Wake up and smell the coffee – our members reveal hot drink trends for 2017

With National Coffee Week taking place in April, our members revealed coffee still reigns supreme as the professional meeting hot beverage of choice.

Serving over 135,000 cups every week – equating to 33,750 litres and enough to fill over 125 bath tubs – our 36 members unveiled coffee outstrips demand for tea as only 73,800 cups were served in the same period.

Although coffee still triumphs, members did note an increase in requests for speciality teas such as peppermint and green tea as well as the fruity blends.

Clare Arouche, WVC chair said: “It is always interesting to hear from our members about what’s happening and the trends they have noted within our industry. Despite the fast-paced movement of technological advancements in our sector, this survey highlights the more traditional elements like hot drinks remain a key staple element.”

She added: “’We believe the rise in offering speciality teas is reflective of the trend for venues to offer a wider variety of choice to event planners and attendees. This is very much a response to the move towards more health-conscious meeting and event catering, which is growing in popularity within the industry as organisers want to ensure delegates remain dynamic and focused.”

For more information about our incredible selection of Westminster venues or to find out how they can make finding a venue so much easier, click here. 

Shepherd’s of Westminster announces weekend closures to focus on events

Shepherd’s of Westminster has announced  its bar and restaurant will no longer be opening at weekends or on bank holidays .to concentrate on functions such as milestone birthdays, engagement parties and significant wedding anniversaries.

An application has also been submitted for a licence to perform civil marriages and civil partnerships on the premises which, if granted, would mean ceremonies could take place in the larger private dining room, whilst the main bar and restaurant would be set up for receptions and wedding breakfasts.

Proprietor Lionel Zetter said: “Many Westminster residents spend their weekends outside of London, and Saturdays and Sundays have always been quiet for us. By switching the emphasis to events over the weekend we hope to fill a gap caused by a shortage of elegant but affordable events venues in central London. We very much hope that our neighbours in the Westminster and Pimlico areas will consider using our facilities when celebrating landmark occasions.”

To find out more about booking Shepherd’s of Westminster for your next event, please contact info@shepherdsrestaurant.co.uk.

Lights, Camera, Westminster – curtain’s up on venue collection’s starring roles

Fresh off the back of Sunday night’s glitzy Oscar ceremony, Westminster Venue Collection (WVC) has revealed its members witnessed a 30% increase in film location enquiries in 2016.

The recently rebranded collection, which features 34 members all based in London’s iconic City of Westminster, announced film locations bookings now amount up to 10% of their yearly event revenue.

With fashionable townhouses and private members’ clubs to luxury hotels, celebrated attractions, historic institutes and societies, it’s no wonder an impressive 86% of the eclectic mix of venues have been used as the locations for both the big and small screens.

Keen cinema-goers will know member venue One Great George Street has played a starring role in a range of productions including last year’s Hollywood blockbuster ‘War Machine’ featuring Brad Pitt as well as Woman in Gold (2015). The venue’s Great Hall became the Guildhall for Mark Darcy’s law society dinner in Bridget Jones’ Edge of Reason (2004) and doubled as the National Gallery where Mr Bean is a guard in Bean (1997).

The QEII Centre’s impressive and highly versatile space – the Churchill – which regularly offers a backdrop for a variety of large events ranging from conferences, award ceremonies, corporate dinners, parties and presentations provided an Oscar-winning performance in ‘The Theory of Everything’ (2014).

Other productions have seen member venues providing key locations in Calendar Girls (2003), Spectre (2015), Sherlock Holmes (TV series) and the nation’s favourite wizarding series, Harry Potter.

Commenting on the trend, Kate McCarthy, marketing manager at member venue One Great George Street, said: “From the enquiries we’re receiving, the positive trend for location bookings definitely looks set to continue for One Great George Street in 2017. We’re looking forward to welcoming a whole host of new names and stars to our venue in the coming years.”

Clare Arouche, WVC chair and head of business development at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, added: “With a host of iconic, unique and historical buildings within our membership, Westminster Venue Collection truly is a location scout’s dream and with our new and improved search function on its website, the perfect setting is just a few clicks away. We look forward to hearing about all the fantastic film and television projects our venues are involved in throughout 2017 and beyond.”

If you would like to find out more about booking one of WVC’s venues for an upcoming film, television or documentary piece please visit the venue collection page and place your enquiry.

8 Northumberland launches Enchanted Forest Christmas theme for 2016

You may still be trying to shake the post-Christmas haze and focus your mind on the day job but at 8 Northumberland Avenue, Christmas 2016 is already wrapped up. So why not get your 2016 party planning sorted now while the festive feel-good vibes are still fresh?

Launching not one but two incredible show-stopping themes, 8 Northumberland has pulled out all the stops to make Christmas 2016 one to remember.

Step into the magical ‘Enchanted Forest’ through twinkling branches, heavy with snow and cracked bark. Beyond this be led to the forest clearing complete with hanging lanterns and foliage.
The grandeur of the Ballroom is enhanced with foliage draped across the chandeliers and flowing down the walls and a sumptuous enchanted dinner will be served as the chandeliers twinkle through the foliage overhead and create a grand yet ethereal atmosphere.

If something a little more mysterious is what you are looking for then consider ‘House of Clues’. Venture through the heavy curtain of secrets into the grand space that is the House of Clues, where you will enjoy a fabulous evening of decadence.

Start the evening with a glass of bubbles, known to the staff of the mansion as ‘truth serum’, perfect for such a clandestine situation as this. The tables are adorned with objects from around the mansion, which reveal its history and secrets. Candles flicker on the tables as alluring scents from the kitchens tempt tastebuds, before dinner is served. After dinner we invite you to continue with drinks and dancing as you ‘pick your poison’ from the bar and then relax in the old Library.

So if you are looking for a central London venue and a truly out of the ordinary Christmas party in 2016, look no further than 8 Northumberland Avenue. To find out more click here.

London breakfast hang-outs to supercharge your 9-5 day

Whether it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up or it’s a quick grab on the way to work, breakfast still remains the most important meal of the day. With London Breakfast Meetings Week returning this October (5-9th) there is no better time to kick start your day with something special.

Breakfast is often an undervalued time of the day but a meeting of minds over a delectable Danish or two can actually increase productivity, save money and help kick start your day. Here we highlight some great breakfast meet-up spots in Westminster.

At the Army and Navy Club, just a stone’s throw from St James’s Park, they offer a budget busting breakfast with a selection of breakfast pastries and coffee for just £5.50. A continental and Full English breakfast total £12 or £15.50 respectively. Breakfast at the Army and Navy Club also provides for the more health conscious with energy boosting items like eggless omelette on the menu to supercharge your day.

To find out more about Breakfast Meetings at the Army & Navy Club and how their spread can enhance your meeting agenda, contact Elana Kruger on Club@TheRag.co.uk or call 020 7827 8031.

Also providing a health-packed breakfast to set you up for the day is 8 Northumberland Avenue, London’s most central venue. Their brain-boosting breakfast packages include superfoods such as avocado, goji berries and coconuts, ensuring you are alert and engaged for your morning meeting. Sitting just moments from Trafalgar Square, the venue has a wide variety of events spaces and can accommodate up to 600 delegates.

A short walk down The Mall from 8 Northumberland Avenue is Conrad London St. James conveniently located opposite St James’s Park tube station. The hotel’s restaurant, The Blue Boar, offers contemporary British dining and has two spaces that can be hired privately, connected to the main restaurant by a floor-to-ceiling wine wall.

The Blue Boar offers a classic breakfast menu including ‘The Full English’, Omelette Arnold Bennett and their ‘Wellbeing Breakfast’, where guests can chose between bircher muesli, fruit salad and other healthy treats. Breakfast is served between 6.30–10.30am, Monday to Friday and the full menu can be found here.

Moving from the modern to the historic, One Great George Street offers a more relaxed and informal buffet style breakfast set in a magnificent Grade II listed, four-domed, Edwardian building. With 21 function rooms accommodating up to 450 guests, the venue suits a vast variety of breakfast meetings, events and conferences. With everything from sun-blushed tomato and Caerphilly cheese scones, to individual goji and cranberry bircher muesli, the variety on offer at One Great George Street doesn’t just end at the events spaces.

Enjoy a variety of brilliant breakfast deals across Westminster this September, including 10% off breakfast when booking a meeting at the family-owned, five-star The Athenaeum Hotel. The hotel has three meeting spaces and can cater for up to 100 guests, with a focus on personalisation, so your wish is truly their command.

Breakfast meetings really are a smart choice for anyone looking to hold a meeting or conference. They allow you to catch your colleagues at their most dynamic and creative, make better use of the working day and are kinder to the budget. Find out more about hosting meetings over breakfast by getting involved in London Breakfast Meetings Week 2015.

Central Hall targets Brits & Chinese with new mobile site

Central Hall Westminster (CHW), central London’s largest purpose built conference centre, today announced the launch of a specialist business event website built for mobile devices. The new mobile site has been created in response to a 70% rise in traffic from mobile devices to the CHW website.

The site is available in both English and Mandarin to maximise CHW’s growing customer base in the People’s Republic of China. CHW has previously recognised the importance of Chinese business tourism by producing a multi-lingual desktop site and appointing a dedicated account manager for the Chinese market. This commitment was recognised in April 2013 when CHW was awarded the Chinese Tourists Welcoming Award for ‘Best Internet/ Media Campaign by overseas business’.

Paul Southern, managing director of Central Hall, said: “The Chinese award put CHW onto the international map and with a desktop site available in Mandarin, it was crucial that the new mobile site continued to recognise this important market with a multi-lingual function. The statistics that we are seeing from industry research make it clear that mobile web access is increasingly important and cannot be ignored.”

Maria Schuett, marketing manager at Central Hall, added:  “Since the corporate visual ID re-launch in 2012, the CHW brand has gone from strength to strength. Mobile is a natural progression to drive brand integrity and meet the target audience on their terms. Findings, such as those from Distilled Marketing that concluded 57% of users won’t recommend a business if they had a bad mobile experience, show how important mobile usage has become. I am proud that Central Hall supports a progressive marketing strategy and considers a dedicated, user-friendly B2B mobile website a vital marketing platform.”

The new designs were implemented by web design and development agency Applejack, a long-standing partner of CHW. The site includes mobile-specific elements, such as image and content sliders, carousels and virtual tours, all utilising swipe and drag navigation for touch screens. Additionally the text size has been increased and the font changed in places to improve legibility. Easily accessed menus and large buttons aid navigation, providing the user with an optimal viewing experience on multiple mobile platforms.

For more information, visit the new mobile site via mobile devices here: www.c-h-w.com

New report indicates growth in London venue market

Today marks the release of the 2013 London Venues Business Report and overall, the conference and events industry is reporting positivity in the period following the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Produced annually by The Westminster Collection (TWC), Unique Venues of London (UVL) and The Conference Bench, the new report collates the results of a survey into the performance of 110 tourist attractions, prestigious venues and renowned hotels across the capital. This year, for the first time, the committee producing the report also welcomed the addition of the London City Selection, with a number of this venu consortium’s member submitting performance data.

Here are some of the key findings:

– Venue optimism is high, with 94% of venues surveyed reportedly feeling positive about the future of the events market through 2013 and into 2014. Short lead times, smaller events and irregular booking patterns remain a concern, however.

– There is a positive post-Olympics feel, with 94% of venues expressing optimism, although there is an increase in smaller or more intimate events booked.

– Short lead times for large, medium and small events remain a trend,with events valued at more than £10,000 tending to be booked 5.7 months in advance, on average and events valued at £5,000 or less, 2.8 months in advance.

– 63% of venues predict positive year-on-year revenue growth in 2013 versus 2012.

– Weddings are an area of growth, with 58% of venues predicting seeing an average 17% increase in bookings for this type of event through 2013. Private events such as birthdays and anniversary events are also predicted to show growth.

– The use of discounting as a sales tactic decreased in 2012, with just 18% of venues reporting to have won business by cutting room hire, catering or AV fees, compared with 35% having secured business as a result of discounting in 2011. Venues did indicate that 7.8% of their bookings could be attributed to offering flexibility in packages where minimum numbers normally apply.

– Of the 57% of venues offering day delegate rates (DDRs), 61% of those allowed customer demand to influence their DDRs, with rates modified in response to high and low periods of demand. Discounts on venues’ highest average DDRs in 2012 averaged 30%. 40% of responding venues do not flex their prices in periods of high or low demand.

– ‘Word of mouth’ was reported by 41% of venues to be their number one method for driving sales. Direct sales was rated second (21%) and online advertising was the third most successful sales method (17%).

– Of the 84 venues using social media to promote their event spaces, 99% now use Twitter – in 2012, just 70% of venues were using it in this way.

– 73% of the London venues surveyed plan to invest capital into their event spaces in 2013.Tourist venues are planning to make large investments in 2013, with 30% of the 78 tourist venues which plan to invest reporting budgeted spend in excess of £1 million.

– 89% of responding venues offer delegates free WiFi within their events spaces and 80 of the venues questioned offer free WiFi in their public areas. 45% of venues indicated that they intend to upgrade their broadband capacity within the next 18 months.

The 2013 London Venues Business Report is available for purchase, priced £95+VAT. Please contact lisa.hatswell@uniquevenuesoflondon.co.uk to order your copy.

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 http://destination-westminster.eventbrite.co.uk/. 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.

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London hotels report £10m revenue boost for 2012 Olympic Summer

By James Parsons, Managing Director, The Conference Bench

The effect of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on the meetings and event industry can be evidenced in new data released today by The Conference Bench.

A sample of 23 London hotels and venues, including several LOCOG designated hotels, posted £10.04 million in revenue (food and beverage and room hire revenue) between 27 July – 12 August 2012, compared to £1.9 million for the corresponding period in 2011 (29 July – 14 August 2011). This indicates a 434% increase year to year, demonstrating the Olympic Games period’s positive impact on the industry.

Meeting space occupancy also jumped from 22% in 2011 to 52% over the Olympic Games period in 2012.

To put this into perspective, during the busiest period of the entire year in 2011 (25 November – 11 December 2011), the same sample of venues posted just over £11.02 million in total revenue at an occupancy level of 60%.

The occupancy difference between the busiest period in November 2011 and the Olympic Games period in 2012 indicates that only a few of the hotels surveyed enjoyed a stellar performance during the Olympic Games period, while the majority performed either to the same level or below that level in the comparable period of 2011 (July/August).

The three weeks preceding and the three weeks following the Olympic Games indicate revenue performance and occupancy steadied to levels comparable with, yet still slightly above 2011.

London conference revenue 2012 vs 2011

London conference occupancy 2012 vs 2011

The Conference Bench is an internet based performance benchmarking tool designed to shine new light on the performance of your conference and event space against your market and direct competitor set. The service is active in several European markets, as well as in the Middle East, and it is free for participants to obtain market reports in return for daily data submission.

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