It’s a misconception that cost limits creativity, says Robin Parker, marketing director for The Westminster Collection (TWC). Venues face this challenge daily but it’s incredible the impact you can make when you deconstruct each stage of the planning process and apply a little imagination.
Not every event organiser has the luxury of large event budgets at their disposal. Fortunately they needn’t panic that they have to work miracles alone. Just because funds aren’t excessive doesn’t mean events have to present any less of a wow-factor.
Venues are used to their clients’ tightened purse strings. In the same way that event organisers feverishly brainstorm for the hook that will snag delegates (who are dubious about whether it will be time well spent), so too do venue event teams and their suppliers. We’ve become extremely resourceful at conjuring up alternative ways of working to deliver maximum value.
The real definition of being creative is being resourceful, practical and (dare I say it) original. At Church House, generally we can be more flexible with our hire prices on Mondays and Fridays. Buying into a package with a fixed day delegate rate (DDR) is not always the most cost-effective option. Sometimes it is worth looking at the breakdown of costs and questioning if you really need everything that is included.
Plan ahead and think about what comes next. Expressing interest in booking a series of events in one go creates great bargaining power, as does trying to negotiate with people face-to-face whenever you can. It’s a lot easier to be shot down with a ‘no’ over the phone.
If entertainment is on your agenda, be smart about how you source your act. Is it really essential to blow so much of your budget on a big-name, high-cost performance? How about unearthing an act that’s less well known? Showcase new talent, introduce something new.
The Westminster Collection will be discussing the challenge of cost versus creativity and bringing practical solutions and advice within a dedicated ‘Unleash Your Creativity’ workshop at Destination Westminster 2013, our annual London venue showcase event, featuring all 50 members of TWC. The event will take place from 8.30 – 11.30am on Friday 13th September, at 8 Northumberland Avenue.
Here’s what some of our venue members have to say about how to marry resourcefulness and creativity:
Anna Peters, marketing director, Evolve Events at Kent House Knightsbridge, says:
“Creativity in the event industry is about bringing a brand or someone’s vision to life. Increasingly we are being asked by our clients how they can make their events more impactful, punchy and memorable.
“Providing an ‘umbrella’ concept, under which all activities fall, helps the event become more focused and effective. Taking 1920s style influences from The Great Gatsby and Bugsy Malone, we recently created a themed conference for our client Pret. Delegates were invited to dress the part with feather boas, spats and headbands galore and they were welcomed into our townhouse with Prosecco served in saucers. After lunch, a flapper girl troupe performed the Charleston and blackjack and roulette tables encouraged team play and socialising.
“Styles and themes are particularly successful for private conferences where we are seeing companies combining their annual conference with an away day, by adding an entertainment element to an information based day. Holding the two events together saves on time and budget and maximises the benefits of having all staff or delegates together.”
Charles Boyd, director of 8 Northumberland Avenue, says:
“Any fool can be creative with a pile of money. It doesn’t matter if it’s £500,000 worth of lights and software or an interesting toilet roll holder, show the client, your staff or your boss that you have engaged your mind positively and have created and tested an imaginative solution that will in turn engage the client and guests.
“But first you need to talk, get into the culture of the company or situation, then ask what do you want to achieve, what are the key concerns, what is the true budget?”
Nikki Hird, events sales coordinator, 41 Portland Place, says:
“It is paramount for us to create an environment that our guests want to spend their time in, whether for corporate meetings and press briefings or dinners and drinks receptions. The finer details really are essential.
“I use a lot of references from Pinterest, where I find ideas for DIY event dressing and creative ways to set up the rooms. The 41 Portland Place summer showcase was no different. The theme was Street.Food.Party which took influence from the fashionable street food culture of East London. Our venue isn’t in the east, nor does it resemble anything like a warehouse that could be found in the east end. It was therefore my job to bring Shoreditch to Marylebone.
“My favourite trick is to use fishbowls which I borrow from our florist, fill them with fruit (chillis, lemons, limes, apples) and top up with water. Instantly you have a centrepiece or room filler. We also made garlands from chillies to hang around the venue and we filled every surface with spice scented tea lights.”
Claire Bowman, sales manager, etc.venues Victoria:
“Creativity is a big focus at etc.venues as we try to have both creative and functional space in the venue. We have lots of contemporary art work and bright colours throughout the venue to provide discussion and stimulate the attendees. We also have a few pieces of art work from one of our members of staff that he created him self from recycled coffee stirrers.
“As we do everything in house at the venue it really gives us the ability to work with clients’ budgets closely. Our chefs can do food challenges and really get involved with the delegates and we work closely with teambuilding companies, which means they know the space well and can offer the best value for money. They’re also always happy to come along for a show-round with the client at our venue which means they can rest secure in knowing they are being looked after and can brainstorm face to face in the space they want to use!”
Feed your imagination with ideas for how and where to hold your next event within London’s most illustrious business and lifestyle destination, Westminster, at our special 10th anniversary venue showcase, taking place at London’s most central venue, 8 Northumberland Avenue.
This is a FREE breakfast networking and educational event for anyone* in the business of booking corporate and private events, meetings and conferences. Click here to REGISTER NOW.