Holding a Great Drinks Reception
After eight hours of listening to speakers, interacting in workshops and meeting exhibitors it’s nice to be able to look forward to networking over the day’s activities with some well-deserved refreshments. This month we look at what makes a good drinks reception and how to keep delegates enthused after a long day at an event.
With multiple conferences a year at the BDC the team at Terrapinn are never short of fresh ideas and over the years have brought some inspirational thinking to the table when it comes to their receptions. They find themes that fit with the content of their events and use these as a basis for not only the drinks, but also the food and the entertainment. We ask Experience Manager Geri Hutchison her top tips for engaging delegates.
“Do your research! Immerse yourself within the current markets. What’s out there? Who can you use? Investigate and most importantly understand your target audience. Brainstorm and use the people around you. Visuals assist with the development of your ideas (everybody loves Pinterest!) True budgets can be limiting, but try to be creative with what you can do… just don’t run out of wine! Overall, you want to engage your audience in an ‘experience’ by appealing to their 5 senses: sight, sound, scent, taste, touch… whilst always keeping your brand top of mind!”
Venue partners, the Good Eating Company have been working at the Business Design Centre for over 14 years and in his time, Liam Keating has worked on an endless variety of events. He has created cuisines for everything from private banquets, to a Czech restaurant during the Olympics, through to themed receptions from around the world. Most recently he worked on a Mexican party complete with a mariachi band, providing bespoke cocktails and canapes to match. He agrees that you need to be creative and tells us how to overcome the challenge of making sure visitors want to stay till the end of the day.
“I’ve seen many events in my time here and delegates always enjoy themselves the most when they are pleasantly surprised to see something different. We are lucky to be based in such a vibrant area like Islington and the problem with that is attendees can easily go out of the doors to find amazing pubs, bars and restaurants within seconds in any direction that they walk in. The challenge is to ensure people attending events spend networking time meeting the people they are there to see in a fun and inspiring environment. Whether events base their catering elements on the topic of their conference or pick an interesting theme that’s related, we’ll work together with organisers to realise their vision.”
The idea of planning something extravagant might not be in everyone’s budget but theming doesn’t have to cost the earth. Working closely with our in house signage team at Onward Display, we have seen everything from a beach to a Wild West saloon created in our conference rooms. Michael Brighty, Onward’s Exhibitions and Operations Director has worked with even the trickiest of requests;
“Onward have been based at the BDC for over 5 years now and in this time we have grown to take multiple offices within the venue. This has enabled us to produce graphics on a large scale which works well for event organisers as the team can design and print anything onsite. We can work with even the smallest of budgets to transform conference spaces however a client chooses. As with other venue partners being based here it means we can attend planning meetings and install our work once the space is empty. We have almost wrapped every piece of the BDC now, whether it’s the full escalator, the walls or the windows, there isn’t really an idea we can’t work with and that’s what is great about transforming the BDC to be even more visually spectacular than it is already – making the environment interesting and interactive is key to the visitor experience.”
So at the end of a long day, immerse your delegates in an alternative to heading straight home, by building an experience specific to the audience. Draw on the creativity of your suppliers and engage attendee’s senses producing an atmosphere which makes those last few hours of networking a joy rather than a chore.
Posted by Kate.