O2, Sizzling Pubs and The Co-operative pick UK sporting venues for events

The size, location and facilities offered by some the UK's most famous sporting venues provide an ideal base for large-scale meetings.

O2, Sizzling Pubs and The Co-operative pick UK sporting venues for events
O2, Sizzling Pubs and The Co-operative pick UK sporting venues for events

O2 at The Point

Twice a year, mobile phone company O2 brings together its Northern-based operations directorate to discuss future plans for the company. On 2 March 500 of the company's directors met at a one-day conference. The event, organised by O2's lead production agency Sledge, took place at The Point, the £12m conference and events venue at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, which was opened in June last year.

Nick Becker, event manager at O2 at the time, says The Point was chosen because of its good geographical location. "Location was important as we have staff based across the country, so Manchester was well placed to suit most people," he says. "The event was aimed at allowing a geographically spread-out team to come together, network and discuss their business objectives."

All delegates were seated in one room for the conference and the speakers included the chief operating officer and senior leadership team.

The main focus was to educate the wider directorate on the company's business objectives and for them to network with the leadership team.

"The Point is a great venue, with plenty of natural daylight and is a well thought-out space," adds Becker. "The staff are professional and know what they are doing. The fact that The Point is new and is based at Old Trafford Cricket Ground is also a good selling point."

Sizzling Pubs Aston Villa Football Club

Sizzling Pubs, a brand owned by pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers, decided to hold its annual communications forum at Aston Villa Football Club in May. A total of 240 delegates including pub managers, the senior operations team and the brand team used the venue's Holte Suite and four additional syndicate rooms on 11 May. The event's key objectives were to provide networking opportunities and update staff on new development.

After the meetings, three suppliers produced new drink products for delegates to sample. Sizzling Pubs marketing opening assistant Matt Janes, who organised the event, says the room worked well because it is located on ground level, which made it suitable for Sizzling Pubs' suppliers, one of which brought a whole bar into the foyer. After the introductory session, delegates were split up into four groups in the different syndicate rooms for 30-minute presentations on customer service, food quality, employee engagement and summer plans, before being rotated. Three of the rooms had a view overlooking the football pitch.

Aston Villa FC was chosen because of its central UK location. "It was important to choose somewhere fairly central that could cater for a total of 240 people," says Janes.

"2010 was the first time we used Aston Villa as a location for our forum and it worked well, which made the decision about where to have our event this year that much easier."

The Co-operative Cheltenham Racecourse

The Co-operative Food Operations Conference takes place twice a year and in January the company opted to hold the event at Cheltenham Racecourse. Staff descended on the venue for an update on how the company had performed over the previous six months and to hear what was in store for the rest of the year, from systems and processes to training, new product development and financial targets.

The company was looking for a venue big enough to hold 800 delegates from store management and regional teams from the South West, Wales and the Borders. The Co-operative needed a space for the conference itself, as well as facilities to store, prepare and serve all its own brand food for the delegates at lunch.

Cheltenham Racecourse was chosen as the best candidate due its facilities and because it had enough space for suppliers and Co-op Food own-brand stands to interact with delegates during morning coffee and the lunch period.

Charlotte Gowers, food operations events manager at The Co-operative Food, says: "The racecourse's good transport links also made it the perfect location and having lots of free car parking and enough space to be able to present to and feed more than 800 delegates really swayed us." She adds that the venue allowed early and easy access to allow the team to set up on the day and prepare long before delegates began arriving. "As a result of the service we received, we've booked Cheltenham Racecourse again for another event later this year," she says.


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