30th June 2015
Hello - Emily here!
I'm just back in the office after a busy couple of days visiting some key venues in and around Birmingham. I saw a great range of venues, from country house estates, to quirky and innovative studio space. I even had a tour of a museum!
My first stop on the drive from Brighton to Birmingham was The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield. I was initially struck by the impressive façade and the stunning surrounding countryside. The wow factor certainly didn’t end there. Having recently undergone an extensive refurbishment, the public areas, meeting rooms and bedrooms have all been modernised to a very high standard, while maintaining some traditional charm.
Soft colours and masses of light create a very calming reception area, with a spacious bar area close by. The meeting rooms continue this concept, and the extensive facilities can accommodate anything from an intimate dinner in the fabulous Wine Room, to a conference for 400 in the Woodland Suite. This venue has three golf courses, a nightclub on site, excellent leisure facilities, various dining options and free parking, something for everyone!
Next was the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club. Again, the beautifully landscaped gardens were a wonderful first impression.
The hotel’s 18 meeting spaces provide flexible event opportunities, and the onsite marquee, available throughout the summer months, is an ideal option for parties and corporate events for up to 350 people. The land can be used for team-building activities, as can the tennis courts and croquet lawn, so this is an ideal venue for company away days, or indeed any manner of corporate event.
I then travelled a short distance to the National Motorcycle Museum, located a stone’s throw from the M42. As well as housing the world’s largest and finest collection of motorbikes, this venue has 13 rooms, ranging in size from the Wardroom Suite (14 boardroom) to the Britannia and Imperial Suites (950 theatre style each).
Here there is a vast amount of scope for formal corporate events, dinners and exhibitions, and as many rooms interconnect this allows for ease of movement between spaces. Furthermore, any events taking place after 5.30pm will have private use of the museum itself. With ample free car parking, this venue has space, style and location on its side!
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After a quick bite to eat.... I headed over to the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, a huge hotel close to the National Exhibition Centre. With 790 bedrooms and 33 event spaces holding up to 2000 people, this hotel is vast and yet, once inside, it doesn’t feel imposing in any way. The total event space covers 6000 square metres, and can accommodate all manner of events.
Constantly bustling, this hotel feels like a town, with substantial dining, bar and leisure facilities, very attentive staff and a welcoming vibe throughout.
My final stop on day one was the Crowne Plaza NEC, also located within the grounds of the NEC. This hotel is bright and modern, with a spacious lounge bar close to reception, along with its smaller meeting rooms, all of which benefit from natural daylight. The largest room, the Oasis Suite, is located on -1 level, and enjoys a spacious refreshment area, which has views of the grounds. The bedrooms are large and comfortable with all mod cons, and I slept well that night! The location of this hotel could not be better, walking distance to both Birmingham International rail station, Birmingham airport and, of course, the NEC itself.
Day two was spent in Birmingham City Centre. I first visited the Studio, in the very heart of the City, a mere two minutes’ walk from New Street train station. Although this wonderfully quirky venue occupies four floors, you could walk past and not know it was there. Once inside, however, this all changes.
Bursting with colour and fun, this venue lends itself to creativity, with a vast array of spaces of all shapes and sizes. It also has a fabulous terrace and garden, a little hidden gem of peace in the middle of town.
De Vere Colmore Gate was next on the list. Very much designed for corporate events, this venue offers functional space with comfort and style. Also in a great location, the venue offers free flowing refreshments and ample communal space, along with bags of light in all of the meeting rooms.
A short walk away, again, was my third stop, Maple House by Etc Venues. Another purpose built conference centre, Etc Venues occupies the first and second floors of the building. This venue has a variety of good sized spaces and a bright and welcoming atmosphere. Their award winning chefs also provide mouth-watering food during the day!
To round off the morning, I visited Conference Aston. I was unaware just how close the university is to the city centre, only a 10 minute walk. Situated on a green and pleasant campus, the conference centre and hotel have been built around a lovely courtyard garden, making the space easily navigated. The bedrooms are of good quality and the meeting space is bright and functional, with a spacious restaurant and two large lounges on the ground floor. Additional rooms are located in a nearby building, along with the Great Hall, with tiered seating for up to 650 delegates.
All in all, a really informative trip with lots of great venues to promote in the Midlands!
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11th June 2015
Hi, my name is Emily, and I’m very excited to have joined The Conference People as Venue Finding Manager, on a one year maternity contract.
I come from a venues background, having worked for some well-known hotel companies, including Marriott, IHG, Grange and Akkeron. I started out as an events coordinator at the tender age of 22 in my home town of Bristol. Working at the Bristol Marriott City Centre, I gained masses of experience of the varied world of events.
I organised everything from meetings to exhibitions and roadshows, charity dinners and weddings. What I loved most was that there really was no knowing what would come in next – it made for a really exciting experience. My role was pivotal for the client’s whole experience, so I made sure that I always gave 100% commitment to each client, to ensure complete customer satisfaction – there was a lot of responsibility on my young shoulders! After 18 fantastic months, I decided to leave, as I was desperate to go to Spain and improve my level of Spanish. I’d always had a keen interest in languages, and Spanish more than any other (my Mum said I must have been Spanish in a former life…) I moved to Malaga for 12 weeks, fully intending to return to Blighty after gaining some more language skills. Four years, three Spanish cities and three jobs later, I returned to the UK with wonderful memories, fluent Spanish and a burning desire to do something with it.
So I became a freelance Spanish and English teacher to adults, and also set up a Spanish speaking social group. I also returned to university to complete a post-graduate diploma in Intercultural Communication. Finally, the pull of events became too strong, so in 2010 I moved to London to start again as an events coordinator at the Holiday Inn Regents Park. In the last five years, I have worked in sales, event planning, operations and revenue management, most recently working for Grange Hotels, and now finally I am seeing things from a whole new perspective once again. My knowledge of the industry came in very handy when it came to planning my wedding last year, which took place at the gorgeous Eastwood Park in South Gloucestershire – a stunning country house surrounded by acres of countryside. It even has resident deer!
Now I get to reflect on the week from the beach, as I have escaped the madness of London and bought a flat in Brighton, which I share with my husband and our puppy.
We have been known to pop into the Thistle Brighton for afternoon tea overlooking the seafront, a rare but deserved treat!
There is no doubt that the learning curve at The Conference People is steep; getting to know the multitude of venues with which we work is no mean feat! There are so many fantastic venues, both in the UK and across the globe, and it is a privilege to be involved with such a diverse range. We can literally find something for everyone, from a warehouse in London to a mountain retreat in South Africa and many, many more besides. I am fortunate to be working with an incredible team of experienced and delightful people, who are so supportive and have welcomed me into the team with open arms. Luckily, I love learning so am really keen to absorb as much knowledge from those around me as I possibly can, to make my year here as full and productive as possible.
11th June 2015
My first stop was the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge; meeting a Client for a show round of the excellent facilities. We viewed the Ballroom and the Plaza Suites. The ballroom can hold 1,400 delegates in theatre style and up to 1,000 for a dinner dance. It’s a really large, wide space - with no pillars!
My next stop was Bankside Space. A really interesting venue; modern multi-purpose building just behind the Tate Modern and the Shakespeare’s Globe. It’s a blank canvas; ready for your creative input for a variety of events.
After a quick bite to eat I made my way over to the Siemens Crystal building. The venue claims to be one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. It’s really light and airy and it’s situated at the foot of the Emirates Airline. The venue has 14 flexible event spaces, including a 270 seat auditorium.
From the Cyrstal building I walked over to the Crowne Plaza Docklands (a three minute walk). It was great to see this following the refurbishment of all the public areas and the bedrooms which was carried out at the beginning of the year. The hotel has a wonderful restaurant which has a terrace overlooking the river Thames.
The next venue was something very different! The Sunborn Yacht – a fantastic 4 star deluxe yacht hotel, which also has superb meeting facilities. It opened in June 2014, so is only a year old. It’s located on the waterfront at the western end of the Royal Victoria Dock. From the outdoor terrace I could look back towards a previous venue; the Siemens Crystal building! I was also just a short walk away from my last venue; ICC London ExCel.
ICC London ExCel has the UK’s largest fully flexible auditorium which can seat up to 5,000 delegates. This is a great venue for large scale events and gala dinners. It’s got London’s largest banqueting hall which can host 3,000 guests. I’m not sure I’d want to be in the kitchens for an event of that size!! The venue is really high tech and has excellent transport links.
I’m off to plan my next trip to London….. watch this space!