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A day in the life of an #eventprof… onsite

According to the most recent survey by  CareerCast.com*, events management is the fifth most stressful profession, behind military jobs, police, firefighters and other life-death careers. Even though this is a poll of US employees, I’m sure as #eventprofs in the UK, we’ve all been able to relate to this stress at some point or other! The pressure of liaising with suppliers, clients and delivering to deadlines can definitely get on top of all of us but equally, that adrenaline rush is exactly why we love what we do! We were recently onsite for a corporate event in London, so we caught up with Project Manager, Erin, to hear all about a day in the life of an onsite event professional… 

It’s set-up day. What’s first on the to-do list?

I usually try and get up at around 5am, so I can shower and get ready for the long day ahead without feeling rushed. Once the team is all onsite, the first thing on the list is to set up our production office so we have an organised space to work from. The client is due onsite a couple of hours after us, so we ensure all the relevant suppliers have arrived and started to install, I meet with the venue representative to do a pre-client onsite run through and then hit the to-do list! Amongst the important tasks, someone always goes for a Pret run when we have a moment, to make sure we all have a good breakfast. It’s sometimes difficult to remember to eat when you’re onsite, so now’s the time for everyone to eat and get some water.

pouring water from a jug into a glass - a reminder to keep hydrated

By midday, the client has just arrived so we catch up, update them with the install process and get them some lunch! For the rest of the afternoon, I concentrate on the install. For this particular event, the AV was the largest part of the install, so most of our attention is on getting this ready for rehearsals to start in the afternoon. Later in the afternoon the CEO arrives onsite, so while the team has divided and conquered to ensure each area is on time – branding, registration, expo etc – my efforts are focused in the keynote room where the CEO has started rehearsing for tomorrow morning’s event opener.

Set-up day is coming to an end – what are your last minute checks to ensure live day goes smoothly?

Once the rehearsals are over, the client team heads offsite, so our evening is made up of snagging and fixing a few last-minute branding issues. We then grab a quick bite to eat whilst the last of the suppliers are finishing up before heading to a nearby hotel before midnight. We always try and stay as close as possible to the venue. Someone from the team checks us in during the afternoon – this way the team can head straight to bed once we’ve finished after a long day.

The view from the venue over London at the end of the day

What is your routine the night before live day?

Once back at the hotel, I usually do some stretching after being on my feet all day – I’ll have clocked up lots of steps! I then re-read all my documents and checklists to make sure I know what’s going on at every single second of the event. It’s so much easier to deal with any issues that inevitably will arise when you are fully prepared and know every detail inside and out. I’ll also take some time to write some notes of any little reminders or actions I need to do when I first get onsite in the morning. Following this, relaxation is key! You need to be able to switch off in our industry – before this event I had a relaxing bath and then got an early night.

So, how did it go? How do you unwind post event?

The event went well and the client is happy – this is the most important thing! Once it’s all wrapped up and all suppliers are offsite, myself and the team head to a nearby restaurant for a pizza and a drink. We’ll chat about how the day went, share any onsite pictures and then a summer favourite is to head home to catch up on Love Island!

What are your 3 top tips for long days onsite?

  • WATER – it’s so easy to get dehydrated onsite. It makes you feel so much more awake when drinking enough. We send reminders in the group chat or even over comms every now and again to make sure everyone is keeping hydrated.
  • Get enough sleep pre and post show – there is no way to avoid lack of sleep onsite but stocking up before definitely helps.
  • Enjoy it! The best way to get through a long day is to actually enjoy it. The lead up to an event can be so long and detailed that it’s worth taking it all in onsite and enjoying the day with the Sleek team and the client.

Events Coordinator is the 5th most stressful job in the CareerCast.com poll. How do you combat stress?

  • Lots of lists to make sure everything that can be done has been!
  • The team: having the right team and support around you is key.
  • A post-event stretch/yoga class and, of course, a glass of wine helps too!

a yoga studio - a reminder to de-stress

Working in events can mean times when the pressure is on but it’s also extremely rewarding and fun. If you’d like to work in events, keep an eye on our social media for job opportunities:

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*CareerCast.com 2019 survey can be viewed here: https://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/2019-jobs-rated-stress

48 hours in Berlin

We all know that Berlin is famous for its creative people, culinary delights, cultural landmarks and crazy parties, but what you might not know is that Berlin is a great location for corporate events too. We recently spent some time in sunny Berlin, having a look around for some unique waterside locations that would work for anything from a product launch to a corporate dinner event, with impressive views and excellent service. Here is a snapshot of our top three:

First up on the list is Spreespeicher. This trendy venue sits right on the river Spree and offers beautiful views of the Oberbaumbrücke – a bridge connecting two former boroughs that were divided by the Berlin Wall, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, and which has become a symbol of Berlin’s unity. The venue has natural daylight, multiple event spaces and a terrace perfect for a summer party or winter wonderland with outdoor heaters. Your guests can even arrive by boat for a truly impressive entrance!

The second venue on our list is Haus Ungarn. This edgy venue is located close to Alexanderplatz in the heart of the city, and also doubles up as a nightclub! Haus Ungarn, which translates to Hungary House, is extremely modern but with wooden touches and classic rustic Berlin charm the city is famed and adored for. This space, along with its outdoor terrace and spectacular views of the city, is a surefire way to impress your guests and leave them with long-lasting memories of your event.

Lastly, we leave you with Spindler & Klatt; a beautiful venue right on the river. This multi-floor riverside venue allows for plenty of flexibility within the space, meaning you can really pull out all the stops to impress your guests with whatever type of event you wish to put on. Like Haus Ungarn, Spindler & Klatt doubles as a club by night, and a laid-back restaurant and cocktail lounge by day. Whether you’re looking to host a relaxed dinner, a glamorous party, or a fashion show on the water, this venue has it all!

As well as checking out these impressive venues, we also spent some time sampling the local delicacies and exploring the city by scooter – we even got ourselves a bit of a tan! 48 hours in Berlin goes very fast due to the sheer number of activities and venues to keep you occupied, but we left Berlin convinced that this creative city is not just a haven for hipsters – it could be a really unique option for a corporate event or an incentives city break. With competitive prices and direct flights from nearly everywhere in the UK and Europe, the possibilities are endless in ‘the coolest city in Europe’!

We’re always on the lookout for new venues – if you’re interested in hearing more about our search, check out our latest blogs on incentives trips to the seaside, and our current favourite venues here in London.

outdoor event

Challenges of outdoor experiential events

As #eventprofs, we know there are all sorts of challenges when it comes to creating successful events. But what happens when you move your event to the great outdoors? The challenges that come with an outdoor experiential event can be endless, but not necessarily detrimental. We asked the team at Sleek HQ about the challenges they have faced and compiled a handy little list below of potential challenges, how to overcome them and things to consider next time you have to use the great outdoors.

1. Permits

Some outdoor areas, such as parks, gardens and other public areas, require you to obtain a permit before ‘setting up shop’ as it were. It’s really important to read up about the venue before booking suppliers, as this could really impact what you are and aren’t allowed to provide. Setting up a gin and tonic pop-up van in a park for a festival-style event sounds dreamy, until you rock up on the day and are met with an angry ranger telling you there is no alcohol permitted and your event is suddenly in jeopardy. Preparation is key!

Festival tents in the dusk

2. Weather

This is especially important when considering AV requirements. It’s all well and good planning a lit-up wonderland for a fashion show, product launch or Christmas event, but when the heavens open and all your open electrical equipment is at risk – the event could be at risk! Make sure everything is covered and the AV supplier has correctly assessed all potential weather risks and has backup plans for every occasion.

This is also crucial to bear in mind for the attendees too – imagine you’re outside at an event and the weather is unexpectedly hot, cold or rainy, and you suddenly find yourself in need of cover for 200 people. Keeping people happy, whether that be giving them shade, warmth or a dry place to sit/stand is a sure-fire way of making them remember your event – if you have thought about things before they happen, this ensures the event runs seamlessly no matter what Mother Nature throws at you! People like to feel looked after – if they feel like you have provided everything they could possibly need and considered how they experience your event, you are more likely to get good press/reviews, even if it was a washout!

Winter Wonderland light display

3. Coordination

Keeping people happy – have you thought about every eventuality and how you can look after people in all scenarios? How are you going to cook and bring out food? Are you going to provide cutlery? Have you thought about what is going to be the most user-friendly attendee experience? You may want to ‘wow’ them with some fine dining, but if you aren’t providing seating, then maybe you need to think of a more creative alternative to ensure their experience is easy and they don’t have a million things to hold.

Interference – if you are holding an experiential event in a public space, then you also need to consider other distractions/interference that may hinder your event. Traffic, wildlife, external noise etc, all need to be considered and a back up plan put in place. It is also worth mentioning security – if the event is ticketed, you may need to hire staff to ensure you have no unwanted visitors!

Special Requirements – you need to make sure there is suitable access for disabled guests, as well as any other considerations you would usually take for an indoor event.

Fashion show runway

4. Equipment

Things we take for granted in an indoor venue/exhibition hall/conference centre are not available outdoors! Make a comprehensive list of everything you could possibly need, even things you wouldn’t think twice about normally. One thing we find we always need onsite is scissors. You never think you’re going to need scissors until you do, and can’t find any! We recommend packing a fully-stocked stationery box, as well as a first-aid kit – not for your client’s guests as that will be supplied separately, but for your own team!

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but will hopefully give you some food for thought if you are looking to plan or are in the process of planning an experiential event outdoors. Outdoor events can be tricky and stressful to plan, but they can also be more fun and exciting and really deliver the ‘wow’ factor that is so important for an amazing experiential event.

One crucial thing to remember is an experiential event is an experience – an immersive adventure that aims to bridge the gap between a brand and its consumers, enhancing selling potential by creating a memorable experience. This being said – make sure people remember your event for all the right reasons! We can’t stress enough how important it is to prepare for every eventuality. As the author Howard Huff once said, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” How topical with this week’s weather!

If you want to hear about how we can help you with any element of your event planning, be it experiential or corporate, outdoors or indoors, please get in touch today!

Dinerama in daylight

May’s top 3 experiential venues

Hello everyone – us again! This week in our live experiential blog series, we are exploring our favourite unique venues for experiential events in London.

There are so many venues in and around London that are great for so many different reasons. Whether it’s an exhibition hall in the Docklands, a warehouse in Shoreditch or a hotel in Mayfair, for us, the venue is up there with the most important elements of a successful event. Of course, different events require different types of spaces. The beauty of experiential events is they can be as weird and wonderful as you like, so the more unique the better! Keep reading for our top 3 venues of the week.

  1. Dinerama

This East London gem is a former truck yard with two levels, rooftop areas (with retractable roof to help with our wonderful English weather!) and multiple different spaces to hire and transform into your own experiential activation!

Capacity: 1,000 pax

Location: Shoreditch

Close to: Shoreditch High Street and Liverpool Street stations (2 and 6 minutes respectively)

Good for: Brand launches, concept parties, brand installations, summer events, festival-type events, food-based events

Why we like it: We love the fact it’s a former truck yard – there’s something so cool about dressing up and attending an event in a space that was once used for something so completely different.

Shows the capacity of the venue with a crowd of people

  1. The Conservatory, Barbican

If you want to create your event in the jungle but don’t quite have the budget to get you there, then look no further than this tropical dream in the City. Located in the Barbican, this small but versatile venue sells itself – there’s no end to the amazing and unique events you could create here! It’s also a perfect place to come and sit if you’re at a loose end on a Sunday afternoon.

Capacity: 150 standing

Location: City of London

Close to: Barbican and Moorgate stations (6 and 7 minutes respectively)

Good for: Jungle-themed events, interactive events, product launches, intimate brand activations, unique dinner experiences

Why we like it: This jungle paradise is home to over 1,000 tropical plants and fish. The key to a great experiential event is the element of surprise – this beautiful venue will wow your attendees and is sure to leave them with a unique experience they won’t forget in a hurry!

The conservatory by night with coloured lights

  1. Garden Museum

This striking venue is a fully-functional event space while maintaining it’s artistic and historical influences within a converted church, making it an ideal location for a slightly more edgy or creative experiential event.

Capacity: 320 standing

Location: Bankside, opposite Westminster and the Houses of Parliament

Close to: Lambeth North and Vauxhall stations (11 minute and 14 minute walk respectively)

Good for: Fashion shows, car launches, product launches, interactive displays

Why we like it: This venue is really different because it’s a traditional church space mixed with beautiful gardens, giving you a sense of calm while being slap-bang in the middle of London.

Glass box view

We hope this blog has helped if you’re on the search for a unique London venue – we think these three have great potential to host some incredible experiential events!

We’re constantly on the lookout for up-and-coming venues to add to our little black book so, if you have a suggestion, please get in touch! Stay tuned for the next blog in our experiential series, which will be tackling some of the financial elements of creating an experiential event!

Experiential Events – what’s all the hype about?

The events industry is an ever-changing, fast-growing and rapidly-developing industry, full of twists, complete 180° turns and, as we all know, no two days are ever the same. With this in mind, certain industry trends naturally come and go, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of what’s ‘fashionable’ in the events world. One such trend is the coveted experiential events of which we are seeing more and more.

But wait, what actually is an experiential event?

According to Ecoconsultancy (2018),  an experiential event “creates a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience”. Basically, an experiential event bridges the gap between client and consumer, and enhances selling potential by creating a memorable experience that is actually going to last in people’s minds. The goal is to make people enjoy themselves and, in turn, reap the rewards this enjoyment brings your business or brand. There are two types of experiential events – B2B and B2C. In this blog, we’ll be focusing on B2C but, no fear – we’ll be covering B2B later on in our LIVE experiential events blog series!

Ok, but why choose an experiential event?

Well, experiential events are great for everyone. Humans, especially in this day and age, love to compete with each other. Now, as clever #eventprofs, we can tap into this integral part of our nature and harness it to our advantage. As an attendee, we want an engaging experience that is memorable and allows us to impress our family/friends/frenemies on Instagram and, in the long run, makes it more likely to encourage us to buy a product or experience that makes our lives easier in some way. Additionally, we are so busy in our day-to-day lives, that if we get the chance to attend an event which is just a little bit different and doesn’t necessarily feel like attending a work event, it will leave a longer-lasting impression on us than a boring event that is the same as every other event we attend on a regular basis.

One (slightly extreme) example that springs to mind is Redbull’s Stratos campaign which, as you all probably remember, saw skydiver Felix Baumgartner set a world record for the highest skydive…  from 128,000 feet. Now, we’re not saying if you drink Redbull you’ll be able to do this too, but doesn’t it tie in perfectly with their tagline of ‘Redbull Gives You Wings’? Not only this, but people felt like they had been part of something truly amazing as they intently watched the whole event. This is a prime example of ingenious experiential marketing that will be remembered for years to come and probably saw their sales, ahem, skyrocket.

Of course, as our clients will attest, the benefits of experiential events are obvious – spending more time and effort putting a little more creativity into the way products are marketed and events are created undoubtedly result in a higher ROI – and this isn’t just limited to the attendees themselves. I have touched upon Instagram but this goes far beyond putting a photo on your personal account and that being the end of the story. The social media phenomenon has drastically changed the face of brand development and ‘spreading the word’. For this reason, even if your amazing experiential event only has 50 attendees, if each of those share their experience on social media platforms, your event is actually reaching 10 times (if not more) the number of actual attendees. It also makes your event more elusive, in turn, increasing demand and, to some extent, also enhances trust in your brand. If a potential customer is there experiencing your product and can see it and try it for themselves, they will hopefully be more encouraged to carry on using it.

One great example is IKEA’s event back in 2011 – in response to a Facebook petition to have a sleepover in IKEA, they decided to allow 100 lucky people to spend the night at their Essex store, complete with manicures and massages. This created huge social media coverage, showed IKEA in a charitable and good-natured light and most likely increased their bed sales!

The way I look at it is twofold – we as humans A) love to have fun, and B) love a freebie. Therefore, the combination of an amazing, unique and fun event, coupled with a fun freebie or something a bit different than the usual swag of water bottles, tote bags and USBs we all seem to hoard after an event, is a winning one and one that is more likely to engage new customers. Ever heard of the saying ‘Happy Customer, Happy Client’? Probably not but, if you’re in professional services like us, you’ll understand what we mean!

To prove our point, take a look at these statistics:

  • 74% of attendees at an experiential event say they are left with a more positive view of a company and its products than before the event (Event Marketing Institute)
  • 70% of attendees become regular customers after a great experiential event (EventTrack).

I don’t know about you, but these stats seem good to me, and really demonstrate the power of an experiential event. For this reason, we think this is one trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Hopefully, this blog has given you a little more insight into experiential events and why they could benefit your brand. I will leave you now with a tiny bit of food for thought – psychologically, we are more likely to remember something that has a semantic connection rather than acoustic or visual connections. To break this down, if something has more understanding and meaning behind it, we are more likely to remember it than if we have just seen or heard it, such as on an advertisement on TV.

So, next time you sit down with your boss or your marketing team, bear in mind that sometimes we need to break down the ‘corporate barrier’ and give people something a little more meaningful and a lot more fun.

If you have any questions or just want to chat more about experiential events and how we could help you, please get in touch!

Take another look: Dubai

We visited the UAE last year and shared our thoughts on the location for events of all kinds. This time, our marketing coordinator Izzie was invited on an incredible trip by Visit Dubai and Alpha DMC to take a look at Dubai in closer detail.

If you’re looking to take your team, clients or work pals on an amazing incentives trip, then look no further than the up and coming incentives hotspot of Dubai!

Where to stay

When considering a destination for an incentives trip, at the forefront of any #eventprofs mind is that it needs to be fun, educational and, most of all, easy. For this reason, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Dubai could be the perfect place for your group to stay. Located just 15 minutes from the airport, it has luxurious rooms, 3 restaurants, a bar (this bar, called Vault, also gives out 3 free drinks on Mondays for Ladies Night!) on the 78th floor and a large pool area to relax in. They also have great meeting spaces should you wish to squeeze in some strategising!

The Palazzo Versace could also be a great option for high-end groups. With intricate Versace detailing from the shower tiling down to the tea cups and the chair stitching, this hotel is a bit of a novelty and really delivers the wow factor. It has 3 large pools, impressive common areas if individuals want a bit of me time! The food is delicious and you can even do some shopping at the onsite Versace shops.

Another beautiful hotel in the Jumeirah Beach Residences area of Dubai is the impressive Ritz-Carlton. We had a spectacular drinks reception and dinner on the beach here, complete with a warming fire-pit for when it got a little chilly and the most incredible views of the skyline. This would be a really impressive evening for groups who want the beach feel without compromising luxury and great facilities. Simply stunning!

If you are looking to take your groups to have a little evening fun – Wavehouse at Atlantis The Palm is a relaxed diner-style restaurant that serves great food and even has a bowling alley, old school arcade games and a wave machine! Another great excuse to have a little competitive fun!

What to do

If you have a couple of thrill seekers in your group, a trip to the Dubai Autodrome could be just what you need to let your hair down! When you arrive, everyone gets their own tracksuit and helmet before settling in to your go kart and letting loose on the track! An hour on the track is brilliant to unwind and introduce a bit of healthy competition between the group!

Dubai has a really interesting history and culture, and I personally had so many questions about life in this part of the world. If your group also wants to learn about the Emirati culture, taking a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a real eye-opening experience where you can freely ask any questions you may have without fear of judgement or causing offence. The staff there are really open and happy to answer anything, and you can even try your hand at dressing like an Emirati and sample a traditional Arabic breakfast. Following this, you can take a stroll through the Al Fahidi Historical District and the surrounding souks to stock up on some spices or even some gold! Afterwards, be sure to visit the fascinating Etihad Museum to learn about Dubai’s history and the UAE as a whole.

No visit to Dubai would be complete without a trip to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, which is accessible through the largest shopping mall in the world! Take your group on the world’s fastest lift to the 125th floor to see a spectacular view of Dubai, including the Palm and the surrounding desert outside the city. There is also a hotel and several restaurants inside the Burj Khalifa, so if you really want to impress, a dinner followed by a trip to the top to see Dubai at night would be a really memorable experience for everyone.

Our final incentives activity (but by no means the end of the list) was the incredible Desert Safari by Platinum Heritage. We were picked up in 4x4s and driven just 45 minutes outside the city into the Arabian desert. We were given scarves to protect our heads and then jumped into some vintage open-top Land Rovers for a drive through the beautiful desert. We visited 3 camps Platinum Heritage have available for groups (ranging in price but all beautiful and even with accommodation so you can sleep under the stars!) before arriving at the camp where we spent our evening. Platinum Heritage can arrange an amazing falcon show (the falcon is the national symbol of the UAE) before letting you try some traditional Arabic activities such as camel riding, henna tattoos and shisha. Then, your group can sit down to a delicious traditional dinner of salad, breads and hummus, followed by rice with meats and vegetables with different accompaniments. We even tried some camel, but luckily not the same camel we rode earlier! After dinner, your group can be treated to a traditional Arabic dance with imitation guns, which you can even join in on! They then switch off all the lights in the camp and you can spend some time stargazing – seeing the stars in the Arabian Desert really is something else and can make for a truly memorable end to a jam-packed incentives trip.

This trip taught me so much about what is on offer in Dubai, as well as their culture, cuisine and way of life. As an incentives destination, I would recommend 4 days as the perfect amount of time and really you couldn’t ask for much more on offer – there are incredible activities, luxurious accommodation, delicious food and, of course, don’t forget about the stunning weather! During winter, Dubai enjoys temperatures of around 22 degrees, whereas in summer it can rise up to 45 degrees. If the summer temperatures put you off, be rest assured that there are also so many water-based activities that you will easily be able to cool off. Dubai is a beautiful and intriguing destination which should be on everybody’s bucket list whether it be for business, pleasure, or both!

Christmas in Copenhagen

Did you think Christmas was far behind us? Well, we have one last opportunity to reminisce! It’s no secret that no one does Christmas quite like the Scandinavians. Our marketing and events coordinator, Izzie, was lucky enough to experience a taste of Danish Christmas and the cosiness concept of ‘Hygge’. We caught up with her to get the lowdown on all things Copenhagen!

When I received an exciting invite from the Copenhagen Convention Bureau to fly to Copenhagen for an educational trip, I was practically jumping with excitement. I’d never been to the Danish capital before but had always wanted to visit as I had heard it’s a beautiful fairytale-like city with amazing food and traditions – especially at Christmas.

Nyhavn’s classic example of Copenhagen colour

On the 12th December, I made my way to a private lounge at Heathrow, where I met the other lovely #eventprofs I would be spending the next couple of days with. After a short and comfortable flight, we landed in Copenhagen and were whisked straight away to the jaw-dropping AC Hotel Bella Sky – which is an incredible event space to say the least. We were treated to a beautiful dinner at the rooftop restaurant Sukaiba – the food there is a Danish-Japanese fusion and just to die for! We then headed back to our hotel – the Marriott, which had gorgeous views of Copenhagen across the water.

After a restful night’s sleep, we enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast before embarking on our extremely well-organised, action-packed day. We were led to a heated boat for a peaceful canal tour, complete with fairy lights and hot chocolate. This included a visit to the iconic Little Mermaid, before eventually stopping at the breathtaking Copenhagen Opera House.This is a beautiful event space and we were treated to an exclusive private performance by Gert Henning Jensen.

Copenhagen Opera House

Next, we were led through the city to Hotel Phoenix, where we had a great time decorating Christmas cookies, before feasting on an exquisite Danish Christmas dinner at the Michelin Star restaurant The Standard. Thankfully, we then had an opportunity to walk off all the food with a charming walking tour through the city courtesy of Hadler DMC, stopping at Amalienborg (the Royal residence), the famous colourful street Nyhavn and other landmarks, before being taken to yet another exciting Christmas craft activity of paper heart making, alongside a warming cup of tea and cookies. A minibus awaited us to whisk us to our final christmas craft activity of the day – candle making at the event venue Oksnehallen which was not just educational; it provided me with a nice homemade christmas present for my mum!

Hotel Phoenix

After some chill time (and a nap) at the hotel, we all got dressed up and headed to the most beautiful Christmas display I have ever seen at Tivoli Gardens. We were served a wonderful traditional Danish dinner here (with lots of wine to boot!) and then left to our own devices to enjoy the park in all its dazzling glory – this took the form of drinking lots of mulled wine (or, as it’s locally known, Glogg) and going on all the rides. Tivoli Gardens should seriously be on everyone’s bucket list – it was absolutely stunning and an evening to remember.

Tivoli Gardens

The following day, we all woke up and walked off the (slightly) fuzzy heads with another walking tour, this time by Copenhagen This Way. This led us to our next site visit at the Skt Petri hotel, which taught us how to make Danish doughnuts, before we then visited one of the most unique hotels I have ever seen – a meat-themed hotel in the meat-packing district. This hotel was actually very beautifully designed and had some great meeting spaces. We were treated to yet more Danish sweet treats here before enjoying some lunch and beers at a local brewery. Our last site visit was the Park Inn Radisson, which has a handy airport location, and involved a mulled wine making activity and treasure hunt.

Park Inn Radisson

One of the things that struck me about this trip is how welcoming everyone was and how much they want to show you their traditions and love of making things cosy, or ‘hygge’. In fact, on arrival at the hotel on the first night, we were presented with our very own ‘Christmas Hygge Kit’, which we added to as we gathered things during the trip. I ended up flying home with everything from tea to a beautiful christmas tree decoration and, of course, lots of treats; thankfully we were given a 23kg baggage allowance! The flight home left me feeling like I wanted to move to Copenhagen – it is without a doubt one of my new favourite cities. It was a simply magical trip and I will most definitely be returning, be it for business or pleasure.

Hadler DMC Cruise

To find out more about destinations for incentives, click through to our incentives page or contact us.

departures board

The roaming life of #eventprofs

This month, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, shares her experience of how to cope with the travelling life of the #eventprof. Not only cope, but actually enjoy it!

When I tell people I’m an events planner, most of the times I get the so-called WOW effect, “OMG, you lead such a glamourous life!”

Honestly, I can’t deny that sometimes I replay some of the stories in my head and I can even be ‘jealous’ of the awesome experiences I’ve lived. I’m so grateful for all the places I’ve visited, the amazing people I’ve met and the crazy stories I’m now able to tell.

One big truth, however, is that we lead a pretty unstable, stressful and unbalanced lifestyle. We work outrageous hours and are often away from home for long periods of time… any idea on how to cope with that??

  1. Plan your balance

This may sound weird, I know. At work, we plan and plan and plan for everything to go perfectly smoothly – we have to do lists, run-throughs, roadmaps, memos, lists and more lists of who does what, when and where. When it comes to planning our own time, however, we immediately become reticent and start feeling guilty of taking the time for us rather than be fully immersed in the job.

Remember, there is a time for everything and YOU are the sacred space for all the awesome planning and amazing organising. If you don’t take care of that sacred space (your body, mind, soul and spirit) the castle you are building will have foundations made of thin air and it may collapse at any moment.

Whether you are home or away, plan some time for you. You can pick amongst some of your favourite activities:

  • morning stretching, a phone call to your BFF/partner/son/daughter/ parent
  • a short meditation
  • a breathing exercise
  • reading two pages of your latest book
  • 10 minutes in the sauna.

OK, I get it, this won’t be possible ALL the time but… THIS IS YOUR TIME… Ideally try to have some YOU time at least twice a day!

  1. Plan your food

Travelling can be quite hard on the diet! Hotel breakfasts, restaurants, pastries, sodas, coffees, etc. I totally get that (a) when we are tired we just want comfort food, (b) that sometimes we just do not have the choice and (c) that sometimes a green smoothie just doesn’t do it!

healthy lunch box

Prepare yourself a healthy lunchbox to keep your energy up

Planning your food intake does not need to become an extra stress added to your day. It needs to be fun, joyful and put a smile on your face. If you manage to be reasonable 75% of the time, you are on the right track and surely you know some tricks to keep you going. Try carrying a banana with you, drinking lots of water and herbal teas, possibly trying not to eat too late for dinner, have healthy snacks hidden in your bag and, the most important sustenance of all, laugh at least twice a day!

  1. Pack smart

Packing has become one of my favourite activities! I love to challenge myself to play Tetris, packing as much into my suitcase as humanly possible. Learning how to combine outfits with minimum mixing and maximum matching whilst still looking professional and feeling comfortable is a talent I’ve learned over the years.

Please know that I used to be the worst packer ever! Every trip was an overweight charge, a crazy amount of clothes and yet I felt like I had nothing to wear! The trick is to have in your wardrobe things that you love wearing and mixing basics like jeans with elegant, understated chic items. Don’t worry f you don’t change your shoes every day… no one will notice!

Conscious packing will help you save time, it will make you feel comfortable with what you are wearing every day and it will make you enjoy traveling light!

  1. Making memories

Memories to be grateful for are food for the soul and yet sometimes we forget about making them. We’re so busy and often surrounded by stress, we forget we’re also here to make memories. Who said work had to be tough and unpleasant? Work is such a huge part of our lives, we’d be left with very little time to enjoy if we didn’t have fun at work. Each event, each person you work with or meet, each special dish you savour, each crazy thing you need to do to save the event, can magically become a memory to be grateful for.

Making memories: some of the Sleek Events team taking a boat trip in Stockholm after an event

That is, of course, if you allow gratitude to come in and let go of whatever is not needed.

  1. Sharing

A very usual comment I get in the event business is a frustration of thinking that nobody understands the pressure we are under and that nobody appreciates how much we actually work. Honestly, even if that was true, what’s the benefit of thinking that way?

Are you looking for validation? Is showing off the amount of work we have an excuse to say that we don’t have time for anything else?

What if we could drop that thought and explore different possibilities? What if we started talking to our partner/kids/friends and explain how our days go? When we’re away from home, wouldn’t you love to have someone supporting you? To have someone that not only understands what you do, but actually becomes your partner in crime, knows that you are OK and that you love sharing your life? Wouldn’t you be happy to know your loved ones are happy for you?

Bottom line is… the more you align to your values, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the little things. Fill your life with people who can back you up, with no judgment, just listening and knowing we’re here for one another.

With love and light,

Francesca xo

northern light over Reykjavik

48 hours in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is not only difficult to spell but it’s also crazy to get to grips with its extended hours of daylight or lack of it depending on what time of year you visit.

Located just two degrees south of the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Its location means that during the winter months the city only gets four hours of sunlight on the shortest day. However, during the longest day in the summer months, when we were visiting, Reykjavik sees almost 24 hours of daylight!

sunset

We had almost 48 hours of daylight to research the best of Reykjavik and the surrounding area for our incentive travel programme, having wrapped up another successful client event in the city.

Here are our top tips to make the most out of a city break in Reykjavik…

ONE

Absolutely hire yourself a car. You’ll find a theme running through this blog – Iceland is expensive. Getting the cheapest travel option from the airport to the city is by bus but, if you value your time, the 1 ½ hour ride is pretty unbearable whilst a taxi will cost you at least €100 – and so your wallet starts to become a lot lighter before you’ve even reached your hotel! Having a car not only gives you the obvious flexibility for sightseeing but it works out significantly cheaper when there is more than one of you travelling together.

TWO

Eating and drinking (and doing most other things) in Iceland is expensive and even more so in the city. Your concierge is likely to offer you the chance to buy a voucher booklet when you check-in – our advice is to go for it! In 48 hours we managed to work our way through our favourite restaurants and bars using these discount vouchers saving us in excess of €200. If you’re with a larger party than just our two average-size tummies, you will save a fortune. We love sushi and didn’t find a bad sushi bar in the whole of our trip.

Discount vouchers

Read more about the voucher booklets on Reykjavik’s Grapevine

Alcohol is so expensive here that we were willing to give it up for the weekend, that’s right, tea-totalling event profs! Of course, that didn’t last for long and here are our two favourite bars we stumbled across. Slippbarinn is part of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina near Old Harbour, Reykjavik’s first ever cocktail bar and because imported beer is so expensive Kaldi Bar is a great option as they serve several of their own locally-brewed lighter beers.

THREE

The hotels in the city centre are fantastic and great if you’re planning to just spend time walking through the city but, if you plan to go farther afield, we found choosing a hotel on the outskirts much more convenient – and it meant we could park our hire car for free.

Reykjavik Lights hotel

FOUR

If you like horses, this is the destination for you. Did you know there are around 80,000 horses in Iceland with a total population of just over 330,000 people – one horse for nearly one third of the people in Iceland! Whilst the Icelandic horse is a prized breed, don’t be surprised to see horse on the menu in some restaurants.

Icelandic horses

FIVE

Do plenty of research if you’re not visiting via one of our organised, luxury incentive travel programmes. We wanted to fit a couple of tourist destinations into our short visit and were given some great advice by Guide to Iceland. We’d recommend browsing their website before you go to plan in your excursions.

We love a spa like any girl, so were intrigued by the Blue Lagoon tour – apparently one of the 25 wonders of the world. This famous geothermal spa has silica mud under your feet which is said to have healing properties so we smothered it all over us – we have not included a photo for that! You can choose all sorts of premium spa packages but, as this was Erin’s favourite tour she says, “Be aware that you’ll be sharing the facilities with people who don’t mind picking up the bathing robe you’ve paid for!”

You might have noticed our love for a bit of Richmond’s nature on our Instagram so we couldn’t miss out on the whale watching tour run by family-owned tour operator, Elding. We chose to get as close as possible to the action and took a rib tour – this is also the fastest way to get to any wildlife activity. Just bear in mind that it’s extremely chilly, even in the summer months so dress appropriately.

Whale watching tour

SIX

From horses to cats… if you’re more of a cat person then Reykjavik has the country’s first cat cafe – Kattakaffihusid. This isn’t just a cafe where you can take your cat for a saucer of milk, this cafe now hosts 3 homeless cats at a time from the organisation Villikettir and approved guests can give them a forever home. Visit their Facebook page to find out more about their range of tasty cakes and cute kitties looking for a home.

 

SEVEN

We actually found the cat cafe whilst walking in the city to find one of its most well-known landmarks and possibly the most funky church we’ve ever come across, Hallgrímskirkja. Named after the 17th-century clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of Hymns of the Passion, the church’s impressive stepped, concrete facade is an ode to modernism and a reminder of the Icelandic landscape. It’s well worth a visit and they have a varied programme of concerts on throughout the year.

STUNNING REYKJAVIK

We packed in quite a lot in 48 hours but we also got some time to stop and reflect. My absolute favourite moment of the whole trip was driving round the Golden Circle Tour.

Golden circle tour map

We came round a bend in the road and the landscape opened up in front of us to show the bluest sky I have ever seen. The beautiful scenery around Reykjavik is enough to make anyone stop and feel grounded to the Earth and all of its natural wonders. Definitely worth a place on our incentive travel list.

Stressed lady

The top 5 most stressful things in events and how to combat them

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of organising your mum’s 60th birthday party or your best mate’s hen do, you’ll know that event management comes a close second to the stress of moving home or shopping on Christmas Eve.

We’ve compiled our top 5 most stressful things when it comes to events and how you can deal with them and sometimes completely avoid them altogether.

1) Shoe-string budget

We would all love a luxury lifestyle on pocket change but let’s go back to the real world. If you’ve got a shoe-string budget then you’re going to need to set expectations and plan your event in minute detail. You’ll need to spend a lot of time researching best deals and negotiate every item on your plan.

At Sleek Events, we’re lucky to benefit from bulk-buying discounts and preferred-client prices. Using an agency will come with a management fee but the savings you make elsewhere could make the fee pay for itself several times over.

2) Setting a date

People have such busy lives, one of the most challenging elements of an event project is getting agreement on the date. Your best bet is to set a date as early as possible and come to terms with the fact that not everyone will be able to attend.

We recommend sending regular event reminders including a physical “save the date” promotional item to ensure a good level of attendance.

3) Changing minds

When someone has an idea for an event and you know that they love the idea but their guests won’t, it can be a tricky conversation. Conducting research to back up the popularity of other options is a sure-fire way of convincing someone to reconsider – how great would it be to throw the event of the year?

Events usually have a desired outcome, more than just an objective to hold the event itself – generate enquiries for a product or become the favourite granddaughter. If you can prove your ideas will address these goals, you can influence change.

4) Last-minute requests

Whether the whole event is late in its inception or just one part of an event is changed at the eleventh hour, accommodating last-minute changes can throw you off balance. You can be the most organised person on the planet and the ideal choice to manage an event but there are plenty of people who are not!

If you take on an event, you need to be a ‘yes’ person with a little black book full of useful contacts to make things happen.

5) Supplier slip-ups

Ever got to the point where you think everything is on track and then something goes wrong and it’s completely out of your control? Technical issues are a common bug bear when one wire is plugged into the wrong socket or the electricity is cut off to fix something down the road.

At Sleek Events, we have spent the last few years assembling a core team of dependable suppliers. From lighting and sound specialists to freelance hostesses, our team are loyal to us because we are loyal to them. And in our time as event professionals, we’ve faced many situations which our suppliers have stepped up to provide a sensible alternative such as a vegan cupcake or a power generator!

Our top stressbusters

During an event project, our “must have” list will save you:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day exercising – your mind may be exhausted but if your body isn’t tired then you may find it difficult to…
  • Get a full night’s sleep, every night
  • Keep a note pad and pen handy at all times – once you’ve written something down, your mind will be clear to concentrate on the most immediate need
  • Download a calming app – the sound of waves on a beach or birds in the countryside – whatever will create a calming oasis for a timeout. We like Headspace for meditation made simple.
  • Make sure you have a friend on speed dial to vent your frustrations – and ideally, they will be someone who can offer suggestions to help
  • Don’t let an event overtake your personal downtime – if events isn’t your full-time job, use a local coffee shop as an office space and keep home for home life.