Jun 24th 2020

Festival Inspired Party

Festival Inspired Party

The forecast looks brighter. A mini heatwave is on the horizon. But as we fast approach the summer festival season, things will look and sound a little different this year.  Music lovers won’t be treated to the usual buzz around the iconic Glastonbury Festival.  Wellies and beers will have to be kept for socially distanced festival parties in gardens across the country.  An I-pod list of ‘banging’ tunes can still be the soundtrack to our summer, but there is no doubt we will all miss the incredible artists, from all genres, who come together to play on those legendary stages. So, if you’re getting ready to create your own festival inspired party, details of this brilliant event, shared by one of the event’s planners Lauren Worsley (now Business Development Director), will provide all the inspiration that you need.

Festival Inspired Party

What Was the Aim of the Event?

To create a festival inspired party in a tipi! A sensational party, influenced by the rock festivals of Europe, and produced for one very lucky young man.

When Was the Party?

May

Where was it held?

Private land in St. Albans, with five giant tipis as venues

Festival Inspired Party

Who Attended?

The event has 210 guests, including 90 children.  Guests traveled primarily from London and Manchester, but some from other parts of the UK too.  A festival inspired party is a bit unusual, and so the RSVPs came back thick and fast!

Was this Solely a TLC Event or Did You Work With An In-House Event Team?

This event was pure TLC in concept and in production.  We brought together a team of suppliers to work with us, but the event was developed and delivered by the TLC team.

Had You Worked With this Client Before?

This festival inspired party was a very special Bar mitzvah.  We had worked with the family before, and this occasion was in celebration of their second son’s ‘coming of age’.  Having a relationship with the family already is a bonus, but also an inspiration to create a Bar mitvah bigger, and better, than previous events with the family.  We love a challenge!

The Concept

Taking the legendary Lollapallooza festival, and blending a bit of Glastonbury, was the foundation of our concept.  We wanted to create the informality of a festival gathering, with incredible music and a real buzz in the atmosphere.

 

Tributes to The Best

Entertainment should be at the heart of any festival inspired party. We showcased the best tribute acts in the country, who honoured the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Queen and Oasis. The bar mitzvah boy was also a musician, and so we organised it so that he could join each act for one song and play as part of the band.  Keeping the music going all day was key to keeping that festival feel, so there was also a DJ and beat-boxer who performed between band sets.

Festival Inspired Party

There were lots of other activities around the tipi which appealed to people of all ages which included a merchandise stall, tattoo artist, face painters, glitter artists and a bespoke camper van photo booth.

Festival Inspired Party

Food Heaven

The food was festival inspired! It was served from a choice of catering vans positioned at the front of the main tipi.  Vans included pizza, fish and chips and poke, whilst there was a live cooking station serving stir fry!  Desserts included choices of ice cream, waffles and crepes.

 

Festival Inspired Party

Festival Fever

On arrival guests had to queue through crowd barriers to gain entry. the innovative table plan was a hand stamp with their table number on as they checked through “security”. Together with a wrist band this identified their table.

Festival Inspired Party  Festival Inspired Party

Inside the tipi the detail was insane! Plastic cups, branded with the festival logo, were used to serve drinks in.  The seating was a combination of wooden tables and benches with large “wellies” in the centre with the table number painted on. Each guest had a poncho with their name on, which did double duty as their place setting.  Branded paper napkins were placed in retro holders down the centre of the tables.  Large dustbins were filled with ice, and bottles of beers and wines were added for adult’s tables. For the kid’s tables, we included cans and bottles of soft drinks.  Keeping to a ‘make-shift’, rustic feel, we had a large square central bar made from pallets which guests could go to and order additional drinks. All bar staff in branded yellow security waistcoats with the event logo on the back.

Festival Inspired Party

The Challenges 

The private land used for the event was at the end of a long lane, which made getting all equipment a little difficult with vehicle restrictions. Where there is a will, there is a way!

When an event is booked at a venue, we get logistical support from their in-house team.  This is not the case when using private land.  For outdoor events, we also primarily use marquees which come with toilets and the water supply enabled.  But with this site, and using tipis instead, there were a lot more logistics for TLC to arrange. This included the 150m hose pipe to get water to the event site!

Lesson to learn …. it was underestimated just the amount of space required with the large about of acts all requiring back of house space to change and wait for their set.  We set additional gazebos at the back of the tipis for their use, but it’s something I wouldn’t overlook again. So much happens behind the scenes!

This was a 3-day event in all; quite a challenge.  On the Friday night we arranged a dinner at one location.  Following synagogue on the Saturday, we planned celebrations at the family home, and then on Sunday the festival event.  Splitting yourself into three pieces to set up the different elements of the weekend isn’t an easy task, but with good communication and an amazing team around you can manage anything.

Festival Inspired Party

Your Personal Highlights

Showcalling. With all the bands, their requirements and different equipment this could have been chaotic, but it worked seamlessly and was packed with the festival vibe!

Would You Change Anything?

The weather! Or at least when the bad weather joins us. We had ponchos ready for the guests once they had been into the tipi, but instead it came just as they arrived!

A large amount of the event was also outdoors, and we really needed the weather to stay on our side.  But, its England, and it doesn’t always work like that. It did brighter up later on, just in time for the food service. A collective sigh of relief could be heard!

Festival Inspired Party

THE AFTER PARTY

If our festival inspired party ideas have whet your appetite for planning an outdoor event, check out inspiration guide to CREATING PERFECT OUTDOOR PARTIES and a selection of divine ideas for OUTDOOR PARTY COCKTAILS  

Lastly, we loved these ideas from IDEAL HOME. Some design and style gems that are just perfect for planning an at home festival!

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 Jun 22nd 2020

Top Gin Distillery Venues

Top Gin Distillery Venues

It can’t be argued that the UK’s renewed passion for all things gin related is creating a whole new industry. There is absolutely no doubt that gin is the spirit of the moment and has been for the past few years now. Demand for interesting and unique gins made by independent artisan producers has driven a huge increase in the amount of gin sold. With large scale producers and huge brands having to constantly keep up with the ever-changing industry, distillers all over the UK are racking their brains to create something innovative to keep up with the ever-growing demand. So, by demand from the readers, we have looked for the country’s top gin distillery venues!

There are 315 distilleries in Britain. This is more than double the number that operated five years ago. We aren’t going to see this number plateau or decrease any time soon! The UK is now the world’s biggest exporter of gin. With producers keen to emulate success further and identify as a more unique service, there are a number of distilleries offering gin tasting experiences and also offering event spaces at their venues. Below are a few of TLC’s top gin distillery venues in Manchester and throughout the UK. Cheers!

Four Sis4ers Distillery

First in our collection of top gin distillery venues is Four Sis4ers gin distillery. A family distillery in the heart of Manchester run by four sisters with a passion for gin.

Top Gin Distillery Venues Top Gin Distillery Venues

A beautiful blend of carefully selected botanicals give their gin a smooth and sophisticated taste. They feel passionately about their environmental responsibility. They make their gin with high quality ingredients and as many recyclable materials as possible. Offering the ultimate gin experience, you can visit Four Sis4ers in the heart of their family distillery. Your experience will take you through the full distilling journey. Beginning with the story of the four sisters, the legacy of gin and a tour of the distillery. Followed by a delicious compliment of 5 perfect serve gin and tonics or gin cocktails as well as sampling the gin throughout the tour. You will then have the chance to create your own 70cl bottle of gin by blending together your choice of botanicals and flavours while experiencing the distilling process first-hand.

 

The distillery also acts as a private hire event space in Manchester.  If you are looking for somewhere with a unique character and great facilities for a small to medium-size event, then this is the perfect place for you. With a fully stocked bar and a space catering for 30 people seated of up to 45 standing. It’s a great space. A fully bespoke service is provided. The space is given for free of charge provided the minimum spend at the bar is met. You provide your entertainment and the catering and you have the perfect space for a an event or party, whether your guests are gin lovers or not!

https://sis4ersdistillery.com/

 

Three Rivers gin

Three Rivers gin, also based in the heart of Manchester, created the first city centre gin distillery back in 2016.

They created a name for themselves within Manchester’s hospitality scene.  Their gins are widely available across the bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers which allowed them to successfully launch their Gin experience to further acclaim. The gin experience very quickly became one of Manchester’s top tourist attractions with people from all over the world wanting to attend.

Top Gin Distillery Venues

The Three Rivers interactive experience lasts for three hours. it includes a tour of the beautiful distillery and complimentary drinks. It is available for up to 30 people at one time.

Guests are welcomed at the distillery with a Three Rivers gin and tonic in your hand. You are given a brief introduction of the history and the story of how they came to be in the centre of the thriving metropolis of Manchester. Guests are then taken on an immersive and interactive historical journey of gin. Where it all began. How it evolved.  The journey to being infamous and what the future looks like. Guests are then taken to gin school where they will learn about the wide array of the botanicals, which give the gin its unique flavours and character. Naturally, the experience concludes at their bar where the evening is complete with a gin fizz cocktail being served.

The City of Manchester Distillery, home to Three Rivers gin, also poses a purpose-built event space with a cinema screen and a private bar making it the perfect place for a fun event.

https://cityofmanchesterdistillery.com/experiences/gin-experience/

 

Manchester Gin Distillery

In 2019, the award-winning Manchester Gin was the most recent brand of gin to open its new distillery, bar and restaurant in the city centre, The Spirit of Manchester Distillery.

The amazing space occupies six railway arches under the historic centre of the city where a state-of-the-art distillery has been built. It offers a fully immersive experience for guests to explore, drink, dine and distil.

Two experiences are offered. A distillery tour and guided tasting or a gin-making experience. During the distillery tour and tasting, guests will experience the passion behind the gin in an intimate tour of the distillery. Here you learn about the gin-making process, the brand’s growth and history followed by a guided tasting of the full range of gins on offer. During the gin-making experience, guests will enjoy the full tour before embarking on their own gin making journey. In this they will choose their own botanicals and distil their own gin to take home. Two G&T’s samples of the full range and nibbles are included in this tour.

Manchester Gin doesn’t yet offer a private event space for hire. But, it boasts a gorgeous bar and restaurant, Three Little Words, where guests can either enjoy a drink in the bar or dine and enjoy the delicious menu.

https://manchestergin.co.uk/distillery/

 

Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery

With the popularity of gin constantly increasing over the past few years, we must not forget the traditional well-known brands of gin which have been around for years. Notably, the famous Bombay Sapphire which first launched in 1986.

Top Gin Distillery Venues

Bombay & Tonic is the ultimate expression of the quintessentially classic gin and tonic. This is achieved by all ten of the precious botanicals bringing their own special something.  From the heat of the Moroccan cubeb berries to the spice of the West African Grains of Paradise. The Bombay Sapphire gin distillery in based in Hampshire. It offers a variety of different experiences for guests to enjoy. From hosted and discovery experiences, which last approximately 1.5 hours. To a gin cocktail masterclass and tasting experience lasting up to 3 hours.  If you are still wanting more, you can enjoy the ultimate experience lasting up to 5 hours.

There is something for everyone to enjoy, gin lover or not, as the distillery also offers a heritage and horticultural experience so you can learn more about the site itself. The distillery also boasts a variety of pioneering event spaces.

Here you can hold a private party, Christmas party, meetings and conferences, as well as wedding receptions. Consider this unique space, seating up to 120 guests, for your Christmas party. Start with a cocktail on arrival and explore the Glasshouses before making your way to the exquisitely decorated Gallery space.  Here you will enjoy your four course meal, before sampling some cocktails in the spacious Mill Bar. If you’ve got an important meeting or conference coming up, what better way to make an impression than hire a gin distillery as the venue. Seating up to 150 guests in theatre style, your delegates certainly aren’t going to forget this conference in a hurry. You can even add on a cocktail masterclass for that extra wow factor.

The beautiful Gallery can accommodate between 40-150 guests and the Empire Bar can cater for 10-30 guests which make both of these spaces perfect for an intimate wedding reception.

https://distillery.bombaysapphire.com/

 

Sipsmith, London

Last on the guide to top gin distillery venues is Sipsmith gin. In 2009, Sipsmith caused a milestone moment for British gin distilling.

They became the first copper-pot based distillery to start up in London in over 180 years due to license changes. Sipsmith provide gin distillery tours with a difference. Making it more of a spectacle than a tour. You can opt for either the tour and tasting. Or upgrade to The Sipsmith Supper Club and enjoy a gin-centric three course meal. Guests will be introduced to Sipsmith’s carefully selected botanicals from around the world. Together you will uncover how the spirits are created, with a focus on bringing back the tradition of small batch production. Indulge in a tutored tasting.  It is the perfect experience to share with like-minded spirit sippers.

Once the tour is over, we recommend retreating to a local restaurant to continue your event. Ok, so not strictly a gin venue to hold a complete event (yet), but how could we leave them out?!

https://sipsmith.com/

 

ONE TO WATCH:

Having only launched in 2017, Didsbury Gin, has been on a meteoric rise. They secured investment from Jenny Campbell of Dragons Den following a hugely successful appearance on the show. Didsbury Gin is now stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols plus a wide range of retailers, restaurants and bars across the UK.

Two of Manchester gin-thusiasts were able to win over Jenny Campbell with their three-minute pitch after coming up with the idea from their living room in Didsbury. It has gone from strength to strength ever since. Whilst they don’t yet offer a gin distillery tour or have any available event space, who knows in the future if there will be an option for this in one of Manchester’s favourite suburbs.

They have held a number of evenings around local bars in Manchester, such as Atlas Bar. Here guests are able to buy tickets for the event and they will be served a bespoke three course dinner to pair with their gins while listening to the team talk all things gin, Dragons Den and much more. They have been in more recent news. They delivered 1,500 bottles of hand sanitiser to officers and staff across the force. Somehow, we don’t think this is the last we will be hearing of them!

Top Gin Distillery Venues Top Gin Distillery Venues

https://didsburygin.com/

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 Jun 17th 2020

Micro Wedding Ideas

Micro Wedding Ideas

Recently, weddings of up to 10 people were given the go ahead in Northern Ireland and with UK officials currently:

“examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings”

it’s likely the rest of the UK will soon follow suit. It’s always been my view that small weddings can be just as impactful as larger ones. In fact, I’ve seen a real shift in recent years – couples shunning larger parties in favour of a more intimate ceremony or ‘micro wedding’. Our micro wedding ideas bring together stylish tips to make your big day special and memorable, whilst harnessing the best of boutique style.

Post-pandemic, even more than ever, a small wedding can be an empowering choice for couples who just can’t wait any longer to tie the knot. It’s a chance to focus on only the closest family and friends and feel more in control of the wedding budget.

Here are just some of the reasons I think that the best things come in small packages. As well as micro wedding ideas for planning and décor. Everything you need to know about planning a stylish and memorable small or micro wedding.

How many people can attend my small wedding?

Firstly, we’re yet to see the government’s definitive guidance on how many people will be allowed to attend weddings. But it’s certain to be less than the average for pre-coronavirus weddings – which stood at around 82 at the end of 2019.  Micro weddings are defined as those with 20 guests or less. In my view the number permitted will likely be around 20 – 40 guests.

What are the benefits of smaller wedding?

What a small or micro wedding really does is focus on your ideas. It’s a way of sharing your special day with the people who really love you (and visa versa). One thing lockdown has taught us all, is to focus on the important people in our lives.

Smaller weddings also tend to have an incredibly warm, relaxed atmosphere because everyone knows one another. There’s no awkward table plan or distant relatives to look after.

It also means you can go to town on the little details that will make your wedding truly unique and memorable, without trying to please too many people.

Types of venue that suit a small wedding

Importantly on our list of micro wedding ideas, is your choice of venue. A smaller ceremony opens-up more choice for your wedding. This means that you can look at quirkier spaces that just wouldn’t be able to host a wedding with 80+ guests.

With social distancing in mind, however, I’d currently opt for a room that’s much bigger than your party requires. And one that has outdoor space that’s easily accessible. Weather permitting, an outdoor wedding would be even better under current guidelines.

You can still have all the grandeur of a larger wedding in the spectacular setting of your choice. It’s just a matter of organising your space and ‘zoning’ the area so as not to split your party.

The challenge is to make it feel cosy and welcoming rather than like a large proportion of the guests just didn’t show up. I would use draping and lighting in this situation to add texture and warmth. Along with food stations and cocktails bars dispersed around the room, adding a more personal touch to the service and of course limiting the amount of contact guests will have.

Tips for Planning Your Small Wedding

Make a ‘can’t do without’ list rather than how you would normally go about inviting people to your wedding. You can be more selective than usual which is great for the more decisive couples, but if you’re struggling to whittle down your list, this a good place to start.

Similar to how you would traditionally categorise guests as day or evening, a big change now may be that you categorise them as actual and virtual. Virtual attendees can enjoy a live stream of the ceremony or you can set up iPads with a Facetime for each one.

Then try to find ways to include those guests who can’t attend because they’re shielding or because of the limit.

You could send them a home delivery of some of the menu to enjoy from the comfort of their own home, with some of the flowers to bring the décor to their table. Alternatively, something like an afternoon tea or cocktails to make at home would be brilliant to keep the budget down.

Another idea is to ask your virtual guests to do a reading via video link or read out their message at the wedding breakfast, similar to how telegrams would have been included in years gone by.

Of course, this brings a whole new level of wedding etiquette so it’s important to be very clear and communicate your criteria for ‘real’ guests – close family, no children, wedding party only etc. – because of coronavirus restrictions.

Catering Ideas for a Small Wedding

In my opinion dinner is one of the most important parts of creating the right micro wedding ideas. Just because there are less guests doesn’t mean it has to be anything less than sensational.

Micro Wedding Ideas

My advice is to swap out the traditional three course meal with an interactive dinner or dessert experience. You can personalise the experience and get your guests opening the door to a variety of creative food ideas. Whether it be a grazing table or Teppanyaki style meal with a live chef, food is no longer just about the eating, it is a culinary experience and often is the most talked about part of the day. There are so many options, from providing a conveyor belt for your appetizers (similar to a sushi restaurant) to revealing a gorgeous doughnut wall after dinner for guests to devour.

Micro Wedding Ideas

Or go completely personal. Individual ‘wedding branded’ boxes of hot fish and chips. A mini picnic hamper with individual bottles of fizz. A bento box on each place at the table. Or to celebrate Asian food, try a tiffin box for every guest filled with spicy curries and hot naan.

Décor Ideas for a Small Wedding

If anything, a smaller wedding means you can be even more flamboyant and inspirational in this area because, with less guests, there’s likely to be more budget. Huge floral canopies are one of our signature styles. Simply divine over my favourite banquet style table – which can’t be beaten as a romantic and easily customisable blank canvas.

For a small wedding a banquet table has more presence, facilitating conversation, creating intimacy and offering unique options for centrepieces. Creating one long runner down the centre of the table. Fill with clusters of roses, foliage and tea lights. Or a higher structure with eclectic bulbs and flowers hanging above the guests. Seat people 2 metres apart to conform to the social distance rules, and the table will be spectacular.

And you can’t beat hanging wisteria amid a sea of candlelight for the most romantic of ceremony spaces – especially when outdoors.

Micro Wedding Ideas

Micro Wedding Ideas

Weddings certainly aren’t going to look the same for a good while, so rather than be disappointed, try to look for the positives in a smaller get together and be creative in how you can involve your wider circle of family and friends. Work closely with your wedding venue or planner to generate bespoke micro wedding ideas and ensure social distancing rules are managed. Measures including additional hand sanitiser, room cleaning and staggered arrival times for guests will become commonplace. But they don’t need to detract from the style and fun of your wedding day. Embrace the smaller scale by infusing with unique, personal touches. Make this small ‘big’ day, a special day.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

If you are also planning a business event, check out our tips for TEAM BUILDING DURING SOCIAL DISTANCING. With a little social distance tweaking, there are also some more lovely ideas for micro weddings here.

Please note: Our photography was taken prior to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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 Jun 8th 2020

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

With groups of up to six given the go ahead to meet outdoors in England, and Scots now allowed to BBQ with eight of their friends and family, it’s clear that dining al fresco will be on the menu for much of the UK. Even the weather seems to be in agreement, most of the time! But outside events have a whole different set of considerations to those held indoors. And serving up a few burnt burgers isn’t going to cut it. TLC events director Jess Randall has created her top tips on creating perfect outdoor parties and the best BBQ events.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Upgrade What’s on the Grill

BBQ’s used to be so basic. Throw on a packet of sausages or burgers and serve with a simple side salad. Zero creativity needed. That was before the days of Instagram. And pre-coronavirus when so many people have missed out on their planned events. People are well and truly upping their game.

If you want to join the BBQ elite then remember that preparation is key. Marinades are one trick to elevate a BBQ experience to the next level. Massage your meats and fish in tasty homemade marinades the night before, placing them in the fridge to give them time to develop that extra flavour. They’ll be so juicy and succulent your guests won’t be able to get enough.

Meat is the BBQ staple but when it comes to the grill, don’t forget the delicious non-meat alternatives that can sometimes steal the show. Think of vegetable, halloumi or tofu skewers drizzled with a dressing or grilled corn on the cobs covered in salt and chilli power. Creating perfect outdoor parties means catering for all tastes.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Supercharge Your Sides and Salads

Where salad was once an afterthought there’s now a new mantra.  ‘Salad maketh the barbeque’. Fix up a variety of different salads. Italian caprese, potato salad, roasted vegetable cous cous, spicy avocado or Asian slaw are just some ideas. Be as adventurous as possible and expand your salad repertoire, not overlooking that cooked ingredients are just as at home in the salad bowl as raw ones. Add nuts for texture and chopped herbs for a fresh and fragrant bowl of goodness. Don’t forget the dressing which should be added at the last moment or served at the side for guests to help themselves.

Another table (and tummy) filler is piling up a selection of different breads from your local deli or bakery. Many places are starting to re-open and deliver now, so add breads of all different shapes, sizes and textures to your shopping list. Nestle in some homemade dips like hummus, pesto or balsamic vinegar and oil and you’re onto a winner.
These delicious accompaniments are exactly what guests will be talking about post event. It’s the little extra TLC details that make all the difference when creating perfect outdoor parties.

Deliver on Your Drinks

If you want to make an impression as soon as they walk through the gate, choose a classic English or Italian aperitif to serve on arrival. Pimms chilled, then filled with fresh fruit or a crisp sparkling Aperol Spritz will never disappoint. There are some fabulous cocktail ideas here .

Another top tip, that we often do at TLC parties, is take large aluminium bins or buckets, fill with ice and bottles beers (or soft drinks for the children). Add a bottle opener onto the side of the bucket or provide a personalised one for each guest as a favour. Then nobody needs to make numerous trips back to the fridges to refill their drinks!

Avoid sharing bottles of wine – opt for an individual bottle per guest or personal cocktails. And on a hot day, go for fabulous frozen vodka or mojito lollies (with fruit versions for the kids)!

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Filling different size Kilner glass dispensers with iced water, fresh fruit and herbs is a great way to serve unlimited water to guests in the hot temperatures. Or add homemade lemonade. It’s also a great way to add a bit of colour and décor to a BBQ table that needs filling. To keep your little guests happy, why not think of a similar match to the cocktails to serve to the children. Fruit punch or fizzy orange with grenadine would work brilliantly and kids love nothing more than a mocktail to get involved with the adults.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Create an atmosphere

Infusing your party with ambience and atmosphere is one of the most important aspects in creating perfect outdoor parties. The best way to do this is by using simple decorations.
Depending on the number of guests and size of your space, a long central table for guests to eat as is ideal – keeping in mind social distancing rules of course. Your table filled with the delicious salads and side dishes that you have prepared along with the meats, fishes and vegetarian dishes will already add a sense of décor without any additional effort. Decorate the long table with a gorgeous centrepiece using simple household items. You could order your favourite flowers online and split them up into different sizes vases. Or create a low runner and add a few petals, leaves and candles for a beautiful floral display. For a nice finishing touch, buy some new matching crockery and glassware, especially if it’s a special occasion. Layer the table with all of the beautiful plates and wine glasses and see your table come to life!

Additional chill out areas, loungers, garden furniture and maybe even a hanging chair is a great way to create different zones for your party. Group them to allow social distancing. For an easy and super effective way to decorate these areas, fill smaller Kilner jars, jam jars or vases with flowers from your garden and tea lights. Stringing fairy lights throughout your garden is a great way to create ambience ready for when the sun goes down.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Top Notch Entertainment

Entertainment is another key component of your BBQ or outdoor party. Particularly when everybody isn’t confined to one small space when it can help hold everything together. It always takes longer than you predict to get the BBQ going. Whilst guests are arriving earlier on, why not set up some garden games for people to play. Try lawn bowls, croquet or something a little more fun like giant Jenga or giant connect four. Even an oversized chess board if your space allows. This is a great way to provide entertainment for those who want it, without forcing those who don’t into something that makes them uncomfortable. Have sanitizer wipes on hand to wipe down all the games between players from different households.

Music shouldn’t be forgotten. Finding that perfect playlist will also help to set the mood. Start off the evening with something more chilled and relaxed maybe summer songs to encourage people to relax and socialise. Then as the night progresses, pick up the music. If you really want to go the extra mile you could look at bringing in a small, local acoustic band who can mix between playing background music and then livening the night up later on.

So, with the current temperatures soaring throughout the UK and the desire for people to see their families and friends, outdoor events and BBQ parties are looking likely to be the events for the remainder of 2020. Try some of our tips to creating perfect outdoor parties and BBQs – TLC style!

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 Jun 5th 2020

Events That Made Me Podcast

Linda Plant

6 July 2020: Linda Plant: Working on A Market Stall Taught Me Everything I Needed to Know About Business

She may be known as the Queen of Mean, but when it comes to business Linda Plant certainly knows how to succeed.  In a new interview on the July 8, 2020 edition of the Events That Made Me podcast, hosted by Manchester’s entrepreneur event planner Liz Taylor, The Apprentice star has revealed that it was her humble beginnings working on a market stall in Dewsbury market that has been her ‘best lesson in life’.

Self-made, multi-millionaire, Linda, built her wholesale clothing empire Honeysuckle from nothing after leaving school at 15.  She was one of the first women to float her business on the stock exchange and believes her market trader roots to be the main driver behind her success.

She said: “Here’s me, you know, uneducated, unpolished,” said Linda. “When I met all these velvet collared city men and they said Linda, ‘how did you get this, what was your turning moment?’ I said, ‘you know what taught me the most about business? I stood on a market stall and that gives you everything you need to know in life. You can’t learn it at a university but stand on a market stall. It’s the best lesson in life.’

Events That Made Me Podcast

As a teenager Linda was driving force behind her family branching out from running one market stall, to overseeing 14, which eventually led to a multi-million-pound wholesale business. Talking of her experiences growing up, she said: “The truth is, it was a long time before I ever looked back and thought, my God, how did I do that? Was I afraid? Was I scared? When I think back, I was a kid. I just wasn’t like a kid. Listen Here

“By the time I left school at 15 we had one stall in Sheffield market that was very successful, and I just couldn’t wait to leave school. So, I said to mum that I wanted to leave school and she never dreamt to say get an education, get GCSEs, she said alright, yes, leave.”  Listen Here

It was this foundation that instilled her business sense and eagerness, she concluded: I came from very, very, poor beginnings we had a lodger to help pay the rent… but that drive, that motivation it’s in you and it doesn’t go away. It just doesn’t”

Linda believes that it her willingness to take a risk coupled with a fierce drive to achieve that has allowed her to oversee numerous successful enterprises with unrivalled success and grow her multi-million-pound empire. And her advice to others looking to follow in her footsteps?

“I never ever believing in refusing an opportunity, seize an opportunity. Always say yes, until you’ve got to say no.”

Events That Made Me with Linda Plant airs July 8, 2020 at https://podfollow.com/etmm-liz-taylor

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Sally Lindsay

June 25, 2020: Sally Lindsay: Star Almost Missed Big Break Because She Didn’t ‘Look Like an Actor’

In the next installment of the Events That Made Me podcast, Mount Pleasant star Sally Lindsay revealed that she never considered acting as a career, because she didn’t ‘look the part’. In an in-depth chat Sally talked of the pressure for budding actors to look a certain way, admitting that it took a university lecturer to flag up her talent. She said:

“I had a tutor called Neil Sinyard who was a theatre critic for The Times, he said to me, “if you could write your essays like you act you would be getting a double first, you really need to think about this as a career.”

Listen Here

Sally Lindsay talks to Liz Taylor of the Taylor Lynn Corporation

“Now this is [me] someone who is size 14, I had blonde hair with black roots down to here, acne and I just thought actors don’t look like me. They’re little and dark (hair) and posh and pretty – they don’t look like me. But I took his words to heart, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

Sally went on to attend the North Cheshire Theatre school, other graduates of which include Antony Cotton, Sarah Lancashire and Scott and Bailey co-star Suranne Jones. Although, in her own words, a ‘late starter’, she would go on to star in some of the UK’s best loved dramas and comedies and has enjoyed over 20 years of success on stage and screen.

“I was 22 when I went there,” continued Sally. “It sounds so young now, but it was comparatively ancient to start an acting career.”

When asked by Liz if she has ever been invited to feature on hit show, I’m a Celeb, Sally replied: “Oh yes, most years, but, oh God no! If one of the kids needed life-saving surgery, then maybe I would go. Not that I don’t think it’s brilliant. I love watching it! But I can’t even eat prawns because they look like insects. I could do all the other things, but it’s the eating I couldn’t do, They’d all be starving.” Listen Here

Rumors about this year’s line-up for the hit show have already begun, with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona and Netflix sensation Carol Baskin thought to be among the contenders.

Sally’s latest project was set to start filming in Malta this springtime but has been pushed back until Autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Events That Made Me podcast with Sally Lindsay airs July 1, 2020. For the full interview, listen to ‘Events That Made Me’ podcast at https://podfollow.com/etmm-liz-taylor

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Events That Made Me Podcast

Eamonn Holmes

16 June 2020: In the Events That Made Me podcast, airing on June 17, 2020, TV Presenter Eamonn Holmes OBE has spoken of the pressure he has felt being in the spotlight for so many years, as well as fears over keeping his job as one of the UK’s best-know TV presenters. The This Morning frontman admitted to host, to celebrity event planner Liz Taylor, that the need to ‘stay relevant’ and ‘continuously reinvent’ himself has been a challenge.

Events That Made Me Podcast

The ‘Events That Made Me’ interview examines events that have shaped the lives of a series of well-known celebrities. 60-year-old Eamonn discussed the pressures to stay in the public eye: “As good as you do, staying in employment, people like me have got to stay relevant. To stay relevant, you have to know your market …. you’ve got to see the trends coming and you have to reinvent yourself. “What I would say about my job is that getting on the conveyor belt is very, very tough, very hard, but – staying on the conveyor belt is harder.” Listen to Clip

During the 30 minute chat, Liz and Eamonn delve deep into his 40 year career in broadcasting, including how his peers would ‘laugh’ at his insistence that he wanted to be a TV reporter when he trained in journalism. Eamonn says: “My journalism lecturer would go round the class and say, right, ‘what do you want to do when you qualify’ and people in my journalism class would say, ‘I want to write for the Irish Times’, ‘I want to write for the Guardian’ or I want to write for the Independent’ and when it got to me I would say, ‘I want to be on TV, I want to be a TV reporter’. And the class would laugh. I suppose their point was you shouldn’t really express ambition like that, but to me it was direction, it was the area of journalism I wanted to be in.” Listen to Clip

It was this clarity on his future that eventually led to Eamonn’s big break, and a career that would see him become the face of Morning Television first at GMTV and then later as the anchor of Sky Sunrise, positions he held for a combined 26 years. Eamonn continued: “A year later the journalism lecturer called me and she said: ‘You always said you wanted to work in television didn’t you, well there are auditions being held at Ulster Television for farming reporters, do you fancy that?’ I didn’t know the first thing about farming, and I told her that, so she said: ‘rule number one of journalism Eamonn – find out!’

“I did find out, I did get the job, against very stiff and more experienced competition and I got it on the basis, I suppose, of style over substance, because I knew how to behave on TV. It was absolutely incredible because that changed my life.”

For the full interview, listen to ‘Events That Made Me’ at https://podfollow.com/etmm-liz-taylor

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5 June, 2020: A labour of lockdown love for our CEO, Liz Taylor. The Events That Made Me podcast is finally here, and has been well received by listeners.  Already featuring in Apple’s top business shows, the podcast combines fun, fearlessness and life lessons.  Liz discussed the events that have shaped her guests’ lives, both personally and professionally.

Events That Made Me Podcast

Commenting on the podcasts Liz said:

“I believe throughout all of our lives there’s one specific event that we can say affected the course of our journey. There certainly has been for me. Coupled with the fact that I spend a great deal of time getting to know the people that I work with and finding out what makes them tick, I felt there was a great way to share some of these events and experiences to help others. And so, my Events That Made Me podcast was born.”

 

Catherine Tyldesley

In the first podcast, actress Catherine Tyldesley talks of how she secured her role on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2019. Importantly, why it took producers two years to get Catherine to agree to put on her dance shoes. “I had a huge fear of dancing. When the opportunity for Strictly came up I thought, this scares me, so I should do it. I think you should face your fears head on.” Click for audio clip.

And how it felt to secure her famous role on Coronation Street: “As a child I was always talking and singing. I then fell in love with drama and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” She adds: “I’d grown up watching Corrie and was a huge fan. Landing that job was a dream come true.” Click for audio clip.

Simon Lycett

Simon Lycett explains why his challenging public-school upbringing led him through times of bullying to a place of greater strength. The chance meetings led him to create flowers for Muppet creator Jim Henson. And later for the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Any why pride has been one of the important, but sometimes unspoken, emotions in his life Click for audio clip.

Now a celebrated florist to members of the Royal household, Simon explores the series of events that, as Liz quotes: took you from the Muppets to the Royal family”. Simon says: “I have been fortunate enough to work on the wedding of Prince Charles to the Duchess of Cornwall. I created the flowers for the dinner that the Queen held the night before William and Kate married….and the flowers for Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack.” Click for audio clip.

“I’d like to do flowers for the next Coronation. Wouldn’t it be an amazing, iconic thing.”

Liz adds:

“I’m talking to a whole host of really fascinating people about events shaping their lives, and there’s an interesting mix of answers. Cath Tyldesley talking about the positive effect that competing on Strictly Come Dancing has had on her confidence. Mr Daytime TV himself Eamonn Holmes explaining why you shouldn’t ‘hide your light under a bushel and how meeting me was the most expensive lunch of his life! To the incorrigible raconteur Christopher Biggins, on why meeting Sinatra changed the direction of his early life, and how I’m A Celebrity then transformed his later career.”

To listen to the podcast, click here: Events That Made Me and please leave your feedback on the show. Our next guest will be announced shortly and feature on June 17, 2020

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 May 29th 2020

Team building during social distancing

Team building during social distancing

My team is incredible. Their loyalty and commitment over the last few months have been exceptional. As many of us tentatively head back to our place of work now lockdown measures are lifting, team building within a business has never been more important. But team building during social distancing comes with unique challenges. Let me explain.

It’s clear that our offices will look and feel very different with new social distancing measures in place. Some with physical divisions to keep workers apart. And of course, many companies have taken the decision to continue to work remotely. But within this ‘new normal’, companies are faced with an impossible quandary. How do you bring your team together without, bringing your team together?

Team building during social distancing

Why team building is important in business

Even before most of us even knew what a coronavirus was, team building activities were hugely important. The many benefits of team building include a workforce getting to know one another better. Camaraderie, boosting performance and fostering innovation and creativity.

When delivered properly, team building and staff recognition events can help your workers to engage with your vision and values and become more loyal to your company. Team building will lower staff turnover and boost staff morale. And let’s face it, we all need a morale boost right now?

Team building during social distancing

What can team building achieve?

But don’t just take my word for it. There have been many studies into the benefits of team building and how encouraging a positive workplace culture and fostering an engaged, happy workforce can result in increased profit and productivity.

I read a survey by research-based consulting company, Gallup, for instance, which revealed that engaged employees are 17% more productive with absenteeism reduced by 41%. The same study found highly engaged companies to be around 21% more profitable.

And according to the University of Warwick, happy employees are up to 20% more productive than other workers.

Why do team-building activities while social distancing?

With our teams segregated, these qualities are of utmost importance if businesses are to recover from the coronavirus shutdown. As the world of business regains its focus, the companies that will thrive are those who foster team spirit and bring employees closer during the tough times. Team building during social distancing will allow employees to continue socialising and communicating. In addition to learning new things about one another in order to promote the kind of bonding that makes physical space disappear.

Team Building During Social Distancing Ideas

Here are team building during social distancing ideas that can keep your team focused and motivated during the transition back to work. These team buildings exercises can be adapted to overcome the physical challenges of social distancing, so that when employees return to the office, it’s almost as if they never left!

Scavenger Hunt

Individuals and teams can participate in a virtual scavenger hunt. A perfect team building exercise due to the friendly competition that they bring. Combine different elements of fun, problem solving and interaction in order to bring a team together to meet an end goal.

There are a number of different online platforms for this however with the Scavify app, everything is brought together efficiently in one place. The app includes a list of tasks for players to complete by uploading photos, taking videos, answering questions and scanning QR codes. The app takes the hassle out of organisation with automatic scoring, the ability for individuals to track their progress, real time leader-boards and photo-streams to see completed tasks as they happen. It also allows for social media integration which is so important during this current climate. Try it at https://www.scavify.com/

Fancy Dress Friday

Forget casual wear Friday! Dressing up is the new dressing down. With a lack of variety in our daily lives, weekdays can easily merge into one. Therefore, it is crucial that leaders in a company are able to liven up team meetings and boost morale when we head towards the weekend. Employees are given a different fancy dress theme each week to attend the online meeting in. Prizes are given out for the best dressed. It’s a great way for employees and employers to get to know each other on a different level and have fun. Breaking down barriers that may never have fallen while in the office.

Knowledge Share Training Days

Online training is a great way to further diversify your team’s skills, as well as sharing knowledge between departments. Ask for volunteers to create a webinar or online forum to share some of the transferable skills involved in their job. Or get your team involved in areas of the business they’ve not worked in before like social media. You may even discover some untapped talent.

Team building during social distancing

Alternatively, your team could sign up to a webinar run by a professional in your field. Due to the power and availability of online webinars and the fact that professionals want to share their knowledge so willingly during these tough times. Tthere have been a huge number of webinars run by our favourite professionals. You can run a zoom session alongside so that your team can interact during the breaks or downtime.

And team building during social distancing doesn’t have to stop professional development. Spreading your cultural horizons as a team can still have the same outcome. Famous faces, galleries, museums and performers are giving unrivalled free access to content like never before. So, make an event of it and attend that virtual gig, performance or exhibition together.

Team building during social distancing

Despite our best efforts as a nation, it doesn’t seem that coronavirus will be going anywhere anytime soon. Optimistically though, companies are embracing the challenge of adapting to new ways of working in order to survive. Within that, team building during social distancing should be near the top of the priority list. Afterall, a company’s true resilience and strength to recover comes from its greatest asset: its team.

Social distancing will affect bringing the team together for a company meeting too.  Here’s one way in which you can safely meet: Social Distance Meeting

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 May 22nd 2020

The Sustainable Dilemma

The Sustainable Dilemma

There has been one winner through the coronavirus pandemic; the environment. Changes we never dreamt were possible have happened in a matter of months. And on a global scale. We’ve seen the cancellation of eight out of ten international flights. Waters are clearing of plastic and pollution. Air quality is improving. Endangered species are returning to their natural habitats. In Venice, the waterways are clear. The people of China are able to breath clean air. And in New York, where my daughter lives and coronavirus has devastated so many, the levels of pollution have dropped by 50%. This city epitomises the sustainable dilemma – can we maintain the environmental benefits without the threat of pandemic pain?

The Sustainable Dilemma

 

It may be a miracle amongst the madness, but will we learn lessons for the long-term? Will doubters such as Donald Trump accept global warming as a scientific fact? It was the change our planet badly needed. Yet it may never have happened without a threat more imminent than the environmental catastrophe that has been lingering in our peripheral vision for many years.

The Sustainable Dilemma

 

The Events Industry

 

Within the events industry this raises a huge dilemma; one that I shared my thoughts on in my Conference News column at the beginning of this year. Events are by nature consumers of environmental resources. Energy use for a full lighting production for instance is substantial. Many elements of an event will be single use. Then there’s food waste, plastic consumption, car travel and air miles. Plus, a whole host of other factors to consider. It gives planners the sustainable dilemma – and a challenge!

 

In recent years, the conundrum has been that people have been eager to reduce their impact on the environment, yet they still want the impact and drama of lavish, glamourous events. As event planners, we’ve been charged with marrying desires that are polar opposites to one another. An almost impossible task. But has the coronavirus crisis given us the beginnings of a solution?

Social Distance

 

In the short term, social distancing measures will go some way towards keeping up the progress we’ve made environmentally. It’s unlikely we’ll be allowed to host large-scale events for some time. While we find our feet in a new world, small is better. We’ll have to throw all of our creativity into making events that are pared back in scale, but NOT in vision.

 

Another consequence of time spent in lockdown, is there has been a renewed understanding that we can survive on less. People are taking joy from the smaller things in life. Events will therefore need to respond and show reductions in energy, food and environmental consumption, honing-in on attention to detail. Small events CAN be beautiful. More thoughtful. More manageable. Clients will however need to invest in the finer details to make them successful. That TLC touch that makes all the difference.

 

Innovation

 

A different question is, can events really become more sustainable while maintaining their scale and impact? On this point, only time will tell. Event planners need to turn to their greatest assets to solve the dilemma: innovation. As I mentioned, I wrote a column about this very subject at the beginning of the year and I’ll leave you with some of those thoughts to summarise now.

 

“We need to tackle the challenge in the way that I deal with every event. I take every individual element and assess how we can deliver it with creativity and style, and now, with a more sustainable edge. Work with suppliers to minimise plastics and packaging. Look at low-energy options. Take care of your team’s wellbeing. Employ local venues, caterers and florists to lessen the burden of travel. For large events, I accept the task is daunting, but it shouldn’t be avoided. Perfect? Your solutions will evolve over time. You may not be able to change everything at once. But every swap, change, new idea and alternative option will make a difference.”

 

THE EXTRA FACTOR

Finally, this article in the Independent takes a closer look at the air pollution rates, and the changes we have seen in just a couple of months: TRULY startling! https://www.independent.co.uk/news/coronavirus-pollution-environment-lockdown-carbon-emissions-charts-a9510636.html

Having also been lucky enough to visit Venice for work and fun, the pictures here of the beautifully clear canals are astonishing and make the sustainable dilemma more apparent: https://youtu.be/HVwjs_D_kRI

The Sustainable Dilemma The Sustainable Dilemma The Sustainable Dilemma

 

-Liz Taylor, CEO. Taylor Lynn Corporation

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 May 18th 2020

Social Distance for Meetings

Social Distance for Meetings

Over the past two months I’ve done a lot of thinking about how we can begin to deliver events again. Most of you will know. I’m not the type of person to just accept that I’m unable to work indefinitely. When I hit a wall, I tend to look for something to knock it down with. If I can’t knock it down, I find a way to climb over it. So, my self-isolation has become a time for reflection. Brainstorming and planning for how we can start to deliver events when the Government begins to ease the lockdown rules.  Embracing the social distance for meetings philosophy.

In this article I’ll present my ideas about how the events industry can begin to recover. Ways in which we can get back to doing what we love; meeting.

As an event planner of 36 years of experience, I know that finding a social distance for meetings solution will only be possible by working collaboratively with venues and clients. I ’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts. Can we make this possible?

social distance for meetings

Beginning with baby steps

My first thought is that restrictions will determine that we will need to start off small. So, my skeleton plan is about how I think TLC will be able to deliver meetings of up to 50 people in the first instance.  Simply put, adopting the social distance for meetings approach will be much simpler with smaller groups.  We’ll need to hone our provision of these smaller micro meetings, then begin to think bigger and better until we can get back to delivering the large-scale wow factor events.

One solution could be to spread an event out over a few days, with smaller groups attending each day. You could even bring everyone who has attended together virtually on the final day with.

Alternatively, in a venue with more than one event room, organise the event content into smaller sub events. Delegates could be moved round the venue in an orderly and organised way. This could ensure that different groups don’t mingle, with each event space being cleaned in between.

All the Ps – protection, preparation, prevention

Staggered arrival times. Sending out pre-meeting safety packs detailing the steps a company is taking to protect delegates. Giving access to easily reachable sanitisation stations. Meetings will be all about thorough preparation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

And until the world returns to normal, it will be our job as organisers of events to allay any fears and reassure delegates every precaution has been taken to ensure their safety. That means clear communication will be key.

social distance for meetings

Finding the right venue

Finding the perfect space to host your meeting will never be more important. Bigger will most certainly be better for smaller events. Businesses will need to find a venue that’s much larger than needed, so for a meeting of 50, we’d probably suggest a room that can host 250.

Layout within that space will be another consideration – with each delegate (or group of delegates depending on what’s allowed) being given ample space to social distance themselves from other people in the room.

Access to the outdoors is going to be another key factor in choosing to hire an event space. The latest information on COVID-19 shows that it’s easier to prevent the spread of coronavirus outdoors. Giving delegates frequent breaks in the open air will be hugely important also give venue teams time to clean the rooms frequently. But this will need to be staggered and well organised to prevent a mass exodus!

If the weather permits, why not hold the whole thing outside.

Non-Contact Catering

Buffets with precision organisation should be the way forward when it comes to catering at events. I’m fairly certain there will be no sit-down meals for a while, unless we adopt the approach that some restaurants in Europe are taking with clear Perspex screens segregating diners.
My preference would be small plates. There’s no need for service and attendees can help themselves without touching serving utensils – limiting the possibility of cross-contamination between groups of people.

Another idea would be to make up individual picnic baskets with single servings for each person, this could include some gorgeous cakes for afternoon tea, or a selection of cold meats, cheeses and breads for a more continental approach. Blankets could be laid out on a lawn with adequate spacing in between to adhere to social distancing while still allowing guests to mingle.

social distance for meetings

And for teas and coffees why not send out a personalised reusable cup ahead of the event within a delegate welcome pack. Another way to reassure your guests of cleanliness and minimal contact with venue staff.

Related Topic: How to Put the Wow Factor into an Event

Hybrid meetings

With a limit on numbers, businesses will really have to think about who they send to meetings. Only those who are integral should/will be able to attend. But by embracing technology and with careful organisation, it may be that a mix of virtual and actual attendees becomes the new norm.

Here is where an event planner would be able to add lots of value.  Making those virtual attendees feel as much a part of the event as those there on the day will be a challenge. Interactive elements will need to be handled in a creative, innovative way to bring the room together.

But with the recent VE Day celebrations as an example, it could mean that we reach even more people with events and messages.

By providing people with the means to have their own social distanced garden party at home, organisers believe that thousands more people became involved in the celebrations in their own way, than would have attended any official gatherings.

social distance for meetings

Attention to detail

In a world where smaller gatherings will become the norm (even for a short time), personal touches will become more important than ever.  Small is certainly more manageable when it comes to delivering the right social distance for meetings approach. And small can be beautiful. But companies will have to invest in micro events to elevate them and ensure they’re successful.

So, these are some steps I feel could be taken to mitigate risks of small-scale events and meetings as we begin to get back to business. Some companies may think ‘why would we get an event planner in for a small event?’ As always my answer would be that ‘the devil is in the detail’. But in fact, it’s even more important now to ensure that smaller events are planned to perfection, to allow us to progress further in the future.

social distance for meetings

Can we get people meeting again with the right social distance for meetings approach? Thoughts people? Over to you.

-Liz Taylor,  CEO, Taylor Lynn Corporation

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 May 7th 2020

Coronavirus Lost Generation of 2020

Coronavirus Lost Generation of 2020

Since the beginning of the pandemic employment or indeed the uncertainty has been one of my concerns. New research into youth unemployment has found that 600,000 more young people could be out of work this year due to the coronavirus. With pay and prospect ‘scarred’ for years. INDEPENDENT ARTICLE They will become the Coronavirus lost generation of 2020.

I accept that in the great scheme of things this could be perceived as way down the pecking order. People are dying whilst others are losing their livelihoods. It may be true that some, if not the majority, of young people could go back to live at home with parents and ride out any possible recession with their whole lives to rebuild their careers. But, there’s a bigger picture that many of us are overlooking as we become consumed with the herculean task of keeping our businesses afloat.

If we don’t support and nurture new talent into our sector, they will go elsewhere. For me, a person who has built a business with the help of young event industry talent, this would be a tragedy.

Commitment to New Talent

I’ve always committed to having an intern at TLC. And what brings the current situation into even sharper focus is very personal to me. In 2007 I hired my now Events Director Jess Randall fresh from university. She came to us with such energy, enthusiasm and creativity that I simply couldn’t let her go. She was a raw talent and I immediately knew that with the right guidance and in the right environment she would be a force to be reckoned with. So, I told her that once she had graduated there would be a job for her at TLC. The rest as they say is history.

She’s been with us for 3 years and is an incredibly important part of TLC. Creative. Enthusiastic. Hard working. Brilliant with clients, Jess has proved to be everything you want in a young event director. Developing the next generation of event planners is something I’ve dedicated a lot of my energy to. I love nothing better than delivering my annual lecture to the budding event planners at Manchester Metropolitan Uni. Taking time to share experiences, and my own brand of wisdom.

 

coronavirus lost generation 2020

The Lost Generation of Planners

Unfortunately, the first sector to shut down is likely to be the last to reopen for obvious reasons. The events industry has, frankly, been decimated by the pandemic. But even with all of this going on in the background, the thought of graduates, talented individuals, who will qualify and be sent out into a jobs market where there are no jobs, has been bothering me.

Not only have they had the joy of graduation taken from them. No final exams. Parties cancelled. Post-graduate travels on hold. The final chapter in their academic career simply stopped mid-sentence and carefree university life became a memory. Now they’re being released into an economic wasteland.  However, this is about more than just wanting to nurture new talent. It’s about the event industry as a whole and how we move forward to avoid allowing this crop of talented planners to be remembered as the coronavirus lost generation of 2020!

Our responsibility (with Government support) is surely to ensure that these eager, talented individuals realise their potential within our industry and don’t go elsewhere. They’re the future of the profession we’ve given our lives, hearts and souls to.

The Youthful Solution

I believe that the key to our recovery partly lies within this generation. I’m no technophobe. I may be known to Insta post at 3am, but I wasn’t brought up in a world where I learned to swipe and pinch before I could read and write. Young people coming through are digital natives. And now, more than ever, the events industry needs to harness technology and innovation.

In an industry built on bringing people together, we need to find, new, safe ways of doing so while we ride out the rest of storm.

When I first started out, people just organised their own parties and meetings, much like they are doing now on Zoom, Skype and Google hangout. Then event planners came along with inspiration and creativity and events were elevated to a level nobody could have imagined. It’s this enthusiasm that we need right now – new avenues of thought that can add value to companies finding their way to doing business in the ‘new normal’. The Coronavirus lost generation of 2020 could be a major part of our recovery.

coronavirus lost generation 2020

To Conclude

Finally, what I do know is that as an industry we won’t simply give up. We’re a hardy bunch. It’s taken all my resolve to stay focused and positive, but I have ridden out recessions, divorces and more. It may be a bumpy road, but I’m committed to ensuring that TLC survives and thrives. And when that happens, I will be certain to welcome a new intern into the fold.

For more information on how TLC are staying positive during Coronavirus, take a look here.

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 May 5th 2020

How to Choose the Right Event Company

How to Choose the Right Event Company

We are in the midst of our industry’s perfect storm. There is no doubt that whether you are a corporate event planner, SME or event agency professional, the next few months will present incredible business challenges. I am an optimist. I believe that we can build a strong future for the event sector. The companies who will get through these times will be those able to diversify, navigate the choppy financial waters and are bold enough to look long term with their marketing. I intend to be one of them. And I believe that on the ‘other side’ of this virus, companies will more than ever look to events as a vital communication tool. Whether it be reconnecting with customers, rebuilding their brand or rewarding loyal staff; an event is still a unique brand platform. That’s why, although I wrote this earlier in the year to offer advice on how to choose the right event company, I think it is just as relevant now as it was then. Those businesspeople planning ahead, and wanting the support of an event professional, read on.

How to Choose the Right Event Company

Set your objectives

Firstly, when understanding how to choose the right event company, remember this. Events come in all shapes and sizes. And so do event management companies. Whether it’s an employee recognition event to celebrate achievements, a staff Christmas party to boost morale or a customer event to generate sales or launch a new product, the first step in any event is to define why you’re holding it in the first place. Draw up with a list of measurable objectives covering exactly what do you hope to achieve and why. Only then can you begin to hone your list of potential suppliers and see how they hold up against your aims.

Go by word of mouth

I’m a firm believer in recommendations. It’s how I’ve grown my business and built my reputation. Reach out to individuals and organisations within your professional network for their advice, introductions and honest opinions. You can also do this via LinkedIn and via other social media outlets. If you’ve attended a particularly memorable event, then contact the organisers to see who was behind it.

Unpick their Portfolio

Once you have a shortlist, research a company’s testimonials and case studies. There’s no harm in contacting some of the companies they’ve worked with to gauge their experience. If they’ve done repeat business with recognisable brands, it’s a good indicator you’re on to a winner.

On the other hand, don’t just opt for the company that shouts the loudest, that’s always appearing in the media or who has scooped all of the top awards. Accolades may highlight that an event management company has achieved great things, but they can’t tell you if it can do great things for you. Which brings me to the next point.

Is the chemistry right?

Over the past thirty years I’ve worked with many different people – from huge organisations and to celebrities and private clients who prefer to stay that way. Some relationships thrived. Others fell by the wayside. The difference was chemistry.

The litmus test for anyone in knowing how to choose the right event company, should always be whether you feel you can work with the person or team that’s putting your event together. Ironically there’s no scientific formula for how to measure this. It’s all about the feeling. Your gut instinct. You don’t have to socialise with them, you don’t even have to like them personally (although it helps), but a mutually respectful professional relationship is essential.

Make sure you’re on the same page

If you’re thinking low key and affordable and they’re wanting to hire Beyonce to play at Grand Central Station (either of which would be fabulous by the way) the relationship is never going to work out. Agree the budget from the outset. And that doesn’t mean an event can’t have the wow factor, it’s about making money work hard by spending it in the right areas. If they’re worth they’re salt they’ll find creative ways to achieve your goals within budget

How to Choose the Right Event Company

Are they qualified?

Experience vs qualifications. The old conundrum. For me, the perfect recipe should include a good mix of both.

Are your philosophies aligned?

What are the core values that set your company apart? And how does the event management company fit into your overall philosophy? If environmental issues are at your core then choosing an event management with great eco credentials should be a consideration. Perhaps CSR is high up your priority list – find a like-minded company to reflect what you value most. You might also find this article interesting too: CSR

How to Choose the Right Event Company

Become a secret shopper

Attend an event the company has planned. This may feel like snooping, but it doesn’t have to be done under the radar. I’d have absolutely no problem with a potential client attending one of our events. In fact, I know that allowing them to experience one of our events as a guest is the best way that I can promote my company. Seeing a team in the full throws of an event will allow you to see first-hand how they operate. It will alleviate any worries or lay bare any issues – either way it will help with your decision.

How do they measure success?

Simply putting on a brilliant event then moving onto the next one isn’t good enough. Neither is saying an event was successful without any measurable results to back this up. Events can only prove their worth if there is a robust evaluation process in place. And this needs to be front of mind right from the outset. What monitoring and evaluation steps has the company built into the pitch? If it’s not mentioned that’s a red flag for me.

Check the T’s and C’s

Last on my list of key advice to anyone asking how to choose the right event company is – check the fine print. What is their billing structure? When does their invoice need to be paid? And does this fit with your internal processes? These are questions that need to be answered at the outset to stop a relationship turning sour at the end.

I hoped this has helped you in understanding that knowing how to choose the right event company is about more than a just a spreadsheet exercise – if not – call me!

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