Saturday, 28 July 2007

The new Wembley - a great experience. Almost!!

We visited the new Wembley Stadium recently for a music event.

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!

Event accessibility

We came across this useful checklist for event organisers looking to ensure that accessibility for disabled people meets acceptable standards. Whilst facilities for disabled guests are infinitely better than they used to be, there's still an awful long way to go!

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.

Access Technology

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.

Access requirements

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 - a little jewel

The unification of Europe, both politically and economically, together with the explosion of cheap air travel has helped fuel a huge increase in air travel. And whilst visitor numbers to the traditional favourites such as Spain and France show no signs of abating, the opening up of the former Eastern Europe has presented some new and exciting locations for corporate and leisure travel.

Unfortunately the launch of EasyJet and Ryanair routes to new cities does tend to lead to a quick switch in favoured destinations for stag and hen parties and we have all seen the effects of the stag phenomena on Dublin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Prague, Talinn et al.

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.

It makes such a refreshing change to eat out and enjoy superb food and wine - and still get a bargain to boot!

In addition to Ljubljana we also visited the stunning Lake Bled. It's a dangerous place mind you - it can be romantic! The small church on the island in the middle of the lake is reached either by Gondola-type boats or you can propel yourself by rowing boat. According to local tradition, a husband who can carry his newly married bride the 99 steps up from the dock into the church will be ensured a happy marriage, and ringing the bell in the church will make your dreams come true. From the lake, take a look around at the wonderful views of Bled Castle set against the backdrop of the Julian Alps. Bled is a popular destination for walkers, cyclists and for those just looking for a place to relax.

Slovenia, Ljubljana and Lake Bled are extremely cost-effective destinations for corporate visits - with incentives and conferences here likely to make less of an impact on your budget. Travel time to Ljubljana is less than 2 hours from London and there are a number of very good quality business hotels offering superb conference facilities.

Slovenia is well worth a visit - and if you'd like some ideas for your next business event, conference or incentive, why not contact us?

Looking for music?

You know you don't have to spend the earth on providing good quality music for your event. there are some great bands and singers out there - and costs are still not rising. In fact a decent live band can be yours for less than the cost of plastic disco!!

We've worked with a few artistes over the last month or so who would be ideal for private, corporate or fundraising evenings.

Looking for a Commitments tribute evening? We've found the best!

Looking for a themed rockabilly/50's rock 'n' roll evening? Two great bands we've used - at a price that leaves you with more to spend on dressing up your venue?

Or maybe you're looking for country? We've worked with the best country entertainer in the business!

You know you can't beat live music - so throw away those backing tracks; ditch the disco - and get some good live music to liven up your next event.

Whatever your theme or music needs, why not have a word?

Add a touch of Monte Carlo to your event

This summer we've noticed a rise in the number of private functions looking to incoporate a Casino into their celebrations. Historically, Casino Nights have always been considered out of the budget range of most private functions and instead have developed within the corporate/major fundraising sector.

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.