Event Organisers Update July 2015 ISSUE 130 - an independent information source published by the Society of Event Organisers (SEO).
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Event Organisers Update
The newsletter for organisers of events.
MAGIC WEARS OFF FOR MERLIN
As well as Sea Life centres the called-for boycott by those who care about animal welfare also includes Merlin's UK theme parks Alton Towers, which recently admitted responsibility for a serious accident on its Smiler extreme roller-coaster, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland, as well as attractions such as Warwick Castle, Madame Tussauds, The Dungeons, Blackpool Tower and the London Eye, along with other big wheels in other parts of the UK. In addition Merlin brands in Germany, Italy and Australia are included.
What has particularly upset CAPS, as well as conditions their undercover investigator found at UK Sea Life centres, is Merlin's empty and misleading PR in respect of its attitude to captive animals, which has led to the CAPS campaign being termed "SEA LIES" Merlin state in their UK Sea Life centres and online: "Sea Life believes it is wrong to keep whales and dolphins in captivity. No matter how spacious, no captive facility can provide such far-ranging, highly social and highly intelligent animals with the stimulation they need for a good quality of life".
Impressive words from a clearly caring and responsible company, until you find out, as CAPS have, that Merlin have purchased businesses with captive whales, dolphins and porpoises and that one of them in Shanghai currently features three beluga whales performing tricks three times a day for the entertainment of visitors, and the pockets of Merlin.
That's the magic of PR for you…
NIGHT TUBE SERVICE LAUNCHED
Commencing in the wee hours of Saturday September 12th the service will run trains every 10 or 15 minutes on Saturday and Sunday mornings, until 04.30. Initially offered on the whole of the popular Jubilee and Victoria lines, the Piccadilly line from Cockfosters to Heathrow Terminal 5 and long lengths of the Central and Northern lines, the service will extend in future to parts of the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan lines.
Fares for the service will be standard off-peak, with those using Oyster and contactless payment cards enjoying the current capping arrangements setting a maximum charge. One-day Travelcards purchased on a Friday or Saturday will be valid for use on journeys commencing up until 04.29 the next day.
TFL say that passenger numbers on Friday and Saturday nights have risen around 70% since 2000 and that London is now a 24-hour city. They also say that the service will complement the services of London taxi and private hire vehicles, a view that may or may not be shared by London's cab drivers.
Unions representing TFL's well-paid tube drivers see the new service as an opportunity to screw even more money out of their employers, and have promised a summer of disruption if TFL don’t pay them more, starting with Wimbledon and holding tube passengers to ransom until TFL give in. So, what's new?
o The Radisson Blu hotel in Leeds is spending £3.5 million on a revamp, due to be completed in 2016. Half of the hotel's 147 bedrooms have been refurbished, along with the meeting spaces, and a cocktail bar and grill restaurant have been added. (The Business Desk)
o Bredbury Hall Hotel and Country Club, near Stockport, has been bought out of administration after 15 months by a Bangladeshi investor who plans to spend an initial £1 million on it. This is to refurbish the 147 bedrooms, along with the nightclub, central lounge and reception, and planned for 2016 are new leisure and spa facilities. (The Business Desk)
GRAND IN LISBON
Altis Grand offers 300 bedrooms comprising 82 singles, 209 twins and doubles and nine triples, breaking down into 82 Superior with 23 - 29 square metres of space, 206 De Luxe with 25-33 square metres of space, seven Junior Suites with 55 square metres of space, three Ambassador Suites with 85 square metres of space and a Presidential Suite sized 135 square metres. There are two restaurants serving authentic Portuguese cuisine, an informal Rendez Vous Coffee Shop for light meals and the Restaurant Grill D. Fernando for fine dining with views over the city - see our review in the last (June) issue of this newsletter. There are also three bars, with one on the 12th floor with city views. The more active will appreciate the large 950 square metre spa area with gym and swimming pool, and then relaxing in the Jacuzzi, sauna, steam bath or one of the four treatment rooms.
For conferences there is an impressive range of 20 meeting rooms, combinations of rooms and multi-functional banqueting suites offering spaces for between eight and 750 delegates, around half of them with views and natural light including three for 190, 230 and 750.
One impressive feature of the hotel we enjoyed as guests from overseas was the customer-caring complimentary welcome pick-up service that whisked us in a taxi from the airport to the hotel - this is subject to advanced booking and availability - a service that was kindly extended by the management to get us on to our next hotel in Estoril. And another was that on arrival at the Grand we were met by Rita, our charming Guest Service Ambassador, who showed us to our room and helpfully answered all our questions. Sometimes it's the little things that leave the biggest impression.
Note. Altis Grand Hotel is a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection, which organised our press visit. Double room rates start from EUR.142. For more information or to book please visit Web: ghotw.com/hotel/home/hotel-altis.htm or call 020 7380 3658
SAME OLD SAME OLD COMFORT IN BRUSSELS
Like many luxury hotels these days this one presents itself as a four-star, to get and keep the highly-lucrative business from pharmaceutical companies that are strongly discouraged, on ethical grounds, from using five-star facilities to incentivise doctors and others buying or prescribing their products. Comfort levels, however, we judged as definitely top drawer on a recent two night stay there.
It was the large and well-lit bathrooms that won our heart. These featured a full-sized bath with shower for hair washing, a long and wide shelf for storage of the good-quality toiletries offered, as well as for holding cups of tea/coffee, glass of single malt and paperback book, and a grab handle for getting in and out safely Over the sink was a useful magnifying mirror, ample towels were big, white and fluffy with matching dressing gowns and in one corner was a large shower stall with a dinner-plate sized shower head. It was a room we couldn’t improve.
In the spacious bedroom area was a large and sleep-inducingly comfortable bed with big pillows to match, and those ideal bright reading lights on a stalk that don't keep awake anyone sleeping alongside. There is also a large work area with comfortable seating, a platform to put luggage on, a wardrobe with safe, a mini-bar with spare space for one's own bottle or two, a TV with lots of channels, free bottled water and very welcome tea/coffee facilities, not always available in other European parts. Given, however that our July trip coincided with the two most oppressively sweltering days and nights of this year so far, we were especially grateful for the powerful air conditioning that, when we left it on, was like walking from an uncomfortably hot and steamy sauna into a wonderfully refreshing fridge as we came in sweating from outside.
The Hilton Brussels Grand Place, located very close to the city's most famous square and opposite the entrance to Brussels Central station, offers event organisers 224 bedrooms, including 27 suites, and 17 meetings spaces giving 20 combinations. Capacities, theatre-style, comprise one of 200, one of 180, one of 120, one of 90, two of 70, three of 50, one of 45, two of 20 and three of 15. Boardroom capacities only are for 6/10/15/15 and there is a ballroom foyer for buffets or receptions for up to 150. For those running larger events the Hilton is a few minutes walk from the Square conference centre with five auditoria for 140/300/500/1200/2100, seven halls and combinations for 92/216/252/271/1260/1260/2530 and around 30 meetings rooms for 20-95, all capacities theatre-style.
Trip organised by visitbrussels, with transportation from London St Pancras to Brussels Midi station by Eurostar in two and a half hours, inclusive check-in time
CLICK IN CAMBRIDGE
This commences with breakfast at 08.30 and concludes with drinks at 17.30, incorporating a range of educational sessions and a networking lunch.
Some accommodation is available and there is also a fundraising dinner on the night of Wednesday September 30th in aid of the Muscle Help Foundation, tickets price £50 plus VAT
Originating in California and Massachusetts in 2003 the show ran on Broadway for nearly three years between 2009 and 2012, picking up a Tony award for Best Musical and a Drama Desk award for Outstanding Musical in 2010, along with a crop of awards and nominations for the orchestration, the original score, the performances and the choreography. It is loosely based on the life and times of pioneering white Memphis radio DJ Dewey "Daddy-O" Phillips, a big fan of rock n' roll, jazz, boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues and country music. Phillips was one of the first to play the "race music" of the black community to America's young white community. He was also the first to play the Sun Record's 1954 debut of a white boy singing like a black one on upbeat versions of "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky", lorry-driver Elvis Presley.
In a radio interview with Presley, Phillips cleared up any confusion his listeners might have had about whether the Presley they could hear but not see was white or black by asking the 19 year-old which high school he'd attended, settling the question in racist, segregated America at that time. Phillips, a heavy drinker and amphetamine user with a manic delivery on the air faded into obscurity as the "devil's music" became mainstream for the young around the world and died early of heart failure 14 years later, in 1968.
For MEMPHIS Dewey Phillips is Huey Calhoun, inspiringly played by the talented Killean Donnelly in the performance we saw, an amiable and eccentric white drunk who stumbles into the Underground black music club on Beale Street on the black side of town one night, drawn in by the performance of a beautiful black girl singer. Felicia Farrell is played by Beverley Knight, a petite and demure lady with a voice and raunchy soul style that are anything but, though she does sweet ballads and uplifting gospel just as well. Initially rejected but then accepted for his genuine love of their music by the denizens of the club, Huey starts a dangerous relationship with their singer, the sister of the club's owner, Delroy, who keeps a watchful eye on the romance. Huey eventually becomes a DJ, and later a TV presenter, and makes good his promise to put Felicia on mainstream white radio. This starts her on the road to TV stardom, a success that sadly Huey is not destined to share, thanks to the cynical money-men who move in on anything that might turn a buck or three.
For our money - we queued up early on a Saturday morning in June for £20 same-day matinee tickets in the right-on-top-of-the-action front row of the stalls - MEMPHIS was an exhilarating experience. Right from the rousing opening number it kicks in hard and stays there, though our enjoyment was not just from the hugely impressive singing and acting talents displayed by the leads in the numbers they performed, or the strong support from all the other cast members playing characters, but from the seriously superb dancers, white and black, men and women. And though it is grossly unfair to the excellent and athletic chaps this male OAP (Old And Perverse?) gazing up from the front row as skirts swirled fetchingly up around swivelling hips to visceral rock music, enjoyed the ladies most, with all the wiggles, bumps, grinds, and sexy shimmying, shaking, sashaying and strutting alone being well worth the entrance fee.
MEMPHIS is performed at the Shaftesbury Theatre until October 31. As well as the CD soundtrack to the UK show an excellent two-hour plus DVD of the Broadway show, filmed in early 2011 and taking the best of five performances, is available from the theatre shop.
LIFE OF RILEY
Not to be confused with The Life of Riley 2002 biopic of American blues singer Riley. B. King (B.B.King) Life of Riley is a theatrical, knowing and involving comedy-drama about six people affected by the terminal prognosis given to their much-loved friend George Riley, who we never see. However, through the dialogue the character of George emerges and it becomes clear that far from needing his friend's help to enrich his last days he is very capable of helping himself, particularly where the womenfolk are concerned as he enjoys liaisons with his male friend's wives, and in one case of a male friend with a mistress, his 16 year-old daughter too. The much-loved Georgie-boy, it might be safely concluded, is a steward in a bar, as it were.
Life of Riley is based on a play by Sir Alan Ayckbourn, filmed in French with the highly-talented actors Resnais worked with for many of his later films, including Sabine Azema, Andre Dussollier and Hippolyte Giradot. It is set in Yorkshire and repays more than one viewing, if all the subtle nuances are to be enjoyed.. It was released in a Dual-Format Blu-ray and DVD on May 25 this year by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema series, and includes interviews with critic Geoffrey O'Brien, and the cast, as well as a 32-page booklet featuring new material from critic Cristina Alvarez Lopez and Sir Alan Ayckbourn.
Note for film trivia buffs. One of the writers of Life of Riley is shown in the film as "Alax Reval" This was a pseudonym used by Resnais in several of his later works, where he had participated in the writing but didn't want his name to appear twice in the credits.
o Sept 8/9 Venue Expo exhibition, Exhibition Centre, Liverpool.
o Sept 23/24 Square Meal Venues and Events, Old Billingsgate, London.
o Oct 1 clic+2015 conference, Robinson College, Cambridge.
o Nov 2-5 World Travel Market exhibition, ExCel, London.
OLD GRITS DIARY
Sisk were replaced by rival firm Chorus in August 2013, an action that Sisk claim was unlawful. Sisk are contesting all Shangri-la's claims as they launch a counter claim for substantial costs.
This and more has been revealed in a penetrating study of Asian incentive delegate's habits when being incentivised in Australia, released by Business Events Sydney. Apparently the combined spend of the organisations sending them and the money they personally drop while shopping in the destination can be up to ten times the spend of the average tourist. Favoured shopping items for the Asian delegates to take home were clothes, handbags, shoes, souvenirs, jewellery and toys.
So, are you including an essential hour or three of retail therapy in your incentive programmes?
Sensible daughter Natalie (Claire Skinner) is asked by her Mum Wendy (Alison Steadman) about her plans for her first USA holiday and answers that she’s going to New York, Chicago and New Orleans. " Aren't you going to Disney?" asks Mum, which draws the retort "No. I want to go to interesting places". "Cor blimey" says Mum, "Fancy going to the States and not going to Disneyland!"
Fancy indeed. Also starring Jim Broadbent, Jane Horrocks, Stephen Rea and David Thewlis, and well worth seeing.
The Meetings Show, however, was well worth our efforts in getting there. There was a proper printed catalogue - rather than the hideous modern "have an app" cop-out becoming more common - with contact details of exhibitors, and we made a number of useful contacts for future editorial, said hello again to those we knew and attended an interesting seminar, quickly and sensibly switched to a round table discussion, with eleven others on the increasingly ethical and regulated pharmaceutical sector. We than spent another two hours plus on a hot bus back to Kings Cross, pleased that we hadn't let the greedy actions of tube train drivers stop us from attending.
Back at home our top mate Steve had sent us a fascinating comparison between the earnings and conditions of tube tran drivers, who have the legal right to strike and damage others, and hospital doctors who don't. Apparently, tube train drivers, after 18 months paid training, enjoy a starting salary of £35.000 raising to £50-£60,000 after five years for an average 35 hours a week and a maximum of five days worked in a row. Hospital doctors, after a minimum of five years training, unpaid, start on £23,000 a year, raising to £45,000 after five years, for a minimum of 48 hours a week, and a maximum of twelve days worked in a row.
Oh, and by the way, the doctors save and improve people's lives...
The SEO is carrying out an on-going survey to identify what criteria in venue selection are most important to event organisers from the corporate, association and charity sectors.
Results will be published in the Event Organisers Update, Charity Matters and Marketing Matters newsletters.
An honest statement from Merlin Entertainments board of directors reads: "Although our PR presents us as a company that truly cares about animal welfare we do make exceptions when there's lots of money to be made".......... Another honest statement from rail unions to travellers reads: "As fare-paying passengers of our employers you are only of value to us insofar as we can deliberately inconvenience you to screw more money out of our employers. Otherwise you can all foxtrot oscar and die". London's mayor, Boris Johnson condemns their attitude as "utterly disgraceful", and London's shopkeepers start refusing to serve London tube train drivers, on ethical grounds and for putting people off coming to London to shop.......... Incentive travel organisers start selling programmes incorporating at least ten solid hours of free-time shopping for the delegates. One organiser comments: "It's all most of them want to do anyway.".......... and much, much more..........
Text only ANNOUNCEMENTS can be run once for new products, new venues, venue refurbishments, new packages, organiser's trips, and industry showcases, receptions, seminars, conferences and exhibitions likely to be of high interest to event organisers.
Sizes, when printed out on an A4 page, and prices of ANNOUNCEMENT boxes available are:
One fifth page, 45mm x 170mm £200
To book email firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE FREE NEWSLETTERS
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