WVC members are shortlisted for prestigious 2017 miaList

Westminster Venue Collection is delighted to announce staff from member venues Cavendish Venues and the QEII Centre have been short-listed for a place on the Meetings Industry Association’s coveted miaList.

Paul Martins from Cavendish Venues and Roopi Woodall, Roberto Goncalves, and Charlotte Best from the QEII Centre are all hoping to have secured a place on the prestigious 2017 roll of honour, which recognises key individuals from the meetings, hospitality and events industries who go above and beyond the call of duty.

We wish Paul, Roopi, Roberto and Charlotte the very best of luck when the winners are announced at a celebratory lunch on Friday, 6 October 2017 at Park Plaza Victoria, London.

Follow us @Venues_Wminster for updates and news on this, and all other WVC news.

Westminster Venue Collection appoints Diane Waldron as chair

Westminster Venue Collection is delighted to announce Diane Waldron, director of sales and marketing at the QEII Centre, has been appointed as our new chair.

Under Diane’s expert leadership, which is drawn from a number of years in the sector, she will be implementing in a range of new initiatives designed to make the collection of 34 venues more visible and accessible to event buyers.

Following hot on the heels of our appearance at The Meetings Show last month, we will be exhibiting at Square Meal Venues and Events Live at Old Billingsgate on 20-21 September, which offers another fantastic opportunity for us to meet organisers face-to-face to discuss your current and future requirements.

Diane takes over from Clare Arouche, former head of business development at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, who has now joined Royal Museums Greenwich as head of sales and events.

If you would like to find out more about us, what we do, and how we can make venue finding faster, easier and more efficient, click here.

QEII Centre obtains prestigious Investors in People Silver Award

London’s QEII Centre is celebrating after being presented with the highly-coveted Investors in People ‘Silver Standard’ award.

The Investors in People Standard is a framework of best practice, awarded to well-run organisations that meet set criteria in areas including learning and development, leadership skills, as well as recognition and reward.

To achieve the Silver Standard Award, employees of QEII completed an online survey and members of the team were randomly selected for interviews with the assessor, in which they were asked how they felt about working at QEII and the company’s vision and values.

The Investors in People assessor saw the motivation and enthusiasm of the QEII team shine through, acknowledging the hard work and dedication in delivering the venue’s vision to be acclaimed as London’s finest specialist events venue, with a global reputation for excellence, superb client partnership working and the delivery of successful, creative, professional and innovative events.

QEII was first accredited by Investors in People in 1998. Once an organisation has achieved the Core Standard they are encouraged to strive to reach a higher level of accreditation (silver, gold or platinum) to better themselves by demonstrating further evidence to meet tougher criteria.

Raj Pragji, HR director at the QEII Centre said: “Only 24% of Investors in People accredited organisations achieve Silver or Gold status, so I’m really proud to say that QEII Centre is one of the prestigious few. We’ve worked very hard over the past 24 months to engage staff with our Transforming Together Change Programme and it’s really paid off, resulting in us being in an incredibly strong market position. It’s great that we’ve been recognised for going above and beyond in such a key area of people management.”

For more information about the QEII Centre, visit www.qeiicentre.london.

8 Northumberland Avenue secures Caterer’s best places to work title

8 Northumberland Avenue of Northumberland Events has been named as one of the best places to work in hospitality by The Caterer.

Committed to providing a positive and productive working environment, the venue has established core values to unify employees in a shared understanding of how to interact and behave. This in-turn has created a co-operative, respectful and productive working environment which helps employees feel part of the business and motivates them to deliver great service.

Each department worked together to develop these core values, captured in a framework called the 31 Practices. A representative from each division was an ambassador for the values, which include: ‘We cheer each other on and remember to say thank you’, and ‘We use positive body language and words’.

The other initiative is the company’s investment in Insights Discovery Profiling – a tool designed to improve self-awareness and development and to support interaction among colleagues.

Most recently the venue introduced a Share incentive plan, the company says it is aware people spend a lot of time at work and it is ‘committed to creating the best environment for employees to enable them to love what they do and in turn deliver excellence’.

To find out more about 8 Northumberland Avenue click here.

Events staff supplier commits £100k to skills training

Events staff supplier and training provider Off to Work has pledged to invest £100,000 into the training of its casual staff team this year, as announced at the company’s recent Event School.

Inspiring service staff, hospitality and events professionals to be more creative in the way they style, design and market all aspects of their events offering was central to the theme of this year’s Event School, an initiative created and run by Off to Work to deliver a programme of practical skills training to its staff teams, clients and to students and the wider events and hospitality industry.

Event School saw workshops in event photography, wine buying for events and designer cocktail mixing combine with lessons in persuasive copywriting, proposal crafting and effective use of technology and social media, all hosted at Off to Work’s dedicated London training academy, the London Irish Centre, in Camden on 9th and 10th April 2013.

“We understand the huge steps many of our clients have been making in the development of their service product and it is our commitment to provide them with a staffing resource that mirrors their service standards,” said Robert Persson, director of operations for Off to Work.

“We have always been 100% committed to the training and mentoring of our team and this year we’re pleased to pledge a £100,000 investment into training initiatives especially for our casual staff team. While people may work for us on a casual basis, their commitment is far from casual and so we are eager to give these ambitious staff, at all levels, the opportunity to develop their experience and career with Off to Work.”

Workshop speakers included Simon Owen, director of Red Photographic, Miriam Staley, former finalist on The Apprentice and now managing director of speaker sourcing agency MakeWaves, Carlos Blanco of Blanco & Gomez Wine Merchants, David Wise from Wise Productions and events consultant Emma Boardman of The Lovely Party Company. Off to Work was also delighted to have the involvement and support of ISES, with operations manager Toni Griggs leading the workshop on event marketing technology.

Former Off to Work employee Keri Moss, winner of Masterchef: The Professionals and now head chef at The Corner Restaurant at Selfridges, also joined Nick Mead, director of Eden Caterers, Vicky O’Hare, managing director of Party Ingredients and Gerald Aberdeen, executive head chef for Table Talk, in a lively panel discussion about the challenges of designing menus with locally sourced produce when the UK’s seasons are so temperamental. They also discussed the opportunity the events industry has to speed up how quickly it takes lessons and influences from the food and dining trends paved by the fashionable restaurant set.

Sharing positive feedback on her experience at Event School 2013, Jada Johnson, events manager for Eden Caterers, said: “We all found it to be informative and worth our time. I really enjoyed my two classes. The copywriting class was really good, with some good techniques I will be putting into practice in our blog and in my proposals. I’m sure you were all really pleased with the increased turn out on last year. The list of attendees also meant that I met some interesting people.”

The workshop programme was followed on the evening of 10th April by the Off to Work London Staff Awards, a special celebration of the star performers within the Off to Work staff team. Prize categories ranged from Staff Member of the Year – won by Himali Ginige Palihawadana – and Best Event Porter (Peter Korkhill), to Best Supervisor (Vittore Zanardi) and Most Improved (Alessandro Riccarelli).

Why events industry workers need to relax and take a break

By Clare Hodgkinson, Marketing Executive, Church House Conference Centre

In an increasingly hectic and busy world many professionals go all day with little or no breaks. With deadlines approaching, business deals to make, clients to meet and targets to reach, many individuals find themselves working throughout their lunch break, and working well into the evening and even the night.

According to BUPA, taking regular breaks is of great importance. This statement may come as no great surprise to you and you may still firmly hold the opinion that you simply do not have time due to a heavy workload. Actually, by not taking a break you are decreasing your productivity and increasing the chance of making errors and mistakes.

Taking breaks helps to maintain energy levels and minimise stress, help improve concentration and reduce the risk of getting headaches, muscle and joint stiffness, fatigue, and sore eyes (BUPA, 2009).

For individuals working in the events industry, taking a break is especially important due to the notoriously long hours, late nights and early mornings. What many people don’t appreciate is that guests at an event only see a small part of the efforts and time that is put into the organising, setting up and break down of an event. Furthermore, with pressure to meet deadlines and deliver an event of the upmost quality, dedicated events teams can sometimes overlook their own wellbeing.

It should also not be forgotten, however, that the same rule applies for delegates attending conferences and meetings. It is important that delegates have regular breaks, not only for their own health and wellbeing but also to help ensure that they get the most out of the event and can remember the key information or message that is being put across by the speakers.

There are many fun and interesting ways in which to use breaks, other than the obvious being teas, coffees and light refreshments. At Church House Conference Centre, delegates can experience a break with a difference by playing Wii Olympics on the Centre’s brand new 64” screens.

Alternatively, outside of conferences and meetings, some professionals make sure they make the most of their breaks by booking themselves into spas, such as The Sanctuary, for the ‘Sleep Retreat’. 25 minutes of this relaxing and meditative experience is said to provide total mind and body relaxation through the use of low frequency sound waves which cause a gentle vibration to relax the body and any muscle tension (The Sanctuary Spa, 2012).

This of course is a rather indulgent and I dare say expensive way to spend your break…if only every company included regular ‘Sleep Retreat’ sessions as fringe benefits!



Sources of reference:

BUPA (2009) ‘The importance of taking breaks’ BUPA.

The Sanctuary (2012) ‘Sleep Retreat’. Available: http://www.thesanctuary.co.uk/spa-sound-wave-therapy.htm. Accessed: 24th January, 2012.

Interview Techniques

By Jo Sweeney, account director at Troika Recruitment


Let’s face it, in Events we are a bunch of extroverts who usually love to meet people, talk about the industry and share our experience. So, with all these great personalities, it would be logical to think that the whole business of sitting down to interview would be relatively easy, almost pleasurable in fact. The truth is though interviewing well requires a whole different approach and all too often candidates can come away from a conversation with that feeling of “I know I could have done better”.

To get the conversation started on how to avoid a disappointing interview, here are some tips to get you thinking:

Be prepared. Such a basic point but you would be amazed how many people come unstuck for both very senior and more junior appointments on this very basic criteria. Research of the broader market is essential; make sure you research the competition as well. Know some key facts about the person you are meeting, their background and career pathway. Research should not be limited to the company’s own website, there is endless information of course on the web but don’t underestimate the information that exists within your own network also. Talk to your clients, have they aware of the business you are hoping to secure employment with and what were their impressions?

Don’t oversell. This one is less obvious and there is a fine line to tread of course between letting someone know how great you are and sharing too much detail. In initial interviews, clients will look for detail to back up your achievements, for example the level of turnover you have been responsible for. But, don’t feel you have to give away the whole of your knowledge at this stage. Interviewers will appreciate a level of professional discretion from you, if you were to join them this would be a quality they would expect to see from you toward their own business.

Be quantifiable. If you are asked to talk about an area of your achievement then you will need to have some strong examples to back this up. Here you can highlight the headlines, what the business was worth, how you won it or how you delivered a fantastic event in a challenging situation. Make sure you can illustrate points and actions that were directly within your personal control, avoid the “we did this” or “the team and I “ type of responses and try to focus on what you personally did. This will illustrate what you have to offer in such a way that the interviewer gets a strong sense of what you can deliver.