QEII Centre to inspire Londoners with #SparkSesh workshops

Westminster’s QEII Centre is looking to get Londoners inspired this summer by hosting a series of creative #SparkSesh workshops.

Part of QEII’s 30th birthday celebrations, the 90-minute fun and interactive events will cover storytelling, introspective reflection, creative vision and how to get ahead in all aspects of life.

The first #SparkSesh, ‘Stories That Move People To Action’, will take place on Tuesday 28 June at 6pm.

Run in partnership with London-based creative agency Just Add Water, the session will use film clips and popular media as part of interactive activities to show attendees what makes a great story and how storytelling can be used to influence other people’s way of thinking.

Roopi Woodall, marketing manager at QEII Centre said: “If you’re feeling like you’re at a bit of a creative stand-still or struggling to get ahead in life, #SparkSesh could be what you need to start feeling reinvigorated and seeing life from a new perspective. The events will be positive, insightful and memorable – you’d be surprised how much can change in just an hour and a half of creative thinking.”

The following three #SparkSesh events will take place in September. Monday 12 September will be all about creativity, Thursday 15 September will be looking at why people do what they do and on Tuesday 20 September the final session will look ahead to articulating the future.

Ian McKechnie from Just Add Water added: “These workshops will help attendees to think in new and exciting ways, put their ideas across more powerfully and get what they want in life. The first #SparkSesh focusing on storytelling is perfect for anyone who wants to be more engaging and connect with people on a more emotional level. Facts can only take you so far, but stories are a far more powerful way of influencing outcomes.”

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 [email protected] 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.

Creative gurus accept challenge to Unleash Your Creativity at TWC showcase

Don’t miss incredible nuggets of creative wisdom from true experts in their fields at a special panel debate taking place at Destination Westminster, The Westminster Collection’s annual venue showcase and networking event.

On Friday 13th September, events professionals are invited to get together and enjoy a delicious, free breakfast prepared by our host venue 8 Northumberland Avenue, while chatting with the 50 wonderful venues we have within The Westminster Collection – all of whom are exhibiting within 8 Northumberland Avenue‘s stunning Ballroom.

At 9:00am, our panel of marketing, food, social media and live event gurus will kick off the Unleash Your Creativity forum. They aim to open your mind to what can be achieved when you inject imagination and resourcefulness into event planning and focus on creating new and memorable experiences.

The Unleash Your Creativity forum panellists include:

Jonathan Byrne, chief operating officer, No.4 Hamilton Place (chairperson)

Katie McPhee, senior community manager, Eventbrite

Jez Paxman, creative strategy director, Live Union

Katy Hadcroft, general manager, Harbour & Jones at RSA House

Sam Michel, founder, Chinwag & executive director, Social Media Week London

Stephen Moore, founder & chairman, IP-Config.com

Click here to read speaker biographies.

Learn why you need to think ‘big picture’ and broaden expectations of what an event should do for brand awareness. Be inspired by the digital and social engagement techniques that can be built into an event or marketing campaign to give it legs, to really grip the target audience and to ensure there’s conversation across channels.

Hear how to bring innovation and the ‘wow’ factor to the canapé, lunch or dinner plate and nod to food fashions, while remaining firmly within budget. Discover more about the psychology behind live experiences and how you can maximise the value of your event by viewing your venue as part of a destination, not a standalone site. Take the opportunity to ask these experts questions about your own event plans in a dedicated Q&A session.

Chair of the panel Jonathan Byrne, who is chief operating office at No.4 Hamilton Place and board director at The Westminster Collection, said:

“Destination marketing is vital in order to grow business tourism and to reinforce the breadth of opportunities in London right now. Westminster is so well located, with a wealth of arts, culture and entertainment to absorb in and around the West End of London. This showcase and particularly the panel is about harnessing this energy, bringing together a cluster of seriously creative people and sharing techniques for engagement, event planning and delivery. Our challenge as a panel is to inspire you to be original.”

Destination Westminster takes place from 8:30 – 11:30am on Friday 13th September 2013, at TWC venue 8 Northumberland Avenue. Discover 50 incredible central London venues and network with each of their events teams during a special 10th anniversary showcase, complete with complimentary breakfast and refreshments.

To register for FREE, and for more information about the timings and full programme for the showcase and panel discussion, click here.

Tweet about this event using hashtag #DestinationWestminster #UnleashYourCreativity and our Twitter handle @Venues_Wminster.

Unleash Your Creativity forum: The speakers

Don’t miss incredible nuggets of creative wisdom from true experts in their fields at a special panel debate taking place at Destination Westminster, The Westminster Collection’s annual venue showcase and networking event.

At 9:00am, a specially selected panel of marketing, food, social media and live event gurus will kick off the Unleash Your Creativity forum in the Old Billiard Room. They aim to open your mind to what can be achieved when you inject imagination and resourcefulness into event planning and focus on creating new and memorable experiences.

Katie McPhee, Senior Community Manager, Eventbrite UK

Katie McPhee, EventbriteKatie joined Eventbrite from the BBC in 2011 and was the company’s first employee in Europe. She runs the UK’s social media, co-ordinates all Eventbrite events, sources partnerships and manages a growing community of event organisers in the UK. Katie also works closely with event organisers advising on social media strategy.





Jez Paxman, strategy & creative director, Live Union

Jez Paxman, Live UnionJez helped found Live Union in 2009, based on a belief that the role and potential of events within the business and internal communications landscape was rapidly shifting.

An approach anchored in understanding where the true delegate value lies for a particular audience has seen Live Union build a client base that includes EDF Energy, Oracle, AXA, TripAdvisor, Nokia and Amnesty International.

A particular passion for Jez is the merging of live and digital channels to redefine what an event can be and what it can achieve for audiences.

Jez regularly participates in industry forums, blogs on all things live and contributes to the Narrative Environments MA course at Central Saint Martins.


Katy Hadcroft, general manager, RSA House for Harbour & Jones

Katy Hadcroft, RSA House Katy started her career in London after four years of studying Hospitality Management at Manchester University. She quickly became the Event Manager for Searcy’s at the Royal Opera House which saw her organise many high profile and glamorous events including the BAFTA awards for over 1000 celebrities, Condé Nast flagship GQ Man of the Year Awards and Chelsea Football Club’s Centenary Dinner.

Wanting to develop her skills further, a move into outside event catering led to experiencing a career defining moment…Lewis Hamilton arriving by helicopter to Exxon Mobile’s Silverstone Grand Prix party for 650 with oysters and amazing cocktails.

Katy’s career path then entered the world of contract catering where she joined boutique and sustainable catering company Harbour and Jones as a General Manager in 2010 working at 76 Portland Place before taking a short career break to travel. She re-joined Harbour and jones in January this year firstly working on projects and then becoming the General Manager at the Royal Society of Arts.

Katy is happiest when she is putting together creative quotes for clients, organising events and sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for food.


Sam Michel, founder, Chinwag

Sam Michel, ChinwagSam founded Chinwag in 1996 to support the nascent digital marketing industry. The organisation has grown alongside the industry, whilst Sam has held positions as arguably the UK’s first paid webmaster for Time Out magazine, part of the founding management team of the UK’s first web agency, Webmedia and the start-up team at digital off-shoot of TV firm Carlton (now part of ITV).

He’s launched numerous events including Chinwag Psych, international startup series Digital Mission and he’s the Executive Director of Social Media Week London, part of a global collaborative event series taking place in 26 cities wordlwide. Sam is a member of the global advisory board. Consultancy clients include UK Trade & Investment, Open Data Institute, the BBC, the Technology Strategy Board and he’s an active participant in a number of start-up accelerators.





Stephen Moore, founder & chairman, IP-Config.com

Stephen MooreStephen has 25 years’ experience in business, founding, financing and operating a number of companies, including IP-Config.com, a business performance consultancy specialising in innovation and growth. Stephen is also chairman of 8 Northumberland Avenue, HarvestDigital and Visual Voice. He believes that innovation is an evolutionary process for survival, differentiation and sustained business growth. An essential component of every business, the skill is running innovation effectively and making it a core cultural component of the organisation.


Jonathan Byrne, chief operating officer, Royal Aeronautical Society at No.4 Hamilton Place

Jonathan ByrneJonathan Byrne has a wealth of experience in the Events and Hospitality industry, culminating in his current role as Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Aeronautical Society where he is responsible for the operational functions of the learned society, including marketing its Park Lane, Mayfair, headquarters No. 4 Hamilton Place as a meeting and events venue.

Jonathan joined the Society from Westminster’s Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where, as Commercial Director, he oversaw the planning for the Chilcot Enquiry. He worked previously with Mint Hotels in the group-wide role of General Manager – Meetings & Events, developing the hotel group’s meetings and events product. For the seven years prior to this, Jonathan was Group Sales & Marketing Director, responsible for driving the brand and leading the sales and marketing functions at a strategic level across the nine businesses of the Crown Group.


To register for FREE, and for more information about the timings and full programme for the showcase and panel discussion, click here.

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 [email protected].

RSA House launches free venue app for event organisers

RSA House has launched a free venue app for busy event organisers with iPhones and Android devices. The easy-to-use app works as a virtual brochure displaying information about the venue, including its history, 360-degree images of all 13 event spaces, with details of room capacity and seasonal menus.

Easily accessible on the move, the app allows organisers to contact the venue directly via telephone and email with one touch. Organisers hosting an event at RSA House have access to an event specific area within the app called ‘My Event’. This section creates a virtual hub for events which can be accessed by the event organiser and delegates, allowing them secure access to practical information such as the event schedule, a list of invitees and the menu.

Other specified content can be created and uploaded to the section by the venue’s dedicated event manager.

Corporate sales and marketing manager Tim Barrett-Jolley said: “Our app makes the event organiser’s job easier not only in terms of relaying details of the event to attendees, but it also enables them to keep vital information in one place and accessible at all times no matter where they are. It will be very useful for Hybrid Events, whether connecting offices globally or live streaming, as everyone will have access to timings, speakers, breaks – all the important information.”

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.

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.