Investigate a new teambuilding activity at Conrad London St James

Conrad London St James Hotel is calling on all budding crime solvers with the launch of its new delegate detective experience.

Inspired by the property’s location near to New Scotland Yard, on the Victoria Embankment, Conrad London St James is working in partnership with The Detective Project to provide an activity-led themed teambuilding exercise, around the science of crime solving.

Run by former Scotland Yard trained detectives and Metropolitan police officers, delegates will practice skills such as chromatography and finger print testing whilst kitted out in forensic suits, in a dedicated crime investigation room at the hotel.

For more information about the hotel’s interesting new activity, contact the team here.

Cavendish Venues celebrate 21 years of business

Cavendish Venues is celebrating an impressive 21 years of business and to celebrate the milestone, they asked CEO Tom Mayers and MD Rachel Applegate for an insight into the key secrets of the company’s success and hopes for the future:

What has been the most memorable event of your career?

TM: Party for a group of Saudi Princesses at the Mayfair Conference Centre.

RA: Diabetics UK, London Bridge Walk.

Biggest challenges faced in the industry so far?

TM: Multiple terrorism attacks in London in 2005.

RA: Ensuring all venues are full to capacity.

Most satisfying achievement so far?

TM: Working with happy colleagues.

RA: When an event is a success to all parties concerned.

Biggest challenges you foresee for the industry?

TM: Everywhere is becoming a venue!

RA: Keeping up with trends.

What drives you individually?

TM: Happiness.

RA: Happiness.

If there’s one lesson you’ve learned?

RA: Do not panic or lose heart.

TM: Keep going and do one thing at a time!


During the 21 years, the privately-owned firm has been proud to achieve numerous accolades including securing titles at prestigious Conference Awards for four consecutive years.

Continuing to welcome clients with a high level of service, you can enquire for your next successful events at [email protected] or call 020 7706 7700.

St. Ermin’s Hotel all a-buzz over ‘Honey Month’

By Tom Walsh, Director of MICE Sales at St Ermin’s Hotel, London

The plight of the British bee is something we feel passionate about addressing at St Ermin’s Hotel and to celebrate the hard work of our 300,000 Buckfast bees, housed in hives on the roof of our hotel, this September we are hosting ‘Honey Month’.

The initiative gives us the chance to give back to the environment. It also provides us with a delicious, signature honey which we use within our catering. Throughout the month, day delegates will be served a selection of delicious honey themed items as part of their breaks, such as lemon polenta and honey cake, honey and butter flapjacks or sultanas and honey granola bars. Alternatively guests can round off their event with a decadent honey-infused cocktail. Caxton Bar will be serving honey-based cocktails that have been carefully designed to showcase the bees’ hard work, such as ‘G&T for my Honey’ – an ambrosial take on the classic.

Head Chef will also be putting honey centre stage at Caxton Grill, as special dishes will feature on the menu throughout September, from honey parsnip soup, to organic lamb in honey and thyme dressing with honey-infused goat’s cheese.

As well as bees on our roof, we now have three beehives and a ‘bee hotel’ happily ensconced on our third floor walkway, surrounded by a small wildflower garden. This year we are able to offer small groups a special urban bee keeping workshop run at the hotel by our beekeeper, Camilla Goddard of Capital Bee.

Workshops can be individually tailored, but principally are for groups of up to 12 (from £15 per head), they last two hours and they involve active learning about colony establishment and regular care, handling of the honeycombs, plus reference materials. All beekeeper suits and equipment will be supplied and the course is followed by a honey cream tea or cocktail for participants. Give me a call on 0207 227 4816 to discuss your requirements or for full details and prices, please click here.

Your London Christmas party venue guide

Fancy dress parties, indulgent feasts, pop-up supper clubs, intimate private dinners, glamorous costume balls, live gigs – festive shindigs come in all shapes and sizes, particularly in London where you’re literally swamped with destinations offering all sorts of weird and wonderful party packages. Here’s our round-up of some of the best places to make your Christmas snap, crackle and pop, whether it’s a work party or a memorable function for your most valued clients. Simply click the links below to read each feature…

Good, old-fashioned nostalgia: 1920s & 1940s

VIP gigs and the edible Sugar Palace

Your own private members club

Lights, camera, exhibition!

A classic Christmas knees-up

Christmas with a conscience

Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and carols

Intimate, private dining celebrations

Work hard, play hard

Christmas party venues: Christmas with a conscience

Grade II listed 41 Portland Place, in London’s medical quarter, assigns a portion of the profits generated through venue hire to fund research activities run by the Academy of Medical Sciences. Christmas time brings the opportunity to support this initiative with a range of private banqueting options for up to 90 guests.

Choose from a festive buffet at £45pp or a more lavish VIP banquet at £65pp, which includes a Prosecco and canapé reception, a three-course dinner and half a bottle of house wine per guest. To enquire, call 020 3176 2177 or email [email protected].

Seasonal socialisers who raise a glass of mulled wine at St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas events this year can feel a warm and gratifying glow in the knowledge that all profits support the work of The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, which provides vital services to thousands of homeless people every year, and the Vicar’s Relief Fund, which makes over 2000 crisis grants each year to people in extreme financial difficulty.

Investigate party options in the 18th century underground Crypt, with its atmospheric lighting and brick vaulted ceilings. It’s the perfect space for a grand dinner for up to 200 or to party with up to 350 people until the early hours of the morning. It also has its own live music license and late night license until 2.00am and the Trafalgar Square location means guests have easy access to late night public transport. To enquire, call 020 7766 1165 or email [email protected].

More London Christmas party venue options:

Good, old-fashioned nostalgia: 1920s & 1940s

VIP gigs and the edible Sugar Palace

Your own private members club

Lights, camera, exhibition!

A classic Christmas knees-up

Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and carols

Intimate, private dining celebrations

Work hard, play hard

Book now for Off to Work’s Event School 2013 – 9th & 10th April

Award-winning event staff supplier, recruitment consultancy and professional training academy Off to Work is delighted to launch its Event School for 2013, with a special focus on style and design.

With names like Masterchef winner Keri Moss and former The Apprentice contestant Miriam Staley within the speaker line-up, bookings are expected to be snapped up quickly for the two-day workshop series, which will run on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th April at the London Irish Centre, Off to Work’s dedicated Training Academy in Camden, London.

Building on the success of last year’s school, Event School 2013: Style & Design will bring together renowned professionals from successful creative businesses to deliver a practical, workshop-led programme focusing on specific areas of the event planning and delivery cycle.

From a designer ‘mocktail’ mixing masterclass with Sejuiced and a lesson in wine buying for events with Blanco & Gomez, to workshops in food styling and event storytelling through photography with Red Photographic, room theming and lighting with Wise Production, plus content marketing and event communication tips from Custard Communications, Event School 2013 is aimed at event planners, event coordinators and managers, event agencies, caterers, F&B staff, chefs, marketing staff and business development teams.

Highlights of the programme include a networking lunch and concurrent panel debate on ‘Menu design for events’, featuring Keri Moss, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2012, Nick Mead, director at Eden Caterers, Vicky O’Hare, managing director of Party Ingredients and Gerald Aberdeen, executive head chef for Table Talk. These expert menu developers and chefs will share tips and tricks for planning a show-stopping selection of dishes that are not diluted by challenging dietary restrictions.

The workshop style of the programme means that delegates can pick and choose which ‘modules’ best fit their job role and requirements and attend these sessions as one-off learning experiences.

Attendees working in events and hospitality will leave inspired and equipped with tangible skills to aid their career development and to maximise the impact and profitability of future events.

“We’re pleased to welcome our clients, our team and all events professionals to attend any or all of the Event School’s workshops. We’ve designed workshops to be intimate, with a cap on 20 people, to ensure you can enjoy a focused and interactive learning environment,” said Philip Atkins, managing director, Off to Work. The exceptions to this are the educational, networking lunches.

A vibrant and sociable company, Off to Work has been providing the finest, skilled staff to the events and hospitality industries throughout the UK and overseas since 2001. Throughout this time, the company has stayed true to its guiding principle ‘to help provide some of the best experiences and memories people have ever had’ – something they achieve by remaining committed to hiring only the people most passionate about hospitality.

Event School 2013: Style & Design will take place on 9th & 10th April 2013 at London Irish Centre, Camden Square, London, NW1 9XB. For the full workshop programme, to find out more information or to book, please email Lucy Katan, call 020 3155 1975, or visit the dedicated website page.

Workshops are priced at £40+VAT each and package rates are available if you’d like to attend multiple sessions.

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.

Thinking Outside the Box for Team Building Events

By the events team at The Royal Institution of Great Britain

Everyone functions in groups, however what makes a group of people a team and furthermore, what makes a team good or bad, successful or unsuccessful? More importantly what can be done to create a better ‘team’ within an organisation?

Have you ever seen the dread in employees faces when they are presented with the latest team building scenario that they will be coerced into ‘throwing themselves into’ with the aim of improving performance through greater and more effective team work at the same time as providing a fun experience? It is very likely that there will be plenty of looks of horror cascading around the office as colleagues picture the ‘trust falls’ and ‘group chanting’ in a secluded field somewhere.

Of course, this might be slightly exaggerated; however, there are a large number of employees that are subjected each year to company team building events which include various pursuits and role-play scenarios. The advantages to an organisation of a team that works well together are clear; greater efficiency, skill specialisation, creativity and reduced staff turnover. Therefore, it is not a surprise that companies invest in team building activities. In fact, so many companies do it that it has developed into a multi-million pound industry catering for everything from a day out at the races to paint balling and gourmet cookery classes. But to what extent do team building events, as we understand them, actually result in the desired objectives?

With a growing number of team building specialist agencies now in operation many are entering their busiest time yet. However there is a shift to more objective focused and thought out events rather than just pure fun or cringeworthyness. Following on from media ridiculing as the Department for Business, Innovation and skills invested £4,700 on a ‘chocolate treat’ team building activity for 40 staff, it seems the pressure is really on for companies to measure the outcomes of team events more closely to prove their benefits.

Carrie from Bluebrick Consulting, who specialise in management consulting, explains how it’s not just the activity that shapes the team building session but more importantly the environment in which it takes place.

‘Being in an historic building is both inspiring and thought provoking for delegates and creates a perfect frame of mind for people when they are in “learning mode.” In the Royal Institution for example there are lots of interesting spaces for delegates to work in when in break-out activities which enable delegates to think differently, something that can be challenging when working in a more conventional conference venue.’

Taking employees out of the office and into a new and positive environment is of crucial importance to a successful team building session. An element of fun or excitement is also important. Individuals will stay focused and learn more if they are engaged in a positive activity. This is why organisations favour a challenge-based session or a life-size table football match over plonking their employees in front of a presentation on ‘How to be a better team player’ in a conference theatre.

In the midst of all this supposed fun and complimentary drink, lie some extensively researched theories mostly within the social psychological field. Social Identity Theory as developed by Tajfel and Turner (1979), states that the individual has not one but rather several selves or perceived identities that correspond to the various groups they belong or feel they belong to. Different social contexts may trigger an individual to feel, think and act on the basis of his personal, relational or national ‘sense of self’. There are many different schools of thought on how and why groups can influence the individual and to what effect, but one thing seems to be clear, is that team building is the process of creating a collaborative enterprise that can perform or effect change.

So as long as thought is given to the team involved, the desired outcome and the implementation a team building event doesn’t need to be dreaded by employees or a fruitless cost to employers. The benefits can be dramatic if the activity is carefully planned and executed.