Event magazine shortlist for Act of the Year award

Industry publication Event magazine has announced the shortlist for its popular Act of the Year awards, leaving four acts to compete for the prestigious title.

Whittling the acts down to four completely different performers, readers of the magazine and online site will be able to decide upon the winner by watching each act’s video on www.eventmagazine.co.uk.

The shortlist includes Aquabatix, a group of synchronised swimmers who can perform in anything from tanks to lakes and ponds; The Globe Girls, a fabulous drag queen cabaret act; Undercover Superstars, a set of singing waiters, chefs or unexpected party guests who burst into song and Man of Steal, a magician and pickpocket entertainer.

All the acts are well seasoned entertainers, wowing audiences at event venues in London across the UK. Some of the team at Aquabatix are even members of the British Olympic synchronised swimming team, whilst The Globe Girls have performed for the likes of the BBC, Sky, Saatchi and Saatchi and Vogue.

The awards will take place on Friday 24th September, where the winner will finally be announced. Whoever the winner is will surely achieve greater success with event spaces and party venues in London paying close attention to the results.


Institute of Event Management one step closer

Proposals to form an Institute of Event Management have progressed with the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) agreeing on three working groups to help establish it.

As reported by Event Magazine, the three groups will be responsible for creating a professional institute for those working in conference centres, wedding venues and meeting spaces, for example. They will also be mapping the existing provision of higher education courses in events management and developing membership structures, tiers and criteria.

The news comes as the BVEP are meeting with the government to discuss the future of the event industry, as previously reported by Event Magazine.

Proposals to create an Institute of Event Management include companies such as Locog, who are organising the Olympics, the sector skills council People 1st, FDF (Foundation Degree Forward), numerous UK universities and all trade associations in the meetings and events industry.

“A key part of meeting this objective will be engagement with industry leaders in support of a sector quality, skills and qualifications strategy and implementation programme,” said Michael Hirst, BVEP chairman.

He added: “This should include an Institute of Event Management, a framework for continuing professional development, and a portal website to signpost skill needs, industry-accredited qualifications, further and higher education programmes in event management, and career opportunities.”

In an official statement published on Meetpie, Susan Spibey from SJS Consultancy Services, who chaired the meeting in which the proposals were agreed, said: “Having spent many years as a practitioner, I have seen ‘from the coalface’ the importance of putting in place a professional development and accreditation structure which will position the events industry on par with the other professions. I believe that an Institute of Event Management will provide the vehicle to achieve such an objective, but we must ensure that we carry all parts of the industry with us in the months ahead.”

COI suffers from Government cutbacks

Venues for hire may find less opportunities from previously lucrative central government contracts, as the Central Office of Information (COI) has announced cutbacks in both spend and its own workforce.

Events Magazine reports that the COI is to reduce its workforce by 287 positions over the next year as a result of cuts to funding and a change in strategy from government ministries and spending decisions. This follows an estimated 52% reduction in the total turnover on advertising and marketing from the COI, which was formerly the single largest source of advertising and marketing spend in the UK.

Following these cuts, the COI is to reduce its staffing levels from 737 to 450. A 90 day consultation is to take place for the staff involved in the redundancy plan, beginning the 3rd of August.

This is not necessarily bad news for event venues as largely criticism of the COI has focused upon its spending of departmental budgets on advertising campaigns and digital activity, rather than the booking of venues for hire for corporate and public events. It is also likely that the events industry will see an increase in the number of privately contracted exhibitions and conferences as the government seeks to outsource many public departments, as well as the expected opportunities offered to any conference venue in London by the 2012 Olympics.

“[The] COI has always adapted to meet the requirements of government and the changing media landscape,” said COI chief executive Mark Lund. “A leaner COI is in line with new government priorities.”

“Our future will be grounded in continuing to deliver excellent communications to achieve government aims, in the most cost efficient and effective way possible.”

Extravagant weddings threaten marriage, claims senior clergyman

A senior clergyman said that extravagant weddings put marriages at risk, and that he’d rather conduct a funeral than a wedding.

According to The Daily Mail, Rev Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, said too many modern weddings are ‘overblown vanity projects’ in which weddings lose their way.

He was speaking on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, when he said that weddings have become ‘a glitzy stage-set’ where an obsession with picking the wedding reception venue or the bride’s shoes has become a threat to marriage. In fact, average spending for a wedding last summer hit £21,089. Whilst it is important to choose a well-equipped venue, dress and accessories, Dr Fraser believes that too much emphasis is placed on wedding organisation rather than the vows themselves.

“Too many modern weddings have just lost their way,” he said. “I’d even say that they’ve become a threat to marriage itself. For the whole point of a wedding is that the married couple are agreeing to place the interest of another before their own.”

With an ever declining number of people choosing to marry, it seems that many people share his sentiment. The Office for National Statistics released figures earlier this year which showed that the number of people getting married in 2008 was the lowest since 1895. In fact, figures suggest that in 20 years’ time the number of single people and co-habiting couples will significantly outnumber married people.

However, Dr Fraser did say that he felt a wedding, when it was done right, was wonderful. “When two people overcome their fear and instinct for self-protection and place their heart into the hands of another for safekeeping, then a mini-miracle occurs,” he said.


Event industry must engage with the Olympics, says Minister

The event industry is one of the most valuable sectors in the UK, in the run up to London 2012, according to tourism minister John Penrose.

Speaking at a review meeting with the Business Visits and Events Partnership, Penrose asked leading event industry figures to provide figures on the global value of meetings and events, as well as urging those in events to engage closely with the Olympics, particularly London-based venues and those in regional Olympic centres.

With a plethora of figures provided, it is expected that the Minister will report on the events and tourism sector in a September review, that should come as interesting reading for those working in event and function venues across the UK. The review will come ahead of the  government’s national spending review in October, which will set out spending plans from 2011-12 and 2014-15. Although cuts are expected in the wake of the deficit, businesses harnessing growth such as conference centres are anticipated to be key drivers of the economy.

Business Visits and Events Partnership Chairman Michael Hirst spoke to Conference and Incentive Travel magazine about the meeting, saying: ”We had a good meeting and the minister was very switched on about the sector… The real issue going forward is that all of this needs to be looked at against the back drop of reviewing how much money will be spent where.”

In light of spending concerns, the private sector events industry is expected to take the lead in aligning its events with the Olympics, setting the bar for events across the country.


C&IT compiles black book of event venues

Conference and Incentive Travel (C&IT) has joined forces with tourism board Visit London to gather a list of the capital’s top  event venues, hotels and attractions.

Putting the list of enchanting places to visit into a book, visitors will be able to see and readily choose function venues in which to hold parties, or even discover secret event spaces that haven’t yet been widely publicised. Dubbed the ‘Little Book of Secrets’, the publication will provide a one stop reference guide for those searching for entertainment or party venues. London offers a plethora of choice, so the book will highlight the most consumer-friendly and stylish locations.

To compile the Little Book of Secrets, C&IT is asking the public to log onto their website and reveal their favourite London venue, offering voters the chance to win a luxury weekend break for two.

The book aims to uncover more specialist, designer venues, setting them out from the range of chain venues available.

The exclusive book will be launched in December according to C&IT, with a launch venue yet to be announced – as with the book’s title, it will remain a ”secret” until closer to the event.

Event spaces in the capital are sure to be keeping their fingers crossed for inclusion.


Design helps hotels and function venues become successful

Design hotels have a better rate of occupancy, can charge more and have similar or lower operating costs than their non-design counterparts, reports Meetpie.

Lukas Hochedlinger from Christie & Co studied the performance of European design hotels and compared it to non-design hotels. He found that 70% of the design hotels outperformed competitors when it came to occupancy and 81% could charge higher room rates. He also found that 62% of design hotels had similar or lower operating and maintenance costs when compared with non-design competitors.

This news suggests that, with regards to the events industry, design function venues could help drive the success of events.

The research formed part of Mr Hochedlinger’s masters thesis. He found that it was essential for design hotels to differentiate themselves from competitors. “This applies to interior and exterior design as well as to service design and other aspects,” he said. “One has to create a feel-good atmosphere that makes it comfortable and enjoyable for guests to stay. Many design hotels have made the mistake to purely focus on chic design and staff.”

This highlights just how important the design and layout of function venues is. The more unique the venue, the more guests will enjoy it and the event will be more successful.

Mr Hochedlinger said that there were limitations when it came to design hotels. Those include a higher development risk, such as higher developmental costs and longer timing, as well as a higher obsolescence risk in case the design isn’t timeless.

Event budgets will increase

Spending on corporate venues and business events in general will increase over the next year, according to the latest industry research.

The British Meetings & Events Industry Survey (BMEIS) found that there will be a net increase in events budgets over the coming 12 months. As reported by Meetpie, the survey questioned over 600 leading event organisers. It found that 18% of those interviewed said they expected to see an increase in event budgets.

“This is clearly positive news,” said Sally Greenhill, from a conference venue. “Although not a massive increase, it will be very welcome news for suppliers after a couple of very difficult and uncertain years.”

The news is supported by last month’s revelations that companies are beginning to send more staff to trade shows and conferences, with corporate sponsorship also returning. As reported by Reuters, the news from Informa and Daily Mail & General Trust, concerns worldwide events held by the media groups. It’s manifested in an increase of around 9% for bookings in 2011.

As reported by Travel Daily News, last year there was a 1.9% reduction in event budgets. Sally Greenhill commented: “This first ever BMEIS has confirmed some of the industry’s fears over reductions in budgets, but it has also shown that there is optimism in some quarters… For venues, destinations and suppliers, the research provides invaluable insight into what buyers are looking for in these difficult economic times.”


Conference delegates more likely to pick four star hotels, says survey

Professionals travelling to the capital for conferences or events are more likely to choose to stay in four-star hotels close to their venue, according to recent research.

A study by HotelMap cited in Meetpie found that rather than the sumptuous luxury of a five star establishment, delegates prefer to stay no more than 473 metres from their conference venue in London. Looking at the bookings it took for the first half of 2010, HotelMap found that 75 per cent of conference or event attendees elected to stay in a four star hotel paying on average, a rate of £160 per night. When it came to three star hotels, 19 per cent of delegates chose this option, paying an average room rate of £110. A mere 6 per cent opted for five star accommodation, which can cost a whopping £241 per night. Although, according to the research, this figure has increased when compared to the last half of 2009.

The research shows that accommodation choice is heavily linked with convenience of location, as well as suggesting that post-recession, price is still playing a small role.

In addition to location and hotel quality, the study found that delegates waited till the last minute before making hotel reservations, with 36 per cent waiting until 2 weeks before the event before booking a room. Meanwhile, just under a quarter of those surveyed booked their hotel 2 to 4 weeks beforehand.


Smartphone apps that help ease stress of wedding planning

Smartphone apps aimed at making wedding planning much less stressful have been launched.

As reported by NDTV, owners of smartphones or iPads will find a few apps on the market that will substantially reduce wedding stress and even help couples save some money.

One app, the Wedding Genius created by Conde Nast magazine Brides, has a task tracker feature that gives couples a calendar based on their wedding date. Couples can exchange emails, ideas and status updates to share their progress, and the calendar helps organise key factors such as booking a wedding reception venue, organising the rehearsal dinner and breaking in the bride’s shoes. It even offers tips such as scuffing shoe soles with sandpaper, and choosing flowers that won’t wilt quickly in the heat of the room.

Another app is the iWedding Deluxe. It asks the user’s gender and the gender of the betrothed, the budget and the wedding date. This app is more inclusive than Wedding Genius, which is undeniably aimed at the bride, and lets you build a guest list from contacts on your phone or post photos from a wedding vendor.

For those with BlackBerrys, the choice is smaller. NDTV claims the best option for BlackBerry users is the Wedding Organiser app. This offers 17 categories of tasks and suggestions for prioritising them. It’s less elegantly designed that Wedding Genius, and there have been no reviews yet, but NDTV says it should be a welcome option to BlackBerry users.