David Lloyd Leisure is well known for many things, most of them healthy, so holding its annual staff conference in the proverbial brewery, albeit an award-winning one, may seem a bit out of character. Yet the London venue, which made its first pint more than 200 years ago, was host to 500 David Lloyd managers from around Europe in March for the 'brand awareness day' and there was no mistaking the energy the fitness chain put into bringing its ethos alive.
Following a coffee and pastry reception in the early afternoon, delegates were taken through to the King George III room for the conference itself.
The central motto of the day was 'inspire for life', so a series of talks and keynote speeches were geared to maximise pride in the company. Alan Parker, managing director of parent company Whitbread, was among those who addressed the audience.
The evening function was the focal point of the event. After a two-hour break to freshen up at nearby hotels, delegates were shuttled back to the venue, which had been given a complete overhaul. They entered via a long tunnel covered in wraparound projections of swimmers, a hint of the night's sports theme.
Guests were then invited to follow in the footsteps of some of the company's high-profile clients - Jonny Wilkinson and Dame Kelly Holmes have both trained at David Lloyd clubs - by 'tasting gold' in the form of sparkling wine with flakes of gold leaf. Walking back through to dinner, delegates found the images on the tunnel walls had been changed to those of a tennis match.
The gala dinner itself was themed around the fact that people go to health clubs either to relax or to get their heart pounding. Diners were greeted by a space doused in calm blue light and soft music and entertained by 'slow balance' dancers, before the space gradually transformed into a laser show with thunder and lightning. The ceremony, culminating in the 'UK Club of the Year' presentation, took place before a six-piece covers band provided entertainment into the small hours.
Mark Webb, group communications manager at David Lloyd Leisure, felt the day fulfilled its objectives. "We wanted to review the year gone by and focus on the year ahead while reinforcing the brand," he says. "But we wanted to have a bit of fun too."
Liam Byrne, creative concept development manager at the Brewery, was delighted with how the event panned out. "We feel we brought the David Lloyd brand to life," he says.
Company: David Lloyd Leisure
Event: Annual staff conference
Organiser: The Brewery in-house team
Date: 9 March
Venue: The Brewery, London
Group size: 500