Cavendish Venues bolsters proactive team with new appointment

Chloë Bennett has joined Cavendish Venues as event sales executive.

Chloë will bring to the team a fresh enthusiasm with sales experience from the property and construction industries as well as the real estate sector.

Along with proactive sales, Chloë will offer creative input on social media and marketing utilising her events knowledge gained from her time at the National Theatre.

Commenting on the appointment, Paul Martins, director of sales at Cavendish Venues said: “At Cavendish Venues we’re passionate about growing the business by recognising rising young talent in the industry and Chloë’s appointment is part of that initiative. It’s too often the case that good people leave the MICE sector to progress their careers in other fields and so it’s extremely important to highlight the positives the events industry has, to continue to bring in exciting prospects with the right personalities, skill-sets and attitudes”

He added: “We are extremely excited to have Chloë on board with us and we believe that continuing to offer experience and encouragement along with the platforms to succeed for our staff, will only strengthen the high standards Cavendish Venues is known for.”

For more information about Cavendish Venues click here.

Spotlight on Cavendish Venue’s event sales executive

After the recent 21st anniversary questions with Cavendish Venues past and present, this month’s spotlight falls on Hadleigh Miles, event sales executive at Cavendish Venues.

 What has been your most embarrassing moment in events?

This would have to be The Westminster Collection’s 2015 Christmas showcase where I ended up sitting on Santa’s lap!

What gets you up and out of bed in the morning?

My cat who has a pre-set alarm for feeding at 7.00AM which doesn’t go down well on Saturday mornings.

What do you enjoy most about working at Cavendish Venues?

As obvious as it may sound, it has to be the events themselves. Coming in every day to see each client put their own stamp on one of our 7 venues is always a joy to see and work with each day.

What is your most-watched film?

This would definitely be Straight Outta Compton. After over 10 times of watching it, I think it’s safe to say this is my new favourite film! (although both Jump Street movies came very close).

What is your favourite band/artist:

Some people may find this surprising but I am a huge heavy metal fan and as the band I have seen live the most times my favourite has to be Slipknot!

Describe yourself in three words:

Amiable, outgoing, determined.

If you could invite five people past and present to dinner who would they be?

Ray Charles, Anthony Hopkins, Corey Taylor, Robin Williams, Ray Liotta.

What would be your dream car?

Pagani, Zonda.

If you would like to find out more about Cavendish Venues or talk to them about your next event, please click here.

5 reasons why entering awards is good for business

What’s the story behind awards? Why do we enter them and what does it actually mean to win them in business terms? Diane Waldron, sales and marketing director at the QEII Centre, reveals all.

Last year was truly glittering for so many reasons, but the spangled stash of gold we’ve claimed from multiple awards ceremonies is worthy of special mention. We’ve triumphed at showing our best face to judges in a catalogue of awards that celebrate all specialisms in our business – people, customer service, marketing, catering and leadership.

One year on from our Gold win for Best Large Venue at the Eventia Awards 2014, we’ve achieved incredible momentum, with the QEII Centre having now won and been shortlisted for multiple awards for work across all areas of the business, including being named Best Venue Events Team at the EVCOM Live Awards 2015 (we were ‘Highly Commended’ in this same category in 2014), Best Venue Customer Service at the London Venue Awards 2015 and AV Service Team of the Year at the AV Awards 2015.

QEII Live AV Project Manager Jo Shore was also shortlisted as AV Professional of the Year. The centre also achieved a high commendation at the C&IT Awards 2015 for Best UK Conference Venue and was a finalist in the UK Event Awards, for Corporate Event of the Year and Event Marketing & PR Strategy of the Year, both in respect of the experiential rebrand launch party held in November 2014.

QEII Taste has achieved wins too, with Tomas Varo, Karolina Lewandowska and Kimberley Powell all nominated for the Compass Be A Star Awards. It was here where Karolina won the Can Do Award.

Leith’s also received Silver recognition as Best Food & Beverage Supplier in the M&IT Awards 2015. Let’s not forget Mark Taylor either, whose commitment and drive to modernise the centre saw him win the miaList Leadership Award 2015, an accolade for which we nominated him.

So what’s the story behind awards? Why do we enter them and what does it actually mean to win them in business terms? Here are my five key reasons:

1) We can’t overlook the exceptional impact these recent award wins have had on our overall morale and productivity. Being rewarded for being wonderful customer service experts for example is a big pat on the back for the hard work you all put in to nurturing relationships with our clients.

2) Awards like these don’t surface from ‘PR puff’ – the criteria for entry is strict and much of the judges’ assessments are made via our demonstrations of the impact we’ve had on our customers’ experiences in hosting events here at the centre. It’s our clients’ testimonials, our ability to relay results, our skills at tackling challenges head on and finding solutions and our customer satisfaction and retention statistics that secure votes.

3) Awards reward innovation and systematic planning. Our written entries have to detail step-by-step processes and really lead judges through logical, very visual storytelling to paint a picture of a campaign and most importantly demonstrate its impact and outcomes. We use photography, video, data, quotes and social media conversation. Our PR and marketing agency Custard Communications has offered terrific support to help us achieve this impactful storytelling.

4) Winning business awards is great PR because it demonstrates externally that our centre is excelling. They’re a benchmarking tool, they increase our credibility and through strategic selection of categories, they can successfully highlight areas of the business of which we are exceptionally proud, such as our customer service and our AV credentials.

5) They can open doors to securing new contracts, finding new supply channels and breaking into new markets. They can help us attract new talent too. Ultimately, they help shape perceptions of what we can be and do as a centre, so we’re still celebrating our fantastic wins in 2015 and are hopeful of more mantelpiece bling in 2016!

Off to Work Training Academy launches ‘How to…’ video demos for events staff

Events and hospitality staff can now access six brand new, bitesize training videos, produced by hospitality staff supplier and training provider Off to Work (OTW).

Available free of charge via OTW’s online video channel OTV, the light-hearted demonstrations have been created in response to demand for interactive learning experiences, with Off to Work trainers walking viewers through simple, step-by-step instructions for making lip-smacking cocktails like the rum Daiquiri and the Gin Collins. They also talk about the history of the spirits, where they come from and what they’re best used for.

See barista Thomas “Ricco” Reid brew and pour a perfect ‘flat white’ as he explains how this popular Australian coffee style differs from the latte. Learn how to box a table too, with smart tablecloth folding tips from Terry Jones, before perfecting elegant up-do, the hair bun – an event grooming staple made easy by Annie Jones and hair model Susanna Born.

Off to Work Training Academy uses these short videos as refreshers for basic but essential events and hospitality skills and they’re free for anyone to download and watch from the OTW website. Other videos in the series include tips on how to open and pour wine and champagne, how to tie a Double Windsor knot and how to clear five plates from a table.

How to make a flat whitePresented by Thomas “Ricco” Reid
How to make a Bloody MaryPresented by Jazz Evans
How to make a DaiquiriPresented by Terry Jones
How to make a Gin CollinsPresented by Josh Smith
How to box a tablePresented by Terry Jones
How to make a hair bunPresented by Annie Jones, with hair model Susanna Born

Speaking of the launch of the new hospitality skills videos, Matthew Hubbard, OTW’s service development director, says:

“These new video instalments in the Off to Work training library are produced to support the extensive classroom and practical hospitality training we provide our team and clients. While an open resource for all in the hospitality industry, they help to deliver the exacting standards we believe in and enable amazing experiences for our clients and their guests.”

View or download OTV’s complete series of ‘How to…’ videos free of charge.

Booking event space online? You could be missing out on inside knowledge from venue staff

By Clare Hodgkinson, marketing executive, Church House Conference Centre

For event organisers time is precious. Today, through advances in technology, event organisers are being given the option to take a virtual tour of a venue, book event space, catering and AV, and make payment at the click of a button. But is this the way forward for all venues?

Are those venues that don’t have online booking facilities regarded as old fashioned and missing out on business? Will all event booking be done online in future?

There are many advantages to online booking, but it may not necessarily be the most practical option for everyone. For venues with similar sized event spaces, online booking could be a feasible option, but for unique venues with diverse event spaces, like those at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster, these are more effectively booked by the in-house events team. That’s because it’s the in-house events team which has the best insight into the most suitable event spaces for the client sourcing a space for a particular event. It’s also because they know the tricks for maximising space.

Having that human element in your booking process means you are talking to an events professional, whether that is via telephone or by coming to a venue to meet their team and have a showround. This one-to-one interaction can have a significant influence on whether a booking is made.

The friendliness and professionalism of a venue’s team is often a crucial factor, and this of course cannot be judged online. Furthermore, it is still widely acknowledged that people buy from people.

In addition to these factors, it has to be questioned whether it is a good thing for clients to be able to see availability. Due to the logic of supply and demand, if a client sees there are very few bookings around the time of their event, they may be inclined to push down the pricing significantly. Furthermore, if a venue is suffering from lack of business, it is unlikely this is something they would want to advertise.

So what’s the solution? Is it about finding a compromise? Having some event spaces and services available for booking online whilst keeping others offline? Or should venues that choose to keep booking offline simply pride themselves in the personal and friendly service they offer? People are, after all, at the very heart of the events industry.

Above and Beyond…

By David Vaughton, venues director, EEF Venues

One of the key ingredients of a successful event is the venue – the setting in which the event will take place. As an event planner it’s essential to choose a venue that your clients will love, and that goes above and beyond in terms of providing excellent customer service.

With an increase in customer expectations, the availability of superior technology, a variety of dining options and a range of room choices all as standard in many event venues, choosing a venue that goes the extra mile with their customer service is what will ensure your event stands out.

From the moment that a client walks into a venue, they should be greeted in a friendly and enthusiastic manner, and be shown around the facilities by a team member who is knowledgeable about their event and willing to help with any additional requirements they may have. Every client wants to feel valued, and if a venue can convey this then their experience will be greatly improved, in turn reflecting well on your service as an event planner.

The events team at an exceptional venue should be passionate about event organisation and be eager to meet and exceed each and every customer’s expectations, rather than just caring about the fee they’ll receive at the end. Superior service and a commitment to ensuring the highest of quality throughout is one of the most important things to look out for when you are choosing a venue as an event planner. Finding a team that is passionate about perfecting every nook and cranny of the customer experience is not always that easy but it is well worth the hunt. Venues where every single staff member takes total ownership of customer care offers you peace of mind and your event attendees a first class experience that they will want to repeat.

By taking into consideration the real importance of outstanding customer service you will be able to provide outstanding events for each and every one of your clients.

Finally, it is also well worth considering choosing a venue where the pricing structure is clear and easy to follow, with no hidden extras, a feature promised by all of the venues within EEF Venues’ portfolio. Not only will this make your life easier but your client will really appreciate a clear outline of the costs involved rather than being met with an array of nasty surprises later down the line.