Entries still being accepted for brand new Event Photography Awards 2014

Ever fancied yourself as the next David Bailey CBE? Now’s your chance to make that leap to professional acclaim with the brand new Event Photography Awards (EPAs), judged by such talents as internationally acclaimed photographer David Loftus and award-winning designer Paul Daly.

Inviting entries from amateur and professional photographers, across three categories – Amateur, Professional, Social Media – the EPAs are a celebration of the incredible and diverse nature of the events and hospitality industry, its personality and its influence.

Launched by energetic events staffing agency and training academy Off to Work, whose portfolio of clients includes award-winning catering companies, major sport, music and arts events, acclaimed UK venues and luxury hotels, the EPAs are an opportunity to capture the essence of what makes live events so special.

If you work in events or hospitality, in any discipline, the EPAs are for you, whether you pursue event photography as a professional, full-time career and are keen to scoop the acclaim and publicity opportunities this new award guarantees, or you’re a budding amateur, handy with your digital SLR and with a sharp eye for a stand-out photograph.

A particularly exciting category for bloggers, creative marketing and communications professionals and social wizards is the Social Media photography award. Storytelling with images accounts for reams of dialogue and social sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other sites. Submit your best smartphone or tablet photography, Instagram pictures and photos cleverly modified using editing apps to be in with a chance of winning this imaginative category.

Speaking of the EPAs, Philip Atkins, managing director of Off to Work, said: “I am delighted to call for entries to the Event Photography Awards 2014, which we hope will capture the dramatic settings, stunning occasions, memorable moments and emotive reaction that events deliver. With different categories for professional, amateur and those photos purely used for social media campaigns, we look forward to seeing the huge creativity in the events industry, captured by those who make it all come together.”

All category winners will receive the acclaim of being named Event Photographer of the Year in their respective category, coupled with a great selection of prizes, which include prominent exposure at the Event Photography Awards Exhibition, a gallery of the exceptional photos scooping the individual awards.

The Event Photography Awards Exhibition will run throughout April and May at the London Irish Centre (LIC) in Camden, north London, a charming meetings and events venue much loved by the Irish community for its role played in celebrating Irish culture and arts. The VIP exhibition launch party takes place at the LIC on 8th April 2014.

How to enter

Photographs can be from any event that has taken place between 1st January 2013 and 31st December 2013. To enter, send photographs (hi-res) as JPEGs or TIFs to enter@eventphotographyawards.com and include:

  • Clear indication of which category is being entered
  • Date and location of capture
  • Title and brief description of the venue / event / experience captured
  • Type of equipment used to capture photograph, plus any effects used etc.
  • Name, job title, company, email address and phone number

Entrants are allowed to submit up to THREE photographs in one single category.

Closing date for submissions is Saturday 8th March 2014. Entry to the competition is free.

For more information on the entry process and the criteria for taking part, visit http://www.offtowork.co.uk/event-photography-awards.html.

Tips for #eventprofs: Using LinkedIn for business

How can you make more of LinkedIn as a platform for meeting new business clients? Emma Hayes, Business Development Co-ordinator at the Royal College of Surgeons, gives us her top five tips.

A LinkedIn page can seem like a massive undertaking from its inception and so often people are unsure what they should be doing with it or how it might benefit them. With 87% of users trusting LinkedIn as a source of information affecting decision making, here’s how I’d suggest you can and should engage with it more effectively.

1 – Keep your profile up-to-date

This might sound obvious, but so often it’s not a rule that’s followed and profiles are left festering with inaccurate information and job descriptions. Always ask the question: does my page appeal to my target audience? Ensure you always include the key words that you believe your target audience would search for on LinkedIn. If you’re an event manager at a venue, include a detailed and appealing summary of the facilities your venue offers, its location and your specific role at that venue. LinkedIn is giving advice continually about improving personal profiles, so take heed and use this to your advantage.

2 – Share updates regularly

Keep updates interesting and relevant. Think about industry-related articles you have read, ask a question of your connections, or post a link to a blog or other online comment piece to provoke discussion amongst your network. This demonstrates you are serious about being viewed as an influencer and in turn can help to increase your levels of engagement on LinkedIn.

3 – ‘People you may know’

This feature of the site identifies mutual connections you have with your existing network. See them as ‘warm leads’ who are likely to share mutual business interests and consider making an approach to connect with them. They could be anyone from former colleagues to business associates and even potential new clients.

4 – Look to see who is viewing your profile

If someone has viewed your profile, it’s a good indicator that you have shown up in searches they have conducted and they have been interested in your job role and profile. Check this regularly and take interest in those people taking the time to learn more about you. They could be potential clients, colleagues or suppliers and it may be worth considering an official connection request.

5 – Interact within LinkedIn groups

Interacting with your connections and other users within specially formed groups is probably the most important part of using LinkedIn. For event organisers, if you are finding it hard to find a venue for your next event, post it on a group’s comment page and let the venues come to you to detail how they can solve your problem or assist with your requirements.

As a venue representative, I find it is also worth commenting on all discussions that you can make a valuable contribution to, whether it is directly associated with what you do, or something that has piqued your interest. Stepping away from the hard-sell tactics and demonstrating a willingness to engage on a knowledge-led level can be a rewarding route to gaining new connections and potentially new business.

Emma HayesConnect with Emma on LinkedIn or follow @RCSvenue on Twitter.

Free technology breakfast briefing – 14th May, Prince Philip House

Learn about social media campaigns, connectivity and RFID implementation designed to maximise the event and delegate experience in 2013 at a free breakfast briefing on 14th May at Prince Philip House.

Speakers include Andi Allen from Reflex Limited and Richard Hughes from Max WiFi, who’ll look at what organisers need to know about connectivity in the live environment, including digital signage.

Mike Fletcher, freelance multi-media writer and editor, will look at inspiring social media use within live environments and how to measure its success, while Richard Smith from Excelerated Apps will explain how to use RFID and NFC technology to put social media at the heart of your events.

Registration from 7.30am, briefing begins at 8am prompt. Breakfast and networking from 9.10am -10am. To reserve your free place, email Becci Thomson or click here for more information.

New TWC website launches to provide effective venue sourcing for events planners under pressure

Robin Parker, marketing director for The Westminster Collection, talks us through the design decisions and brand new features of the venue collection’s new website, which launched officially this month.

Venue choice in London can be overwhelming as there are so many locations, building styles, budget options and varying degrees of quality to consider. We know from our clients that efficiency at the venue sourcing stage is absolutely critical, because that’s often the most time consuming part. You have an event theme, an intended date and a full marketing plan ready to get off the ground for your event, but until you find the right venue, very little of it can get underway.

Efficiency for the event planner was central to the rebuild of The Westminster Collection’s brand new website, which I’m pleased to launch this month.

Saying it quickly, saying it well and making it easy to enquire are important aspects of the new design of the site, which was built by Design Incorporated. Event planners were telling us they wanted a speedy foot in the door to some of London’s best and most centrally located venues, and that their initial decisions about which venues to book are driven by venue location, capacity and style.

Taking that feedback, we stripped down our original site and took it right back to basics. Location is a huge lure for The Westminster Collection but the boundaries of this borough are often misunderstood. The City of Westminster is home to some of the finest meetings, conference and events venues in the capital, and it accounts for a huge area of Zone 1 central London, encompassing major landmarks, world famous shopping streets, beautiful parks and an assortment of restaurants, attractions and entertainment.

It borders the London Borough of Camden to the east and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to the west, incorporating districts including Bayswater, Belgravia, Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Marylebone, Paddington, Pimlico, St James’s, St John’s Wood, Soho, Victoria and the famous West End.

With a responsive design that makes it compatible with mobile and tablet devices, venues can now be browsed and selected from an interactive, Google-based map, which emphasises the breadth of the City of Westminster and the wealth of venues available within it. Venues are pinned to the map and when clicked, give the user the option to view the full profile.

Explore and compare venues side by side

The site’s new venue shortlist facility now enables event planners to add one or more of their preferred Westminster venues to a shortlist, from which they can then compare venues side-by-side according to location, size, room specifications and accessibility. If they’re happy with their selection, they can click ‘enquire with selected venues’ to complete a brief form which will then distribute this single enquiry to all of these venues.

The site is very image-led, which is a way for us to showcase the unique attributes of every one of our venues. Through photography displayed on the venue profiles and with our dynamic, dashboard style homepage, we have developed the website as a full-screen experience to maximise the accessibility from the large array of devices that people use to browse the internet today. The website features a considerable number of interactive features that have been built using JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS3 to ensure that they are usable across as many devices and browsers as possible.

Integrated news and special offers

The special offers page of the site now syncs smartly with the individual venue profiles, so if you view a profile, you’ll see the venue’s most recent corresponding offer appear in the left hand toolbar. The news page is also much more user friendly, with an attractive layout and the ability to share individual articles across social media channels – a feature we now expect when we access content online. Readers can also comment on articles and perform a keyword search of the site’s blog content to find relevant posts.

The project team

A particularly rewarding part of the build process of the new website is that the project has been steered by a specially formed committee of representatives from venues within the collection, led by Craig Wallace, conference and events manager at 1 Wimpole Street, with support from Anna Glazebrook at One Great George Street, Clare Hodgkinson at Church House Conference Centre, Maria Schuett at Central Hall Westminster, Petra Bones at The Banqueting House and our marketing and communications agency Custard Communications.

What we have now is something we’re very proud of and feedback during our recent soft launch demonstration phase at Confex is proving valuable. Although we’re confident the website is a much stronger tool for events planners, we will not stop the site development here. We’ll continue to polish and refine features and site functionality and we look forward to the platform this now gives us to better communicate with the events community and those looking to do business in Westminster.

Any feedback and suggestions are welcomed. Please email news@venues-london.co.uk.

Free Google Analytics and AdWords masterclass available on demand now via One Wimpole Street

A video delivering the inside scoop on Google Analytics and Adwords and their impacts on website performance over time is now available to view online for free, thanks to the team at One Wimpole Street.

Featuring the last session in the venue’s popular 2012 technology masterclass series, speakers David Miles, director of online marketing training consultancy Divadani, and Jeremy Nelson-Smith, director and internet marketing consultant at The Internet Specialist, come together in the video masterclass to provide free and valuable tips for maximising the use of Google AdWords as an advertising tool and for optimising website performance by accurately analysing data available via Google Analytics.

The masterclass video is available on demand now, free of charge to event planners, event buyers and event marketing professionals. Viewers are able to choose between watching the whole masterclass sequence, or viewing the two speaker sessions individually.

Miles champions the idea that Google AdWords is an extremely powerful advertising tool, delivering rapid results and a great return on marketing investment. He also explains how Google AdWords works and what benefits it has over other methods of driving traffic to your website. Crucially, he highlights the things you need to be aware of in order to avoid wasting money on AdWords.

Nelson-Smith unravels web analytics to demonstrate the need to use Google Analytics to increase website performance and make better business decisions. He explains how to measure and understand which marketing channels are most effectively delivering quality visitors to your web pages, whether your content is doing its job in engaging your visitors and how to use this vital knowledge to increase your sales.

One Wimpole Street will be launching a new masterclass series in 2013. To be the first to find out more, register your interest by clicking here. To watch the free video of the Google Analytics and AdWords masterclass on demand, click here.

2012 London Venues Business Report reveals event industry optimism for Olympic Games legacy

The Westminster Collection, Unique Venues of London and The Conference Bench unveiled the key findings of the 2012 London Venue Report today, culminating in what is believed to be the largest entirely London-centric meetings survey in circulation to date.

If you weren’t one of the participating venues, do you share similar optimism about the impact the London 2012 Olympic Games have and will have on the London meetings and events market? Or are you an event booker with a great story to tell about your experiences with London venues this year? We’d love to hear from you. Email news@venues-london.co.uk.

The key findings from the 2012 London Venues Business Report include:

  • 87% of venues feel positive about the long-term impact the Olympic Games will have on the conference and meetings market in 2013 and beyond.
  • 51% of venues believe that the Olympic Games will improve their 2012 full-year forecast, with nearly half of these venues anticipating revenue increases of up to 30%.
  • Pre- and post-Olympic Games business is showing positive gains. 31 venues report increased revenue between May – July 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. 48 venues have reported increases in trade for September – December 2012.
  • The average day delegate rate (DDR) achieved by London venues in 2011 was £52.31, with 67% of venues reporting their individual highest achieved DDRs were £80 or more.
  • 41% of venues report large events are being booked on average three months or less in advance of the event date. The overall survey average revealed a lead time of five months
  • Core revenue streams saw significant growth in 2011, with half of all venues reporting increases of up to and beyond 40%. 55% of venues saw their room hire revenue increase in 2011, compared with the previous year – a trend that continued into the first quarter of 2012, with 58% of venues reporting room hire revenue growth of up to 40% compared with the same period last year
  • 93% of venues successfully used ‘value add’ as a business conversion technique in 2011.

The full 2012 London Venues Business Report is available for purchase, priced £95. Please contact Sophie@custardcommunications.com to order your copy.

Grow your event & collaborate remotely with livestreaming over the web

By Kevin McLoughlin, audio visual manager, One Wimpole Street

Recognising the importance of connectivity and state-of-the-art technology for the events industry, One Wimpole Street, London’s acclaimed conference and meetings venue, has recently launched a streaming facility enabling customers to stream their audio visual content over the internet to be viewed live or ‘on-demand’.

Online streaming enables audiences to grow and engage, reaching people in other parts of the country, or indeed the four corners of the world. It’s the ideal opportunity to expand the capacity of ‘physical’ events such as masterclasses, meetings, conferences and award ceremonies.

Live and on-demand streams provide powerful benefits to both the event organiser and online viewers. Live streams enable people to contribute, collaborate and watch the event unfold in real time. And if you want to attend in person, but can’t, it really is the next best thing.

On-demand streaming extends the shelf life of your event and can be watched until the link is removed. Both methods can be readily shared via social media channels and have the potential to reach hundreds if not thousands of people, often achieving high ROI as a result of the exposure.

So for this blog post, One Wimpole Street brings you our top tips on live and on-demand streaming, before, during and after your event.

Before the event

Start by thinking about how you will promote the event. Websites and e-newsletters are the ideal location to point people to your live stream or on-demand url, and trailers featuring interviews or the previous event will really go the extra mile to whet people’s appetites.

Think about where to host your urls. Ideally you should direct people to your website; that way they are well placed to find out more about your company and your latest news. Cunning!

What about the cost? Well once the technology is installed, costs are fairly minimal. In addition, getting a sponsor on-board, can cover your production and event costs and their logo and brand message will feature on the broadcast by way of return.

To get a ‘real time’ indication of who is present during your live stream broadcast, create an online registration page to capture names and email addresses. If the event is a masterclass or webinar you should encourage remote viewers to gather as a group to collaborate on discussions and contribute questions at the end.

Testing, testing, 1,2,3. However good the technology may be, blips can happen so ensure you test everything in the days leading up to the event, such as the slide show, microphone, server, url link, lighting and video equipment. At One Wimpole Street we’ll manage this process for you, for your peace of mind.

During the event

So the day has arrived, everything’s set for live steaming and the camera is poised. What now? To boost collaboration and user experience, encourage your online viewers to contribute by typing their questions into a text box on your webpage. These can be used in the Q&A or discussion session at the end of your event.

Most importantly, ensure your live and on-demand viewers don’t have second class participation in the event. Include extras to the on-site event such as vox pop interviews with delegates and further interviews with presenters.

For a more information and a demo of our new livestreaming web cast technology, contact us on:

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7290 2951
Email: 1wimpolestreet@rsm.ac.uk
www.onewimpolestreet.co.uk

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.

Twitter Tips

By Jonathan Morris, No.11 Cavendish Square

The number of businesses using social media tools has grown rapidly with more and more companies creating Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and Youtube pages. Twitter; the ‘micro-blogging’ site which allows users to communicate in 140 characters or less is particularly popular within the venues and events community with many businesses seizing the opportunity to engage with clients, suppliers and even the press. Twitter, along with other social media applications, is widely used as a marketing tool to promote products and keep audiences abreast of the latest news and offers. Social media is a powerful marketing tool; the Coca-Cola brand for example is continually growing through Twitter and Facebook. Recent figures show the brand has 22,315,512 Facebook fans and 200,030 Twitter followers world-wide to communicate with. Here are some handy tips to consider when putting your point across on Twitter…

Think about your audience

Twitter like other social media channels is easily searchable. Remember that your readers could include current and potential clients, press, suppliers and competitors. Stop and think before sending your tweet; make sure you aren’t alienating any of those groups or unintentionally causing offence.

Also bear in mind that anything you write on social media is part of a permanent record and could be quoted out of context maybe weeks, months or years into the future. A good rule of thumb is not to write anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable being printed on the front page of a national newspaper.

Be responsible for what you write

The internet is full of varied opinions which make it a rich and interesting landscape. However, when writing a tweet avoid comments that could be interpreted as slurs, demeaning or inflammatory. Think twice before hitting send and if you are about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable don’t publish it just to be controversial.

Remember it’s a conversation

Try and ‘talk’ to your followers the same way you would converse with real people in professional situations (avoid pedantic or composed language). Tweet content to engage followers that’s open ended and invites response. Don’t be afraid to bring a personality to tweets adding humour, sharing ideas and articles – it doesn’t always have to be business focused.

Stay current

Use Twitter as a tool to stay current on breaking industry news, products, events and ‘trending topics’ (topics that are immediately popular with Tweeters) and use the information to strike up conversations and discussions with followers. Use your Twitter page to communicate with followers regularly (announce special offers, new packages, events and venue related news including contract wins) and try to provide solutions or information in real time when responding to a direct tweet.

Extension of customer service

Twitter can be used as an extension of customer service, allowing you to gain valuable feedback and develop one to one relationships with potential clients and suppliers. It is important to keep track of both positive and negative experiences in order to improve customer service and business performance.

www.11cavendishsq.com

Social Media – Does it really work?

By Eliza Beattie, 45 Millbank

Social media (SM) has become an essential entity of marketing campaigns over the past two years, including MySpace, YouTube, eBay, Twitter, Ning’s, LinkedIn and Facebook. A visible shift has been from using SM as a personal hobby of youngsters to the use of it for business promotion and information. But does ‘social media’ actually work for businesses, especially event’s businesses?

The effectiveness of SM, like all marketing, depends on your target audience. Even if your business is based offline every company should have a web presence and online marketing plan – and the use of social media should be at the top of this list, along with blogging, videos and press releases. However, is SM appropriate for your clientele or complimentary of your companies brand story? Let us look at the main social media applications currently available to your business:

Facebook

Currently one of the most visited websites on the internet with over 500 million active users; over half of which log on daily and 200 million of them use their mobiles, the dominance of Facebook as a medium of SM is apparent. Often cited as the initiator of SM (sorry MySpace!), no longer is the usage about university students sharing their lives with family and friends. It has become a global promotional hub for individuals and businesses alike, allowing companies to promote their profile and service. As a free and accessible medium (business profiles do not require an individual to be logged on to Facebook, or even ‘a friend’), business Facebook pages allow consumers to search for key information through search engines. Potential clients and suppliers can also join particular groups or forums that you are associated with within your industry or service, which will lead to your profile page.

You can also advertise your business via Facebook’s pay per click scheme; this allows you to target certain users or suppliers.

Twitter

Twitter as ‘a micro blogging website’ is the ‘new kid on the block’ allowing users to create short messages of 140 characters with links to direct the reader towards the content you might be mentioning, such as DDR packages. Created in 2005, Twitter has more then 175 millions registered users writing 95 million tweets a day. Twitter may not be suitable for many businesses but it is great for industry networking allowing companies to increase their brand exposure to suppliers and existing/potential clientele.

You Tube and Video Blogs

Any medium of marketing that allows a company to communicate with potential clients in a refreshing and efficient manner is beneficial, and this is what YouTube and video blogging allows with over 200 million videos being viewed daily on smartphones and other internet-linked mediums. On YouTube, for example, you can upload virtual tours of your venue but also create a group of industry/supplier/client contacts and invite people who interest you to view your new videos. You can also subscribe to channels that interest you and send direct messages.

It was recently pointed out to me that videos now rank within search engine results pages so it is important that you get involved and upload your video blogs to YouTube, including films of past events, client testimonies and interesting industry interviews.

So does Social Media Work?

“Social media is changing the way we do business and the way in which we can communicate with customers both existing and new”. This change is reactive to technological advancements, such as the development of iPad friendly websites and smartphone screen specific apps. In 2010 alone, social networking sites experienced rapid mobile growth, with Twitter growing by 1,800 percent over 2010. Facebook grew by 1,000 percent.

You do need to be pro-active and reactive when using SM. Listen and read other’s blogs or profile pages and respond to suppliers tweets etc., show an interest in what potential clients are looking for. Comments are essential, for the more comments on a blog, Facebook page or event piece, the more it will be spread around the web.

Remember to keep your customary branding consistent, so brand your SM like you would your documents and website. The majority of SM mediums allow you to upload your logo and colour scheme to customise your profile.

Do not forget to take advantage of your accessibility and contact with the consumer, and ask your audience what they want, or what they are looking for. This not only helps companies react to the wants and needs of clients, but also develop innovative services and potential new business. Also, “keeping your clients continually involved allows you to create better working relationships which are better for both sides”.

Good luck and have fun – it’s meant to be refreshing and creative.