By Nigel Collett, operations director, One Wimpole Street. ‘Convenience’ is the event goer’s ultimate buzzword. A glittering line-up of A-list business luminaries may have won you a full house this time round, but the speaker programme is only worth the paper it’s printed on if the location and the facilities at the host venue are geared up to support delegates’ objectives.
Reputation counts for everything and this is no less true than when selecting a venue for an event, be it a two-hour meeting, a fashion show, a press conference or a three-day residential seminar programme complete with gala dinners and overnight accommodation. Much like online user-generated feedback mechanisms have proved the bane of many an hotelier or restaurateur’s life, event planners, or more specifically their clients, can look forward to a swift demise if they don’t invest sufficient time into researching their audience and their prospective event host.
Depending on the type of event being organised, the venue should align with a company’s own corporate image wherever possible, it should hold a reputation for excellent service - to underestimate the importance of this is event suicide - and its room setup and technology provision should facilitate information sharing. We want to work harder, not longer and productivity dictates that corporate events must deliver a quantifiable return on investment, whether that’s formulation of new policy, education, strategic partnership building, headline generation, or a mixture of several of these things.
Technology sits at the top of any event goer’s wish list. Business people need internet access and the faster the network speed, the better. Wireless networks are rapidly replacing wired computer connections because of the range and freedom they provide. At One Wimpole Street we offer Wi-Fi throughout our public areas.
It’s commonplace for conference delegates to want to pull out their laptop, iPad, or smart device to make notes, send and receive emails, surf the web and share information on social media networks like Twitter. We’re all road warriors in some respects these days, laden with high-spec portable kit, so to expect that work would stop when we leave the office is naive and impractical.
The availability and output quality of audio visual equipment can make or break an event. To give you an idea of what other event organisers are using to create successful events, at One Wimpole Street we’ve enjoyed excellent take-up of our interactive audience response system, powered by keypads wired into the arm of each chair in our main lecture theatre. In addition to data projection, audio and video recording capabilities and a full editing service, this sort of technology has transformed the way speakers have been able to interact with their audience, creating a much more immersing experience for everyone involved.
Delegates can be invited to watch webcasts broadcast live on a free or pay-to-view basis and a customised microsite can be set up and the video viewed on demand for any period of time required after the event. The hard of hearing needn’t be excluded either given the availability of individual wireless headsets that work with a delegate’s own hearing aid. Simultaneous translation is also a powerful service, allowing several languages to be translated instantly via infra-red headsets to event delegates.
When it comes to choosing a location, the beauty of London is its status as a hub for international commerce and tourism, which together have spurred the growth of an exhaustive round-the-clock transport system servicing every corner of the city. Overground and underground train networks both operate straightforward rail services to the major airports and provide accessible onward journey points for those travelling to cities across the UK. For this reason alone, central London is a logical choice for anything from a fashion show or a product launch, to an exhibition, a press conference or a corporate seminar. One Wimpole Street, located five minutes from Oxford Circus tube station is arguably London’s most centrally located conference and events venue.
Of course there’s far more to event planning than promising a fuss-free ride home. London’s vibrancy and allure comes from its charismatic collection of historic buildings, its connections with the monarchy and parliament, and its cosmopolitan infusion of cultures and cuisines from all over the world. The event planner looking to identify a suitable central London venue should be as concerned with ease of travel as he/she is with the availability of extra-curricular entertainment and quality accommodation. Leading venues enjoy preferential rates with hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions in the area. Featuring this information in your promotional material creates a great incentive for delegates to book.
Budgets will continue to be micro-managed until economic stability is more certain and therefore clients remain under pressure to pursue quality rather than quantity when it comes to funds allocated to staff training and networking. Venue selection must work in harmony with the intentions and needs of the target audience and event planners can find confidence in the time and money professional venues like One Wimpole Street invest into perfecting service techniques and overall room functionality. Make the most of your venue’s assets and be sure to flaunt them to your delegates to ensure optimum success for your event.