Guardian Media Group
Event: Radio conference
Group size: 30
Date: 25 January 2010
Venue: Hotel du Vin One Devonshire Gardens
Pre-event planning Guardian Media Group - parent company of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers - was looking for a venue in which to hold the annual meeting of the commercial department of its radio arm (which includes Smooth Radio, Real Radio and Rock Radio). The event, which takes on a different contemporary theme each year, was being organised in-house.
Objectives To set out the market approach for the next 12 months in a way that would be clear, entertaining and motivational. "We wanted to communicate what we were going to do differently and what successes we were going to build on, plus it was a way of getting attitudes right after Christmas and New Year," explains Gavin Bruce, acting managing director at Guardian Media Group Radio.
Challenges Once the company had decided on the event's over-riding theme, the key challenge was to source a venue that fitted with this. Having previously used themes such as Top Gun, Star Wars and the UEFA Champions League, the decision was made to use The X Factor. "We wanted delegates to look at what they could do differently, and what their own X factor was that would make them stand out positively in clients' minds," says Bruce. To tie in with this, the company wanted the event hosted somewhere strongly associated with "celebrities with that extra talent".
Solution Hotel du Vin One Devonshire Gardens has hosted the likes of Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams, so was seen as offering the ideal setting. The group used all four of the property's function rooms, and organisers shaped the day's itinerary into a series of tutorials, presentations and project-based tasks either side of a working lunch, with a 5pm close.
Simon Cowell's brother provided recorded voice-overs for the event. Delegates were also asked to complete a 'My 2010' mission statement, detailing their personal goals for the year.
From the venue's point of view, a minor challenge was handling the timings of the day. "Some participants were delayed en route, which pushed the start-time back," says Alasdair Macleod, meetings assistant at the hotel. "It was just a matter of the team adjusting to a shifted timetable for the rest of the day."
Verdict "We always stress that we want honest feedback from participants, and the remarks we had were really positive," says Bruce. "It was a fabulous day, and the team at the venue were great - they made sure everything was in place."
Post-event analysis Delegates filled in feedback forms at the end of the day. Following the event's success, the company is now planning to continue using The X Factor and "giving something extra" angles to motivate participants during the coming year, tying further meetings and social events running in 2010 into the same theme.
Early December 2009: Theme for event chosen
Late December 2009: Hotel Du Vin One Devonshire Gardens chosen
25 January 2010: Event takes place