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Looking into the future of events at Lime Venue Portfolio's Beyond Conference

To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, Lime Venue Portfolio went beyond balloons and cakes to host a celebratory conference, inviting a variety of event professionals from across the industry to attend.

Amanda Thurlow with a crystal ball table centre

Proudly displaying their recently won C&IT award for best MICE sales team 2018 on the registration desk, the Lime Venue Portfolio team welcomed guests to the event at Edgbaston Cricket ground, Birmingham on 19 October.

Entering the main room, decorated and themed by Eventologists, guests passed through a glittering white tunnel made from branches. At the centre of the room a circular stage took the spotlight.

Kerry Wright, Head of Sales, Jo Kenny, Head of Central Sales and Deborah Simons, Central Sales Team Leader opened the conference with a self confessed moment of indulgence, sharing how the company had the vision to take the fragmented unique venue market and apply a commercial and streamlined approach, making museums, stadiums, zoos and other unusual event spaces more easily accessible to event bookers.

Lime Venue Portfolio team

The Lime Venue Portfolio team introduce the conference

Famously without socks but importantly with a hat, entrepreneur, author and speaker Jason Allan Scott was introduced as the MC for the day. Taking to the stage, Jason discussed how bread, horses, iphones and more were the simplest ideas behind the biggest innovations, encouraging attendees to think beyond the norm and market to the individual to gain success.

Jason Allan Scott, conference host, takes to the stage

Caleb Parker, Bold and Future in 15, followed, hosting a panel discussion on the future of events through the eyes of millennials. Elena Clowes, Unicorn Events, Leah Carter, Leah Naomi and Amber Maher, Eight PR formed the panel which, you guessed it, discussed technology, social media and avocados. However, rather than defining the millennial generation, this panel of frustrated event professionals were keen for the industry to recognise that these stereotypes do not define them.

Yes they wanted fresh new event spaces that contributed to the event experience, yes they wanted technology that also enhanced the guest experience, yes they wanted diverse menu choices that catered for the ever expanding dietary needs of their guests. But what event planner doesn’t want these things, millennial or not?

They believed in both taking part in and delivering authentic experiences. If an event claims to be immersive then millennials have expectations of how that should be and are too savvy to be oversold to. They believed in using technology but not just for the sake of it. They also believed in sustainable choices. If an event offers a digital ticket then organisers shouldn't insist on guests printing it out on paper! They believed in offering a wide choice of food, that did not leave those with dietary requirements feeling like their meal was lesser in comparison to their fellow event guests.

Caleb Parker hosts the millennial panel

Luckily, catering throughout the day at Edgbaston, was not only on trend but appealed to the demands of the millennial panel, with a selection of cuisines and dietary requirements considered. From healthy snacks to international food stations, from handmade ice cream to sweet carts and gin themed cocktails there was something that appealed to everyone.

Catering at Edgbaston Cricket ground

Jason returned to interview technology expert Rupert Barksfield, BigBearx. Virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain and crypto currency are all set to change the landscape of events. Rupert suggested the possibility that multiple event registration could soon be a thing of the past, as blockchain has the ability to modernise the process. Just one example of how technology can enhance the future event experience. Rupert dispelled the fear that technology would replace the need for face to face events “Events are very necessary. Human interaction is not going away but how technology drives that interaction is going to change significantly”,

Rupert Barksfield and Jason Allan Scott

Rupert Barksfield interviewed by Jason Allan Scott

Chef Andrew Walker, Chartwells, an unapologetically non-conventional character, advocated the idea that if you build your people then your people will build your business. He expanded on why it is important to pick a team carefully and shared his own rule - if he could imagine going on holiday with someone he could happily work with them.

He spoke about how his experiences in the hospitality industry had inspired him throughout his career and how food could become the metaphor for anything event planners are doing with their event. “Never under estimate the power of food” he exclaimed, when running off a list of life moments that people could connect food to.

He went on to encourage attendees to be brave and challenge everything. “The challenge is to be different but creativity is dead. It is very easy to get stifled in the corporate world. If you want to go beyond you need to increase creativity"

Chef Andrew Walker delivers a session

Leigh Cowlishaw, Capita Travel and Events lead the panel discussion on what event bookers want from the future of events with Ryan Curtis-Johnson, DRP Group, Letty Hill, ROSPA and Skevi Constantinou, The PA Way. The panel debated how the booking experience could be improved and some suggestions included having floor plans available to download on the venue website, researching the client to tailor the showround and more collaboration between suppliers to find the solution to clients briefs.

Leigh Cowlishaw hosts the event bookers panel

Holly Tucker, was the final speaker of the day. She talked about how she looked beyond, the also fragmented, independent makers market and created a platform for customers to purchase from many sellers in one place. Her three tips to future proof your business included: emotionally connect with your audience, have purpose and stand out.

She also spoke about how events helped retailers to connect with their customers. Although has been foremost an online retailer, they will be bringing their shopping experience offline and offering pop up events in different locations nearer to Christmas.

Holly Tucker interview

Jason Allan Scott concluded the conference with "If you aim to do something remarkable, to look ‘beyond’ you can make a big difference in the world”.

How do you think events will change in the next 10 years and what will have the biggest impact?

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