Make your budget go further with 8 Northumberland Avenue

Delivering a fantastic event on a budget can be a challenge but certainly not impossible. To help you make sure your budget goes that little bit further, 8 Northumberland Avenue has rounded-up their top tips for cutting down on cost, not quality:

Be flexible with your dates:
Choosing a Monday or Friday for your event can save you, on average, 25% on venue hire and sometimes even up to 50%. A Monday conference is a great way to initiate a productive week and a Friday reception will allow your guests to really let their hair down and with potential savings of up to half-price, you really have nothing to lose.

Think about the month
As with days of the week, some months are more popular than others. We have found that January and April are great months to book when your budget is limited, as they tend to be slightly less popular meaning prices are generally lower than more sought-after months like August or July.

Limit your options, not your quality
Opting for a limited menu means saving up to 10% on costs but at 8 Northumberland Avenue we ensure this does not compromise on quality for our guests. Our event partners AlchemyLive will guarantee impeccable food and service no matter what your budget may be and will work with you to deliver your event vision at a realistic and achievable cost.

For more information on how to deliver a fantastic event regardless of your budget, contact the team, today at [email protected]

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.

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,

Stephen MooreStephen has 25 years’ experience in business, founding, financing and operating a number of companies, including, 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.

Register now: Destination Westminster

The Westminster Collection (TWC) is pleased to welcome anyone in the business of booking corporate and private events, meetings and conferences to register now for Destination Westminster, its 10th anniversary London venue showcase. The event takes place on Friday 13th September 2013 at London’s most central venue, 8 Northumberland Avenue, from 8.30am – 11.30am.

The breakfast showcase event, which is free to attend, is 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. The Westminster Collection is renowned for its eclectic portfolio of member venues, which encompass everything from historic institutes and societies, colleges, museums and private members clubs, to luxury hotels, concert halls, modern training venues, churches and Thames river boats.

New for 2013 is an Unleash Your Creativity forum, designed to inspire new and innovative ways of creating cost-effective events. It will feature a panel of renowned creative talents from venues, suppliers, agencies and production. Details of the panellists can be found here.

Host venue 8 Northumberland Avenue will also take the opportunity to showcase its prowess as the first venue in the UK to offer clients a permanent high definition holographic projection system within its stunning Ballroom, with a presentation by Musion, the world leaders in holographic projection technology and telepresence.

Speaking of the TWC showcase, marketing director Robin Parker said: “It is 10 years since The Westminster Collection formed to create a community of like-minded venues that believed in championing Westminster as a top-class destination for business and events. In this time we’ve grown and gained prominence as a reliable venue sourcing service for event organisers and as a credible marketing platform for venues.

“Our annual showcase has always been a popular date in the calendar and with new features like the creativity workshop, a host of venues eager to introduce you to investments and brand new services, plus eight new member venues to discover since our last showcase, we hope that guests will make the most of this opportunity to explore, learn, socialise and better understand what’s on offer in Westminster. It really is the go-to destination for events, lifestyle, culture and entertainment.”

Registration is open now at This is a free business event especially for professionals responsible for sourcing venues and planning events and as such, TWC does reserve the right to limit or refuse registrations.

If you wish to stay in London the night before Destination Westminster 2013, a number of TWC hotels are happy to offer promotional rates to event guests on Thursday 12th September and over that weekend. Click here for details.

Related news

Creative gurus accept challenge to Unleash Your Creativity at TWC showcase

Unleash Your Creativity forum: The speakers

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.

How to work with professional musicians

By Susan Heaton Wright, managing director, Viva Live Music

Event planners have frequently revealed to me that one of their biggest fears is that the entertainers won’t show up, that they’ll behave badly or will disappoint. This saddens me because great live entertainment enhances an event making it truly memorable for guests.

Having been a musician myself, I still have memories of naughty musicians who make my toes curl in shame. However, I believe any problems have been caused by one or more of the following:

  1. Communication
  2. Riders
  3. Alcohol
  4. Fees

1) Communication: A good contract, which states everything you, the client require, is a must. By clearly stating what time you wish the entertainers to arrive, what they should wear, details of the entertainment and the event, when they should be set up by, you reduce any misunderstanding on the night.

When I was a musician, I arrived at an event to be greeted with the outburst: ‘Where is your Tudor costume?’ The agent had not included this information in the contract and in my pre-event telephone call, the client didn’t mention this. There is no way I could have known this information. I was the target of an angry client!

I would always advise putting timings into the contract very clearly. Not all entertainers look at contracts in detail. I would recommend you ask for all the entertainers to be at the venue at a specific time, so you can ‘tick them off’. Also, ask for mobile numbers in case of emergencies and speak to the entertainers before the event to develop a rapport.

It is also absolutely fine to ask entertainers or their representative to adjust volume levels, change music or even timings during the evening. I would recommend you just touch base after each set to keep the rapport going. It is too late to give feedback after the event ends.

2) Riders: The beloved of the tabloid press, world famous artists’ riders are incredible: cream sofas, Jo Malone candles, room for 30 minders – these are the norm for them! However, riders are there to ensure entertainers are able to do their job properly. A chef has requirements to enable him/her to cook and it is the same for entertainers.

Entertainers do need somewhere SAFE to leave their personal belongings and equipment. I have heard many stories of entertainers doing their work and finding their wallets, handbags and clothes stolen from the insecure room in which they had left their belongings.

At Viva Live Music, we always send a reasonable rider: provide a room for the entertainers (it is important as they will want to let off steam when they have performed, but also for changing), soft drinks, refreshments and somewhere secure to leave personal belongings.

Some events also require technical riders, which we confirm in writing and verbally. However, we have had two recent situations where the production company failed to bring any of the equipment confirmed in the contract and detailed rider. Our entertainers were put in an impossible position of potentially performing without vital equipment. The production company sorted it out, but I have no doubt they blamed the musicians when it was their fault.

Feeding entertainers

Some clients ask why entertainers should be fed. If you are asking them to arrive at 6pm to set up and to play until midnight, then take the equipment away, that is a long time. It is tiring and often the venues either don’t have any food to order on the night or it is very expensive. Most venues will provide a ‘Suppliers’ dinner’, which is more basic and cost effective. As a rule, if they are performing for two hours or more, or are required to be at the venue for at least two hours, you should provide them with a snack and soft drinks. If performing for more than two  hours, a hot meal is required.

3) Alcohol: This is never a good idea when performing and I am sure you want to avoid the Blues Brothers’ gig scenario where ‘The fee was $200 but your band drank $300 from the bar.’

We have a policy of no alcohol while performing; the client should provide only soft drinks. However, some clients wish to ‘thank’ the entertainers or make them feel part of the party by having free access to the bar. I always recommend clients to offer drinks after they have finished, a gesture that is very welcomed!

4) Fees: In this age of limited budgets, all event planners are wanting to reduce spending on suppliers. However, there is a fee level threshold that if you go below it, there is no guarantee the entertainers will show up.

We have recently had enquiries for a cover band and DJ/disco for £800 on a Saturday night and an Irish band to play on St Patrick’s Day for £250. In both cases, Viva Live Music wasn’t able to assist because the fee levels were too low for professional musicians.

We use minimum fees as recommended by the Musicians’ Union and Equity as we only use professional performers and if you want reliable, high quality entertainment, you have to pay a reasonable rate for it. Clients don’t necessarily realise that the entertainer isn’t just working for three hours at the venue, but also the time rehearsing, planning the entertainment and his/her years of acquiring expert skills.

A number of clients look on the Internet for the best price, but entertainment isn’t a product and the quality of the entertainers, including their experience and expertise, does cost more. We regularly hear cases of DJs or entertainers having let down a client at short notice. In most cases they were booked at the pub, from the internet, or because they were a friend of a friend.

To discuss your event entertainment and to ensure it is stress free, do give me a call on 0844 576 3015 or email [email protected].


Book now for Off to Work’s Event School 2013 – 9th & 10th April

Award-winning event staff supplier, recruitment consultancy and professional training academy Off to Work is delighted to launch its Event School for 2013, with a special focus on style and design.

With names like Masterchef winner Keri Moss and former The Apprentice contestant Miriam Staley within the speaker line-up, bookings are expected to be snapped up quickly for the two-day workshop series, which will run on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th April at the London Irish Centre, Off to Work’s dedicated Training Academy in Camden, London.

Building on the success of last year’s school, Event School 2013: Style & Design will bring together renowned professionals from successful creative businesses to deliver a practical, workshop-led programme focusing on specific areas of the event planning and delivery cycle.

From a designer ‘mocktail’ mixing masterclass with Sejuiced and a lesson in wine buying for events with Blanco & Gomez, to workshops in food styling and event storytelling through photography with Red Photographic, room theming and lighting with Wise Production, plus content marketing and event communication tips from Custard Communications, Event School 2013 is aimed at event planners, event coordinators and managers, event agencies, caterers, F&B staff, chefs, marketing staff and business development teams.

Highlights of the programme include a networking lunch and concurrent panel debate on ‘Menu design for events’, featuring Keri Moss, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2012, Nick Mead, director at Eden Caterers, Vicky O’Hare, managing director of Party Ingredients and Gerald Aberdeen, executive head chef for Table Talk. These expert menu developers and chefs will share tips and tricks for planning a show-stopping selection of dishes that are not diluted by challenging dietary restrictions.

The workshop style of the programme means that delegates can pick and choose which ‘modules’ best fit their job role and requirements and attend these sessions as one-off learning experiences.

Attendees working in events and hospitality will leave inspired and equipped with tangible skills to aid their career development and to maximise the impact and profitability of future events.

“We’re pleased to welcome our clients, our team and all events professionals to attend any or all of the Event School’s workshops. We’ve designed workshops to be intimate, with a cap on 20 people, to ensure you can enjoy a focused and interactive learning environment,” said Philip Atkins, managing director, Off to Work. The exceptions to this are the educational, networking lunches.

A vibrant and sociable company, Off to Work has been providing the finest, skilled staff to the events and hospitality industries throughout the UK and overseas since 2001. Throughout this time, the company has stayed true to its guiding principle ‘to help provide some of the best experiences and memories people have ever had’ – something they achieve by remaining committed to hiring only the people most passionate about hospitality.

Event School 2013: Style & Design will take place on 9th & 10th April 2013 at London Irish Centre, Camden Square, London, NW1 9XB. For the full workshop programme, to find out more information or to book, please email Lucy Katan, call 020 3155 1975, or visit the dedicated website page.

Workshops are priced at £40+VAT each and package rates are available if you’d like to attend multiple sessions.

Seize your London hotspot now, not later


Set on hosting an event in London in 2012? Forget the hype and bluster surrounding venue unavailability before, during and after the Olympic Games. Some of the capital’s top venues remain up for grabs right on the doorstep of world famous landmark eye-candy – and it’s first come, first served.


“The early bird catches the worm,” says Tim Barrett-Jolley, Sales & Marketing Manager at RSA House, a refashioned Georgian property nestled just off the bustling Strand between Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross. The perception that prime locations are all locked up by LOCOG, have sold out or are priced beyond reach is a bubble that needs to be burst.

“Companies looking to hold one-off events or a series of events are still just at the enquiry stage,” so until confirmations come through, some of the very best venues in the heart of London remain ready for the taking, he says. “If you want to secure your preferred venue of choice, I would suggest you book early.”

A majority of clients are looking for long-term hire with flexibility to entertain, do business, hold press conferences and generally make a statement during London 2012, says Clare Jones, Senior Marketing Executive at 116 Pall Mall, the headquarters of the Institute of Directors. Shorter-term event leads are still being pursued with similar vigour though, she says. “We certainly would not turn any business away to hold out for the ‘million pound deal’ that everyone seems to be waiting for. We are looking for both. As with everything during the Olympics, we say the key word is ‘flexibility’. If you are not flexible you will not appeal.”

Like moths to an Olympic flame

Venue operators in Westminster have admitted they are bemused by talk that the London Olympics are spurring central city boycotting. “We are seeing some with this mindset, but not the majority,” says Craig Wallace, Conference and Events Manager at One Wimpole Street, a high-spec technology-focused venue that houses over 10 charismatic meeting spaces and two luxury auditoriums. “Many organisations feel they need to be represented by hosting an event during the Games. Demand trends indicate brand hospitality is a favourite purpose for venue sourcing, as is having a central London base for entertaining clients.”

For sponsors of the Games, the branding opportunities are unprecedented, particularly for those who have recognised the benefits of aligning with a venue that mirrors their brand personality and values, has a premium location on the doorstep of sporting and official Olympic events, other community based events and famed tourist attractions.

Central Hall Westminster’s iconic dome presents a one-in-a-million opportunity for marketers to thrust their brand onto a global stage, with Maria Schuett, Marketing Manager at the 30-room venue, revealing that the exterior dome and roof space is still available as a branding platform for one lucky organisation, as is hire of the Great Hall, with its magnificent 4,731-pipe organ, which is housed beneath the dome.

Central Hall Westminster offers premium exposure to the swathes of tourists, Brits and broadcast journalists who will flood the streets around Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, as does its close neighbour The UK Supreme Court, a majestic and Gothic style Grade II listed building available for corporate event hire.

In-between the two is the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, which will reinvent itself as ‘Casa Italia’, home to the National Olympic Committee of Italy (CONI) and its public exhibition of Italian companies, for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Even companies not directly involved with the Games can hop on the back of the buzz that will bring London and the UK alive during July and August of 2012. “It’s a great time to showcase your business and your capital city,” says 116 Pall Mall’s Clare Jones, whose venue sits three minutes’ walk away from the Trafalgar Square ‘Live Site’ – one of 22 big TV screens and event spaces in urban centres around the UK offering live information, video, news and community events – and near the volleyball events on Horse Guards Parade.

“In central London the streets will be themed, so they will look spectacular. Pall Mall will be transformed during the Games, so we are hoping that people will take advantage of this and choose to host events during this time, rather than shy away from London, ” says Jones.

“We have one National Olympic Committee who will be using two of the 12 event spaces available in 116 for the entirety of the Olympics and they will be hosting VIPs, athletes and sponsors during this time. We still have a good selection of different event spaces available and we are now seeing more interest in one-off events such as large banquets and drinks and canapés,” says Jones. “We also have a 30-room media centre which we are hoping that a company wishing to relocate staff for the Olympics would be interested in taking.”

Work and play combined

Cultural Olympiad director Ruth Mackenzie has announced that there will be more than 10 million chances to see free London 2012 Festival events throughout the UK, with the Mayor’s Office planning to create “unforgettable experiences” for attendees with a series of events in all 33 London boroughs.

A “huge event for our vibrant, buzzing city”, delegates are in for a treat with their pick of “some of the world’s best venues, hotels, eateries, attractions and theatres,” says Jonathan Morris, Commercial Director of No.11 Cavendish Square, a Grade II listed townhouse minutes from Oxford Circus and renowned for its stunning Orangery and secluded Courtyard Garden.

“Clients need to know that not all event spaces and equipment have been allocated to the Games. Enquiries have come in from clients of competitor venues disgruntled that those venues will not be able to accommodate them during the 2012 Games. At No.11 Cavendish Square we are taking a ‘business as usual’ approach and will not be bought out by one Olympic federation,” says Morris.

Waiting for last-minute discounts is foolish

Feedback from members of The Westminster Collection has indicated that lead times have shortened noticeably, suggesting that a culture of last-minute bargain hunters is changing the venue sales cycle significantly.

Much like you’re unlikely to see discounted bedrooms released en masse in central London – owing to demand being higher than the capital’s 123,000-strong room supply – conference, meetings and events venues in premium locations like Westminster have stressed that the focus is firmly on ‘value-add’ rather than price slashing.

“Discounting is not something the client always wants in our experience,” says IET London: Savoy Place’s Sales and Development Manager, Sarah McQueen. “We signed up to London & Partners’ Fair Price Charter as soon as it was announced. We have not planned to increase our rates during this time, but to offer rates that have always been competitively priced within the London market.”

“‘Value-add’ is a far more rewarding proposition than discounting,” says Chief Executive of The Westminster Collection, René Dee. “Event bookers need to know that it’s OK to book in advance and we actively encourage it to ensure there is sufficient time to plan polished, well thought out occasions with good lead times for clients to market their events, whether that’s fashion shows, product launches, press conferences, discrete meetings, corporate hospitality or complete venue exclusivity. Most of the activity in 2012 is targeted at corporate hospitality and brand communication.”

Church House Conference Centre’s Robin Parker remains hopeful of securing a booking for the whole period, but “as every day goes by” he asks himself the question, ‘Do we stick or twist?’ In other words, “do we start taking enquiries for individual dates as opposed to that elusive long-term hire deal?”

If a client wants a particular venue or area for a significant hire period, there’s no merit in waiting, as the number of premium Westminster venues available for the whole Olympic period will soon reduce dramatically.

“Most of the enquiries we have received so far have been for Olympic Houses. We would love to secure a National Olympic Committee who would take over Church House for the duration of the Games. Our central location and 24/7 access makes us ideal for such a client,” says Parker of his elegant 19-room facility which combines traditional design and architecture with advanced audio-visual facilities including CAT 6 cabling and Wi-Fi access.

Be proactive – book a site visit

“Get your foot in the door and be proactive with making site visits to get a real feel for the venue’s character, the staff and the proximity to the action,” says IET London: Savoy Place’s McQueen. “The initial contact to the time of the site visits has been the longest part of the process. Once the client has viewed the venue, then the next stages progress much quicker.”

The availability of complete venue customisation is the stand-out USP at 76 Portland Place, a 13-room conferencing facility located just a stone’s throw from London’s Regent’s Park. It’s in this well-loved green space that a temporary 3000-seat facility will be built for viewing the conclusion of the Road Cycling event.

Hopeful of securing an exclusive hire contract, venue manager Jenny Hullock says, “We’ll work with you to create a unique, creative backdrop for your event. Come and see us. Whether you are looking to host press briefings, office space, meetings or corporate hospitality during the 2012 Olympic Games, the events team will tailor your Olympic experience to meet your requirements.”

Quintessentially British hotel The Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel is taking a similar approach to customisation to convey the flexibility of its rooms for hire. With bedrooms at the hotel largely booked up already, Matthew Tolchard, Director of Sales, is keen to promote corporate entertaining and other unique uses of rooms well suited for events. “We have been getting to know our residents as well as we can and have suggested our event spaces be used as lounges or offices, amongst other things, particularly because many of our guests will be staying in a hotel room for one month or more.”

 With 55 very unique venues to choose from, The Westminster Collection is a logical destination for anyone wishing to enjoy premium customer service, high quality, technology-forward venues with Westminster locations that simply can’t be rivalled by other boroughs in London. “Enquire early, don’t delay. There are some incredible opportunities to seize your London hotspot now, not later,” says Dee. “We’re a tried-and-tested borough when it comes to event management – just think about The Royal Wedding – and on a global stage, that’s experience you can trust.”



What are you planning? Let The Westminster Collection help.










London's stunning skyline

Virtual video meet-ups drive conference costs down

By Hannah Evans, Event Sales Coordinator, Academy of Medical Sciences, 41 Portland Place

Gone are the days when companies needed to spend thousands of pounds transporting delegates from around the world to one location. Demand for video conferences at 41 Portland Place has leapt and the availability of this technology is having a major impact on the conference and meetings industry.

Why use video conferencing?

In the current economic client, it’s no surprise that organisations are feeling the pressure when it comes to justifying the money spent on hosting or attending events. Video conferencing saves time and money by removing the need for the business travel and accommodation necessary to bring delegates together.

Connect simply via a video conferencing unit and have the meeting as if everyone was in the same room. Video conferences save on transport and accommodation costs, helping the environment as a result by reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion. For that reason, video conferencing has become the solution for eco-conscious businesses insistent on conducting meetings and events in a more responsible manner.

The time it takes to pull together a video conference is significantly less than that spent organising a traditional, face-to-face conference. Video conferencing strips out the need to factor in uncertainties such as travel time, flight delays or weather disruptions. In just a few minutes multiple people can be sat in front of a camera and screen, ready to talk face-to-face with other people in other locations and countries.

The call quality and enhanced network security capabilities of professional video conferencing technology are far superior for business communications than the mass-market video calling software now commonly used on personal computers and mobile devices. Connection quality is extremely important, as nothing breeds frustration and kills productivity like crackly phone lines that cut in and out.

Make your video conference a success with these 3 key tips:

  1. Don’t just predict, rehearse. Test in advance. Pre-determine potential video conferencing sticking points in advance. IT security measures, such as firewalls, will very often vary from one organisation to another. Even with high specification, state-of-the-art equipment in place, simple connections can become troublesome and time consuming to establish without rehearsed system syncing in advance of the video conference. At 41 Portland Place we always recommend performing a dummy run in advance of the live video conference to allow sufficient time for our expert team of technicians to resolve system incompatibilities.
  2. Ensure technical support is available. It is advisable to have expert technical support available before and during the conference. The peace of mind achieved by having a technician on hand to deal quickly with unforeseen or unexpected issues will leave you relaxed and free to focus on getting the most out of the discussions.
  3. Always have a contingency plan. Even if you have tested thoroughly and have an expert technician on hand, you should always plan for the unexpected! Technology is not faultless, and this is why at 41PP we always offer teleconferencing facilities as a backup.

Video conferencing at 41 Portland Place

We recently hosted an event in the Wolfson Conference Suite, at which interviews with candidates from all over the world took place. Thanks to thorough testing in advance of the event, every video call connection was trouble-free and made on time to satisfy our client’s tight schedule. Over two days, the event connected to Peru, Ethiopia, Japan, Australia, South Africa and five other countries.

For more information on video conferencing, or to discuss how it can be part of your next event, contact the events team at 41 Portland Place.

10 reasons to use the Thames Clipper River Bus Service

By Wendy Greenhalgh, Sales and Marketing Director, One Great George Street (London Media Centre for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games)

Westminster’s transport links are a powerful selling point for venues located in the heart of the business tourist district and the Thames Clipper River Bus Service deserves a special plug.

I watched with interest the recent BBC documentary showing how the River Lea had been cleaned out, with hoards of shopping trolleys and cars removed from the river bed. River Lea has now been completely revitalised and is even being populated with new fish – wonderful considering its former path through wasteland!

After such a long time of underuse, it’s pleasing to see that the Thames has welcomed a similar redevelopment in the form of a far more effective River Bus Service for travelling along the famous London river. It is also admirable that it has been integrated so well into the city’s infrastructure.

Here are 10 great reasons for promoting the use of the Thames Clippers River Bus Service to conference and meetings delegates, particularly next year during the Olympics:

  • You can use your Oyster card and take advantage of discounted travel fares.
  • For business meetings, the express, commuter-style service is ideal.
  • The leisure River Tours Service comes complete with tourist commentary, and any Thames Clipper River Bus Service presents an innovative and fun way to transport delegates to familiarisation trips, site inspections and other meetings, conferences and events held at The Westminster Collection‘s 54 member venues.
  • All piers are wheelchair accessible, most riverboats are accessible, and most new riverboats have dedicated wheelchair spaces. The Woolwich ferry is a free service operating between Woolwich and North Woolwich and is accessible to people using wheelchairs and powered buggies.
  • The Thames River Bus provides an easy-to-follow timetable and service map, so navigating your way to the departure piers is made simpler.
  • Maps of the river services operational during the Olympic Games are already available.
  • It’s an efficient method of travel for the 10,000 accredited journalists needing to move between the Olympic Park and the London Media Centre for the 2012 Olympics, located within One Great George Street in Westminster.
  • The London 2012 sporting venues accessible by river include Greenwich Park, North Greenwich Area, The Royal Artillery Barracks, Horse Guards Parade and Eton Dorney.
  • The River Bus Service is ideal for those wishing to get to the Beach Volley Ball, Road Cycling, the start and finish of the Race Walk and Olympic and Paralympic Marathons next year.
  • It’s worth considering if you’re a visitor to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (National House for Italy) and 45 Millbank (National House for Georgia), both venues within the Westminster Collection.

In short, using the River Bus Service is quick, fun, affordable and definitely worth considering for meeting and event organisers and bookers.

Westminster host venues for 2012 Olympics

Take a look at this handy and informative 3D map (as above) showing the location of the two River Bus Service access piers together with the locations of some of the Westminster Collection host venues for events in 2012.

For a comprehensive guide to the Thames Clipper River Bus Service, including timetables and fares, click here to download TFL’s River Bus Guide.