What Have I Learnt from #BEDN

Today marks the final day of #BEDN (Blog Every Day in November). For the last 30 days myself and over a hundred other bloggers have endeavoured to write and publish a new blog post every single day.  A suggested topic was given each day which could be used for inspiration or disregarded if you had something more pressing to write about.

November has been a hectic month!  On top of my normal busy day job organising wonderful conferences and events for people I have written 44 blog posts (27 for Events Northern Ltd as I missed writing two posts over the course of the month and posted one guest blog post, 16 for the UK Blog Awards and 1 for DCMS about the Blog Awards), I have been a hosted buyer at EIBTM in Barcelona, I have spoken at the Social Media for Women Conference and on a personal note my gorgeous little boy had his 1st birthday!  Phew!

I know it sounds clichéd but I feel like I have been on a blogging journey by being a part of this process!  Originally I started this blog and religiously blogged regularly every two weeks, easily spending two hours planning, researching and writing each post.  Then there have been other times when I have gone long periods without posting at all due to workload (and of course all small business owners have it drummed into them that not posting regularly is the ultimate sin!).  During November time has been short and I was keen to participate but I knew that to succeed I would have to write shorter posts and adapt my approach. I am really proud of the achievement and glad I got involved.

So What Have I Learnt from #BEDN?
> That I can write a blog post in 20-30 minutes
> That I can take a random topic and blog about it. Or most importantly can take a subject area and relate it to the events industry
> That a blog doesn’t have to be long, shorter is often better
> That even if it is slightly after midnight you can change the date and time so that it registers that the post was published earlier than it actually was
> That connecting my WordPress blog to my social networks for automatic sharing is a great time saver
> That if I post regularly I feel it gives me greater freedom to include a variety of posts e.g. venue/hotel reviews, lists, pictures
> That there is inspiration everywhere, particularly from industry magazines, blogs and social media
> That my Tesco Hudl is amazing for allowing me to draft and publish blogs on the go
> That pen and paper are great for planning the content of a post
> That I should encourage more gust blog posts
> That picture galleries are a great alternative to a text post and I definitely should explore vlogging too
> That I need a blogging calendar
> That I should remember to repost blog posts again the day after posting and on a regular basis whilst it is still current to encourage continued traffic
> That being controversial or challenging a controversial point of view is great for traffic

As much as I would love to I can’t sustain blogging every day but hopefully I have proved to myself that blogging at least one a week is feasible.  Perhaps I can work on the position of posting at a set day and time each week and building up a stack of posts in reserve for when it is impossible to find time to blog?

Blog Traffic
I have seen my followers and blog traffic increase massively during November. I am unsure if this is an immediate knock on effect of posting so regularly, the support of others doing the campaign stopping by or perhaps a bit of both? 

Thank you everyone for reading!

How have you found #BEDN?  What have you learnt?  I would love to hear your comments below!

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.  

Related articles

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.

Are Event Management Degrees Worthwhile?

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumIn October 2013 Conference and Incentive Travel Magazine published this article: The Big Debate – Are Event Management Degrees a Waste of Time?  The Event Wide Blog then responded with this piece: A Response from an Event Student and Joanna, another event management student, blogged about it here: To a Degree of Relevance.  Event Management qualifications certainly seem to be a controversial subject!  As a graduate with an event management degree myself (graduating over 10 years ago with a 2:1 BA Hons Events Management from Leeds Metropolitan University) I also wanted to write a blog post and to add my thoughts into the mix!

In the C&IT article Simon Maier from the TFI Group suggests that the degrees are too wide-ranging. He says “The content is too broad. It mostly covers management and logistics – very little about delivery, measurement, ROI and the full gamut of event technology. I suspect that not all the lecturers who design the courses are practising events professionals and tend to come from the academic, hotel or travel side.”

Obviously I only have first hand detailed experience of the content of my own course which I imagine has changed and developed a lot in the last 10 years and so it is impossible to speak authoritatively for all event management degrees across the UK.  I would suggest though that it was largely a business degree with elements of planning, finance, marketing, HR, etc, alongside the event planning specific content.  However with many of the modules we were of course expected to put the learning into an event context.

The events industry is varied and although certain principals and planning elements apply to any event genre the specifics of organising a conference are very different to managing an outdoor festival for example.  My degree opened my eyes to the many opportunities in the industry and like many I started the course thinking I wanted to get involved in music festivals and came out realising that actually conferences and corporate event projects are my forte and passion.

When I did my degree there were very few event management degree courses and Leeds was definitely the place to be!  We had less than 75 people in the year group and you could not progress unless you had completed a minimum of 48 weeks full time work placement in the industry.  This placement took place during your 2nd year and then you returned to university for years 3 and 4.  That first hand experience was essential and certainly made the rest of the university content more real, fusing together the academic with real life experience.  One thing that does worry me nowadays is the intake in each year group and therefore the amount of event management students studying each year.  In the current economic climate does the demand by students for work placements and jobs in the industry outstrip the actual requirement in the real world?

Another element that I really valued in my degree was the regular contributions from industry speakers.  This really brought to life the realities and scope of the world of events.
Glenn Bowdin was (and still is) the Head of UK Centre for Events Management, Leeds Metropolitan University.  He has written event management text books and is Chair of AEME (Association for Events Management Education).

I had some great lecturers and it was really apparent those that “knew their stuff” and had a lot of experience.  I particularly valued the knowledge of Nick Jordan and I was lucky enough to have Nick as my dissertation tutor (now a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University).  Perhaps it was Nick that sparked my love of organising conferences too!  Of course not all of the lecturers encountered had the same level of experience and one in particular seemed to crack under questioning from inquisitive students and seemed to have only have organised a handful of events (they are no longer at Leeds Met I hasten to add!).  I agree that it is absolutely vital that anyone who teaches the event managers of tomorrow must have credibility and many years of experience running events.  A background in event management (not hotels, travel and tourism or academia) cannot be faked and so you will soon be discovered and lose the respect of the students otherwise.  Also to be able to direct research or advise students around their dissertation topic you surely need to have that deeper understanding?

We did plan, develop and execute some real events as part of our course although sometimes we had to undertake the planning for imaginary event projects too which was perhaps frustrating.  Looking back though I imagine it was very important as it gave us the opportunity to think big as if we were planning a really innovative event project with a complicated brief and a specific budget and is similar to putting forward ideas to a client and developing new opportunities in the real world.

I agree wholeheartedly with Simon Maier that delivery, measurement, ROI and event technology are vital elements to be studied.  The events industry is moving at such a fast pace I would hope that event management degrees are keeping abreast and tweaking their course content every single academic year.  Social media and health and safety are other vital components I would suggest should be given priority and whereas 10 years ago we learnt about video-conferencing, students today should be learning about hybrid events.  I know we had the opportunity to learn video editing for one module and skills such as this are obviously more important than ever for a well rounded event manager.  I hope also that all students at all universities nowadays (whatever the course) also have access to training in entrepreneurship, business planning and guidance on how to set up your own company.

One thing I think it is important to remember though is that University is not school or college.  It is about independent learning – research, critical thinking, study, reflection combined with work experience.  University is not about hand holding and telling people what to think and do – the student must come to their own conclusions and it is true somewhat that they get out what they put in (as with life in general!).

More recently I have had some links with the BA (Hons) Event Management Course at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).  I have had the pleasure of meeting the Course Leader and Senior Lecturers, I have presented to students about my career and experience of the events industry, I have participated in an industry focus group around course content and development, I have interviewed students for an events role, I have attended events organised by the students and I have worked first hand with several students who volunteered and came forward to work on a challenging event taking place within very short timescales.  I have to say I have been nothing less than impressed – the students have been really proactive and keen, the lecturers have a true background in events, the student intake each year is small and as part of the course they have to put on real events.

VolunteerWhen I graduated my industry work placement as well as the other voluntary and paid work experience I had gained were essential in helping me find a job.  Then in 2004 I set up my own company: Events Northern Ltd. (note I wrote an earlier blog post here about Starting an Event Management Company).  I know of at least 2 other graduates from my year group that did the same.  Others went on to top high flying jobs with some of the biggest companies in the events industry.  Inevitably though there were also many that didn’t go into the events industry and found jobs in human resources, marketing, retail and so forth.  I think it is a strength that our course was broad enough to allow this if people decided the events industry wasn’t for them.  The business elements of an event management degree and indeed the skills developed in terms of event planning are easily transferable, whereas someone without that event management background would not necessarily have the skills an event organiser needs.

I would suggest from an employers perspective if someone has a degree in Event Management this shows me that they are very focused on their career path (like I was – I couldn’t imagine studying anything else).  I agree that event experience would have the greater weighting if I had to choose between event management experience or having an event management degree but if recruiting I would largely favour someone with an events management degree rather than someone who had studied another subject.

I really do not envy current event management (or any students) today.  Not only do they have to pay high tuition fees (up to £9k per year) they also face a really difficult job market at the end of it.  Luckily the top students seem to realise that this is a competitive market and are raising their game and thinking ahead.

I have been impressed by the event management students I have come into contact with in person and also via Twitter and #eventhour.  They have shown an inquisitive and intelligent perspective, are gaining valuable work experience whenever they can (both paid and unpaid) and it is great to see them networking with event professionals via the virtual world through Twitter chats and face to face opportunities as well as taking the time to blog.  For me as an employer this shows real commitment.

In conclusion I would wholeheartedly defend my event management degree.  The academic preparation and inspiration it provided, in conjunction with lots of work experience has prepared me for my career as a professional event and conference organiser.  I would love to hear more from Universities that offer event management degree courses and find out about their specific course content and how they respond to this debate.

Personality Traits of Event Managers

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumAt EIBTM last week I had the opportunity to mingle with many event organisers (#eventprofs as we are affectionately known on Twitter).  Whenever you attend event industry exhibitions such as EIBTM, Confex, the Conference and Hospitality Show, etc or go on a ‘fam trip’ or similar opportunity which gathers event planners together you know that you are guaranteed to meet like minded people.  It seems that to work in the events industry you need to have certain character traits and this almost guarantees that you will get along with each other!  It made me think about what the key personality requirements are and I came up with the following list.

1. Friendly, outgoing and able to talk to anyone (about almost anything)!
An event organiser has a very public facing job in terms of face to face contact with clients and attendees so unsurprisingly you need to have great people skills.  If you are the shy and retiring type this probably isn’t the career choice for you!

2. Happy and positive outlook
The best event managers and the most successful people I encounter in life in general all seem to have a positive and optimistic outlook on life.  At Events Northern Ltd service with a smile is vital.

3. Confident
I think a level of confidence is required to manage people and attendees effectively and deal with any challenges that come along calmly with a level head.  Refer back to point 1.

4. “Grafters”
Event Managers often work very long, unsociable hours.  It is often fairly physical work too and you need to ‘get stuck in!’

5. Organised
The most obvious personality trait that an event planner needs is to be very organised and methodical, with excellent attention to detail.

I would love to read your comments on other key personality traits that event organisers should possess!

You may also be interested to read our earlier blog post: Business Etiquette Tips for Event Managers

All the Right Noises: Enhancing Your Seminar through Sound

If you’re planning a seminar or business conference and are wondering how to give it that extra dimension it needs to really become something special, the answer is simple – introduce sound. Bringing extra auditory aspects into your conference not only allows it to operate on an additional plane, but also guarantees to maximise engagement when compared with a standard lecture-format presentation. Of course, anyone hoping to bring sound to their seminar will need to ensure that they can depend on quality audio. But once you’ve got that covered, there are a whole world of options available. You might be wondering how sound can work for your seminar – but don’t worry, we’ve got a few ideas.

Sound Bites
Sound bites can be a great way to substantiate points made throughout your presentation. If you can find any clips from audio interviews on the same topic, or any excerpts from speeches or monologues supporting the issue, these can be a quick win in terms of giving your conference that little something extra it needs.

If you’ve got room to be a little more offbeat, you could even try introducing some extracts from TV or movie dialogue – as long as it supports the ultimate message. Bear your audience in mind at all times and gear your auditory extras towards their assumed interests. Pop culture references are a failsafe with younger audiences, so this could be the way to take engagement to the next level.

Music
Continuing to bear in mind that any audio used in your presentation must be relevant to the overall theme of the conference, and indeed directly support your current point, music can be used to great effect if and where appropriate. You might want to try giving your presentation an ongoing soundtrack (as long as the music doesn’t detract from the presentation itself), or – if you’re looking for something a little quirkier, play a particular song in your presentation that helps to illustrate a point. Again, audience awareness is vital – hot contemporary tracks can really shake up a seminar with the right audience sitting there.

Video
All presentations can, realistically, benefit from the use of video. Even besides the fact that this dynamic medium brings a ton of extra life to your message – and therefore energises the presentation as a whole – video is such a complex and versatile medium that is able to serve any number of purposes.

You could use video interviews on the topic, relevant news items, commercial ads (where appropriate), TV or film clips, educational videos – the internet is your oyster. If you really want your presentation to be cutting-edge and on-topic, you could even spice up your seminar with some internet memes. There are an immense number of memes out there, just waiting to give your presentation some mainstream appeal – and they guarantee some laughs.

If you want a presentation that really packs a punch, audio is the way to go. Give your audience something special – something above and beyond what they expect – and engagement is all but guaranteed.

Thanks to Kate Haywood (@writtenbykate) for this guest blog post.

Why I Love Organising Conferences

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumRecently I was talking to a fellow event manager who is tasked with organising various conferences and they were saying that they would much prefer to be organising a dinner or team building exercise, or indeed any other type of event rather than conferences. This is the complete opposite to myself – I love organising conferences in particular over any other type of event project.

They asked me why this is the case and suggested to me that perhaps it is because of the structure?  I disagreed and suggested that I am passionate about conferences for some of the following reasons.

Conferences Shouldn’t Be Boring
I firmly believe that conferences shouldn’t be boring.  A conference is a fantastic opportunity to bring together thought leaders and top speakers as well as people with a shared interest. If the content is boring and un-stimulating you will quickly lose the attention of your attendees.  A lot of planning, thought, briefing and support should go into the content.

A Conference Has Everything
A great conference can have everything; learning, interaction and participation, networking, catering and perhaps also additional elements such as exhibitors, dinners and supporting events.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Traditional
Who said that a conference has to involve long lectures in theatre style layout?  Perhaps cabaret or classroom layout would be better?  Or take the tables away completely and have clusters of seats to really surprise people!  Likewise presentations can be revitalised – speakers don’t have to use presentation slides such as PowerPoint at all – they could just directly speak to the audience. Or could they just use a picture presentation or Prezi instead.  Maybe you can have short TED style presentations?  Or even use PechaKucha?  Or would video or a panel discussion or questions from the audience be better use of the time?

I Like Surprising People
People often come along to a conference unsure what to expect and perhaps with pre-conceived ideas that it will be boring.  It is very rewarding to hear back from these people that although they were reluctant before they arrived they have actually got a lot out of it.

#-After the Event 033Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Audience
The ideas and connections that can be made by bringing together those with a shared job role or area of interest is nothing short of exciting. Make sure the programme gives the opportunity for conversations and brainstorming to happen if you can.

Where Relevant Incorporate Elements to Enhance the Conference
You can enhance the conference in many ways. This may include the use of social media, sound, light, technology, facilitators, voting, event apps, etc.  Always consider what is right for the event and what it will add.

Conferences are Good Value
Gathering together your staff or a network of relevant people to educate and inform is often the most cost effective way of disseminating information to large numbers.  It is also a great change from the norm and can be a great motivator and team building opportunity.

These are just some of the reasons why I really enjoy organising conferences. Events Northern Ltd are always happy to produce no obligation quotations if you would like to explore the potential or running a conference or any event project.

Congratulations Hull City of Culture 2017

Driving to the airport this morning ahead of EIBTM I heard the announcement that Hull have been chosen as the UK City of Culture 2017. I couldn’t stop smiling at the news – I am truly delighted. Well done Hull! I am sure this will bring great things for the city.

If you need the services of a good Event and Conference Manager from the area then I would also like to offer my services and expertise!

You may be interested in reading these related articles:

BBC: Hull to be City of Culture 2017

Hull named UK City of Culture 2017

Hull for UK City of Culture 2017 Events Northern Ltd blog

10 Facts About Events Northern Ltd

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumThe topic for #BEDN today is ‘Newsflash’ so I thought I would share a quick post with you before I finish my packing for EIBTM 2013 tomorrow.  Here are 10 facts you may not know about Events Northern Ltd.

  1. Events Northern Ltd was incorporated in 2004.
  2. The MD, Becki Cross (nee Train), wanted to establish a top event management company based in the North of England and hence the name.  However although we are often kept busy in the North of England we do enjoy working nationally!
  3. Becki has a degree in Events Management and worked in Manchester and Liverpool before setting up the company.
  4. The largest conference we have organised took place in London over 4 days and was attended by over 1,000 international delegates.  It also incorporated an opening ceremony, a conference dinner, exhibition and poster displays.
  5. Becki is a category winner of the handbag.com and Barclays Business Plan Awards and a finalist in the Everywoman Business Awards.
  6. We have developed our own barcode registration system.
  7. The most pressurized set up and turnaround for an event was a dinner at the Natural History Museum, London.  Visitors left at 6 pm and 1,000 guests arrived at 7.30 pm, during which time we had to build the bars, catering stations, stage, lighting, audio visual and everything in between!
  8. eventsnorthernlogonew1.jpgWe ran a conference in Germany in May this year, our first European event
  9. Our sister company, Advanced Event Solutions Ltd, has developed an event app and will soon launch a wedding app.
  10. Some of the personalities/celebrities we have had the pleasure of working with include Mr Motivator (one of our favourites!), Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets), Susanna Reid (BBC Breakfast and Strictly), Diversity, John Craven (Countryfile), McFly, Katherine Jenkins, The Saturdays, Alesha Dixon, to name just a few.
    We won’t mention those that we didn’t enjoy the pleasure of working with!

We hope you enjoyed these 10 facts about Events Northern Ltd and we hope to see you in Barcelona if you are attending #EIBTM13.