual hot fork buffet. Not recommended for groups over 30.

Canapes
Individual plates of canapes can be collected from central points within the catering room. Pre ordered vegetarian and vegan plates will be clearly labelled. To add some theatre and interaction, consider having a chef talk through the menu and add the finishing touches to each canape live in front of guests.

Dinners
Each table will be pre-set with wrapped cutlery, pre plated bread rolls and each table will have access to sanitiser. We recommend 3-4 guests per round table. We will use the ‘place and step back’ routine by placing the plate of food to the side of each cover for guests to slide across in front of them. Once finished, guests can slide their empty plate to the side for their server to collect.

Drinks
Individual bottles and cans available on request. Hydration stations will be available with glasses provided, and wine and water will be served at seated dinners.

Events will undoubtedly look different post-pandemic, but the onus is on ‘re-imagining a new normal’ – it might be different, but it is no less effective when it comes to delivering a memorable event experience. At RIBA at 66 Portland Place, the team have everything in place from new catering options to creative event set-ups and enhanced cleaning regimes to ensure a safe, successful, and most importantly, enjoyable face-to-face event. For more information contact [email protected]

The QEII Centre shares five key benefits of attending live events

With the roadmap out of lockdown set out and the return of large scale live events due to take place from summer, the QEII Centre looks at the benefits of attending live events, what makes the experience so special and why we can’t wait for them to return.

After twelve months away from live events, we reflected with colleagues across several departments what they missed about the experience and what they are looking forward to. It is evident that aside from the big things such as the interaction and networking, it is some of the event features that don’t normally come to mind that have bene missed such as the hum of lunchtime chatter, the delicious aromas emanating from the kitchens, seeing delegates heads go up and down between making notes and listening to the speaker.  Whilst we should be very grateful to technology for helping to plug the gap in these last twelve months, keeping the industry meeting and learning, it cannot replicate the live experience.

At the QEII Centre, here are our five key benefits of attending live events:

Networking & serendipitous moments
A significant factor in attending large-scale events is to build a network. With such a wide range of people attending on the day, they provide the perfect opportunity to catch up with peers, meet new contacts and potentially even find mentors or collaborators.

Events provide several different ways to network and allow for pre-arranged and spontaneous connections. From meeting peers in workshops, networking during breaks or pre-booking slots through event technology (where used) there are so many ways to expand your network. Thomas Mauch our European Account Manager, highlights just how many opportunities to network and event provides, “You can wander around the exhibition areas (being lured to an exhibitor stand, and hear what they have to say), finding and talking with potential clients, or being introduced to new people through your peer network”.

The serendipity of a live event can lead to all sorts of opportunities that you may never have imagined. These can pop up in all forms from reluctantly attending a session that may change your life or career to meeting to a chance encounter waiting for the cloakroom or the lunch queue, where you meet a new business contacts, generate new business or sponsorship deals. We have even had couples first meeting at an event being held at the QEII Centre, so whether it is business or personal, you never know what these chance encounters can bring!

To learn & pick up new ideas
Of equal importance to networking is attending an event where you take away new ideas or change the way you think. Events enable you to discover everything from previously unpublished data to new insights from thought-leaders. The type of learning you take away will vary from the session for examples panel discussions enable you to get a variety of views across sectors whereas workshops provide an opportunity for more targeted discussions with your peers and plenary sessions offer you the opportunity to dig further into what the presenter has been saying. Whatever the format, you should come away from an event reinvigorated by finding solutions to challenges and answers to questions you hadn’t been able to find.

Staying relevant
Attending live conferences and events enables you to stay up-to-date with all that is going on in the industry, whether that is hearing the latest data trends or growing your network. If your peers are in attendance, not only will you not be privy to the knowledge that they have gained but you will not be able to grow you personal network as quickly as those who met at the event. Who knows, a potential future employer may be in attendance and you wouldn’t want to miss out on meeting them!

Energy and excitement
There is nothing that can beat the live event experience and the energy that is present throughout a day. Whether it is the more subtle energy of watching engaging speakers deliver new and interesting ideas or concepts to the breaks where the energy of networking and meeting or making acquaintances permeates throughout the venue. This is reflected in the thoughts of our Senior Event Manager Emile Bolt, who agrees that. “Live events generate excitement that is unparalleled. People bounce off people and you get that energy with in-person events. We need to bounce, we need to feed off that energy, we need to be energised”. 

Experience a new place
Although the purpose of an event may be to learn and network, the event locations often give you the opportunity to explore new places and cultures. Sometimes both can be combined – with delegates often having to travel long distances or from overseas – as networking evenings offer the perfect opportunity to explore some of the local culture and extend the life of the event. Marketing Manager, James Bogle agrees that the venue location can make a real difference to the event experience, “At the QEII Centre, we are very fortunate that our location is surrounded by several major attractions such as the Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and a short walk from the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. There is plenty to do in the evenings, as we are very close to several well-known shopping streets and some of London’s finest restaurants and bars”.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF EVENTS AT 10-11 CARLTON HOUSE TERRACE

Over the past 12 months, the team at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace have focused on both personal and professional development ahead of the new realm of events facing the industry.

Speaking with Amie, the venue’s business development and marketing manager, and Catherine, the head of venue sales and marketing, the two event planning professionals offer some behind-the-scenes insight into the past, present and future of events at {10-11}.

 

THE PAST

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM THE LAST 12 MONTHS?

Amie: “In a time where the world has essentially been on pause, our team have achieved so much. Hosting successful micro weddings and covid-secure business meetings, ramping up our filming bookings and working hard behind the scenes to streamline our processes and policies – there’s so much we’ve achieved and I’m so proud of the team for getting stuck in.”

Catherine: “I am very proud of how quickly and flexibly we have reacted to the ever-changing covid situation. That versatility has allowed our business to continue across all of last year, in a reduced capacity of course. We acted quickly and carefully to ensure we had covid-secure measures in place ahead of the possibility of reopening last summer.”

“We then went on to receive 3 industry safety accreditations which allowed us to open for small hybrid meetings, micro wedding and filming and photography as soon as government guidelines permitted.”

WHAT ARE YOUR HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE YEAR?

Amie: “We’ve been able to work on so many projects that would have taken us much, much longer had the venue been open as usual. One of my personal highlights has been refreshing our brand, and particularly the website. It was a collective effort with all of the team helping to write the content – and we love our new virtual tour that our partners at Hirespace helped us with! We’ve also done lots of work behind the scenes to improve traffic to the website – and this is in large part thanks to the wonderful work of our marketing agency Patch!”

Catherine: “Professionally I would say it was our first micro wedding after lockdown (and every one of them since!). Obviously, I am proud of the care and flexibility we employed to make sure the days happened safely but just a special as they would be pre covid. More than that though, I loved having people back in the building. Yes, they were in masks, and hugging was a no-go – but to have a bit of love, laughter and memories being made back in the building after so long and after so much grief was a very special moment. One I won’t soon forget.”

 

THE PRESENT

HOW HAS LOCKDOWN CHANGED THE TEAM’S DAY TO DAY WORK? IS IT DIFFERENT NOW THAN IT WAS AT THE BEGINNING, OR EVEN 6 MONTHS AGO?

Amie: “Our team are both focused on sales and operational delivery, so with the building closing and events paused, our focus shifted to project-based work including formulating a ‘how to’ bible documenting all of our policies and processes, updating the contacts on our database, copywriting for our new website and so much more! Slowly our work is returning to normal – with our inbox getting busier by the day, and we’re closer to reopening now, with lots of bookings in the diary!”

Catherine: “Over the last year, team working has changed dramatically. We went from being a site-based, customer-facing, fast-paced team of event and customer service professionals, to working at home with no events to deliver. We shifted quickly along with the rest of the world and, riding on the adrenaline and novelty of the situation, set about doing all the projects under the sun for the first few weeks.”

“We got through all those ‘nice to dos’ that we don’t usually have time for when you’re putting out event planning fires or constantly moving on to the next event. They definitely weren’t always glamorous– think, data cleaning, copy writing, competitor analysis – but we also began planning for a safe reopening, ensuring we would be in the strongest possible position when the industry reopened.”

“We managed to get an important brand and web refresh project done and all members of the team were able to take time for professional development. From British Sign Language, Mental Health First Aid, and unconscious bias training to project management, team management and sales and marketing courses the skills developed by the team this year have made them into high effective and socially conscious professionals.”

“Of course, it has not all been highs. We have missed each other and our collective energy together. We used the government furlough scheme as well as internal secondments to ensure security for the team as the pandemic wore on. We have felt the impact of waning productivity, constant external stressors and social isolation.”

“However, I am so proud of the way team members have supported one another as well as taken care of their own wellbeing throughout the past year. They have been incredibly creative, flexible and resilient and are now very much chomping at the bit to get back to the building, and back to events!”

 

THE FUTURE

HOW DO YOU THINK THE EVENT LANDSCAPE WILL CHANGE OVER THE NEXT 6/12 MONTHS? WILL IT GO BACK TO LOOKING THE SAME, OR WILL PARTS OF IT BE MORE PERMANENTLY ALTERED?

Amie: “We’ve had lots of couples downsize their wedding celebrations in 2020 & 2021, but equally we’ve also had lots of couples eager to enjoy traditional wedding plans with all of their friends and family around them.”

“For corporate events, I think there are many instances where we have seen virtual events do well, but lots have also gone quite wrong, and ultimately I just don’t think you can beat an in-person experience. Event organisers are thinking about the lasting impact of an event, so whilst I am confident in-person events will return – recording, reusing and sharing an event with a wider audience will become the norm.”

“In terms of experiential events, I think zoom fatigue is real and we are all pretty fed up looking at our screen 24/7 – people are excited to get back to socialising in person, and we can’t wait to safely do so too!”

Catherine: “I think there is a built-up pressure in demand for live events. I think we will see a focus on celebrations and that we may see more parties than typical corporate conferences. However, after that initial burst of pent-up demand, things will largely settle back into the usual event patterns, especially once restrictions on travel are relaxed.”

“However, events themselves will see some long-term (if not permanent) changes. I see the idea of hybrid events staying with us now, without question. There is going to be even more pressure to demonstrate return on investment, and as hybrid provides the chance to extend the reach of an event as well as the accessibility of its content, it will be an invaluable tool for helping maximising ROI.”

“There has also been a diversification of platforms and social media – think TikTok, Houseparty, IGTV, Instagram Live, as well as traditional streaming on Youtube, Twitch, Vimeo etc. I think we will see both becoming even more central to an event. Ensuring that both the ‘in the room’ and the ‘at home’ experiences are equally as enjoyable and effective will be paramount in future events; as will capturing video and photography in order to extend the shelf life and reach of any live event.”

 

For more information about hosting your event with 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, get in touch with the team on 020 7969 5224 or at [email protected].

 

 

 

116 Pall Mall shares five top tips for returning safely to live events

As concrete plans are being made to return to live events and gatherings at 116 Pall Mall, there will always be some trepidation amongst the excitement. Before you start planning a gathering to celebrate every possible scenario, the venue has put together a few tips to ensure you return to live, in-person events safely.

Know your rights
In the excitement of being able to plan, book and host in-person events again, make sure you don’t overlook important clauses and agreement terms in your contract. Most venues are offering more flexible terms than ever before – to protect not only your event but also themselves and their suppliers (because don’t forget, venues have their own contracts to negotiate too!) – so be sure get these agreements in writing, not just a verbal confirmation during a venue tour or check-in phone call.

Think outside the…ballroom
Alongside dates and times of events changing as a result of our experiences over the last year, where we hold celebrations has also adapted. When organising your next meeting, party or ceremony, keep an open mind on where your event is held – we have a range of different spaces with a variety of styles, capacities, layouts and décor – which means you no longer have to host a conference in a meeting room, you could have it in a ballroom, your awards ceremony could take place in our restaurant or bar, or your team building session could take over our state-of-the-art academy.

Keep a hybrid event as an option in case restrictions change
Hybrid events are a great addition to – not just replacement for – live gatherings. Now that limits on group sizes are easing and will be a thing of the past in a few months, we can use virtual events to enhance the experience of your guests live in the room, and to include those who are unable to travel.

Any time is party time!
The flexibility we’ve all enjoyed with virtual and hybrid events has meant we’ve broken the mould of when and where a certain type of event should be held. Company parties should be in the evening, weddings should be in the early afternoon, conferences should start in the morning.. not anymore! Being flexible with the time and date of your events in future is beneficial for a number of reasons – firstly, the working day (and therefore free time as well) has changed and people are setting their own hours so they can be available for meetings and celebrations when they ordinarily wouldn’t.

Look ahead
We know how long a lot of people have waited to be able to have their weddings, birthday parties or other celebrations at 116 Pall Mall, and we’ve waited just as long to welcome you through our doors! With that in mind, we’re anticipating our calendar booking up fast, and so would recommend getting in touch with our team as soon as you can to discuss your event. To explore our event spaces in the meantime, if you’re unable to visit 116 Pall Mall, you can take a virtual tour of the building here to give you a feel of the personality and potential of our venue.

Read the full article here.

Wi-Fi voted most influential invention in events over the past 150 years

Wi-Fi has been voted as the top technological invention to influence events in the past 150 years, followed by electric lights and the aeroplane, according to a recent survey by IET London: Savoy Place.

As the Institution of Engineering and Technology celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, its venues are hailing the top inventions that continue to shape the way we run events. From a shortlist of inventions outlined by IET Venues, event professionals were asked to select those which they believe have had the biggest impact on their own event planning.

With up to three selections possible per respondent, 42% of event organisers agreed that Wi-Fi was one of the most significant breakthroughs. In second place, electric lights were selected by 36% of respondents, while the aeroplane came in third with 27% agreeance.

Overall, the most significant decades for outstanding inventions were voted as the 1870s and 2000s, at almost opposite ends of the 150-year timescale. The 1870s saw the introduction of microphones and electric lights, which were voted for by a combination of 53% of those surveyed. Meanwhile, from 2000-2009, social media, online booking platforms and smartphones took prevalence, with a combined backing of 45% among voters.

On the results, Sean Spencer, Head of IET Venues, commented: “Given the current situation and the way the industry and wider world has been propelled into a digital age over recent years, it comes as no surprise that Wi-Fi has been hailed as the leading invention for its role in events, and one of many reasons why we have invested in reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi in all event spaces. Without good Wi-Fi connections in our own homes, the pivot to virtual events this year wouldn’t have been able to happen at all. Perhaps more surprising, is the value placed on the aeroplane for shaping the way we’re able to plan events though international travel. It’s likely that the past 12 months have highlighted the prevalence of (or lack of) international travel more so than ever, as it’s something many of us have been able to take for granted throughout our lifetimes until now.”

Learn more about the shortlist of the top engineering and technology inventions in events since the 19th century.