5 reasons for event organisers to attend promotional events

By Jenny Hullock, Venue Manager, 76 Portland Place

One of the biggest hurdles facing event organisers is time. Researching new venues is time consuming and often overwhelming, particularly in the capital, where the choice and possibilities appear endless.

Due to busy schedules and heavy workloads, it can be tempting for you to select the same ‘tried and tested’ venues for forthcoming events, but stepping out of the comfort zone and sourcing new alternatives can be hugely rewarding. In doing so you’re likely to deliver an exciting, high impact, innovative function for your target audience, who will welcome the fresh approach.

76 Portland Place

One way to do this is by attending promotional events, and the beauty of these is that they are held, more often than not, out of working hours, either as breakfast briefings, or early evening tasting events, so you need not interrupt your working day.

1)      Build relationships

You get to meet the managerial, operational and event personnel in person, and in addition to getting a tour of the building and the function rooms, you get to ask all the important questions that you would otherwise ask over the phone, or fire backwards and forwards on email. First impressions count, and you’ll get to decide whether you’ll be able to strike up a good working relationship and rely on the team to deliver a first-class event that packs a punch.

2)      See it dressed

Nowadays more and more venues offer 360° visualisation tours on their website, which is an excellent tool for getting a feel for the venue in an instant, but nothing can compare with seeing a venue in person and soaking up the atmosphere. Promotional events enable guests to get a real sense of the ambience, style, and personality of the venue first hand – and see how the rooms look dressed and ready for an event in all their finery.  This is also a great opportunity for you to gather design and detailing ideas such as flowers, lighting, tableware, layout, technology, entertainment and themes.

3)      Sample the menu

Rather than sampling the food and wine after an agreement has been made (taking up more of your time), you’ll get to sample a selection of the menu from the onset which will give you a valuable insight into what is available and, importantly, whether they can meet your catering requirements – everything from creating bespoke menus and tastings, having attentive and professional waiting staff to hand, to sourcing locally grown and sustainable produce.

4)      Explore the facilities

Whether you are planning a product launch, conference, private or corporate function, the chances are you will have a long list of requirements, and you will be able to explore the facilities to see whether they fulfil your needs. Assess the state-of-the-art AV capabilities, high speed wireless internet, air conditioning, flexible seating and enquire as to whether there is an IT support team readily available on the day.

5)      Network with peers

Lastly, you’ll get to meet and share ideas, tips and knowledge with other like-minded event organisers while taking in the surroundings and chatting over coffee or a glass of fine wine.

 

Speciality cheese and wine event at 76 Portland Place

So why not put all of this to the test? If you are looking for a central London venue for an upcoming event, 76 Portland Place will be holding a promotional evening on Thursday 23 February from 5.30pm to 8pm. With an inspiring selection of British cheeses and some carefully chosen wines to complement, guests can enjoy the outstanding catering and have the opportunity to enjoy a tour around the meeting and event facilities available.

76 Portland Place Cheese & Wine Evening

To register your interest, please RSVP to enquiries@76portlandplace.com.

Web Video: 5 Top Tips and 3 Big Benefits

By Andrew Carver, Co-Founder, Raindown

 

There’s good reason to get excited about using video online. At present, YouTube alone has over two billion views per day and 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute. By 2015 Cisco predicts that a staggering 90% of global consumer traffic will be made up of video. As Google US Managing Director of Travel, Rob Torres confirms: “High quality video is the future.” So what are the benefits?

3 Big Benefits

Web video boasts a whole array of tangible benefits for those in the hospitality industry. Here are just three of them:

1. Increases Sales and Bookings

Research has continually shown that video can directly lead to new sales and bookings online. Internet Retailer recently revealed that customers who view product videos were 85% more likely to buy than those who didn’t. Videos have a powerful effect on people’s purchasing choices.

2. Grabs and Retains Attention

People are much more likely to click play on a video than read a page of boring text. Video instantly engages a viewer, connects with them and draws them into exploring the rest of your site.

3. Builds Trust

Transparency is key. Build trust with your audience by enabling them to see, hear and meet you online. Video builds a relationship and acts as virtual face time.

5 Top Tips

How do you capitalise on these benefits and go about producing great web videos? Well here are five top tips to get you started:

1. Keep It Short

Keep it succinct and under three minutes. The average YouTube video is about two minutes 30 seconds whilst some of the most successful viral videos are 30 seconds or less. Having 10 different 30 second videos is often more effective than having one five minute video.

2. Share Your Story

Everyone likes a story and video is a great way of sharing yours. Where and how do you source your food? What’s the tale behind your happy customers? Tim Hayward’s Guardian video series is a good example of sharing stories behind the food and drink.

3. Get Interactive

Interaction is at the heart of any social media tool and competitions are often great ways to generate this. Starting a competition where users can generate their own video content can be a great way of engaging with your audience and driving traffic to your site. Other ways to get interactive include the use of annotated tags or embedded user-generated content such as Fairtrade’s A Fair Story.

4. Keep it Personable

Whilst flashy graphics have their place, the simple power of personal communication should not be underestimated. In a recent interview we shot with Richard Branson for A Good Week, he shared personal insights into what ‘good’ meant to him. Having posted a link on his Twitter page and embedded it on his blog, the video gained 2799 views in just two days.

5. Back it with Budget

Although there’s a time and a place for the rough and ready flip cam, if not done well it can damage your brand’s profile. Quality and style matter so it’s worth getting your videos professionally produced. Invest in high quality and the video will pay for itself.

For more tips and insights about web video follow us on Twitter: @rain_down. Andrew Carver is co-founder of Raindown, a visual production company that specialises in web video and film.

Virtual video meet-ups drive conference costs down

By Hannah Evans, Event Sales Coordinator, Academy of Medical Sciences, 41 Portland Place

Gone are the days when companies needed to spend thousands of pounds transporting delegates from around the world to one location. Demand for video conferences at 41 Portland Place has leapt and the availability of this technology is having a major impact on the conference and meetings industry.

Why use video conferencing?

In the current economic client, it’s no surprise that organisations are feeling the pressure when it comes to justifying the money spent on hosting or attending events. Video conferencing saves time and money by removing the need for the business travel and accommodation necessary to bring delegates together.

Connect simply via a video conferencing unit and have the meeting as if everyone was in the same room. Video conferences save on transport and accommodation costs, helping the environment as a result by reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion. For that reason, video conferencing has become the solution for eco-conscious businesses insistent on conducting meetings and events in a more responsible manner.

The time it takes to pull together a video conference is significantly less than that spent organising a traditional, face-to-face conference. Video conferencing strips out the need to factor in uncertainties such as travel time, flight delays or weather disruptions. In just a few minutes multiple people can be sat in front of a camera and screen, ready to talk face-to-face with other people in other locations and countries.

The call quality and enhanced network security capabilities of professional video conferencing technology are far superior for business communications than the mass-market video calling software now commonly used on personal computers and mobile devices. Connection quality is extremely important, as nothing breeds frustration and kills productivity like crackly phone lines that cut in and out.

Make your video conference a success with these 3 key tips:

  1. Don’t just predict, rehearse. Test in advance. Pre-determine potential video conferencing sticking points in advance. IT security measures, such as firewalls, will very often vary from one organisation to another. Even with high specification, state-of-the-art equipment in place, simple connections can become troublesome and time consuming to establish without rehearsed system syncing in advance of the video conference. At 41 Portland Place we always recommend performing a dummy run in advance of the live video conference to allow sufficient time for our expert team of technicians to resolve system incompatibilities.
  2. Ensure technical support is available. It is advisable to have expert technical support available before and during the conference. The peace of mind achieved by having a technician on hand to deal quickly with unforeseen or unexpected issues will leave you relaxed and free to focus on getting the most out of the discussions.
  3. Always have a contingency plan. Even if you have tested thoroughly and have an expert technician on hand, you should always plan for the unexpected! Technology is not faultless, and this is why at 41PP we always offer teleconferencing facilities as a backup.

Video conferencing at 41 Portland Place

We recently hosted an event in the Wolfson Conference Suite, at which interviews with candidates from all over the world took place. Thanks to thorough testing in advance of the event, every video call connection was trouble-free and made on time to satisfy our client’s tight schedule. Over two days, the event connected to Peru, Ethiopia, Japan, Australia, South Africa and five other countries.

For more information on video conferencing, or to discuss how it can be part of your next event, contact the events team at 41 Portland Place.

www.41portlandplace.com

Organising a successful product launch or exhibition

By Hannah Evans, events sales coordinator

 

Exhibitions can be a valuable marketing tool for your business, providing an excellent opportunity to invite existing and potential clients to find out more about your products and services. Below are six tips that will help ensure your exhibition is carefully planned and organised, enjoyed by all of your guests and most importantly is a success, creating a return on your investment.

1.       Working with the venue

Co-ordinating exhibitions can often prove to be quite daunting, with organisers caught in the middle juggling and managing the numerous requests and expectations of their own team, the suppliers and the venue. It is therefore imperative that the venue representative you are dealing with understands your remit and objectives and is flexible to your needs and requests, especially last minute ones.

2.       Obtain information from the venue

Request information from the venue to assist you with the operational and logistical planning of the event. Feel free to request documents such as scaled floor plans, door measurements and table dimensions to help plan the set up of your exhibition.

Be aware that due to health and safety legislation the venue is obliged to request risk assessments and method statements for any “unusual” activity which is not being looked after by the venue, such as the installation of lights, use of ladders, furniture deliveries, etc. A method statement is simply a description of the work that is being carried out and the risk assessment lists all possible accidents that the work may cause and how to try and avoid injuries. In addition to these two documents you will be required to complete a permit to work and you must ensure that  if you do bring in any electrical equipment, all items are PAT tested.

3.       Clarify your requirements with the venue in advance of the event

It is important that the venue understands what you need or don’t need in the room. For example if you require clothed trestle tables for exhibitors, advise the venue where you want them and at what time.

Power and other audio visual requirements are also something that should be clearly displayed on a floor plan. This will give the venue sufficient instructions to run extension leads and connectivity to the required locations.

4.       Employ a stylist

Employing a visual stylist is a great way to ensure your products and services are displayed in the best way possible. Trusting a visual expert to position the products and create a flow and style to the event may enhance the exhibitors’ experiences. They also provide added support to the team and have an impeccable eye for the finer details.

If a restrictive event budget does not permit you hiring a stylist, utilise the venue as much as you can. Often a venue has photos or information from other exhibitions they have hosted. Request this information from the event organiser- you may be pleasantly surprised how much inspiration can be gained from a previous event

5.       Schedule and catering breaks

Catering is an extremely important part of the event. Quality catering at the exhibition will inevitably enhance the guest’s experience, hence it is important that not only is catering selected correctly, but the service is scheduled appropriately.

Request a menu tasting with the caterers in advance of the event. That way you can personally discuss your menu options with the organiser and the chef to ensure seasonality and fit with the profile of the event.

Exhibitions generally run over a day or an afternoon so consider when is best to offer catering. You don’t want to have food sitting out for long periods as it will tire so keep the catering times scheduled in accordance with the guest’s arrival time. It is recommended to set specific times to serve catering.

During regular meal times, it is advisable to select more substantial items to serve as guests tend to have more of an appetite. Morning coffee, afternoon tea and early evening canapés can also work to balance the flow of the food against the numbers on site.

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that with use of buffets and bars, you will need to allow space within the room for the setup.

6.       Goodie bags

Goodie bags are a great way to give your clients a promotional sample of your product to take home. Make sure goodie bags are well presented so guests are proud to carry it down the street and advertise your brand. Go the extra mile and wrap the contents of the bag (even the brochures) so the clients feel like the contents are presents. Coloured tissue paper is always a nice touch to conceal the contents.

If your exhibition budget is tight, or perhaps you want to offer something a little more personal, why not ask the venue’s chef to make a ‘goodie’ bag for you? The chef at 41 Portland Place makes delicious chocolate brownies wrapped in cellophane and stylish ribbon for around £2.50 per bag – an inexpensive but thoughtful gift for your clients with the opportunity to attach a business card or promotional brochure.

For additional tips on organising exhibitions visit www.41portlandplace.com

Online Advertising Vs Printed Advertising

By Rachel Hammond, RICS at Parliament Square

Advertising in general is used as a method of informing customers of your company or product and attracting new customers. This is achieved through the medium of eye-catching colour schemes, animation, pictures and informative text. Two of the most used forms of advertising are online and printed documents such as leaflets and flyers. Both have their strengths and weaknesses which are explored below.

With increasing numbers of people now using the internet every day, online advertising has increased dramatically within the last few years, and most notably between the years of 2007 and 2008, where online advertisement suppliers recognised an increase of 10.6% across the industry. In the same year, online advertising increased 4.7% in the market share, even when advertising on the whole was decreasing. It is now clear to see that online and digital advertising is an integral part of the advertising world. This can be due to a number of different factors:

Firstly, it is convenient and is very likely to make an impression on consumers as they have selected a time and place to browse the internet therefore allowing themselves to be susceptible to advertisement campaigns.

There is also a great variety of options when it comes to online advertising which cannot be achieved with printed advertising. Animation can be used, with links to other sites and changing images, this can result in a greater message being put across in a smaller space, whereas printed advertising only offers options in size, colour, shape and text.

The click through element to online advertising is especially advantageous. Not only for directing people to another site, possibly with more information, but also, for recording how many people have paid attention to the advertisement. By using aids such as Google Analytics it is possible to see who and how many people have arrived at your site by clicking through the advertisement.

Online advertising can also have its draw backs. It is all very well to have an excellent idea and promotion, however, it is possible that if a consumer sees an attractive promotion online, they may forget about it by the time they have finished browsing the internet. Even if the consumer does go to the effort of printing the advert out, this is time consuming and defeats the object of online advertising being more environmentally friendly. It is important for a company to know their target market, especially regarding the older generation, who on the whole are not as susceptible to online advertising. It is a generalisation to say that this generation is more likely to take ideas from newspapers and leaflets; this is a practice that has been established for over 150 years, where as online advertising has only become predominant within the last decade.

With the younger generation now becoming an electronic generation, it is sometimes not appreciated when a promotional leaflet is thrust into your hand whilst walking down the street. It is safe to say that many pedestrians find this annoying and flyers and leaflets can become an encumbrance. Furthermore, many people are likely to either throw the flyer in the bin, where it is not guaranteed to be recycled, or create litter on the floor. Due to this; many people are now more opposed to a printed advertisement as it is less environmentally friendly.

Nonetheless, printed advertisements do have their advantages. It can be done fairly cheaply. This is especially good for companies with a limited budget or for small organisations. It is also a tangible aid, people can come back to something they picked up earlier and it is less likely to be forgotten about. Printed advertising can also be noticed in more than one place, where as online advertising is confined to the computer. It is possible to be drawn in to adverts and promotions wherever you go, whether it be on public transport, billboards, building sides or printed publications, therefore printed adverts have an advantage over online advertising in this respect.

Concluding, it would not be possible to advertise using just one medium, this would greatly lessen a company’s range of consumers, therefore reducing the cost benefit of advertising. However, when different types of advertising are combined using cross media, it is likely that the company would gain the greatest benefit, not only by appealing to a larger audience but by playing to the strengths of different forms of advertising.

www.parliamentsquare.org