As we deck the halls of our three venues in Bristol, London and Leamington Spa in preparation for the upcoming festivities, it’s a good time to reflect on an award-winning year that has seen Make Venues embark on a new era of ambitious growth, while leading on industry standards around sustainability, food and customer service.
We’ve had so many reasons to celebrate over the past 12 months. This time last year, Engineers’ House in Bristol was awarded the top conference centre and leading venue overall for a fourth year running in the BVA BDRC Venue Verdict Awards. As a company, we picked up ‘Best Small & Medium Sized Group’ and ‘Best Value for Money Group’ for a sixth consecutive year, winning one of the most prestigious accolades at the M&IT Awards as a result of this performance.
In January, we then welcomed Mark Thurman as the new General Manager of Woodland Grange in Leamington Spa, again expanding our senior team to push the business on, through what has to be seen as a ‘turbulent’ year for our industry.
Our new Make Venues brand, unveiled in February, was a response to a changing world. It has modernised our offer, ensuring that our high standards of service remain key in this, an accelerated age of experience marketing with increased demand for quality-led business events.
It also reflected how far we, as a venue brand, have come. We’re now being recognised as one of the big hallmarks of quality in the world of meetings and events, and we wanted a brand that reflected this proudly.
2019 will be characterised by the sustainability movement. The expectations of clients and customers have grown incredibly over the last 18 months, and it is the job of forward thinking businesses to lead this charge, not be a passenger on it. That’s why we were delighted when Woodland Grange was awarded Gold Status for its sustainable operations by IACC - a fantastic achievement that validated the great strides we’ve taken in advancing a more responsible operational policy in areas such as waste management, water conservation, air quality, plus food and beverage. It underlines that when this business commits itself, it can deliver real quality.
In May, we launched a food initiative to focus delegate attention, not only on ethical, sustainable and locally sourced event catering, but also to remind everyone of the basics of what good venue food is all about - colour, variety and nutrition. An example of this is our salad bars. They’re vibrant, colourful and intriguing and positioned so that delegates need to walk past them before moving onto other options. With delegates demanding both healthier options and indulgent treats, we are focused on ensuring that nutritious and attractive choices remain core to our food offer.
With food, we’re again looking to develop a brand associated with quality, but also values. We care deeply about food in this business, we take our responsibility to feed healthy, nutritious, but also delightful meals to our guests incredibly seriously and are proud of our progress here.
Our commitment to the conversation around improving venue food saw Make Venues Managing Director, David Vaughton chair an insightful focus group during The Meetings Show at Olympia London. It featured representatives from Barclays, The Association of MBA’s, The Live Group and Black Box Partnership. Our continued commitment to sustainability standards meanwhile, saw Make Venues pledge its support to the mia’s #20PercentLess plastics campaign.
As the weather warmed up in June, Woodland Grange launched its popular fire-pits. Groups spent summer evenings alfresco, toasting marshmallows and sipping chilled rose, and we were able to reflect once more on our ability to create business environments that challenge, but also reward our guests.
During July, our progressive approach to being a responsible business, culminated in our Make Venues sustainability initiative, whereby we shared best practice with other venues on more ways to keep improving on sustainability in order to reduce our collective impact on the environment.
There’s a whole host of ways we can all #MakeADifference, ranging from recycling and responsible sourcing to improving energy and waste efficiencies. We shared 30 tips and ideas on our @Make_Venues twitter feed. Take a look and give us a follow!
By August, we were planning our Christmas shared party nights offer and contemplating three other Cs of event planning - content, creativity and consistency. In September, we had the opportunity to talk to planners about the importance of these elements at our Gin reception and sizzling barbecue evening at Woodland Grange.
October saw Broadway House in London expand its meetings space by opening two more rooms to meet the demand. While in November, all the hard work and input from our venue chefs into our food initiatives were rewarded when George Midgeley, Head Chef, at Woodland Grange, picked up the prestigious ‘best main course’ accolade at the Venues of Excellence annual ‘Cook & Serve’ awards.
It really has been a fantastic year and we’re now looking forward to letting our hair down and celebrating with staff and customers. We look forward to inviting you to one of our fantastic venues in the New Year. From everyone at Make Venues, we wish you a season of festive health and happiness, and business prosperity for the year ahead.