Cotton Court Business Centre

Conferencing

5 Things to Consider When Planning a Conference

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Planning and organising a conference requires a great amount of forethought and consideration. It can become very easy to become focused on the minute details, whilst missing important overall factors essential to the smooth running of your event.

Whilst I started my marketing journey in the world of music events, I’ve had to cut my teeth in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions world (or MICE as it’s known in the industry!) most notably when conducting my undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

It’s a high pressure industry, and one which is thriving in the UK. In fact, Venuefinder reports that a recent meeting industry association report notes a 14.4% increase in domestic bookings since the result of the Brexit referendum was announced.

Danny Bee, Managing Director of UK Media & Events, based at Cotton Court adds:

“The meetings and conference industry is booming at the moment. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of enquiries we’ve received over the last 12 months. They can be difficult to plan and manage, but incredibly rewarding. The key is to not overthink your plan, stick to what you know works and think of creative ways to engage with your delegates ”.

To help you plan your next conference and pick the most suitable venue, we’ve put together a few key considerations that you’ll want to factor in.

Location

If your delegates are coming from across the country, you’ll want to pick an easy to reach and known location. Ensuring good motorway, train and bus links are in reach of your venue are a must; and you might want to avoid major cities where there is likely to be congestion.

If your guests are mostly local based and you’re holding your event closer to home, you’ll still want to consider road and public transport links when deciding on your venue. An easily identifiable location is important to ensure your guests can find it, or at the very least make sure it’s findable on a sat nav!

If you can find a venue with free on-site parking then you’re onto a winner, or at the very least a low cost car park that has sufficient capacity and is in short range of the venue.

Cost

Let’s not beat around the bush. Cost is a consideration for most businesses and organisations. You’ll want to ensure that the venue you choose is value for money and most importantly within budget.

Most conference space providers will operate on a pricing scale, adjusting the cost based on factors such as number of delegates, room size, date, length of hire and any specific requirements you may have.

Technology

One of the most overlooked factors when planning business events are technology requirements. Check to see what facilities are available at your venue, and whether you will need to hire in any additional equipment.

There are a lot of venues out there that have diversified to add additional revenue streams to their business. From church halls to schools and community centres. Whilst these often provide a cost effective solution, they may not have the technology in-house that you require and the cost of your event can soon mount when you start hiring equipment.

Factor in whether you need a full tech suite with equipment such as conference call facilities, touch screen tv’s, projectors, audio equipment etc. Don’t forget the free wifi!

 

A conference utilising the first floor tech suite at Cotton Court

Size & Capacity

It goes without saying that you’ll need to find a venue that can hold all of your delegates, but people often get this wrong. It might be that you underestimate the number of attendees or your event is more of a success than you could have imagined. Play it on the safe side and find a venue that can not only scale up their capacity offering, accommodating for more guests, but can also provide smaller space if the event doesn’t attract as much attendance as hoped.

Food & Refreshments

Most venues geared towards conferences and business events will offer food and refreshments as an additional service on top of your hire fee. They’ll either be able to make it onsite or will use a third party caterer. Make sure you identify any specific dietary requirements of your delegates, and communicate them at the earliest stage to your venue.

It’s also worthwhile thinking about local alternatives. Some people will want to get away from the business environment for their dinner break, whilst others may want to eat something different than is on offer. Ideally if possible, pick a venue that has nearby shops, restaurants and food vendors to give your delegates the most choice and convenience possible.

A final word…

Whilst the specific requirements of your event and industry will dictate how you plan your conference and the factors you need to consider, the five factors we’ve discussed here are a good place to start. Don’t get stressed about your event, follow a clear process and don’t be afraid to lean on your venue for support or advice.

We pride ourselves on the level of customer service we provide here at Cotton Court, and regularly help our customers and prospective customers in the planning phase of their event. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you need some friendly advice or you have burning issues around planning your event!

Call us on 01772 507 767 or email conferences@cottoncourt.co.uk

Jack Barron

Marketing Director

Cotton Court Business Centre

Pink Link

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We had the pleasure of welcoming Pink Link in to the building last week, and Coral will be holding an event here monthly going forward.

Pink Link is a company that promotes female enterprise through their website, social media, networks, events and awards. I was asked to be this month’s guest speaker and informed the ladies about what we do here and the services that we offer. There was a varied amount of businesses there and it was great to meet and connect with them all.

A lovely group of ladies and all very welcoming to new members like myself. I even walked away with a goodie bag! Looking forward to the next one and meeting more lovely like minded business women.

For more information on Pink Link, please visit http://www.pinklinkladies.co.uk/

Rochelle Jeffrey.

Cloud Accounting – Xero Basics Workshop with Together We Balance

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Our client Alys Stewart of Together We Balance is running a Xero Basics course at Cotton Court next week! To sign up just visit the link at the bottom of the page.

Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services. Xero provides business owners with real-time visibility of their financial position and performance in a way that’s simple, smart and secure.
This workshop will cover the basics of using the Xero cloud accounting software to simplify your bookkeeping and accounting process and is suitable for Sole Traders, Business Owners, Staff involved with bookeeping data entry as well as bookkeepers and accountants who want to expand the software they can use with their clients.
Areas to be covered in this initial workshop include –
Company setup
Creating and editing customers and suppliers
Sales invoices, purchase invoices and credit notes
The Chart of Accounts
Bank Accounts, payments and receipts
Futher workshops are planned to include reporting, bank feeds, VAT returns, contra invoicing, project tracking, inventory control, integration and other, more advanced aspects. Dates are TBA. A discount code for these future will be available to all attendees.
PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN LAPTOP OR MACBOOK, remember your charger.

To sign up just click here!

Project Export Hosts Export Trade Surgery With Us

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Our clients Project Export have recently announced their latest surgery on Exporting Trade. This surgery though is slightly different, they’ll be joined by an associate company based in Budapest via skype to form a ‘Regional Insight’ hour.

They are happy to give first hand advice about doing business in Central and Eastern Europe, across to Russia and also to include the Balkan countries.

ProjectExport is made up of a group of international trade professionals, each with many years of experience in their respective disciplines. It is an entirely private initiative, driven by Exportaid and supported by experts in international selling and marketing, language and interpretation, contract and intellectual property law, Customs and regulatory requirements, documentation and logistics.

The event will take place on 7th June from 1pm

To find out more have a look at their website here.

Why using a professional meeting space is important

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It is very important for any small business to create a good impression. Whether it’s a potential employee or a big-money client, appearances and perceptions are everything in business.

An increasing number of small business startups have indicating that coffee shops are no longer an appropriate venue for holding business meetings. Business critical concerns are now being raised about hosting an important meeting in a café or coffee shop, with problems such as safety and security, professionalism and eavesdropping raised by SME owners.

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Professionalism is everything. A dedicated meeting or conference room is therefore much more beneficial to improve productivity and avoid any data or confidentiality leaks that could occur when holding a meeting in a public place.

It may also be the difference between instilling confidence in a potential client that you are adequately equipped to carry out the task at hand.

Some business feel they won’t be able to afford to book a meeting room until they are making mega bucks, but with us it is in fact possible to secure proper meeting space in a professional working environment.

We work with a host of business owners still happy to work from home and simply hire meeting space on an ad-hoc basis. We provide space for a whole host of business and are also ideal for job interviews, consultations and client briefings.meeting-space1Some small businesses often choose to use our serviced offices and our shared workspace as a flexible solution to finding meeting space as well as the next step up from working from home. Flexibility is the buzzword with serviced office space as most startups can secure workspace within days on short term contracts with minimal notice periods.

Our serviced offices and desk space come fully furnished, complete with manned reception staff and a host of additional services such as telephone answering, shared workspace, access to meeting rooms and conferencing facilities.desk-space-3With NO hidden costs for internet connectivity, line rental or business rates. We make it easy!

Our meeting space from an hour to as long as an entire week, depending on your requirements. Ask a member of our team for more information by either calling 01772 507 767 or email info@cottoncourt.co.uk

The importance of professional meeting space should never be underestimated by any new business. It will almost certainly be the difference between winning and losing new business.

We wish you the best of luck in your business and look forward to welcoming you to Cotton Court Business Centre

We Launch Digital Marketing Training

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Lancashire Digital Academy is offering a new funded training course to eligible businesses in the Lancashire area. The training course is about Digital Marketing Essentials.

On the 22nd May, I attended the first part of the new training course, which was run by Tom Stables from 3ManFactory.

Throughout the first session, I learnt about different ways of marketing on different social media. On the social media subject, I also learnt about social media as lead generation, brand monitoring and intelligence, and case studies to illustrate best practice.

The second part of the training was on the 29th May, in this session, I learnt about finding an audience when digital marketing, analysing current marketing activities and also looking at a digital marketing checklist development.

As well, we also discussed what language is appropriate to be used on Social media. For example, what tone you should be using when speaking to someone on social media.

At the training, the thing that I found useful was when we learnt about using different social media to market and advertise the business. For example, I learnt how to use Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest to advertise Cotton Court’s services.

This training was delivered in one of our conference rooms, here at Cotton Court.

Best of Britannia – North

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BOB is an event that showcases British companies that design or manufacture in the UK and opens with an exclusive preview evening to trade buyers and media on the first day, followed by two days of selling to the public and trade visitors.

In May this year, Best of Britannia is hosting its first BOB North, right here in Preston!

The event will take place in the historic Post Office building and Flag Market in Preston, which will follow the winning format of previous BOB events in London. Here, you will see that there will be the best of British brands, a first-class opportunity to meet and do business with other like-minded companies and to sell directly to a targeted group of discerning consumers, who are keen to buy products that are made in Britain.

Best of Britannia will be working with Marketing Lancashire to make sure that all the best brands from the North will be represented at the event, including the finest food, drink and entertainment!

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Also, on the 3rd of February this year, we held a Best of Britannia event at our venue, which 80 people attended.

The leader of Preston City Council, Councillor Peter Rankin said “Councillor Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council, said: “The Best of Britannia in ‘Proud Preston’ will be a marvellous showcase for quality products and for the city. It is a vote of confidence from great British manufacturers that Preston has been selected to host such a prestigious event.”

Agenda 2015 debate in LBV

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The Owner of Cotton Court, Rob Binns, featured in this month’s Lancashire Business View Magazine. The article that he is in covers Downtown in Business’s‘Round Table’ discussion, which was hosted at Preston’s College in December last year.

Experts from across the sectors and across the country were asked to consider Lancashire’s place in the Northern economy.

People that were also present for the discussion, included:

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Business Breakfast Success at Uclan Event!

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Business leaders from across the North West took part in the inaugural Breakfast Forum held by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). Inaugural forum attracts regional business leaders including our very own Robert Binns.Business_Breakfast_rdax_500x536

Business leaders from across the North West took part in the inaugural Breakfast Forum held by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Representatives from major banks, including Natwest, Yorkshire and the Co-operative, were in attendance alongside directors from Lancashire based firms such as 3ManFactory and Freshfield.

The popular event, held in UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio, focussed on leadership challenges and was run by UCLan’s Lancashire Business School and UCLan’s Innovation and Enterprise Team.

Dharma Kovvuri, Dean of the Lancashire Business School, said: “It was a fantastic event and a great opportunity for business people from across the region to meet and discuss relevant issues affecting the industry.  “It was also excellent that we could showcase what relationships UCLan has with a vast array of businesses and demonstrate how we can continue to help provide opportunities for funded business support, training and knowledge transfer partnerships with these companies.”

He added: “It was the first event of its kind for us and as it was so successful we’re hoping it will be a regular event on the UCLan calendar.”

The next forum will take place in March and it will be themed around a topic based on feedback from this recent event.

Cotton Court Business Centre is backing Boost

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LCC_We're backing Boost logo-01

Cotton Court Business Centre has thrown its weight behind Boost Business Lancashire, the £7.2million Lancashire Business Growth Hub.

Boost is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and offers a range of funded programmes to Lancashire businesses looking to grow.

The development and delivery partnership is between Lancashire Country Council Community & Business Partners, UCLan, Lancaster University, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire and Winning Pitch.

The aim of Boost is to grow the county’s economy by £20m and create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.

As part of the project, the growth hub has joined forces with the business support community to create Boost & Co, a membership group aiming to stimulate growth among businesses across the county.

Andrew Leeming, senior projects officer for Lancashire County Council, said: “We passionately believe that the wider business support community provides an invaluable service to growing businesses within Lancashire.

“Simply put, without the accountants, law firms, venture capital firms, banks, colleges, professional and business membership groups, media organisations and other relevant bodies, Lancashire would not be a great place to do business.

“By being part of Boost & Co, member firms can help their clients and members access and benefit from Boost’s funded business support programmes.”

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has provided £3.6million of funding to the Lancashire Business Growth Hub.

For further information visit www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk.