Pre-event planning: Natural handmade cosmetics firm Lush holds four events a year for its UK general managers and their trainees, and needed to host its September event in a location that was easily accessible for staff from its 98 UK stores.
The Dorset-based company had previously used Bournemouth's De Vere Royal Bath Hotel in March, having been impressed by the function rooms' natural light, open areas and attractive gardens. Lush's objectives were to discuss its forthcoming Christmas product range, inform staff of business issues and sales performance and to engage delegates in a series of workshops.
Steve Brackstone, Lush's head office manager, says: "The whole event is designed to inspire people and motivate them to go back to their stores and 'sell' the new products to staff."
Challenges: Brackstone says that the main challenge was logistical: "Getting everyone down to Bournemouth on time. Bournemouth is a good location because it's easy to get to by train or coach and we have a no-fly policy. Logistical planning also played a part at the event itself - moving delegate groups from room to room, to ease congestion and keep people moving."
Solution: Brackstone, who does not use an agency because of the "many innovative and passionate people" the company has in-house, hired his own preferred suppliers to provide the lighting and AV equipment for the event.
In keeping with the colourful spirit of the Lush brand, the event was given a 'Billy Bonkers' theme - a play on Willy Wonka - with the hotel decked out in garish style. The main stage in the De Vere Suite, where business presentations were held, was dressed as a "mad laboratory". The culmination of the event was a dinner, for which the hotel's chef sourced special ingredients to produce dishes that resembled Lush products.
"It's ironic, as our products are designed to resemble food," Brackstone says. Standout dishes included a six-foot-long sponge candy cane.
Post-event analysis: Brackstone says: "The hotel staff are friendly and helpful and always easy to find. They get involved and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. I think we'll use the hotel again. The only downside for us is the bar - where we hold break-outs in groups - as it was also open to the public." Lush held a feedback meeting after the event and plans to conduct in-depth post-event analysis for future events. Brackstone is currently organising Lush's next event in November for its international partners.
Event: Quarterly manager meeting
Group size: 250
Date: 12-14 September 2011
Venue: De Vere Royal Bath