Hotel Barcelona Princess

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumOn my recent trip to EIBTM I was lucky enough to stay 2 nights in the Hotel Barcelona Princess.  This is a 4* hotel in front of the CCIB International Congress facility & the new yachting harbour in Barcelona.

It is an avant-garde hotel opened in mid-2004.  There are 363 rooms with either a sea view or Barcelona skyline view (both magnificent).  There is a good complimentary wifi internet connection in all rooms, plus a complimentary minibar and use of the fitness centre and sauna.  The waterfall style hydro-massage showers in all rooms was heavenly!  The complimentary toiletries and nozzle for the hair-dryer was also appreciated.

They have 6 meeting rooms with natural daylight, with capacity for up to 200 delegates.
There are 2 external and heated swimming pools (including 1 infinity pool in the 23rd floor).

The hotel is adjacent to a major shopping centre, which I understand is one of the biggest in Barcelona (Diagonal Mar – entrance 20 meters away).  It is 8 minutes walking distance to the beach (500 meters away) and is well connected with main motorways & public transport (metro L4 Forum stop – 30 meters away).

It was a great place to stay during my time at EIBTM in Barcelona and I had a show round before my flight home.  I loved the suites and the Desigual themed hotel rooms and Loft meeting area.  To me I envisaged that the relaxed bean bags and seating in the Desigual Lounge would be perfect for an informal company brainstorming session.

Rest assured your international event would be in safe hands here.  30% of the MICE business at the hotel comes from the UK market, followed by Germany and France.  Only 8% of the bookings are from within Spain.

If you would like further information about the Hotel Barcelona Princess please contact us.  I highly recommend this hotel as a great place to stay and hold a meeting or conference during your business trip.  

Please click here to view a presentation about the Barcelona Princess Hotel including meeting room capacities and location.

Below are some pictures of the hotel.  

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Gallery Hotel Barcelona

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumDuring my trip to EIBTM as a hosted buyer I was invited to a dinner at the Gallery Hotel, Barcelona.  This is a 4* hotel located in Barcelona city centre and renovated in 2013.

The hotel has 110 rooms with complimentary internet, in-room tea & coffee and welcome water.

There are 8 meeting rooms which can accommodate up to 200 people.

It has a wonderful rooftop terrace & brand new pool.  This would be a fantastic setting for a drinks reception or party!

We had a really enjoyable dinner with great company; as is always the case when mingling with other event professionals (see my previous blog post: Personality Traits of Event Managers).  I was still smiling about the announcement that Hull is to be the UK City of Culture 2017, although I was seated next to a tourism professor who had worked on the Swansea Bay bid and so unsurprisingly he did not share my enthusiasm!  During the dinner I was asked why I love organising conferences, which inspired my blog post on the subject.

The group also has another property in Malaga, the Hotel Molina Lario.  This is a 4* Boutique Hotel located in Malaga’s historic centre with 103 hotel rooms and 6 divisible meeting rooms to accommodate up to 220 people.  Mediterranean cuisine is available at El Café de Bolsa, a courtyard and unique rooftop facilities with panoramic views of the city.

Barcelona is a fantastic city and has so much to offer.  If you are interested in receiving further details about either of these hotels please contact us.

I have posted some pictures below from our lovely evening and show round at the Gallery Hotel, Barcelona.

Event Catering

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumDay four of Blog Every Day in November and the topic today is ‘Food Glorious Food.’  Relating this back to my own blog I wanted to specifically focus on event catering, specifically for conferences, workshops and seminars.

Catering is important.  When attendees come to an event I often pick up the feeling that they are doing something different to their everyday working lives and therefore almost expect to be pampered and to indulge.  They are certainly very well catered for by the many top class chefs and catering teams at venues across the UK.

CIMG1531By the same token many of our NHS and health sector clients understandably need to ensure the catering they provide is delicious but also nutritious for their delegates.  Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring but educating some Chefs about what counts as healthy and how they can prepare/cook things differently for a positive effect on health has been somewhat of a mission at times.

CIMG1534I have learnt a lot myself working with fantastic dietitians, caterers and various specialists to instill the ethos from the North West Healthy Catering Guidelines over the last 10 years.  I have learnt even more still working with the European Healthy Stadia Network in encouraging stadiums to offer healthier options alongside their traditional matchday fare, whilst still maintaining  a commercial outlook in terms of revenue and profits.

182A more recent trend from some clients has been a back to basic approach to menus with hot foods being replaced by simple “no frills” cold buffets.  This has not only been a cost saving exercise but has also been a case of ensuring they are “not seen as being too extravagant.”

I also have a client who decided to offer a fully vegetarian menu and cut out meat entirely to reduce the carbon footprint.

Top tip: Don’t forget to check the dietary requirements of all guests including delegates, staff, speakers, exhibitors and so forth so that you can advise the venue at least seven days before the event date and cater properly for your guests.  We recommend asking questions about dietary requirements and also any disability or access requirements at the point of registration e.g. via the online registration form.

Whatever the clients approach and thoughts on the menu this is something your event management company will be able to advise you on.  They will be able to suggest appropriate menus to suit your IMG_4040available budget and also to match the event timings and venue layout.  They will also be able to suggest the final catering numbers which should be confirmed based on the likely numbers of apologies and last minute registrations/registrations on site.

How do you feel about catering when you are attending an event? 

Do you expect to indulge?  Are you happy with a healthy menu?  Maybe you have been pleasantly surprised when faced with a healthy balanced lunch?  Would you be satisfied by a no frills buffet or a wholly vegetarian offering? HealthTrainerEvents 030

What about if you have any special dietary requirements?  Have these always been met adequately?

I will look forward to reading your comments below!

 

 

International Confex 2012

This week Events Northern Ltd had a whirlwind trip down to London for International Confex 2012.  Confex is an essential day out for anyone who organises events and this year took place between the 6th and 8th March, at ExCel, London.  We visited the show on Wednesday and had a very productive visit.  Although we stayed for the full day the exhibition passed by only too quickly for our liking – too many people to speak to in too little time!

As always it was useful to meet up with current clients, venues and suppliers.  It was great to catch up on recent and future planned developments at the Barbican.  We were also really pleased to see Visit Manchester and Liverpool Convention Bureau out in force with some of our favourite Northern venues represented.

In some cases I matched faces to contacts I had only ever spoken to previously via phone or email so it was great to say “hello” in person!  In particular it was great to finally meet Banks from the Active Network and Adam from Hospitality and Events North.

It is really important to us to be up to date with new developments, products and innovations in the event industry.  We feel that these are exciting times for this fast moving sector and we need to ensure we can advise our clients on the best value and most exciting technologies to suit their requirements.  Confex is always a great way to get up to speed with the latest products and to have live demonstrations and question companies about their newest offerings.  The use of social media, touch screen technology, ipads and mobile phones apps were all very apparent at the show to reflect the way conferences and events have developed even over the last few years.  We particularly enjoyed all of the interactive touch products on show from Smart AV which included single-touch to multi-touch, screens, walls, tables, PC’s and tablets.

Another product we loved was the newly launched Rollerwall.  This product can be used to create a marketing space or backdrop wherever you need it.  Unlike a traditional pop up exhibition stand it is ready to use instantly and will bend and adapt to fit the space available.  It can be used as a room divider or can be retracted and hidden away in one solid pillar.  The graphics zip-in and are easily changeable.  Visuals can be different on each side of the rollerwall giving two stands in one.  Alternatively one side can be kept free of graphics completely so that it can be used as a projection screen.

One of our forthcoming conferences requires translation services so it was great to discuss different options such as whisper translation systems and translation booths with the AV Department Ltd.

Sadly many of the exhibitors commented to me that the show was a lot quieter than in previous years, which could be a relection on the tough economic climate.  It will be very interesting therefore to find out the final total attendance figures over the three days of the exhibition.  For Events Northern Ltd though the trip to Confex was very worthwhile and productive.

Is your event management company saving you money?

English: ceramic piggy bank
Image via Wikipedia

There are countless benefits to using an event management company and in these difficult economic times it is crucial that every penny counts.  So what should you expect from your event management company when it comes to saving you money?  How can you be sure that you are getting best value?  This blog post will focus specifically on some of the cost saving benefits every event management company worth their weight in gold should be demonstrating to their clients.

Knowledge

Event Managers are an encyclopedia of knowledge.  We often know venues, suppliers and contacts that you may never even have heard of.  These little gems may not have the marketing budget to get them to the first page of Google to compete with the big boys but you can rest assured that they can offer you knock out rates as a result.

Special Offers

We like to be in the know and venues and suppliers ensure they regularly communicate special rates, offers and discounts to us.  Often the savings and offers are only open to past customers and/or event management companies/agencies on their database and we like nothing better than matching up the deals with our clients needs.

Preferential Rates

We have great relationships with many venues and suppliers which encourages them to give us excellent rates.  Venues and suppliers like working with professionals because we understand the process, we are organised, meet all deadlines and save a lot of leg work and time for the venue/supplier as a result.

We really value our suppliers and our suppliers value us.  In recognition of the value of work we place with our trusted suppliers throughout the course of a year we are often lucky enough to get discounts, meaning that our clients benefit from the economies of scale of our total annual spend.  For example our preferred and fantastic audio visual supplier is Active AV.  They automatically offer us 20% discount off all equipment hire.  This saving is then passed on directly to our customers.

We cultivate good relationships with our suppliers which often pays off for our clients in terms of added extras chucked in.

Negotiation

We will always negotiate to ensure our clients get the best possible price.  And then we make comparisions between the offers made.  And then we negotiate some more!

Research

Good research skills are an essential part of every event managers CV.  How can you be sure you are getting the best rates unless you shop around and triple check?

The Bigger Picture

We know the questions to ask.  Unfortunately some organisations and venues prefer to hide the true costs and land customers with unexpected expenditure items after contracts have been signed, rather than being transparent.  We like to ask questions from the start so you are not going to get charged £50 for use of a plug socket (I kid you not!).

We also know where money should be spent and where it can be scrimped without compromising on quality – for instance two pull up banners for £99 – yes please, versus £300 for one (of comparable quality I hasten to add).

Often we can suggest viable alternatives.  Often things can be done differently to make the event slicker and save money.

On event days we are never without our “event managers box” – a box of essential equipment and items close to hand which often prove to be invaluable.

Beg, Borrow or Steal

Recently a client needed an expensive piece of equipment and had no budget to pay for it.  I was the first person they contacted to help.  It is always good to pick up the phone and hear “I didn’t know where to start but I thought that if anyone will know you will know!”  And it paid off for them too!

Don’t Pay for Things You Don’t Need

We help our clients to work out what they need so they don’t have to pay for things they don’t need.  We always have a clients best interests at heart – for example is a DDR (day delegate rate) really best for your needs or would it be cheaper to pay for room hire, catering and audio visual separately on this occasion?

In terms of catering have you taken into account the speakers that cannot stay for lunch, the late arrivals and the likely number of no-shows?  We can advise on these headaches so you don’t have to worry or waste your valuable budget.

Budget

Many of our clients want us to create and control an event budget so they can make pricing decisions early on in the project and have regular updates in terms of income and expenditure and surpassing the break even point.

We care about the event as much as you do and we will be watching every penny to ensure you maximise your budget throughout the life of the project.

Technology

We like to be up to date with the newest technologies.  We can advise what will have the wow factor and maximise the event experience without necessarily costing the earth.  Text to screen systems, barcoded registration systems, event apps, twitter walls are just a few items that can be low cost but really transform the event.

Do you need a registration site but are you baffled by the different rates and commission charges?  We can look at what you need your registration page to do and the payments involved to give a clear idea of which sites can work best for you.

Work in Your Best Interests at All Times

Sometimes the unexpected can happen and you may need to change to a larger or smaller venue, change dates or even cancel your event completely.  The terms and conditions of the contract can be baffling but should this happen we will work with the venue and suppliers to minimise the penalties and negotiate the best deal for you.

This post has focused on some of the direct monetary savings an event management company will make for you.  Of course one of the huge advantages of contracting an event manager is the time savings you make, leaving you to focus on the job you are paid to do and earning money for your organisation, whilst you leave the planning and organisation to the experts.

This blog has given just a few examples of how Events Northern Ltd add value, save money for our clients and maximize their budget.  Are you getting excellent value from your event management company?  Are they saving you money?  If not, or if you are not so sure, then contact uswe would love to hear from you!

Discover 2011

Canal Street Cart at Blists Hill Open Air Museum

Blists Hill Victorian Village (Image via Wikipedia)

Becki and Gill from Events Northern Ltd were invited to attend ‘Discover 2011’ – a familiarisation weekend to Telford and Shropshire taking place on the weekend of 16th – 18th September.  Organised by Telford and Shropshire Conferences and the Southwater Event Group the trip brought together over 150 event managers from across the UK to give them a taste of what the area has to offer.

We arrived on the Friday evening in time to check into the Holiday Inn Telford/Ironbridge, drop our bags and head out to Blists Hill.  This is a Victorian town, part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.  Here we could explore the period shops and attractions such as the chemists, drapers and sweet shop and choose where to spend our shillings and pence, which had been issued to each of us on the coach.  Characters in period costumes invited questions and interaction and set the scene for what it was like to live during Victorian times.

We explored the streets, mine and foundry, enjoyed traditional fish and chips, washed down with dandelion and burdock and eventually found ourselves in the fairground at the coconut shy, wooden swing boats and motorised chair swings.  The evening was concluded with a singsong and hot whiskey toddy.  This was certainly an unusual experience and would make a different setting for a group event or indeed a wedding – Blists Hill is licensed for Civil Ceremonies within the Club Room and the Forest Glen.

We had a range of excellent activities and trips to choose from for the Saturday and it was difficult to decide which appealed the most as we wanted to be involved in them all!  We opted to visit Weston Park for a show around the stately home and time to enjoy the

Weston Park

The house at Weston Park

Midland Game and Country Fair taking place on the site.  Becki often attends V Festival at the Staffordshire site but it was great to enjoy the splendour of the house and to see it in its true glory.

The House at Weston was built in 1671 and is set within 1,000 acres of historic Parkland.  The house can be hired for corporate events, conferences, dinners and weddings and comprises 28 bedrooms, each with its own individual character.  When you hire the house it comes fully staffed and is hired on an exclusive basis.

We were particularly inspired by the beautiful Victorian Library which homes 3,000 leather bound (and no doubt first edition) books.  The Dining Room was also impressive, overlooking the formal gardens and with Weston’s finest and most important collection of paintings, including works by Van Dyck and Lely.

Inside the house, Weston Park

The house is licensed for civil ceremonies (various rooms) and is also next door to the Parish Church of St Andrews, which is linked by a private corridor to the stately home – perfect to keep celebrity weddings private or simply if the English weather lets you down!  The Victorian Orangery has natural stone walls, complete with foliage and fairy lights and huge period windows offering superb views over the Gardens.  This would be a truly magical setting for a wedding breakfast for up to 120 people.

After viewing the house we had time to enjoy lunch and cup-cakes and to explore the Game Fair at our leisure.  Although we were a little disappointed to miss out on the jousting and ferret racing (!) we really enjoyed the falconry, gundog and dog agility demonstrations and the numerous stall holders throughout the site.

On Saturday evening we were amongst 500 guests attending a black-tie gala dinner to launch the brand new, 1300sqm Ludlow Suite at The International Centre.  With over 11,600 square meters of event space in total, The International Centre is one of the largest conference and exhibition venues in the West Midlands. The venue provides a contemporary and versatile event location for events ranging from boardroom meetings, gala dinners, conferences and large exhibitions.  The Ludlow Suite offered a stunning backdrop for the dinner, complimented by excellent food, drink, entertainment, hospitality and service.

The Ludlow Suite, Telford International Centre

Discover 2011 Gala Dinner, the Ludlow Suite, Telford International Centre

The 400 metre and relay runner Roger Black gave an after dinner speech, which was particularly inspiring and heart-warming less than a year away from the London 2012 Olympics.  It was an honour to be able to speak to Roger afterwards and to hold his beautiful silver Olympic medal – the medal for his personal best of which he is most proud (despite achieving a gold medal with the British relay team).

Telford is already a popular destination with event organisers – it is situated at the heart of the national motorway network, with direct trains from London Marylebone and over 3,000 bedrooms within a 20 minute radius of the centre.  Discover 2011 celebrated the major investment the destination has seen in the last 10 years, and promoted the ongoing developments that will take the area to the next level, including the £250 million Southwater development programme to create a new convention quarter in the heart of the town.

The weekend was an excellent taster to highlight some of the ideas and versatility of Telford and Shropshire.  It was an inspiring weekend, not only in terms of the excellent venues and facilities on offer, but also in terms of networking and generating ideas with other event professionals.  Throughout the weekend we discussed some great plans for new events, partnerships and collaborations with some of the lovely people we met; and who knows maybe some of these ideas will come to fruition in Telford and Shropshire venues!  Discover 2011 once again proved the power of bringing together people who share similar interests and areas of expertise.  The energy and ideas created by meeting face to face cannot be created in any other way and once again highlights the importance of events and the event industry.

The organising team from Telford and Shropshire Conferences and the Southwater Event Group worked tirelessly to ensure an informative and thoroughly enjoyable weekend was had by all and the variety and quality of venues on offer shone through.  These are very exciting times for Telford and Shropshire and we are looking forward to bringing more business to the area.

Thanks and credit to Southwater Event Group for providing the photos of Discover 2011 featured in this blog post.

25 Years of Event Innovations

The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and to mark the occasion they appealed to key industry spokespeople, event organisers and suppliers to tell them the innovations that have made the most impact on the events industry during the same time period.

There have been so many exciting advances in the event industry this really got us thinking what would appear in our top 5 list.  The landscape has developed drastically even in the last 10 years, never mind the last quarter century!  Events Northern Ltd were keen to support this Twitter promotion as the QEIICC is an excellent venue that we have really enjoyed working with.

A summary of some of the top tweets and suggestions put forward by other key industry figures are listed below:

‘Comfy shoes!’
Mike Fletcher @MikeyFletch

‘25 yrs ago we used glass slides – chaos. Then PowerPoint invented; most important change ever!’
Martin Lewis @meetpie

Internet changed events forever. All could access info, so organisers had 2 show added value’
Rochelle Long @meetpie

‘Internet, opened regional events 2 world: instant comms, bringing people 2gether virtually 2 improve face 2 face’
@harrisonrobert

 ‘The advent of social media & its ability to extend an event community, before, during & after’
@mexiaPR

 ‘Mobile phones, whatever you need there’s an app for it, or there will be soon’
Michelle Chenery @ITCMmagazine

 ‘The impact & importance of providing a sustainable catering service 2 clients’
Leiths @compassgroupuk @limevenues

Innovative minds creating successful conferences – confirming events will prosper & survive’
Ernest Vincent, CEO, QEIICC

 ‘The Event Safety Guide -where would #eventsprofs be without that purple bible’
Caroline Clift @StandOutMag

‘The single European market may still fail banks but it helped shape border-free event explosion’
@MikeBellDotEu

This campaign really got us thinking about the top innovations we wanted to put forward.  We finally settled on our final top 5 as follows:

5. The memory stick

Even the simple memory stick has made our life easier and has made saving and loading presentations so much faster!  Gone are the days of floppy discs with limited space capacity or CDs which take so much longer to transfer files and save data to them.  Memory sticks are an essential part of every event managers tool box – be it to load final presentations from speakers onto the laptop and save back the final version at the end of the event, to check electronic information quickly or reprint an extra copy of something onsite.

4. Laptops, netbooks and tablets

Technology is mobile – now wherever you are in the world your desk can come to you!

3. Communications

How did we survive before email?  Emails ensure we can be responsive and adaptable right to the last moment.

Mobile phones and radios are essential for communication between event staff and often save lengthy trips across large venues or event site.

The internet has revolutionised the way we research and has opened up conferences to an international market.

Social media has revolutionised the way events are marketed and how delegates communicate with each other before, during and after an event, especially now smartphones are so widely utilised.

2. Online event registration systems

Gone are the days of hard copy registration forms which had to be painstakingly typed into the database each day.  Now delegates have a fast, painless online form to complete and submit so they know immediately if their place is confirmed.  Importantly this gives us the details we need in real time, ensuring we have up to date registrations and information available 24 hours a day.

1. Barcode registration management

In our opinion this is the only effective way to check in 1,000 delegates in under an hour and we couldn’t operate without this technology on our largest events!

Which innovation do you think has made the most impact on the events industry in the last 25 years?  Do you agree that it is one of the advances listed in this blog or is there something we have overlooked?  To join in please comment via Twitter using the hashtag #25QEIICC on your tweet or comment on this blog post.  You can follow the QEIICC on Twitter @TheQEIICC.