Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Events in East Sussex

Over the years we have managed many meetings and events in our local area of Hastings and Rye and we often have need of meeting venues for small-ish groups of under 50 delegates.

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

Race Nights - a great fundraising night out

From now through to the end of Spring we're busy with Race Nights. With all our own equipment, we're ideally placed to help raise funds for community groups, sporting clubs and the like. That said, we have also staged Race Nights as part of corporate functions, as a social break for conference delegates - and even for private parties. Whilst we have travelled as far north as Inverness and as far south as Torquay, much of our work is concentrated in the Social Clubs of London and the south east of England.
If you've not tried them, it's worth considering them - they're great fun and will invariably contribute well to good causes.
Our Race Night is a self contained package of eight races – we supply the races, the equipment, including projector and screen; we also supply a wide range of accessories including free personalised race programmes, sponsor forms and prizes (prizes charged extra). We personalise supervise and manage the evening – including acting as MC. If required we can also operate the Tote at no extra charge. All we ask is for a float!
The races are a mixture of DVDs and videos of British horse races – we also supply a couple of surprise races on the evening. Each race has eight horses – numbered 1 through to 8. Guests then choose which horse they think will win – and place a bet on that number prior to the start of the race. Bets can be either in multiples of 50p or £1 depending on which you think is best suited to your guests. Bets are usually for ‘win only’ - and although no ‘each way’ bets can be placed, we can also incoporate a 'Forecast'.
Profits from the evening come from a percentage of the tote sales – we normally recommend that you retain around 50% of the tote, with the other 50% being returned in winnings.

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’.
Secondly you should try and obtain sponsorship for each of the horses in each race – a total of 64 horses. If you can sell these for, say, £2.50 per horse you’ll have another £160 income. The winning ‘owner’ of each horse then wins a prize – which, if you can have them donated will maximise your profit. We normally recommend that these are sold in advance – perhaps to those who cannot attend on the evening – but, if not, we are happy to sell them for you amongst the guests on the evening.
We also suggest, if you have enough people present, that you hold a special Race 9 – an auction race. In this race, each horse is auctioned off to the highest bidder – 50% of the auction takings are retained and the other 50% paid out as a special cash prize to the winning owner.
A typical Race Night should, if it attracts enough people, earn a reasonable amount of profit. Our experience shows that if you have 100 people attending and if you can secure sponsorship, the evening should make between £800 and £1,000 - made up of:
8 races – 4 sponsored at, say £25 = £100
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
This should produce a profit of around £800 on the racing alone, after paying our fee. You can add to this the proceeds from a raffle – which means you could easily make a profit of around £1,000 or more
We can supply you with sponsor sheets in advance of the evening – and don’t forget those personalised race programmes!
If you'd like more information on staging a Race Night, visit the Nice Work website http://www.nice-work.org.uk/race_night_events.html

Brussels - Diplomats, Eurocrats, Beaurocrats - and a great place to meet

You see, whether you embrace the true European ideal or not; whether you believe the whole EU thing to be the worst ... ah well, let's not go there shall we?

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.

The facilities at the Dolce include:

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 Sacr̩ Рa 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

That New Year Excitement - again!

Another new year! Our 18th in the business. Ever since we started organising and managing events, we've always looked forward to the new year. There's something about January that brings out the creative in us!

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.