Pre-event planning: Amey is a UK-wide organisation that handles a wide range of public services from office building to road and rail maintenance contracts. Each year it holds a conference to brief its senior managers. It chose to host its 2011 conference in the Midlands so that it was accessible for all staff and because it had recently opened a new office in Birmingham. It was also vital that the venue provided tiered seating for the 270-strong group. While hotels and unusual venues, such as the Heritage Motor Centre, which has hosted events for Amey in the past, were considered, ICC Birmingham was selected because of its mix of suitable facilities and professionalism.
Objectives: The main objectives of the conference - themed Connecting to the Future - were to review 2010, help employees to understand the company's current position and key priorities, and to outline the strategic plan for 2011. "The theme of the event was designed around our new brand of connectivity and was to ensure that all of our managers were equipped with the relevant information to talk to their employees about the future direction of the company," explains event organiser Sarah Sturgess, executive assistant to the chief financial officer at Amey.
Challenges: Sturgess says that she did not face any major challenges while organising the event. "The logistics had been planned in sufficient detail that we did not encounter any unforeseen issues," she explains. "The only challenge we faced initially was how to keep 270 people engaged during a six-hour conference."
Solution: The one-day event ran from 9.30am to 6pm and Sturgess and the organising team ensured that each presentation was kept short with a minimum amount of Powerpoint pitches. "We used several forms of media through the day, including video footage, to ensure variety," she says. The conference took place in the ICC's Hall Five and the group used the Symphony Hall Foyer area for lunch because it offered plenty of natural daylight and space to relax. Following the presentations, a drinks reception was held in the Symphony Hall Foyer to allow further networking between staff.
Client verdict: "Expectations were exceeded and both the venue and destination were perfect," says Sturgess. "We used the ICC six years ago, so were fully aware of how great the venue is. The staff were extremely helpful and professional at all times; they were always able and willing to find solutions to any problems or queries we had. At the end of the conference the feedback was very good, with many delegates citing it as one of the best Amey conferences they had attended."
Post-event analysis: Smaller team briefing events have since been held for the managers to ensure knowledge is being shared with every member of staff. Amey's internal communications department has also sent out information to attendees as a follow-up, while edited video footage and presentations have been made available to all employees.
Event: Group annual conference
Group size: 270
Date: 12 April 2011
Venue: ICC, Birmingham
October 2010: Birmingham chosen as location and initial enquiry made to
31 January 2011: site tour of ICC
2 February 2011: contract for ICC signed
30 March 2011: planning meeting