Wednesday, 12 December 2007
In the Nice Work (a Diligence sister company) diary this month we have a couple of shopping/wine and dine trips to Northern France. Channel hopping will always be popular here in the south east, with a number of companies using it as a vehicle for client entertaining and staff rewarding. Our favoured destinations are Northern France, using Montreuil-sur-Mer and Le Touquet as a base, and Bruges.
We've also got Christmas Quizzes, Race Nights, Casino Nights - and even a night of Snail racing for one Kent-based client.
So, if you’re looking for something different to reward or entertain your staff or clients, you should talk to Diligence. We’ve got the ideas, we’ve got the experience; and we’ve got a pricing structure to suit all budgets.
We can help you devise a special incentive scheme for your clients or customers, providing guidance on setting your objectives and measurement criteria as well as sourcing the rewards to fit within your budget, whether these are gift or experience based.
Diligence can manage the communications and keep you informed through effective reporting of what items have been used, how many and at what value.
For experienced based rewards, we can offer a range from Party events to special overseas conference and incentive trips.
Our free venue-finding service will help find the right place for you to celebrate your event for staff and customers. We actively manage the arrangements both prior to the event and on the night, to ensure that your function meets all your objectives.
For more information, click here to visit http://www.diligencegroup.co.uk/
Friday, 30 November 2007
On the other hand we also have many years experience of presenting entertaining, fundraising events for charities, community groups and social clubs. For instance, our Race Nights are extremely popular and we are one of the leading presenters of Race Nights in the south east.
We have successfully adapted the Race Night formula into an entertaining team-building or corporate event. An evening with a mixture of races - including horse, pig and dog races - is an entertaining way to socialise with clients or colleagues.
We provide branded 'Fun Money' and chips for your guests to use - either betting as individuals or betting in syndicates. We also offer a wide range of betting options including Win and Each Way bets; Dual Forecast (bet on the first two horses to finish the race); a Jackpot and an accumulator on two or more races.
Written instructions are provided for guests and we also, if required, provide a running score of winnings so that your guests can see how they are performing in relation to their competitors. There is an element of skill - not just betting (which is pure chance) but on choosing both they type of bet and how much to place on each bet to maximise their chances of finishing ahead of their competing syndicates.
We provide suitable prizes for the winning punters or syndicates - and we also present booby-type prizes for during the evening. We will also provide each syndicate with a Race Card - with race sponsors and horse names that are branded to the company and its guests and which are appropriate to the evening - allowing you to name horses or owners after your guests or their companies. If you are using syndicates, we can also provide signage for you.
The cost for such an evening is relatively modest and includes all the personalised race cards and branded fun money.
Certainly worth considering as part of your 2008 entertaining or teambuilding plans.
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
A queue as long as the Adriatic just to cross the border with forms and God knows what else needed. And when we arrived it was like living in a good old-fashioned pre-Cold War state beurocracy. Not one public servant weencountered is able or willing to break into a smile. A four mile stetch of beach and surrounds is out of bounds due to a Government official having his holidays in the place!
But that was nothing to the return journey to Dubrovnik - which took five hours! The border queue was even longer. A great shame because first and last impressions are so important - and I'm afraid our stay was overshadowed by an unneccessary focus on bearocracy.
Whic is a great shame because Montenegro is a stunning country - worth a try if you can stomach the queues to get in!!
Saturday, 28 July 2007
It truly is a fantastic venue and destined to become just as iconic as the old twin towers. It really was a delightful experience once you reached the stadium - but first you had to reach the thing!
Having a 'car-free' venue is a wonderful idea and one that we could all subscribe to - if the infrastructure was there to support the concept. It might surprise the London-centric numpties who rule the Capital's roads via Transport for London, but, there are still many areas of the country that has no public transport.
And so, transport to the capital has to be by road.
So, what should we do?
We could drive to the outskirts of London and use public transport for the rest of the journey? Many people at the event we attended did just that - and were dismayed to hear, after entering the stadium, that return transport to London on the tube from the stadium station, was unavailable 'due to technical difficulties'!!!
Of course, you can always persevere and drive all the way to Wembley - but, not only is the stadium a 'car-free' zone, the entire area is 'parking-free'!!
An aggressive anti car philosophy is in evidence - with some of the rudest traffic wardens we have ever encountered not only refusing to help with information - but actually refusing to speak to drivers!
So, Wembley Stadium and you transport planners - if you do want to persist with your anti-car policy, for goodness sake, get your act together and give us a fighting chance!
If you'd like advice on ensuring your event meets standards, why not contact an experienced event management company for advice and help?
Does the venue provide accessible transport for disabled people or know where to obtain it?
If accessible transport is not readily available, can it be organised when asked for, or tell someone where to get it?
Does the venue have designated accessible parking and dropping off points?
Locate accessible spaces on the shortest possible safe route to an accessible building entrance, recommended 45m max.
If more than one entrance, distribute spaces among parking areas.
Is the approach leading to the venue accessible and easy to traverse?
An accessible approach is one that is clearly signed, well lit, without obstruction or uneven surface, and with a minimum width of 1800mm and distance to parking bay no greater than 45m.
If stepped, then a ramped approach must be available with handrails if required.
Are all entrances to the venue accessible and easy to use?
Is the call entry system easy to locate and use?
Is the entrance signed and well lit?
Does the entrance have a minimum width of 800mm with a flat threshold?
Are there clear 'push' and 'pull' signs or symbols on doors?
Is the reception accessible and easy to use by a disabled person?
Is the reception desk usable by a wheelchair user?
Can a wheelchair user turn around in the reception lobby?
Is the call for assistance facility accessible?
Are corridors accessible and easy for disabled people to move around the building?
Corridors require a minimum width of 1200mm with passing places of 1800mm. They should be clear of obstruction, well lit and signed.
Visual, auditory and tactile guides assist movement and orientation, e.g. colour schemes, decor, tactile floor changes, handrails.
Are doors and doorways accessible to disabled people?
Doorways should be a minimum of 800mm with flush threshold.
The door furniture must be easy to use and in contrast to the door.
Doorways and doors should be colour contrasted to the surrounding floor and walls.
Are functional and directional signs accessible and usable by disabled people?
People need clear information about the purpose and layout of buildings.
Often visual information is reinforced by audible and tactile information.
Effectiveness is determined by: location, layout, height, font size, colour and finished surfaces of materials.
Are stairs or steps usable by disabled people?
Stairs & steps require contrasting nosing with handrails that guide and assist disabled users.
Are accessible lifts provided for upper floor access?
Accessible lifts require: minimum of 1700mm by 1700mm clear floor space outside lifts to aid wheelchair manoeuvrability.
Lift doors should be highlighted and stay open for a minimum of 20 seconds.
The lift car should be a minimum 1100mm wide and 1400mm deep with a mirror on rear wall.
Lift doors should have minimum clear opening 800mm.
Controls should be at usable height, tactile and with audible announcements.
Are ramps provided for changes in level or where there is a stepped approach and no alternative access?
It is preferable to have both steps and ramp.
The gradient for the ramp should be 1 in 20 up to 10m.
Shorter distances of under 2m can be 1 in 12.
Do you provide accessible toilet facilities?
Accessible toilets require space to turn around and transfer (min 1500mm by 2200mm), which can be from the right or left.
If two accessible toilets are provided then both options can be provided.
Grab rails, emergency cords and doors that open outwards with accessible handles are required.
Is the provision of refreshments accessible?
Refectory, dining rooms, sandwich bars, coffee areas, vending machines all need to be accessible.
Alternative dietary requirements need to be catered for.
Are the telephones accessible?
Public telephone should be angled and located between 750 mm and 1000 mm above the floor.
A clear space of at least 1350 mm x 1200 mm should be provided within a telephone booth.
Handsets require large buttons, amplified earpiece and able to work with induction loop.
Are procedures in place to ensure the safe egress of all users?
Procedures must be in place to assist disabled people who are not familiar with the building and require assistance to leave the building.
Fire procedures must be available in alternate formats, and included in introduction to event.
Are there visual, auditory and vibrating alarms?
In areas where disabled people may be alone, such as toilets, flashing fire alarm beacons connected to the fire alarm system should be installed.
For some people with no auditory access, the installation of a vibrating fire pager is recommended.
Are emergency exits accessible to disabled people?
Are exit routes clearly signed, unlocked and free of obstacles?
Do exit doors open outwards with minimum of 900mm clear passage width and flat/ramped egress to Fire Assembly Points?
Are accessible refuges provided for disabled people in an emergency?
Refuges are fire-protected areas providing sufficient space to enable people to wait in safety.
Refuges are primarily designed for people who are unable to use stairs or experience difficulty leaving buildings in an emergency without assistance.
Does the venue provide access technology and equipment so disabled people can take part fully in the training?
Equipment such as: thick black pens for signing or writing, different coloured paper, magnifier, clipboard, CCTV, Induction loops.
Access technology such as: voice synthesiser software, large print screen software, voice recognition software, laptops.
Is the environment supportive to disabled clients taking part in your service? E.g. noise reduction - low background noise, floor coverings, curtains - controllable temperature and ventilation, good natural and artificial light, adjustable blinds, and suitable colour schemes?
Is the furniture provided at venue usable by disabled people, e.g. desks, tables and seating?
Suitable means variable height, adjustable back and arm support.
Desks and tables for wheelchair users should be at a height of 725 - 750mm with a minimum knee space under the desk of 800mm wide, 500mm deep (630mm preferred) & 700mm high (720mm preferred).
Is the layout and organisation of the training rooms suitable for disabled people?
Can someone who uses walking sticks or a frame, or is a wheelchair user move around freely and without hindrance?
Can the layout of the seating and presentation equipment be arranged to maximise disabled people's participation?
Is the accommodation accessible and usable by disabled people?
Consider the journey, for example: getting to the room, getting in and out, moving around inside, using the facilities (such as telephone, tea-making, television, bathroom), and getting out in an emergency.
Does the venue or training provider check out delegates for access requirements before event and at start of event?
Are access requirements of delegates asked for and acted upon by training provider and venue provider before the event?
Adjustments include: timing, frequency of breaks, alternative format materials, alternative seating, place and method of delivery, the amount and complexity of information.
Are venue staff confident and competent to assist disabled people?
Such as 'spotting when assistance is really required', 'establishing the access required', 'enabling independent use of service', and knowing when to say 'no'
Do you monitor satisfaction of your service and research the reasons why disabled delegates are dissatisfied?
By monitoring the service provided to disabled people by the venue, there will be an opportunity to increase inclusion at three critical points: a) at promotion - your promotional material is not accessible or available, b) at first contact - delegates' first experience of the venue and training puts them off, and c) after bad experience - something happens that makes them feel excluded or not welcome.
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Slovenia still remains a wonderful antidote to much of modern Europe's crowds and high prices - and on a recent visit there was a refreshing lack of gangs of young alcohol-fuelled Brits. Ljubljana is a wonderful city - a mix of Prague and Budapest - but without the hordes of tourists. It is fairly typical of the rest of the country - very green, very clean, very friendly and very reasonable! Indeed, Slovenia must be one of the few countries within the cursed Euro zone not to have signalled its introduction as a passport to riches. Hotels, travel, restaurants and socialising are all available without the need for wallet-busting budgets.
Now, you can incorporate a Casino Night at a price that has brought weddings, birthday celebrations and other private events into the reckoning.
Over the last four weeks, we have run casinos at weddings, birthday parties and golf club social functions - and we've held them in clubs, hotels and even a pub!
A Casino Night can add a real touch of sophistication to your event – we have roulette and blackjack tables to offer a hint of Monte Carlo to your guests. They are ideal for raising money for good causes and and they’re great to support cabaret evenings, dinners, discos and other social occasions.
We have all the equipment you need and our package comes complete with an MC and croupiers. If you want to maximise your fund raising or minimise your costs, a budget casino night is just for you – simply provide us with tables and we’ll bring along croupiers, roulette wheels and cloths, blackjack cloths and, of course, plenty of chips.
Normally we provide branded fun money which can be exchanged for £100 in chips. Guests then play with these chips to see who ends up with the most money at the end of the session - with the winner picking up a prize.
They're great fun and getting more and more popular - probably because of the rise in popularity of Poker.
You can find more details here.
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Take a look here and sample something of the atmosphere at the finish.http://www.finisherclip.com/en/previews/index/10/F13183/DSL/links
It's because of hotels such as the Mondorf Parc, combined with the low prices in the country, that Luxembourg is such great value for conferences, meetings and events. Meeting facilities are great at this hotel - and there are numerous opportunities for teambuilding and other group activities.
So what else has Luxembourg to offer?
Once you get there you'll be struck by the size of the country - after all, it is possible to have breakfast in Germany, lunch in France, dinner in Belgium, and still be home in time for a nightcap in the bar (incidentally, we do have a lovely restaurant that we use in Germany!). The capital is a 1000-year-old fortress city with some impressive old ramparts - colloquially known as "Europe's most beautiful balcony".
The main centre is compact and best seen on foot - cobbled streets, historical buildings, museums and art galleries blend with contemporary boutiques and outdoor cafés, to give the place a unique charm. Luxembourg's parks and gardens spill out from the Old Town and make this an ideal walking city -especially the stunning Pétrusse Valley -200 feet lower than the main town.
So, why not have a look at Luxembourg - for your next meeting, conference or event? And, if you'd like any help or advice - you know who to talk to! eMail me on firstname.lastname@example.org
This year we enjoyed lovely weather, a fine meal at le Coquempot, with who we dine a number of times a year - and then our traditional Sunday morning 10 mile walk to lunch in Etaples!
Montreuil is great for wine and dine weekends, for wine tastings, for golfers and their partners - or simply for those who like to sit and watch the world go by.
You should visit.
Let us know if you need any help or advice!
Organisation, crowd support, atmosphere - you name it, the French just can't come anywhere near London for the ability to put on a world class event!
For a mile by mile report on this year's London Marathon, why not visit our old friend Ron?http://www.ronhillsalterego.blogspot.com
We have undertaken team building assignments for many clients over the last fifteen years but one of our regrets is that the phrase 'teambuilding' has been hijacked and, to many, means a day away from the office with a spot of go-karting!
Teambuilding is much more than a day behind the wheel of a vehicle - and a good job too, with the prices of these corporate days now making a serious dent in budgets. We much prefer to concentrate on helping our clients achieve a positive and more beneficial relationship between staff, particularly those from the geographically disparate parts of the organisation - without the need to spend thousands. But that's not to say our teambuilding exercises are not fun!
For any business unit, particularly those working to tight deadlines or seeking to achieve targets, the ability to work effectively as part of a team is an essential skill. The successful development and adoption of team skills will also enhance the knowledge base of the organisation and will encourage individual professional development.
The key to the success of any teamworking exercises is that staff are made aware of the positive benefits of certain practices, agree to adopt them and are then made to assume responsibility for maintaining and advancing these practices within their respective teams.
The aim of our teambuilding programmes is to convince staff of the need for team skills and of their own personal responsibility in applying them within their own team environments by:
1. Motivating staff and demonstrating the importance of effective teamworking
2. Providing practical examples of how teams should work together
3. Imposing responsibility for maintaining good team practices
4. Providing a reward structure to demonstrate the value of good team practices
5. Helping staff develop examples of good practice and tricks-of-the-trade
The heart of a teamworking initiative is an attempt to encourage staff to take pride in what they do by focusing not just on their own individual performance but, primarily, on the needs of their customers and others who may be affected by their work performance – such as colleagues in other sections/departments.
We have developed a series of unique teambuilding exercises that focus on performance - by incorporating drama and theatre. Teams are set an assignment to produce a short ‘corporate’ film to show to prospective new business clients - a film that reflects not just the needs of the organisation – but also its strengths and its ethos.
Few parameters are set for teams – but those that are set are vital components and are crucial both to the delivery of the finished film and to how the film is judged. these include:
1. A strict limit on the length of the film – no more than ten minutes
2. A theme. Each team is allocated a theme or genre and the finished product must reflect this. The genre could be generational so that films would reflect changing values and habits. One team could therefore look to produce a Silent Movie; a second team look at producing a film in the style of the 1950’s; a third look at producing a film reflecting modern day attitudes; and a fourth team look to produce a film set in the future. An alternative would be for films to be produced in the style of particular genres – so we could, for instance, have a Spaghetti Western, a James Bond, a Simpsons, a West End Musical or a Humphrey Bogart theme! A third alternative would be to encourage teams to reflect the theatrical nature of their surroundings and look to produce from a particular theatrical style such as Shakespeare or Pantomime.
3. A need to incorporate certain core messages in the film.
The exercise should have as its core objective a desire to promote the values of the organisation underpinned with a need to consider the overall business objectives. The initial – and probably most important – part of the exercise is the planning, with teams encouraged to fully document the content of their film, the objectives and the logistics (scripting etc) of the production. We encourage a formal approach using techniques such as storyboards to allow all team members input into the creative process.
Teams are encouraged to be as creative as possible and include traditional cinema or theatrical techniques such as props, location, music and scripts to produce an entertaining end-product.
We acknowledge that not everybody is comfortable 'performing' which is why there are key roles to play in these exercises for the 'behind camera' crew - direction, production, props, scripting and so on. So there really is a role to play for all team members.
Feedback and comment on the finished product is by way of an Oscar ceremony with all team members present - preferably in a social environment - with a screening of the videos and awards being presented not just for Best Film but for Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Music, Best Costume etc.
We supply some props and all the necessary Oscar paraphernalia – including a red carpet for that photo opportunity – with delegates encouraged to dress for the Oscars!We've used these exercises with great success with a large number of clients - and the feedback has always been excellent.Effective, fun and rewarding team-building - and team building that fits all budgets!
Get in touch if you'd like to know more!
Tuesday, 10 April 2007
You want a meeting or a client event. But not in a hotel. You want somewhere different. But you don't want to pay the earth for it.
We come across some little gems from time to time and one such occasion was last week when we helped a client with a launch event. The venue was the Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux, East Sussex.
The Observatory Science Centre opened in April 1995, in the grounds of the former Royal Observatory. The domes, buildings and telescopes are still in place and the Centre is now a major family visitor attraction. The renovated telescopes provide a great backdrop for meetings and events.
On the night of our event, we were treated to a perfect view of Saturn on a glorious, clear night. The formal part of the meeting was actually held in one of the telescope domes and, following drinks and food, guests were invited to star gaze, accompanied by astronomy experts, using two of the giant telescopes. There are also dozens of hands-on science exhibits which kept guests entertained and amused!
The Science Centre is a great, cost-effective venue for private meetings of up to 50 although larger groups can also be accommodated by arrangement. There are plenty of facilities for team building - both indoor and outdoor - with bags of potential for interactive team challenges or science based activity workshops.
Service from an enthusiastic team of staff and volunteers make this a venue well worth considering.
We have a range of team building and client/staff entertainment ideas which are ideally suited to Herstmonceux – and if you'd like more information on using Herstmonceux - or any of a number of other unusual venues – why not contact Nice Work? http://www.nice-work.org.uk/contact_us.html
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
A programme we have offered for some years now is 'A Taste of France'. Basing ourselves in the walled town of Montreuil-sur-Mer, the gateway to the Cote d’Opal, we offer delegates a brief tour of French gastronomy.
Montreuil has long had a reputation for its beauty, its fine restaurants – and as the setting for the classic Victor Hugo novel Les Miserables. The town is steeped in history and has many sites of historical interest – from the mediaeval walled ramparts to the statue of the British General, Sir Douglas Haig, who set up his headquarters in the town during the First World War. The impressive fortifications offer numerous facilities to walk or stroll and many visitors also take in a visit to the 15th century citadel in the town. Indeed we have used the town as our base for a number of walking expeditions - using the town as a starting point for a programme of walks spread over two and three days.
The town is also known for its floral displays which adorn the streets and squares through the seasons. But it is probably as a centre of gastronomy that most French people will associate Montreuil-sur-Mer - the town being host to many fine restaurants.
The villages and small towns of the area are as charming as the town of Montreuil-sur-Mer and our weekend began in the bustling resort of Le Touquet which is situated just a few minutes drive away. We arrived in Le Touquet in good time to browse the bustling Saturday morning market. Always popular with locals, the market offers a fabulous selection of local delicacies - from locally produced wines and cheeses through to local farmers selling the fruits of their labour. We always pick up a selection of different kinds of bread, a few cakes for those back home - plus some locally prepared olives to nibble on when we return on Sunday evening.
Our hotel for the weekend is the Hermitage which is located in the heart of the historic town of Montreuil, on the site of the Hotel Dieu Hospital, founded in 1200. The hotel was completely renovated in 2002 and is now a lovely, comfortable, well-appointed three star hotel. We have been taking groups to the hotel since the month it opened and we believe it to be one of the best hotels in Northern France - and our guests are always extremely complimentary about it.
The renovation and rebuilding work carried out over the last couple of years isn’t the first time the site has undergone a transformation. Following its foundation in 1200 by the then Lord of Montreuil, it was rebuilt under the expert eye of Napoleon III. Until a few years ago the building was in use as a hospital and the trained eye will spot some of the current architectural features which give way its past – such as the high ceilings, wide corridors and trolley-shaped lifts!
The hotel currently has 57 bedrooms – each equipped with en-suite bathroom, WC, hair dryer, telephone and satellite TV. If guests fancy a stroll the hotel is situated in the centre of town, within easy reach of the shops, bars, restaurants, the market square and the town walls, complete with walks.
On Saturday evening we enjoyed a wine tasting at La Vinophilie – a very pleasant hour tasting a number of wines plus an opportunity for our guests to quiz the knowledgeable proprietor, M Vigneron. Because we had already purchased a wine gift for our guests there was no pressure to buy although so impressed were one or two of our guests that M Vigneron was kept busy wrapping presents. After the wine tasting we headed for Le Coquempot Restaurant for dinner.
Le Coquempot is another popular destination for visitors and whilst there may be better - and more expensive - restaurants in the town, we have always found the restaurant provides us with great food and wine. Other restaurants worth considering - depending on budget - are the Auberge de la Grenouillere and, of course, the Chateau. The in-house restaurant at the Hermitage is also worth a try. Le Jeroboam is, in fact, owned by the son of the owner of the Chateau and leased by him from the hotel.
After a nightcap in the hotel bar our guests had a relaxing Sunday morning with a spot of shopping for bread, cakes and chocolate in the town before we moved on to the coastal resort of Wimereaux where we once again enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Atlantic Hotel. The weather was extremely stormy, with access to the hotel along the promenade impossible - but the view of the storm from the windows of the cosy restaurant was spectacular.
The whole weekend offers a lovely introduction to the wonderful tastes of France and we have arranged this programme for private groups as well as corporate guests. We can combine a stay with any number of business or social options. Meeting facilities are excellent and Le Touquet also offers good golf and shopping.But the beauty of the package is that it is often priced much, much lower than a similar programme in the UK.
So, if you're looking for a keenly priced meeting, sales or staff conference or simply a looking for a way to reward staff or clients then why not get in touch? and, if walking and eating is your bag - our three day walking breaks are ideal for groups of six or more!
Tuesday, 6 March 2007
We are frequent visitors to Bruges and always thoroughly enjoy the 'Venice of the north'. Over the years we have used the city as a location for meetings and incentive trips - the city offers some great value meeting facilities and, of course, the 'out of hours' opportunities are as delightful as they are varied. There are a number of high quality hotels that are ideal for meetings and sales conferences and you'll struggle to find a better destination for client and staff entertaining. With a journey time of just over the hour from Calais by coach it's a very 'do-able' short visit destination. Flights to Ostend airport also leave you with a very short transfer time to the city centre.
In 2006 we offered our first programme of trips to the city for Christmas shopping and the Christmas markets and we had a busy December taking groups varying in size from 12 to 50 for a day of shopping, visits to the markets and, of course, some splendid wining and dining! Mind you, we'll be launching our December programme a little earlier this year to get over the problem of tunnel and ferry crossing availability!
Last year we expanded our programme of trips to European road running events with a first time visit to Bruges to participate in the Ostend to Bruges 10 Mile Race - and our group enjoyed it so much we returned there last weekend with another group of 22 enthusiastic runners and their families and friends. These weekends are great fun and very sociable. A reasonably early start from Kent took us over the channel and we arrived in Bruges in good time for lunch and some sightseeing and shopping. The fact that most of the group were running on Sunday morning didn't stop them enjoying an agreeable Saturday Night out at one of the city's institutions de Vlaamsche Pot (below). This long established restaurant serves up a great value fixed menu for groups of all sizes that includes a huge traditional Belgian Carbonade and as many french fries as you can handle - plus unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks. All served in a fabulous atmosphere with great enthusiasm by friendly waiters. Whilst it might not always suit the food connoisseurs - it remains one of Bruges' iconic establishments.
We've also discovered a gem of a restaurant outside the city centre. The Zandwegemolen is a converted - and working - windmill located on the ring road a mile or so outside the centre and we made a return visit for Sunday lunch. It benefits from its slightly out of the way location with its primarily local clientele enjoying some fabulous food and wine - plus the owner's own beer brewed in the cellar. As well as being a great location, serving great food - with seconds enthusiastically offered - and boasting a lovely and gregarious owner, the Zandwegemolen benefits from all-inclusive prices around half that of city centre restaurants.
We now have a number of fixed one, two, three and four day Bruges programmes catering for private groups, incentive groups, meetings and incentives - plus our specialist running and walking groups. This year we're taking a group of 40 to 50 people on a three day sponsored walk in and around Bruges and the Flanders area. The Windmills of Bruges over the August Bank Holiday Weekend is the latest in our programme of escorted, sponsored walks which will also be made available from the summer to private groups of eight or more walkers. We provide all the resources needed to support walkers of all ages, sizes and abilities including back-up vehicles, food and drink. Our visit also coincides with the Pageant of the Golden Tree a spectacular event which takes place in the city every five years and which celebrates the anniversary of the marriage of a Belgian Count with the English Princess Margaret in 1468. This summer sees our 4th overseas sponsored walk and will be raising funds for two well-deserving local charities - St Michael's Hospice, in St Leonards, and Martha Trust which has homes for the profoundly disabled in Deal and Hastings.
We'll be visiting Bruges many more times this year - so if you'd like us to suggest a programme for a trip of any length - be it corporate or private, for business or for pleasure, why not get in touch? http://www.nice-work.org.uk/contact_us.html
Incidentally, we'd like to thank one of our runners, Amanda Wheatley for adding to our Bruges photo library!
Tuesday, 27 February 2007
The area has many splendid venues and some very interesting ones too! Quite often we need only a simple seminar facility with good meeting resources and catering - but other times our clients want us to seek out something with a little bit more character or interest. You'd think that this region of the country would be crying out for meetings business - yet sometimes we wonder!
For a small press launch for a local organisation, we have been looking for an unusual venue and we identified three such venues in the immediate area and called them to ask for prices and details.
Venue Number 1 - "too short notice". This is for a function with just 30 people to be held in mid April!
Venue Number 2 - "New health and safety rules means we can't accomodate people who will be standing still"!!! (this is a venue that has been open to the public since the mid 1850's but which includes a large cave!)
Venue Number 3 - After three phone calls and three emails we're still waiting for details!
But do we despair?
Well, yes we do - but life goes on. We have always tried to support our local region for events both large and small but there does seem to be an attitude issue with some venues. For instance we often take groups to Le Touquet for wine and dine or shopping - or golf breaks. We do so because it represents great value for money and our clients can rely on certain quality standards. Our France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg visits always match client expectations - but what about if the boot was on the other foot?
For instance, wouldn't it be great if we could bring guests from Northern France to this area for wine and dine, shopping or golf? Well, whilst we may get away with the wine and dine - shopping? Golf? Well you try and arrange for guests to play on the famous course at Rye - a course that would appeal to golfers from across the water and, indeed, across the UK. "Sorry - members only"!!
But it isn't just the services that make life diffcult for visitors - for instance Rye's only supermarket has recently changed hands and the new owners refuse to open on Sundays - the local authority has also done its best to discourage visitors with closures of public conveniences and a ridiculous move to close down the Tourist Information Centres.
Is it any wonder that France, Belgium and the rest of Northern Europe is such an attractive destination?
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
Each race is selected at random by a member of the audience – so nobody knows which horse will win the race until the film has finished.
If you are planning a Race Night, we offer a comprehensive pre-event service to advise on staging the evening. For instance, we recommend that you look to raise funds in two other important ways. First of all, if you can obtain sponsorship for each of the eight races – we normally recommend around £25 each from local businesses or individuals. Sponsors then have the race named after them – e.g. ‘The Rose and Crown Grand National’.
8 horses sponsored in each race – 64 horses at £2.50 each = £160
Surplus of bets placed over winnings paid out (assuming 50p bets), say, £320
Auction Race proceeds – say, £200
The point is that Brussels does get its fair share of negative connotations - but it's still a great place to meet!It's a pretty city with plenty on offer to suit all tastes and budgets. For one or two day meetings, you have a top selection of hotels and meeting rooms covering an eclectic range of three, four and five star hotels. For longer-stay events there are a number of specialist conference and congress venues and locations.
We visited Brussels last week for the annual EMIF Trade fair and took the opportunity to stay at a new conference and meetings venue - the Dolce La Hulpe - a newly opened facility. Dolce have a number of properties in the US and Europe and claim their target market is both business and leisure.
The hotel, a former IBM Training Centre, had not been open very long when we arrived - a couple of weeks at most - and it showed a little bit, with an army of tradesmen still beavering away around us!
The Dolce, which claims to be Belgium’s first Hotel, Resort & Conference Destination is located 15 km (9 miles) southeast of Brussels City Centre and is situated in the middle of the Sonian forest, surrounded by a huge swathe of green countryside.The airport is also just 9 miles away and for Eurostar passengers, the Midi railway station is a 25 minute drive.
264 guest rooms and suites
25 meeting rooms including 2 auditoriums (500 seats and 150 seats) and a large 750 m2 multi-purpose area for events & exhibitions
Main restaurant up to 320 guests and a gourmet restaurant up to 54 guests
2 bars, private dining and banqueting rooms
Indoor swimming pool and fitness centre - and, from March 2007, a steam bath & sauna
Onsite sports facilities include 2 tennis courts, a beach volleyball field, fully laid-out jogging trails, mountain biking, golf and horse riding.
We enjoyed a pleasant stay at the Dolce and can appreciate the attractions if you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and if you want your delegates to remain 'on site'. However, if its convenience for the city and all its many attractions you're looking for, maybe you'd be better using one of the many meeting facilities closer to the city.
Brussels is also a great destination for a short break with plenty to see and do in the area. For eating and drinking in a convivial atmosphere, you'll not find many better places in Northern Europe. In addition, of course, its proximity to the UK, with a journey time of just a couple of hours by train - or slightly longer by road - makes it a popular destination.
The bars, restaurants and nightspots of the city are highly atmospheric - and, of course, there's probably no better place to go for a beer! Just north of the Grand Place you'll find the Ilot Sacré – a maze of narrow streets filled with restaurants. Prices make Brussels a cost-effective destination for meetings and incentives - and for short leisure breaks.
Room rates and incidentals are on a par with most other European capitals although it is possible to snap up a bargain when the Eurocrats decamp! Good rates for meetings are also available.
If you'd like more information on Brussels, why not contact Nice Work? You'll find a link to the Nice Work at the foot of the page.
And if you'd like to add your comments about Brussels, we'd love to hear from you!
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
2006 saw us organise events in the UK, France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. In addition we visited Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland carrying out research on exciting new destinations.
So, we start 2007 with some big ideas and some fresh ideas.
Our overseas schedule for the first half of the year is hectic and includes:
February Brussels for EMIF
March Bruges for the Ostend to Bruges 10 Mile Race
Montreuil-sur-Mer, in Northern France for a corporate wine and dine weekend
April Paris for the Paris Marathon
Frankfurt for IMEX
May Montreuil-sur-Mer for the Ramparts 10K
Luxembourg for the Night Run
In addition we are continuing to plan our late 2007 packages which will, once again, include visits to markets in France and Belgium plus Christmas shopping and wine and dine packages suitable for both private and corporate groups.
Closer to home, January saw us involved in a number of fundraising events including race nights - one for a junior football club in London in mid month raised over £2,000 - a music quiz and bingo night for a Kent school's PTA and casino nights.
Bookings for Race Nights, Quiz Nights, Bingo Nights and Casino Nights remain strong throughout the early part of 2007 and we have only a few Friday and Saturday nights with availability. Bingo Nights are staging something of a comeback and they're proving great fundraisers - particularly for community groups looking for a family night out.
Corporate events tend to be fewer in number in January although we are managing a number of business seminars for one client in East Sussex. Our work involves marketing the events as well as media and pr support. Our delegate management skills are also in demand as we manage meet and greet, delegate registration - and even catering for some of our client's events.
Only one small private event this month. We took a group to Lingfield by coach for the races. We are used to taking groups to some of the larger racecourses such as Goodwood and Epsom - but Lingfield was a really pleasant surprise. Even on a bitter cold Saturday in January the racecourse was welcoming and warm - and we'd have no hesitation in recommending it as a venue for corporate or private entertaining. Let us know if you'd like more information.
We're also looking forward to an interesting February with a book launch, our first overseas visit of the year and the launch of our annual three day overseas sponsored walk which we organise for local charities - this year we base ourselves in Bruges and our visit coincides with the four-yearly pageant held in this wonderful mediaeval city.
More news on this and some more exciting events news soon.