World first holographic telepresence over 4G at 8 Northumberland Avenue

By Sami Badrakhan, marketing executive, 8 Northumberland Avenue

On 26th January Charles Boyd, director and owner of 8 Northumberland Avenue and Ian O’Connell, director of Musion, brought 4G holographic telepresence to 8 Northumberland Avenue‘s ballroom using the ready-installed Musion technology. They were conducting a Q&A session but only Charles was present in the venue. Ian was on the other side of London being ‘transported’ as a 3D hologram via 4G wireless technology onto the stage at 8 Northumberland Avenue.

This ability to reproduce, between different locations, the best characteristics of direct human interaction that result from face-to-face meetings has been in existence for many years.  So how is this so unique and a significant improvement to the events industry?

Telepresence normally requires an expensive fibre optic cable and a dedicated network management system operating between two venues.  It’s been no coincidence that telecoms companies were the only ones able to afford this, because they could use their own lines. This new technology, using eight 4G SIM cards in a box all working together to stabilise the signal to deliver the 3D image seen, reduces the cost enormously.

Telepresence is a well-known technology to aid a reduction in event costs and indeed carbon footprint. There’s no need to go to the expense of flying a keynote speaker over from New York and paying for their accommodation. But as Ian highlighted, using 3D holographic telepresence over 4G goes further and creates a “truly live experience, more immersive than talking to someone via a 2-dimensional screen. It enables people physically located in one meeting room to see 3D holographic images of people in another location, as if they were sitting opposite them”.

8 Northumberland Avenue has already seen the benefits of using this technology.  Speaking at the event Charles Boyd said: “We are focused on being at the forefront of technology advancements to ensure our clients receive the highest return possible on their event investment by amplifying their messages. We’ve already seen this for ourselves at the event we hosted for corporate buyers last month.  We’ve reached a far wider audience than those who just attended the event.  We’ve had an increase in social media activity with new followers,  press coverage and some great feedback.”

To find out more about how this technology can benefit your next event contact the team at 8 Northumberland Avenue.

Free webinar: The Event App Challenge

Central Hall Westminster is hosting a free webinar featuring a panel of industry experts who will debate ‘The Event App Challenge – costs, logistics & engagement’

Thursday, 5th February 2015
09.00am – 10.15am

The events industry is talking ‘apps’ but are your questions answered?

What is the service scope of event apps?

Which one is right for your events?

What is the actual cost of an event app?

What is the planning process?

… and most importantly…usage. How do you drive engagement successfully?

Central Hall Westminster’s expert panel will include 3 event app providers (servicing low, medium to high end market segments), an engagement specialist and representatives from the industry.

The session will give you a solid understanding of the opportunities/challenges involved to enhance the event experience through apps, covering practical questions, feasibility, shared best practice and more.

Join this free webinar online at 9am on Thursday 5th February and get a head start to ‘tech-proof’ your future events.

REGISTER HERE: www.c-h-w.com/webinar

QEII Centre unveils spectacular new look at launch event

The QEII Centre opened its doors to clients, event agencies, buyers and media at its official, invitation-only launch party on Thursday 13th November.

With walls flooded in icy blue lighting, candle-lit lanterns buried in mounds of fluffy white snow and an ice sculpture etched with an iconic Big Ben scene, guests to the QEII Centre were welcomed into a winter wonderland inspired foyer for champagne, served from a twinkling pop-up bar. It was a wow-factor moment for those who hadn’t yet experienced the new-look entrance, now bright and spacious, with raised ceilings, sleek airport style check-in desks, multiple ultra-wide 29-inch screens, a concierge desk, a video wall made up of nine ultra-slim bezel 55-inch screens and the new Sanctuary executive lounge.

True to the wintery theme, two friendly huskies stole much of the limelight, until QEII Centre chief executive Mark Taylor took to the podium to introduce the official launch of a rebranding project 18 months in the making.

The centre then turned up the heat as guests shimmied upstairs into the tropical themed Pickwick Suite to the sizzling sounds of Cuban band Kandela mi Son and the energetic moves of ultra-glam, feather-clad Samba dancers from Brazilian Fantasy.

Cocktails, canapés, delicious bowl food and a dessert station by Leith’s fuelled guests for some action on the sparkly gold dancefloor. Hot dishes served included ‘tequila and lime confit salmon, black bean, coriander rice’ and ‘pumpkin tortellini and roast artichoke velouté’, while desserts included ‘mojito macarons’ and ‘pineapple cake with vanilla buttercream’.

Speaking of The QEII Centre’s re-launch event and the process of evolving this iconic brand, Taylor said:

“It’s a proud moment as we officially launch the spectacular new look we’ve achieved through the first two phases of our £12 million capital investment programme at the QEII Centre. We’ve been ‘quietly evolving’ over the past 18 months and beneath our new look we have been building and strengthening our business to bring to you a centre of excellence. This re-launch event is just one of many milestones in the delivery of our new vision.

“Following a strategic audit we developed our comprehensive building master plan; one that expressly complements the original finishes and strengths of the building’s architecture and provides practical and innovative solutions to improve our visitors’ total experience.

“We’re sexier, trendier and more confident than we’ve ever been before thanks to the installation of cutting-edge technology and luxury fixtures and fittings. The welcome has been reenergised too, with a new concierge team, a bright and spacious new foyer and a more discrete day-to-day security presence. We wanted to break down the barriers to the welcome.

“In branding terms, we have not only rebranded in a contemporary design to reflect our vision going forward, but we have also altered our name to simply ‘QEII Centre’ to reflect the diversity of our event portfolio and capabilities. We’re always a centre for conferences, but also for exhibitions, fashion shows, product launches, banquets, awards presentations and more. A focal point for knowledge and for fine service.

“The QEII was built as a beacon of British excellence, craftsmanship and technology and we are determined to return the centre to its former standing as London’s finest multi-purpose events facility.”

The bold new brand identity is reflective of the change that has taken place within The QEII Centre. Colin Green, creative director at Wildfire, the integrated creative agency responsible for the centre’s new branding, said:

“We wanted to establish the venue as a go-to destination, where clients are continually delighted and expectations are always exceeded; a place to be bold, to challenge perceptions, in the boundless pursuit of perfection. Moving forward the QEII Centre will firmly establish itself as London’s finest specialist events venue, becoming renowned for delivering professional, award-winning events that put the needs of the client at the heart of their philosophy.

“Wildfire are particularly proud of watching this iconic venue begin to realise its true potential. There is further change on the horizon, so watch this space.”

Suppliers to the re-launch event included in-house caterer Leith’s, event management company Wonderland Events, creative communications consultancy Custard Communications, Instagram photobooth creator Social Playground and talented band Kandela mi Son.

Follow news of the venue’s new look on twitter @QEIICentre using hashtag #QEIILookAtMe and on Instagram @qeiicentre

Explore the hireable events spaces available at the centre by visiting www.qeiicentre.london.

 

Michael Jackson hologram tech available at 8 Northumberland Ave

A hologram of Michael Jackson graced the stage of the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday 18 May, when the late King of Pop ghost-walked the moon walk in a performance of newly released single ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ from his posthumous album ‘Xscape’. It’s an album made up of unreleased material remixed by artists such as Timbaland.

The digital projection mirrored many of the pop icon’s signature moves and was accompanied on stage by a troupe of real-life dancers. It was an act that captivated viewers around the world, using technology previously seen in the ‘resurrection’ of rapper Tupac Shakur at Coachella 2012 and deceased rappers Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E in 2013. The Westminster Collection also used it to bring tourism expert Tracy Halliwell to the stage at Destination Westminster 2013 venue showcase.

Event bookers can replicate similarly mind-boggling marvels at central London event venue 8 Northumberland Avenue, where the very same holographic technology is available for hire. 8 Northumberland Avenue was the first venue in the UK to partner with Musion, the world leader in 3D holographic technology.

Options for entertainment include an all-singing Frank Sinatra plus a number of other modern day and retro acts. To explore the Ballroom as a setting for your next event, or for information on booking holographic entertainment and performances at your next product launch, party or conference, click here.

Avoiding WiFi woes – Central Hall webinar announced

Central Hall Westminster invites events professionals to register to participate in a free webinar it will host on Thursday 20th February, 9am-10am, to address the way and means to ‘Avoiding WiFi woes – filling the expectation gap between venues and event organisers’.

Staying ahead of the game is about proactively engaging with technology, sharing ideas and adapting to resources available. The UK events industry has a lot of catching up to do and through its ‘Meet the Future’ series, Central Hall is aiming to fill and bridge that gap.

Learn from the experts, including Richard Hughes, director of event WiFi specialist Max WiFi, and Kim Carrington, IT manager at Central Hall, who will help you to ask venues the right questions to avoid those familiar WiFi woes.

The session will prepare you with a solid understanding, case studies, a handy glossary and a unique chance to ask your specific event questions. To register for this free event click here.

Send your questions prior to the event to Maria Schuett to guarantee inclusion in the seminar programme.

 

Church House secures Venue Verdict Gold

Church House Conference Centre has scooped the coveted BDRC Venue Verdict Gold Standard once again, in recognition of the Westminster venue’s consistently high quality of customer service. Only a handful of independent venues receive the Gold Standard, making this an exceptional achievement for Church House and its team.

Based entirely on the opinions and experiences of clients, the Venue Verdict Gold Standard is a true mark of quality. This latest accreditation tops off a successful year for Church House, having secured the Gold Standard award every three months through 2013.

The continual feedback from clients via the Venue Verdict Accreditation programme also acts as a foundation for ongoing improvements. During 2013, the venue invested over £146,000 in audio visual technology including web streaming and ‘video on demand’ services using HD broadcast quality equipment.

“Delivering an unbeatable level of customer service has always been our main focus. It’s become a unique selling point for which our venue and dedicated team is renowned. We work hard to ensure that every event is a success, from the moment an event is booked to the time visitors leave. It is an outstanding achievement for us, and highlights the good work we have been doing and will continue to do to achieve the highest standards,” said Robin Parker, general manager at Church House Conference Centre.

Central Hall targets Brits & Chinese with new mobile site

Central Hall Westminster (CHW), central London’s largest purpose built conference centre, today announced the launch of a specialist business event website built for mobile devices. The new mobile site has been created in response to a 70% rise in traffic from mobile devices to the CHW website.

The site is available in both English and Mandarin to maximise CHW’s growing customer base in the People’s Republic of China. CHW has previously recognised the importance of Chinese business tourism by producing a multi-lingual desktop site and appointing a dedicated account manager for the Chinese market. This commitment was recognised in April 2013 when CHW was awarded the Chinese Tourists Welcoming Award for ‘Best Internet/ Media Campaign by overseas business’.

Paul Southern, managing director of Central Hall, said: “The Chinese award put CHW onto the international map and with a desktop site available in Mandarin, it was crucial that the new mobile site continued to recognise this important market with a multi-lingual function. The statistics that we are seeing from industry research make it clear that mobile web access is increasingly important and cannot be ignored.”

Maria Schuett, marketing manager at Central Hall, added:  “Since the corporate visual ID re-launch in 2012, the CHW brand has gone from strength to strength. Mobile is a natural progression to drive brand integrity and meet the target audience on their terms. Findings, such as those from Distilled Marketing that concluded 57% of users won’t recommend a business if they had a bad mobile experience, show how important mobile usage has become. I am proud that Central Hall supports a progressive marketing strategy and considers a dedicated, user-friendly B2B mobile website a vital marketing platform.”

The new designs were implemented by web design and development agency Applejack, a long-standing partner of CHW. The site includes mobile-specific elements, such as image and content sliders, carousels and virtual tours, all utilising swipe and drag navigation for touch screens. Additionally the text size has been increased and the font changed in places to improve legibility. Easily accessed menus and large buttons aid navigation, providing the user with an optimal viewing experience on multiple mobile platforms.

For more information, visit the new mobile site via mobile devices here: www.c-h-w.com

Video conferencing arrives at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace

To thrive in today’s economy, companies must be able to collaborate with colleagues, partners and customers around the globe without delay and with the greatest possible ease. The pressure is on for organisations to become faster, leaner, meaner, greener and more global. With shrinking budgets and fewer resources, it’s getting tougher all the time.

The new video conferencing facilities at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace take away the strain of organising meetings between people located in different corners of the country, or world. These facilities are available now. To learn more and to enqire about availability and costs, please call 0207 969 5224 or email info@10-11cht.co.uk.

No.4 Hamilton Place unveils new Business Lounge

No.4 Hamilton Place is pleased to unveil its newly refurbished Business Lounge and Information Centre. The official opening took place earlier this month with special guests Professor Matthew Hudson CRAes and Sir Donald Spiers HonFRAeS.

Spiers, a major driving force behind the refurbishment of the rooms, introduced Professor Hudson who was honoured by the Royal Aeronautical Society as a Companion. His entrepreneurial skills and creativity as the saviour of Prestwick Airport were acknowledged before he took great pride in unveiling a commemorative plaque that recognised all of the Fellows and Companions who had supported the refurbishment project.

Located on the third floor of No.4 Hamilton Place, The Business Lounge is ideal for board and group meetings for up to 40 guests. Its high spec facilities include new air conditioning and heating, fully controllable lighting and a large smart TV.

The adjoining Information Centre has three work stations with computers connected to the WiFi network. A great deal of care and thought was invested into the décor to ensure it matched the heritage of the house. This included refurbishing the stair and access areas and opening up a further floor of the house.

For more information on the Business Lounge at No. 4 Hamilton Place please email the events team on hello@4hp.org.uk.

TWC uncovers the future of events at Destination Westminster showcase

Event planners learnt what events of the future will look like at Destination Westminster on Friday 13th September, with talk of 3D holograms, mood altering lighting, ‘unconference’ techniques and social media collaboration amongst tips shared and demonstrated during The Westminster Collection’s 10th anniversary venue showcase.

Held in the ornate surrounds of The Ballroom at central London venue 8 Northumberland Avenue, the breakfast showcase event, which was free to attend, was an opportunity for event buyers and planners to spend a morning with the sales and marketing teams at 50 of central London’s most iconic venues – all of which are available to hire for meetings, conferences, parties, dinners and events.

The Unleash Your Creativity forum saw speakers including Katie McPhee, senior community manager for Eventbrite, Sam Michel, founder of Chinwag and Jez Paxman, creative strategy director for Live Union, stretch delegates’ imaginations about what a conference could deliver if you’re brave enough to invite audience collaboration before or during an event to help shape content. Social media was cited as changing the whole nature of the buying process and Katie McPhee emphasised how important promotion is in making events successful – it takes four Facebook shares to sell one event ticket, she said.

Katy Hadcroft, general manager of RSA House, run by events caterer Harbour & Jones, also showed how food can become visual theatre and underpin interactive experiences for guests, if you apply a little imagination to presentation, serving techniques and taste.

8 Northumberland Avenue’s own catering team Alchemy demonstrated exactly how that is done with a brilliant breakfast menu that included mini Full English breakfasts served on slate squares, mini egg benedict, ‘posh porridge’ in mini bowls and three varieties of flavoured milk served from the crate in mini glass milk bottles, with straws.

TWC later took guests by surprise as Tracy Halliwell, London & Partners’ director of business tourism and major events, was ‘invited’ onto stage to deliver a special message of encouragement to buyers considering London as a business destination. Guests were none-the-wiser that she had magic powers as she spoke inspiringly about TWC’s role in delivering London’s future 2020 vision for business tourism, until she exploded into a bluster of feathers before re-emerging as a chiming, twirling 3D hologram of Big Ben. She had never really been on stage at all – it was all a holographic illusion created by Musion (and filmed in advance of the event).

Destination Westminster marked 8 Northumberland Avenue’s debut of this Musion technology and a dynamic presentation then followed incorporating true-to-life musical performances, animated presenting techniques and interactive graphics led by Musion director Ian O’Connell.

Robin Parker, TWC’s marketing director, said: “This year’s showcase delivered a thought provoking experience for both our event buying guests and member venues. It was great to see several new members exhibiting for the first time this year and many venues relished the opportunity to tell events organisers about the developments they have made to their meetings and events facilities in the last 12 months. The feedback from both members and guests has been very positive.

“The aim of the Showcase has always been to sell the destination first, highlighting Westminster as an area with the whole package. It’s not just for events, but for lifestyle, culture and entertainment and we hope that our Destination Westminster guests enjoyed the opportunity to meet and network with 50 of the borough’s finest.”

For news and updates from TWC, follow @Venues_Wminster on twitter and use #DestinationWestminster to join the showcase conversation.