Event: Conference and team building
Group size: 38
Date: 8-9 March, 2009
Venue: Hever Castle
THE BRIEF: Swiss cosmetics firm Mavala wanted to organise a team-building event for its UK sales teams to motivate them for the year ahead. Hever Castle was chosen for its proximity to the company's offices and because it could be hired exclusively, says national sales manager and event organiser Jonathan Hodge. "We looked at Chilston Park Hotel and Rowhill Grange, but being able to use Hever Castle exclusively for ourselves was fantastic," he says.
CHALLENGES: Some staff had to travel down the night before to make the 9am start. During the event, everyone stayed at Hever Castle, which offers 21 rooms, but there were 38 delegates attending.
SOLUTION: Hodge admits: "We were very tight on accommodation and some staff doubled up." Despite this, he was really impressed with the accommodation, especially the new and exclusive self-catering area, where the managing director and senior managers stayed.
EXECUTION: Delegates were greeted with coffee on arrival in the Astor Wing, which connects to the main castle by a bridge. A series of morning meetings took place, followed by lunch in the neighbouring suite. Afterwards, the group split into break-out rooms and everyone reconvened for afternoon tea. In the evening, delegates were invited to a reception in the castle's restored Inner Hall before sitting down to dinner in the Dining Hall.
The next morning, guests were escorted on a tour of the castle. Afterwards, they took part in a treasure hunt around Hever's grounds in which they had to answer clues to find the company's cosmetics hidden around the gardens, before regrouping for a light lunch. All delegates departed shortly afterwards.
VERDICT: "I would highly recommend Hever Castle: it's a beautiful venue and I couldn't fault the events organiser or staff," says Hodge. "We had some really nice comments from everyone attending, and I also thought the venue was really good value."