Live events are a powerful tool for brands

Sainsbury’s Bank’s former chief executive has said that live events are still a powerful tool for brands, reports C&IT Magazine.

Speaking as part of C&IT Magazine’s Brand Book Live Event, Hamish Taylor said he believes that corporate events are vitally important. “There is no doubt there are huge advantages,” he said. “They are face to face, you have a greater chance to have discussion with people you need to influence, and people can ask questions.”

Speaking in front of representatives from AstraZeneca, Axa PPP Healthcare, Porsche, Friends Provident and Roche, Mr Taylor said their live events industry’s approach to recruiting needs to change. He claimed: “As marketing people we have to stop recruiting marketing people and start recruiting business leaders. You need to have people in the marketing department that can influence the rest of the business.”

Mr Taylor, who worked in brand management at Eurostar, Sainsbury’s Bank and British Airways, said that there is one condition that makes events powerful, which is just as important as the quality of conference venue or location of the event. “They have to come from a customer benefit model,” he explained. “Live events are not an end in their own right; they are about getting the customer benefit message across, and that way they are worthwhile.”

It was part of a wider discussion about event marketing in the financial, automotive, consumer goods, pharmaceutical and retail sectors.

Wedding advice: How to cut your wedding costs

November, January and February are the least popular months for a wedding, according to Ecclesiastical Insurance, so couples looking to stretch their wedding budgets should consider booking a wedding reception venue at these times.

That’s according to My Finances, which claims that with so few weddings taking place at that time, there is more scope to negotiate on prices with caterers, photographers and flower arrangers.

If holding a wedding in the colder months doesn’t appeal to some couples, having it on a different day like a Thursday or Sunday could also reduce the price.

That’s what Danielle Woodward did when she married her husband on a Sunday. Mrs Woodward said: “Having the wedding on a Sunday reduced the cost substantially.” She also said that if they had booked the same venue for a Saturday, it would have cost them double the amount they paid.

Other money saving tips offered by My Finances include buying a vintage dress, which will be much less expensive than a brand new one. Oxfam has 11 bridal stores across the country, with dresses going for as little as £100.

Asking friends to contribute is a another way of keeping down the cost, whilst getting them involved in the day. Asking a friend to take the wedding photos. Asking the church’s flower lady to arrange the flowers, if you buy them wholesale, is another way to stretch the budget, and asking people to contribute instead of spending money on gifts will also help. Getting friends involved allows them to feel like part of the day, whilst giving a unique, thoughtful and vital gift that you will never forget.

Survey reveals increase in last-minute event bookings

A growing number of event organisers are making bookings at the eleventh hour, with cost tending to be the deciding factor in the choice of event venues.

Event Industry News cites a recent survey of event organisers, which found that more than one third (37%) of respondents are starting to book events three months in advance, with 27% booking six months ahead.

Just 6% of event organisers are planning ahead and booking events more than 12 months in advance. The survey also found that 10% were making bookings one month ahead of the event, with a further 3% making arrangements as little as two weeks in advance.

The research suggests that 51% of respondents consider cost to be the most important factor when booking an event. 18% of those questioned saw location as the key feature, while price transparency and customer service were a priority for 9% of participants.

The growing tendency to leave bookings until the last minute could be a sign of the events industry adapting to the impact of the recession. By holding out for cheaper deals, organisers can save money which can then be spent on future events.

“Our research shows a clear shift in focus of events organisers to ensuring events represent good value for money before considering location, which is one of the key aspects […],’ Event Industry News quoted a spokeswoman for the research company as saying.

New trend: Wedding after parties

There is a growing trend for wedding after parties, according to Brides Magazine, which means booking a late license wedding reception venue and making sure the music keeps on playing.

The growing popularity of after parties is fuelled by the fact that an increasing number of wedding guests are travelling from great distances to attend the wedding, and they want to carry on the wedding fun until the early hours of the morning.

A wedding after party can be a way of spending quality time with your nearest and dearest, especially because busy weddings leave the happy couple feeling like they haven’t spent much time with their closest friends as they’ve been mingling with all the guests.

The after party isn’t meant to be something extra for the couple to stress about planning. In fact, it’s intended to be the very opposite: some relaxing, quality, fun time spent with friends.

However, couples are warned that it’s rarely a good idea to invite guests back to the honeymoon suite for an after party. There’ll be no privacy until everyone clears out, and that might be pretty late considering it’s an after party. Instead, a late closing wedding reception venue would allow people to party away, whilst the couple can sneak off to the honeymoon suite when they’ve out-celebrated themselves.

Three-quarters of UK's hotel managers are confident

Nearly three-quarters of hotel managers are optimistic or very optimistic about their hotel’s trading performance over the next three months, reports Meetpie.

According to the latest HotStats Hotel Confidence Monitor, which quizzed hotel managers about their outlook for the industry, almost half of people are more optimistic than they were compared to the last quarter. This trend has been reflected in the previous July HotStats UK Chain Hotels Market Review, which also reported that confidence in the industry is mounting.

“Clearly confidence levels and performance expectation remain decidedly positive,” commented Mark Dickens, managing director of HotStats.

Over half of hotel managers expect room rates to increase during the third quarter, which is a 16% increase since the first quarter of the year. 70% of hotel managers believe room yield will also grow.

Nearly nine in ten hotel managers said they believe their gross operating profit will be maintained, or increase. Furthermore, 78% of people expect their staff levels will remain at the same level.

The number of high quality event venues is expected to help drive this growth, as numerous events across the country, combined with a boost in the number of business conferences, will help drive the demand for hotel rooms.

The news comes just a week after it was revealed that hotels in London have reached record-breaking levels of occupancy.

Couple’s dream wedding in London, complete with white cab

You & Your Wedding features Sue and Ben, who chose to have their wedding in London and incorporate the city into their theme – they even posed for photos in front of a white hackney carriage.

The wedding website explains how, when deciding on the wedding venue, London was the ultimate choice. “Ben and I decided we wanted a London wedding as we both love the city and grew up in the surrounding suburbs,” explained Sue.

Talking about her stunning, floor length, silver, sleeved wedding dress, Sue told You & Your Wedding: “I was very lucky to have my dress designed by my Matron of Honour and best friend. It was made from platinum silver silk satin-backed crepe with an overlay of georgette… It was amazing to know that no one else in the world has a wedding dress like mine””

The couple were fans of the Thirties and Seventies, and old Hollywood glamour, which influenced the theme of the wedding. “The bridesmaids, my parents and I all stayed at Claridges the night before the wedding, which has the exact feel I wanted to achieve,” said Sue.

The stationery was designed by Sue and Ben themselves, and featured a retro lovebirds design. Sue said it stressed her out because the design changed constantly, but she was happy with the outcome.

Soap storyline to highlight dangers of drink-driving after Christmas parties

Coronation Street, the long-running soap opera, will use a special storyline to warn motorists of the dangers of drink-driving after leaving Christmas parties.

According to The Sun, factory owner Carla Connor – played by Alison King – will be arrested by police after an alcohol-fuelled Christmas party, in a bid to highlight the dangers of drink-driving over the festive season.

In the episode, Carla is seen drinking large amounts of champagne at the opening night of a friend’s new bar, before attempting to drive home from the venue.

On her way home, she gets stopped by the police and taken to a local police station. There, she calls friend Peter Barlow (played by Ben Price) to come and pick her up – but he also arrives in a drunken state and collapses on the floor.

Carla then storms out of the police station, before being taken to court and disqualified from driving. She later realises how important her driving license is for her professional life, and breaks down in tears.

A Coronation Street spokesperson said the show’s makers hoped the storyline would act as a warning to anyone who might consider getting behind the wheel after a Christmas party this year.

“Carla’s drink-driving will be portrayed sensitively. But we hope the message of how easy it is to fall foul of the drink-drive laws, especially at this time of year, will hit home to viewers,” the spokesperson told The Sun.

“If we manage to stop even a handful of people from being tempted then we’ll have done our job,” the spokesperson added.

Event venue ties up with charity to offer a CSR-friendly corporate Christmas party

In a bid to attract companies looking for somewhere to hold their work Christmas party, event venues across the country are looking at ways to offer even more value to their guests.

One luxury event venue in London has pledged to donate £1 for every attendee at corporate Christmas parties held at their venue. According to an official statement, The Brewery in London will hand the money over to the charity Trees for Cities, which ties in with its Christmas theme ‘An Extraordinary Evening in Peculiar Wood’.

It’s a move that is expected to be popular with many companies as it ties in nicely with corporate social responsibility efforts which are becoming increasingly important.

Trees for Cities is an independent charity that undertakes tree planting and greening initiatives in urban areas. The charity holds public consultations to involve everyone in how and what is planted; teaches children about the importance of green environments and caring for the spaces; train unemployed and socially excluded people so they can earn a professional qualification in the care of the environment; and plant to improve urban areas.


Couples shun many wedding traditions

Wedding traditions are losing their appeal, according to The Daily Mail, after a survey revealed the number of people shunning moves such as asking the father’s permission and the bride changing into a going away suit, as outdated.

Only 15% of people in the Noughties asked the father’s permission, down from half of men in the 1960s. Now only 17% of fathers pay for things such as a wedding reception venue, wedding catering and other elements of the wedding. In the 1960s 44% of fathers paid.

“It’s a sign of the times that some wedding traditions are dying out, especially the bride’s father picking up the bill,” said Mitesh Lad, spokesman from online wedding directory the Wedding Inbox, the company behind the research.

He added: “Weddings are a lot more flamboyant and lavish than ever before so subsequently they cost a lot more, therefore many couples and even in-laws all have to chip in to help pay for the big day.”

Now only one in ten display a ‘Just Married’ sign on their wedding car; only half of wedding parties throw confetti; just 16% of couples go on an immediate honeymoon.

However, other traditions are growing in popularity: nearly half of couples give favours to their guests, but only 8% did in the 1960s and three times more couples get their guestbooks signed.

Events industry must start planning now for Olympic legacy

Event venues must begin planning for the Olympics now, if they are to see a long-term benefit from the games, according to one industry expert.

Dan Hawthorn, head of the London 2012 Unit for the Greater London Authority urged the event industry to plan ahead enabling them to see a ‘lasting impact’ from the global sporting occasion. Speaking at the Grass Roots Meetings Industry Forum in London last week, Hawthorn said that event managers must work hard now to promote their event spaces in a competitive arena.

London function venues could see the biggest impact from the games, with Hawthorn encouraging such establishments to ”grab the opportunity with both hands” and saying ”The message I want to give you is start planning now for how to turn this into something that has a lasting impact on your industry and the whole of the city.”

Former triple jump gold medallist, Jonathan Edwards also encouraged Londoners and local businesses to ride on the success of the games, saying to the Wimbledon Guardian, ”We are committed to ensuring that all communities across London know about London 2012-related opportunities and feel they can get involved.”

Cited in Meetpie, Mr Hawthorn answered critics of the games impact on the tourism and event industry, saying: ”People were not confident we could pull off the construction work but we are on time and on budget.”

Spurred on by the expert’s views, many venues in the capital are planning Olympic-themed parties and conferences to place their locations at the forefront of the Olympic event scene.