Cotton Court Business Centre

Training & Meeting Rooms

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

PRESTON CITY COUNCIL HOSTS PROCUREMENT PLAYERS

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Delegates from 9 cities across Europe have gathered in Preston with us to discuss boosting the local economy this week as part of an URBACT project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

This network of cities, known as Procure, is being led by representatives of Preston City Council. Procure is interested in investigating how procurement processes can be changed to better support the local economy. If they are successful in their application to enter Phase 2 of the URBACT project, they will be examining themes such as EU legislation, spend analysis, the role of social value in procurement, raising awareness of the procurement processes of SMEs, the impact of procurement and environmental procurement.

While visiting Preston, the delegates have discussed how they will proceed if their application to continue is successful; visited a traditional country pub; and had opportunities to experience our city centre.

Councillor Matthew Brown, Executive Member of community social justice, inclusion and policy for Preston City Council, says “It has been our pleasure to welcome our European partners to Preston. There’s a growing demand for innovative ways to boost the local economy and we are proud to provide leadership in this project. Much of our income is raised locally and it is important that we re-invest tax-payers money for the benefit of the local economy.

Now’s the time to rebalance the economy towards a fairer, democratic and more community-minded future. It’s great to have Preston at the heart of this initiative, which is gaining strength across Europe.”

WEST LANCS SCOUTS #TAKETHELEAD

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“You can do anything if you put your mind to it” – Pip, Chorley

So what’s this all about? Take the lead was held this weekend by West Lancs Scouts to help Explorer Scouts like us learn new skills so they can take the lead in their Scouting! It was a fantastic weekend where we met new people, learnt useful new skills and got to karate chop our DESCom! Planning our own Beaver/Cub fun day has helped us grow in confidence as leaders and proved that you can do anything if you put your mind to it!

“#takethelead has been inspiring and motivational!” – Adam, Lonsdale

On the Friday night after some exciting icebreakers we talked with some of the members of West Lancs Network about what it was all about. Network is the section after Explorers and it seems like a great opportunity! We are looking forward to when we are old enough to join, and hopefully the Network refresh will make Network even more exciting than it already is!

“I learnt lots about leadership and planning which I can use in both my Explorer unit and Cub pack” – Olivia, Preston

Our first session on Saturday was led by our Assistant County Commissioner for Cubs, Ann-Marie;
and was called ‘Major event planning’. Ann-Marie started off by talking us though how she planned events and what sort of paperwork she used and what ‘skill sets’ you should look for when forming a team for an event. Then she gave us different scenarios about different events to plan. Towards the end of the session we played a game highlighting the difficulties of planning an event! It was stressful and hectic, but a great and funny experience!

“An amazing way of meeting new people and developing leadership skills” – Chris – Ormskirk

After the event planning session we had a session on leadership from our County Youth Commissioner, Ollie. It was a great chance to develop my leadership skills and we will use the points and examples Ollie talked about to do that. We also set ourselves objectives to improve our skills and put them to the test in the future! Some of the most important skills we learnt were to listen to people when leading; and to do what we can to develop the skills of those in our team too!

“Great weekend with plenty of skills learnt as well as time for making new mates”- Adam – South Ribble

In the afternoon we had a session on Youth Shaped Scouting with Ollie and Jack. The session was influential to us in making us think about what should be on the programme and how we would go about adding it into our programmes. We believe that Youth Shaped Scouting is an important step in creating a better movement, a movement that is shaped and influenced by young people. It will be good because we know what we want to see and what we’d like to do!’

“I had a great time sharing views and experiences with Leaders and Explorers from other districts” – Elise-Marie – Fylde

After the Youth Shaped sessions we split into our Districts to plan an event! Our event in Fylde is a survival camp based on TV shows like ‘I’m a celebrity’ and ‘Lost’. We spent time planning details like the budget, location and what the camp would include. We had fun planning this as it gave us the independence and skills to organise our own events that we wanted to do. We can now go back to our own units, and plan our event further to ensure it happens in the next two years .The skills we have learnt will also come in handy later in life if we ever need to run an event in the future.

“This weekend has encouraged me to take on the role of a Young Leader” – Patrick – Blackpool

On the #takethelead weekend we planned a linking event between Scouts and Explorers to try and promote Explorers to the Scouts, called Linked-in. We thoroughly enjoyed planning our very own event! Blackpool doesn’t have one like it so we think it’s worthwhile. We can’t wait to get it going, and maybe carry it on every year. Planning this event has also opened our eyes to helping plan and lead other events.

“I will feel more confident when leading a team in the future” – Emily – Wyre

So why should you go on the next #takethelead? It’s a great way to meet new people and learn new skills; it’s full of information and really helpful tips to use for the future! We will all feel more confident when leading a group or event in the future. Overall the weekend was so fun and exciting, so I recommend it to anyone who wants to Take the Lead in West Lancs!

The next Take The Lead event is expected to be held on the weekend of 26-28th February! Keep checking Facebook for more details!


 

West Lancs Explorer Scouts | West Lancs Scouts

Twitter: @OllieScouts | @JackBullon | @WLSExplorers | @WestLancsScouts

office environment is more important than you think

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When workers talk about their ideal job, they’re usually concerned with two main concepts: the pay and the people. But there’s a third that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, and it’s one that can have a profound effect on your business and its workforce: the place. No one wants to spend forty hours a week in a windowless dungeon, shuffling across a grey carpet from one grey cubicle to the next. And if businesses don’t start to realise the value that their workers put on their environment, they may struggle to attract and retain the best staff.

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Recent research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that nearly half of the UK’s workers want upgrades to the properties they work in – and that a team’s surroundings can have a huge impact on how they feel about their job.

“With numerous industries currently fighting a war for talent, capable staff and skilled new joiners are like gold-dust for many companies,” says Paul Bagust, UK Commercial Property Director for RICS. “On that basis, businesses should be doing everything possible to recruit and retain the best people.”

“It’s disappointing, therefore, that many employers seem to be under-estimating – or perhaps not realising – the power of property in motivating, attracting and keeping staff. A well-constructed, designed and utilised office or workplace can pay huge dividends for the business that inhabits it.”

We took a look at a few of the highlights from the study: how your office can affect your workforce, and what the UK’s employees really want from a modern workplace.

The right workplace can boost recruitment

According the RICS’s survey of 1,000 UK employees, nearly nine in ten (89%) Brits who work indoors believe that the property is a major deciding factor in whether or not they’ll accept a new job. Behind pay and people, place was the third most important factor, beating “progression opportunities” (40%), “company culture” (36%) and other perks, such as gym memberships.

At a time when unemployment is low, self-employment is high, and a continuing skills gap means that many businesses are still struggling to get the staff they need, companies of all sizes should be taking every opportunity to present themselves as attractive employers. That means offering competitive pay, demonstrating a rewarding culture, and having the right space for their workforce to thrive and be happy.

A positive environment creates a positive team

Let’s face it: life in the office isn’t always an action-packed adventure. And while spreadsheets and invoices definitely have their charms, working in comfortable, stimulating surroundings can make even the most dreary or stressful work a little bit more bearable.

It’s certainly something that UK employees are aware of. RICS’s research found that an overwhelming 88% of workers said that high-quality offices and workplace facilities have an impact on their overall job satisfaction.

But it’s not just a case of seeking the elusive concept of an ‘engaged workforce’. The quality and design of your office space can also have an effect on your team’s health and well-being. According to Lindsey Dugdill, a professor of public health at the University of Salford, even inexpensive features – such as the colour of the walls or the presence of plants – can make a difference.

“Certain colours, like green and blue, are seen to be less stressful,” she says, “so even quite simple things, such as the colour an employer paints a wall, can have quite a pronounced effect on the way staff feel”.

And a positive team becomes a loyal workforce

According to recent research by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), more than a third of UK workers are hoping to leave their current job in 2015 – a figure that’s doubled since 2014, and tripled since 2013. While it’s encouraging to see what the ILM calls “the return of ambition to the UK workforce”, it also means that employers need to work harder than ever if they want to keep their most valuable employees from looking elsewhere.

But according to the RICS’s survey, it’s not just better pay or promising career opportunities that are making UK workers jump ship. Four fifths of the survey’s respondents said their workplace had an effect on whether or not they intend to stay in their job, which means that businesses need to think carefully about their premises if they want to give their workforce what they want.

So just what do the UK’s workers want?

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating the most productive, engaging and comfortable workplace possible. But from the RICS’s pool of 1,000 employees, we should at least be able to get a representative clue. Here are the top 10 most desirable workplace traits:

01. Lots of natural light (63%)
02. Good heating/ventilation (62%)
03. Regular cleaning (52%)
04. Good kitchen facilities (44%)
05. Good security (38%)
06. A café/bar/restaurant on site (31%)
07. A space to work away from the desk (26%)
08. A gym on site (15%)
09. A good colour scheme (13%)
10. High ceilings (13%)

Attracting and retaining the best talent for your business isn’t an overnight fix – but finding the ideal premises might be. Find out how a smart, flexible, fully-equipped workspace could give your business the boost it needs.

To find out more about what we have to offer please call: 01772 507 767 and speak to one of the team alternatively you can email info@cottoncourt.co.uk

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.

Cotton Court Business Centre is backing Boost

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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.

As part of our continued commitment

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Here at Cotton Court we are committed to enriching the area within which we serve. As well as inviting local businesses to make the most of both our office space and facilities, we make a conscious effort to work alongside local organisations and groups to help nurture Lancashire.

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It is for this reason that we have lodged such a close relationship with the West Lancashire Scouts. Offering our training and meeting space to the group allows them to plan, improve & grow – in fact they were the largest growing Scouting community this year. They regularly book out space with us to hold meetings and training sessions, and building manager Jon has an extremely close relationship with their internal communications team, aiding with social media and graphic design.

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The Scouts aren’t the only people we work with; we regularly invite Lancashire Adult Learning in to help unemployed people in Preston and the surrounding area expand their skills in the hope of landing employment. Furthermore, those of you who came to our Christmas party back in December will know we donated a large collection of presents to Derian House, a local hospice for children in Lancashire.
If you’d like to find out more about the work we do in the community, get in touch on info@cottoncourt.co.uk.

 

We agree Corporate Social Responsibility – West Lancs Scouts

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Cotton Court is proud to be working with the West Lancashire Scouts, who this year announced a tenth consistent year of growth with 836 more members in Lancashire than in 2013. Made up of eight districts between Ormskirk & Lonsdale, including of course Preston, the West Lancs Scouts boasts the biggest growth in the UK with figures of 7.5%. Chorley were the largest growing district specifically, showing growth of 33%.

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Here at Cotton Court we maintain a close relationship with the organisation, helping to aid their ongoing growth by providing training space for both youths and adult volunteers, as well as meeting facilities for planning and paving out the future for West Lancashire Scouts. We also aid in their online presence, curating social media content and assisting their communications team.

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The Scout Association seeks to transform the lives of young people through provision of training programmes adventure, and is consistently committed to increasing the number of young members year on year. If you’d like to find out more about the work we do here at Cotton Court in the community, get in touch with us via info@cottoncourt.co.uk.

Partner Programme: Health and Well-being Courses

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New Year, New You? Part of our plan for 2014 is to work with our partners to put together a wide range of training courses and events. We have worked with Breathe Therapies to deliver a series of well-being programmes. If you need to develop confidence, quit smoking or manage anxiety, take a look at our programme overview to see how we can help.

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Breathe are a lively, friendly, knowledgeable and expert team and all the therapists are still practicing in their chosen area. The team consists of mental health nurses, dietician, nutritionist, NLP Practitioner, Hypnotherapist, CBT Therapist and have over 100 years’ experience and training in the field of Health and Wellbeing!

Our plan is that each programme will be fun and subtly life changing! Make new friends, gain new understanding and learn how to Be the best you can be!

Choose the programme most suited to your interest or need right now. We believe EVERYBODY should learn this stuff in school, but as it’s not yet taught our expert team will fill the gap in a fun and engaging way!

 

Available Programmes

Putting Good Stuff In! – Nutrition Programme

The Nutritional Management course offer an interactive and informed learning opportunity in understanding the needs of our body and how it works.

  • Learn about meal planning, hunger, metabolic rate, portion sizes, the importance of vitamins and minerals and the effects of starvation and other behaviours on our bodies.
  • There will be an opportunity for discussion and the use of food diaries is encouraged which aims to identify and change negative patterns of behaviour.
  • Create a more balanced and informed relationship with both ourselves and food

 

Laugh in The Face of Fear – Anxiety Management Programme

Sessions aim to give you a greater understanding of anxiety and the physiological, emotional and cognitive effects and how to manage them effectively.

  • Learn about the nature and origin of stress and anxiety
  • Gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of your personal reaction to stress and anxiety
  • Recognise your personal belief systems, thoughts and reactions and learn how to change them.

 

Food and Feelings – The Food Feelings Relationship Programme

In a safe and friendly environment you will explore your relationship with food and the connection to your emotional state. 

  • Learn about your ‘Food Script’ – What does it mean for you and what messages about food, weight, self-image do you carry and where do they come from?
  • Use of food and mood diaries will help to highlight themes and behaviour patterns
  • Understand different types of hunger and what they really mean!
  • Learn to respond in new and healthier ways to the emotional and physical cues your body has cleverly prepared for you!

 

Stop Smoking the NLP Way – Effective Smoking Cessation Programme

This Neuro-Linguistic Programming approach to quit smoking will help you to understand how your negative self-beliefs about giving up the habit have restricted your progress! 

  • Find out what’s going through your mind in the need for weed!
  • Learn new skills and drills to kick the habit!
  • Encourage and be encouraged as you “Change the Way You Think Change the Way You Feel!”

 

Being a Confident You! – Raising Self Esteem Programme

These sessions aim to empower and develop your sense of self worth 

  • Understand how self-esteem develops
  • Challenge negative self-exaltations
  • Combat self-criticism and unhelpful rules for living
  • Improve your self-esteem
  • Learn to accept and enjoy who you are

 

For all course dates, prices and further information please visit our partner pages.