Event Organisers Update January 2020 ISSUE 182 - 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.


As the Coronavirus spreads from China, and worldwide deaths approach 150, the government there has banned, from January 27th all group tours from travelling outside the country (Conference and Meetings World)

Hong Kong, which has had six reported cases so far has declared an emergency and a number of events have been cancelled, including an International carnival and an annual football tournament. The country suffered a 40% downturn in visitors in the second half of last year due to anti-government protesters clashing with police.

Those still travelling to China are being advised to wear face masks in public areas and to seek immediate medical help if they have the symptoms of fever, diarrhoea, shortness of breath and coughing. As the virus spreads, and cases have been noted in Europe, this advice will apply to many more countries organisers and their delegates could travel to.


Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison has urged tourists not to be put off travelling to his country by the deadly wildfires that have razed vast areas.

After meeting with tour operators and farmers on Kangaroo Island, the country's third largest island situated off the coast of South Australia and popular with tourists, Morrison declared "Australia is open, Australia is still a wonderful place to come and bring your family and enjoy your holidays. Even here on Kangaroo Island, where a third of the island has obviously been decimated (sic) two thirds of it is open and ready for business. It's important to keep the local economies vibrant at these times."

Sadly two people died there as a result of the fires and the catastrophe may cause some rare wildlife species exclusive to Kangaroo Island to face extinction in the wild.

Currently Australia tops the top ten list for long-stay breaks, defined as 28 days plus, for the over-50s, followed by Spain, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Martin in the Leeward Islands, Panama, Portugal and USA, with January being the most popular time. (Source. Staysure travel insurance firm)


Italian restaurant chain Ask, which has 112 outlets in the UK, has been fined £40,000 at Swansea magistrates' court for misleading diners with its Aragosta e Gamberoni,( lobster and king prawns) dish. At £14.95 this was the most expensive choice on the menu, and was served in Ask restaurants for five years, since 2014, until a Trading Standards officer visited the Swansea restaurant in March last year and found that the "lobster" in the pasta was actually only one third lobster meat, with the balance being surimi, potato starch and other fillers, moulded into a manufactured product called Lobster Sensations.

Fish surimi is made by pounding and washing a range of white fish - such as pollock, cod, whiting, bream, shark, swordfish and tilapia - into a tasteless paste that can be moulded and flavoured to mimic the texture and taste of lobster meat and crab meat. The most common surimi products in the UK are crab flavoured surimi batons, often called crab stix, or seasticks. They retail at less than £4 a kilo, against the price of real lobster meat at £80 a kilo, so the potential profit to be gained by passing off surimi as lobster is considerable. In the case of the £14.95 dish at Ask trading standards officers calculated that it contained just 70 pence worth of real lobster, or around 10 grams, and that the raw ingredient value in the dish was around £2.84.

On their website Ask, part of the Azzurri group which also includes Zizzi Italian restaurants, state: "Ask Italian offers Italian cuisine in a fun & relaxing environment. Book a table, read the menus & find out about the man behind the menu: Theo Randall"  As many foodies will know Randall is a well-known British-born chef who specialises in Italian cuisine and who is best known for being awarded a Michelin star at London's River Cafe, and for founding and running his Theo Randall at the Intercontinental Hotel, London since 2007 In 2009 it was named "Italian Restaurant of the Year" at the London Restaurant Awards. Here his linguine with lobster, surimi - free of course, costs £36. In 2010 Randall started working with Ask Italian restaurants as their "expert friend", developing menus and coming up with new dishes, and in 2015 he became an investor in the Azzurri Group. 

Organisers looking for comedians for their corporate events can attend the annual Speaker Drinks showcase events staged by agency Performing Artistes.

This year’s offering, presented at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall featured five comedians, all with experience of live stand-up and some with track records on TV. The compere for the evening was Stephen K Amos, joined by Tania Edwards, Jon Long, Chris McCausland and Eleanor Tierman and readers can see video/audio showreels of the performers, and download their bios on the website: performingartistes.co.uk

One aspect we personally found interesting this year was the number that included bad language in their presentations, something that this old male fuddy-duddy thought was not necessary, given their talent. This aspect however seemed to go down well with the audience of mainly young female organisers, who may not be the typical corporate group the comedians, when booked, would face. Tellingly compere Amos told us all "I don't swear at corporates" Perhaps the others don't too?

One seasoned performer with a view on this was the late Nicholas Parsons who sadly died this week aged 96 with a career that spanned more than 70 years. The actor, comedian and presenter said "I see a lot of the young comedians think it is clever to use foul language and they think it is funny. It isn't."


Feb 12/13  Convene exhibition Vilnius, Lithuania. Email: [email protected]

Feb 25/26  Event Production Show Excel London. Web: eventproductionshow.co.uk

Feb 26/27  Business Travel Show Olympia London. Web: businesstravelshow.com



o  Five guests, including a child, died at the Mini Caramel Hotel, Perm, Russia, when a hot water pipe in the basement exploded in the middle of the night, filling rooms with scalding water. Three others were treated for burns in hospital.

The nine-room hotel is located in the basement of a residential building and it is understood that the pipe had burst on previous occasions and had been repaired, but not replaced.


o  The Hyatt Regency with 212 rooms and the 116-room Hyatt House, the first of the extended - stay brand in the UK, have opened at The Lume landmark building in Manchester (The Business Desk).


o  The Carlauren Group, a Yeovil-based property firm which owns a string of UK hotels and care homes has gone into administration, reportedly owing millions.

Hotels owned by, or associated with the group include Dean Valley Manor and Bermouth Sands in Wales, Lambert Manor and Abbot Hall hotel in the Lake District, Lindors Country House hotel in Gloucestershire and the Langdon Court hotel in Plymouth. Last year the group abandoned the building of a luxury hotel and beach club in Sandown, Isle of Wight.


It sometimes happens in war and it happens in 1917, the heroic and superb WW1 film from director Sam Mendes, currently playing in cinemas and already blessed with two Golden Globe awards.

The Germans have abandoned a stretch of their trenches in France and moved back, leaving the gung-ho Colonel MacKenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) with two battalions totalling 1600 men to believe that they are on the run, and to mount a final heroic charge to wipe them out. But it's a clever trap and the Germans are waiting, with some very heavy artillery, for 1600 to charge into it.

All this is known to the British command from aerial reconnaissance and, with phone lines cut, they send Lance Corporal William Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) who has a brother in one of the doomed battalions, on a dangerous journey over the top and across the no-man's land open graveyard to the abandoned German trenches and beyond with an order from General Erinmore (Colin Firth) to Colonel MacKenzie to call off his attack.

It is this journey that is the core of this immersive film, with the audience experiencing every muddy and deadly step of the way, along with some jolting shocks. It is cleverly filmed to look like one continuous take but is a number of long takes filmed in Surrey, Scotland, Shepperton Studios and Salisbury Plain and seamlessly fused together. Whilst the two leads are relatively unknown but utterly believable there is strong cameo support from some better known faces including Mark Strong, Andrew Scott and Richard Madden.

See it on the big screen, as it was meant to be seen, to get the full effect.


Boozers are currently being targeted by Mendip District Council, which grants the licence for the Glastonbury Festival. Councillors say that they are considering a limit on how much alcohol guests can take into the event, this to improve safety and minimise disruption.

Similar curbs on boozing have already been introduced by the regional government of the Balearic Islands. In what is thought to be the first legislation of its kind in Europe the organisation and promotion of pub crawls, open bars and happy hours has been outlawed, as has the drunk's sport of balconing - jumping from a hotel room balcony into a swimming pool. Covered by the ban are parts of Palma, Mallorca, the resort of Magaluf and the West End of Ibiza and it is expected to run for five years.


Also being targeted are some members of the "Instagram generation" who are annoying art lovers by taking selfies in front of works of art in galleries, particularly in exhibitions that are overcrowded. One critic described the practice as "narcissistic", believing that an iconic work of art is improved by having one's face in it. Others criticise the "posing and preening".

Audience misbehaviour with their technology has also come under attack from the stage of theatres. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch had to ask some to stop photographing and video recording during his performance as Hamlet, after numerous productions at the Barbican were disrupted. And actor Bianca Del Rio, admired for her sharp tongue, stabbed it into a spectator who recorded a large part of her West End show on her phone, addressing her on social media as "Dear blonde bitch with glasses" and lambasting her for "distracting the entire cast" and several people around her, telling her "it's the theatre, respect it".

No such respect came from the two women however who reportedly sat in the front row of the theatre in Nottingham during a performance of Titanic The Musical using their mobile phones to watch England's World Cup penalty shootout against Columbia and audibly celebrating each goal.


Some clever marketing, we note, comes from haggis producers Macsween, who have named their vegetarian version "Scottish Veggie Crumble".

This is to make the product more marketable in the USA where the liverish real haggis, made from the sheep's "pluck" of heart, liver and lungs cooked with onion, oatmeal and spices in a sheep's stomach has been banned from being imported to there since 1971 No doubt tall tales of haggis hunts told by mischievous Scots were partly to blame for the 33% of American visitors to Scotland believing that a haggis was a small animal with longer legs on one side so that it could run around the steep hills of Scotland without falling over.

Macsweems are also hoping that "Veggie Crumble" will find more favour than Vegetarian Haggis among its vegetarian and vegan customers.


Readers of the Metro free newspaper about to travel into the Eurozone will have been cheered to note the sharp jump in the value of their sterling, now worth 1.22 euros according to the Metro's published currency tourist rates on Wednesday January 15th and Thursday January 16th.

Sadly for them it was just a silly printing error which Metro corrected back on Friday January 17th, without apology or comment, to 1.12 euros to the pound.


o It is said that one should never eat at a place where there are photographs of the food. This obviously doesn't apply to many Chinese restaurants serving dim sum specialities, of which one of our favourite London places, Royal China in Baker Street, serves delicious traditional dim sum from 12.00 - 5.00pm, with beautiful colour pictures of many of the dishes.

On a recent visit there we enjoyed the juicy paper-wrapped prawns in sesame seeds, each of the three large pieces delivering three good mouthfuls for £4.90. As good were the three large pieces of fried minced cuttlefish balls worth two big mouthfuls each, and served with a sweet chilli sauce for £5.10. Both of these came off the fried section of 12 dishes, which also included honeyroast pork puffs (£4.30), crispy garlic prawn spring rolls (£4.60), Vietnamese spring rolls (£4.60), fried yam paste meat dumplings (£4.30) and fried vegetarian spring rolls (£4.30).

Our choice from the 19 -dish steamed section was the 4 large and 8 mouthfuls of minced pork and shrimp dumplings (£4.60) though after the first happy mouthful it was clear these were actually stuffed with whole prawns or shrimps and chunks of pork meat. Other steamed selections included dumplings filled with prawns, prawns and chives, prawns and coriander, pork and radish, Shanghai pork, scallops, vegetables and crab meat, costing from £4.30 to £5.60, and beef meat balls (£4.30), a range of buns at £4.30 - chicken and mushroom, roast pork, sweet lotus seed and sweet egg custard - black gold yolk lava buns (£5.80), filled glutinous rice in lotus leaves.

Our last choice was the minced beef rice bowl (£6.60), a generous bowl of rice topped with minced beef in a thick gravy. Three other rice bowls are available for the same price - salted fish and pork, Chinese cured sausage and chicken (our choice for next visit) and spicy chicken feet and spare ribs (we'll pass).

Other dim sum available is a range of cheung fun, (oriental cannelloni) with fillings such as honey roast pork, vegetable, beef or prawn, costing from £4.60 - £5.90, a range of 8 main course sized fried rice dishes from £10.80 to £15.80, a selection of 12 fried noodle dishes from £10.80 to £12.80, 4 E-Fu noodle dishes from £10.80 to £12.80, 4 braised noodle dishes from £8.50 to £10.80, 8 soup noodle dishes from £10.80 to £13.50 and a range of 6 desserts from £3.90 to £4.60. There are 136 choices in all. Our bill for the four dim sum came to £21.20, and a "recommended gratuity" of 13% brought it up to £23.96.

There are four other Royal China restaurants in the London area, at Queensway, Harrow, Fulham and Canary Wharf Riverside. Each has its own dedicated dim sum chef, and, after our positive experience at Baker Street we'd say it shows.

Web: royalchinagroup.co.uk


o Those travelling to the Suffolk coast and visiting Aldburgh have a long-established restaurant there to enjoy.

Regatta, at 171, High Street celebrates 27 years of ownership and running this year and offers a selection of 17 nibbles and starters, 10 main courses and specials, 6 side dishes and 5 desserts. Many of the dishes feature on the Early Bird Menu which offers 2 courses for £16 and three courses for £18.50 as a lunch or dinner choice to those who order by 7.00pm, except for Saturday dinners or Bank Holiday weekends. We went for this option for a recent lunch and enjoyed our two courses starting with the very smooth and silky celeriac and Stilton soup with a tangy ruby port glaze and croutons, and a tasty piece of the Regatta's home baked bread. Also on the starter menu were chicken liver parfait, prawn tempura (4) with dipping sauce and whole smoked prawns from the restaurant's own smokery, served with garlic mayonnaise.

Our main course choice was a steamed rice fricassee of fat tiger prawns, peas and soft stem broccoli, all tossed in a tasty shellfish sauce. Other mains choices on the Early Bird menu included fish and chips with buttered peas and tartare sauce, butternut squash, sweet potato and chickpea curry and breast of pheasant stuffed with chestnuts and served with roast celeriac, cumin sauce and chips. Desserts offered included creme brulee, sticky toffee pudding and the restaurant's own fudge and Malteser ice cream.

Fish is a strong point here. The smokery offers cooked smoked salmon fillet (£9) and oak-smoked salmon (£9.50) and on the specials board when we visited were grilled fillet of sea bass (£15.50),  and seared tuna steak (£18).

Web: regattaaldburgh.com


The Azzurri Group reveal how much profit they made in their Ask restaurants by serving cheap surimi as expensive lobster over a five year period and how they intend to give their valued customers their money back… A comedian claims "Every time I use the F-word or the C-word at one of my corporate gigs the sophisticated audience fall around laughing"… The British Teetotal Society book their 2020 conference into Magaluf as their organiser comments "It's now the perfect place for us"… Theatres, cinemas and art galleries install equipment that jams mobile phones… Donald Trump rubbishes stories of wild haggis running around the Scottish mountains on two short and two long legs, telling the press "I've been to Scotland for golf and I can tell you that the haggis forms itself into a round ball so that it can roll down the mountains and get away from the guns"… 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
One quarter page, 60mm x 170mm £250
One third page, 85mm x 170mm £325
One half page, 120mm x 170mm £400

To book email [email protected]




This is published in every issue of Event Organisers Update and the cost to suppliers, based on a headline, forty words of text and contact details, is £95 for one year (twelve issues) or £65 for 6 months (six issues) Costs are being kept low to encourage small suppliers to participate.

If, as an organiser you know of any good suppliers you feel other organisers should know about please forward this issue on to them, or refer them to the SEO website at seoevent.co.uk




Located in London and Birmingham, Computec AV cater for all your rental requirements. Equipment available includes LCD/Plasma screens, PA systems, Projection Equipment and Lighting. Also in-house we have our Set Creation company specialising in staging, bespoke set design and build. Tel 020 8807 2002, Fax 020 8807 3818, email: [email protected] Web: computecgroup.com


The Society of Event Organisers, SEO, offers a four-day qualification course, the Certificate in Conference Organisation (CCO) running in Central London three times a year, and which can also be presented at your premesis - dates by arrangement. Contact Peter Cotterell Tel. 01767 312986, email [email protected] visit seoevent.co.uk


Specializing in cabaret shows and close up Magic for galas, charity events, weddings, & corporate events Le Magician Dean Metcalfe is a master manipulator perfector of his own spectacular close-up Magic, performances worldwide, see website for live showreels and more details visit lemagicianilluminaire.com


Mocha offer a complete film and motion design service to corporate, association and charity event organisers, venues and others in the event sector. Mocha also offer a 10% discount to readers of this publication and visitors to seoevent.co.uk - just quote "SEO". Tel: 0151 706 0761 email: [email protected] Web: mocha.tv Vimeo:http://vimeo.com/user4995482/videos


OUT OF HOURS SUPPORT GROUP provides MEDICAL COVER and SECURITY SERVICES for the full range of events.
Based in Hampshire, but covers events across the country. Experienced staff include doctors, Emergency Nurse Practitioners & Paramedics working with vehicles equipped to NHS specification, including an ambulance, 4x4s and all-terrain quad bike. Mobile medical centre available. Reliable and versatile staff are fully screened in line with enhanced DBS requirements with separate Disclosure and Barred list check.

Out of Hours Security teams work separately or alongside the medical teams. Security staff are registered and licensed by the SIA. All staff wear visible ID at all times. Contact Leo Burdock at [email protected] or visit outofhoursmedics.co.uk Tel: 07904033828


Association News
For all those who associate. associationnews.org.uk


LCI offers conferencing with an ethical edge in Leeds City Centre. Five Rooms (Max 90 people) with Smartboards, loop systems, WIFI. Disabled access. LCI supports community/voluntary groups by offering significant discounts. Very close to railway & bus stations. Contact Moira or Wendy on 0113 245 4700 or email [email protected]


Our pleasant boardroom is available for full or half day meetings. It seats 14 people, boardroom-style, or can be arranged to suit your needs. Catering and equipment is available on request. We are conveniently located just off City Road. Call Claire/Nora on 0207 324 0750; fax 0207 324 0760; email: [email protected]; address: 27, Corsham Street, London, N1 6DR

The classical regency terrace at Park Crescent, near Regents Park includes number 16, which offers seven beautifully appointed meetings rooms, all with natural light and modern facilities, for up to 60 delegates, and a dedicated team to ensure event success. Tel. 020 7612 7070, Fax. 020 7612 7078, email. [email protected] visit 16parkcrescent.co.uk


The Society of Event Organisers, SEO, offers a four-day qualification course, the Certificate in Conference Venue Marketing (CCVM) running in Central London once a year, and which can also be presented at your premesis - dates by arrangement. Contact Peter Cotterell Tel. 01767 312986, email [email protected] visit seoevent.co.uk

Event Organisers Update (EOU) is an independent information source published by the Society of Event Organisers (SEO). EOU is FREE and circulated monthly to more than 9,000 selected organisers and others interested in keeping abreast of development in the event industry (includes conferences, incentive travel, training events, etc.)

If you have any views on how our newsletter could be more useful to you please e-mail us at [email protected]

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