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Conference News June 2016 – What the Agents Say

June 2016

conference-newsCheck out page 30 of June’s Conference News for some of our interesting insights into Liverpool as an events destination:
https://www.joomag.com/magazine/conference-news-june-2016/0698883001464772077?short


KDM takes Brighton Pier to University Campus

June 2016

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When the University of Sussex hosted 220 higher education managers at a special Summer Festival on 15 June, KDM was asked to organise an evening of fun with a distinctive seaside flavour.

The guests were all participants in the annual CUBO (College and University Business Officers) Awards and were treated to a pre-Awards celebration – not on the beach, but at the University’s Falmer campus.

The high-profile CUBO Awards draw entrants from around the country and have previously been held in major cities such as Liverpool, London and Edinburgh.

Sussex University’s Conference Services Manager Wayne Spicer said: “For the first evening of this two-day event we wanted to showcase Brighton’s unique appeal without our guests having to leave the campus, so we decided to bring the flavour of Brighton to them.”

KDM’s event team set-up a seaside-themed photo studio, festival props and lighting, as well as a carousel, dodgems and traditional games.

After a welcome reception at the University’s ACCA Centre, guests enjoyed a cabaret performance by mind reader Alex Crow. Moving outside, they sampled a taste of the Pier with popcorn and candy floss while trying their skills on the coconut shy, crazy golf and a cork gun shooting range.  Giant flags, a stilt walker and juggler added to the carnival atmosphere.

Street Food, provided by Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, included pulled beef baps, vegetarian baps, chorizo sausages, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, harissa tomato sauce and toasted pitta bread, Prawn Jambalaya, sweet potato and red chilli.


Engaging Event at thestudio Birmingham

March 2016

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KDM recently welcomed over 30 Midlands-based corporate event planners, agencies and suppliers to a special showcase event at thestudio Birmingham.  Read all about it and see our photo gallery in Conference News


GBG Family Fun Day

February 2016

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KDM helped put together a fantastic family fun day at a client’s head office.
GBG is a global specialist in identity data intelligence.   From employee screening to helping fight fraud, the company’s technology connects instantly to hundreds of databases across the globe. Headquartered in Chester, GBG has 18 offices worldwide and provides data intelligence solutions to many of the world’s biggest organisations.

The brief
We were tasked with putting together a company fun day for approximately 150 employees, to take place at GBG’s Chester head office.  Our clients had organised this event themselves on earlier occasions but acted on a recommendation from a neighbouring company impressed by KDM’s services for their own event.  We were given a strict budget to provide a wide range of family entertainment and asked to ensure that the youngest guests were protected from the busy road bordering the site.

KDM’s response
After carefully considering a menu of options with the client, we proposed a selection of fun activities tailored to the budget and available space.  Bright orange barrier fencing was sourced to separate the busy road from the grassy area where the activities would take place.  It also provided an attractive border, enhancing the village green-style feel of the environment.

On the day, guests were entertained by a huge range of games and inflatable activities. The youngest participants sampled face painting and enjoyed the children’s entertainer’s balloon modelling, before venturing on to the Ball Pond, Hook-a-Duck, Beat the Buzzer and Tin Can Alley.  A bouncy castle, giant slide and inflatable basketball helped burn up a lot of youthful energy, while the grown-ups were entertained by Crazy Golf and a Surf Simulator.  A fantastic variety of food and drink were provided directly by the client.

Client feedback

“We’ve had a great day, thank you, feedback has been fab!”

“Everything worked brilliantly and your staff were very helpful, nothing was too much trouble so please pass on our thanks to them.”

“It was a fantastic event and I’ve already had little people asking me when the next one is!  Thank you for all your help”.

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Creating Memories at a Big Family Thank You!

January 2016

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About our client

This household name company is one of the world’s leading food manufacturers, producing a range of legendary grocery brands.

KDM won a competitive pitch to produce an event that would celebrate family time, featuring activities designed to please all age groups.  Our mission was to create a memorable event that people would talk about for years to come. And very important to the client was the opportunity for guests to contribute to a giant picture montage on the day tied into the company’s core values.  In honour of the event, the company had decided to close down the factory site for the day, so as to give all staff from every shift the opportunity to attend.

All the fun of the fair

We pulled out all the stops to create a carnival atmosphere, starting with fairground rides, as well as coconut shy and Hook-a-Duck stalls.  The younger family members gravitated towards the bouncy castle, petting zoo, balloon modeller and face painting. And for the seriously energetic we laid-on a Bucking Bronco, surf simulator and inflatable assault course.

The fun was captured by a photographer and caricaturists, and of course food – in the form of a hog roast – and non-alcoholic drinks were in abundance.  An ice cream and popcorn barrow ensured that nobody went home hungry. A marquee provided the central hub to the day’s activity, as well as a wet weather contingency for the autumn event.

And crucially, contained within the marquee, guests were able to paint their own part of a colourful giant interpretation of the company’s core 5 principles to hang in the site’s reception.

What our clients said

“The whole KDM crew were fantastic and did a great job for us and have heard so many positive comments and cannot thank them enough for helping to make a brilliant event.”

 “Hog Roast Staff – I have had loads of comments about how nice the food was and also how pleasant and friendly the staff were.”

 “Caricaturist and face painters – were excellent, the detail was amazing from both (in fact I think I need to go on a severe diet seeing how big my cheeks were from the caricaturist!!!).”


Company Family Fun Day

December 2015

When seeking to celebrate the performance of a company, a popular way of doing so can be to hold a company family fun day – which not only rewards your staff but also thanks to your employees’ families who can play an important yet understated role in the performance and support of your staff.

The Client

KDM Events had worked with a leading house building company for several years delivering team-building events when the question arose of how they may hold a larger event for 300 people in the Summer – but was unsure of how to approach or organise this.

Having first organised a large Company Family Fun Day around the time that Right Said Fred was topping the charts, KDM were perfectly placed to advise on the logistics and requirements around such an event – which has to start with finding a venue that is suitable in terms of both grounds for the various activities, but also has both indoor space in the event of bad weather, and of course sufficient car parking for the large numbers of guests.

We have the advantage of having run events at most major venues throughout the country in our 25 years as business, and site surveys for each which detail the available grounds and space – meaning that KDM was swiftly able to put forward a shortlist of 3 venues which matched this brief and could accommodate the chosen date in July, from which Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire was chosen as the ideal location.

The Event

With the venue and date secured for the Hertfordshire Company Family Fun Day, KDM suggested several packages of activities and entertainment to suit various budget levels – with an important balance to be struck between sufficient activities for the adults, and suitable entertainment for the 80 or so children that were also expected on the day.

The chosen package included some traditional country pursuits, inflatable assault course and eliminator run, fairground games, bouncy castles, children’s slides, face painters, Pimms Barrow, Candy Floss stall amongst others – with KDM’s 16 staff on site from 7am in order to set-up the activities as well as mini marquees, PA, signage, bunting, power and all of the other small logistical details that are 2nd nature to us!

With the Great British Summer playing its role to perfection a great day was had by all, and the benefits that our client reported included increased staff morale, pride in the company, gratitude from employees’ families and also that the event provided an important opportunity for employees to connect and communicate in a more informal setting.


One Big Happy Family

November 2015

A routine review of our event files for 2015 has revealed a marked rise in the number of employee engagement events as the year has progressed.  We’ve received a record number of requests from corporate event planners looking to organise team bonding events and family fun days.

The emerging picture shows a renewed emphasis on company values.  We’re seeing a direct correlation between this more inclusive corporate event format, and a desire amongst companies to retain top talent.

Whatever their industry sector, companies are reacting to a highly competitive marketplace in recruitment terms, by heavily investing  in their workforces.  Many of our clients are asking for energising and stimulating events that reward loyalty and hard work – and in some cases also focus on the importance of family support.

Take, for example, a booking we have recently taken from a major food brand – for an event that will involve employees’ children participating in the creation of a themed mosaic, which will ultimately be displayed in the company’s offices.

There’s also a noticeable trend for our clients to hold such events at their company’s office site. This reflects the 21st Century work model that blurs the boundaries between office and home.  Extending  one step beyond the traditional team-bonding initiatives, these events create the opportunity for family friendships to be forged.

Among the high-energy themes that are perennially popular for corporate family events are School Sports Day, inflatable tournaments, It’s a Knockout and Country Sports.  And for 2016 we’re looking forward to staging several Olympian Challenges.  We are also seeing a lot of interest in with circus skills-themed activities and craft workshops.

Here at KDM, the increased demand for employee engagement events has been reflected in a need to strengthen and support our own teams – resulting in a recruitment drive of our own.  We’re delighted to welcome Account Executive Kate Janev, joining our Agents and Venues sales team and Mehreen Shabbir, Sales Administrator.  Also recently joined to bolster our event crew is Event Manager Ewan Miller.  And we’re still looking for further great staff to join what is rapidly turning into one big happy family!

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What Can’t Be Measured Can’t Be Managed

October 2015

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Meeting visitors attending this year’s Office show has been a rewarding and informative experience for KDM.  PAs, EAs and administrative executives find the show a useful source of contacts and tools that will enhance their working lives, and the Show provided us with a chance to engage with visitors in a seminar environment, where we discussed how they can assist in measuring the positive impact of the events they organise.

Our opening message was that with a little advance planning, conferences, team building days and other corporate communication activities can be measured and evaluated with the same rigour that is applied to other business initiatives.

It has long been known that there’s a huge need to find a way to effectively measure the success of business events.  And from our perspective, the starting point is to be clear on what really constitutes Event Success.  Our own research has revealed that in many cases people at the sharp end of event management have only a general idea of their events’ objectives.  Or, during the hectic planning process, organisers lose sight of the event’s original purpose – because their focus is directed on the logistical arrangements and delegate communications.

While speaker quality, venue arrangements, and even financial management are critical elements of the event planner’s checklist, they don’t provide the reason to hold an event.  So we encouraged our seminar attendees to identify the leadership team strategy that would have prompted the decision to stage their events in the first place – and to focus on that event’s purpose throughout the planning stage to ensure that its agenda and content would deliver the most effective communication.

Then we introduced the discipline of applying metrics to the planning process.  Having identified the objective of, say, reducing employee turnover, the second key step is to attribute numerical targets to that objective.  A prime parallel exists in the emotive area of dieting.  Nothing much is achieved all the time we are merely saying we’d like to be able to get back into our skinny jeans.  But as soon as we step on the scales, make a note of our starting figure and then set the target of losing so many kilos in so many weeks, we have a plan that enables us to track progress and provide measurable outcomes.

Similarly, in the business world, it’s not possible to say how successful an event was in achieving its objectives without having the same kind of metrics in place.  This, we believe, is where so many event organisers trip up.   Very often it’s after the event that people say – “We need to demonstrate ROI” – but without the benchmark figures against which a post-event comparison can be made, it’s too late to conduct any meaningful measurement.

Using tablets with a customised app, our delegates told us how confident they were in measuring the success of the events they organise. We put this question to them at the start of the seminar and then again at the end.  From an unpromising start, we were delighted to see how enthusiastically they had absorbed the seminar content and how confident they were to put their newly-acquired knowledge into practice.

Delegates confirmed to us that measurement had never entered their event evaluation process.  Naturally, it’s the ‘owner’ of the event – the director or senior leadership team that conceived it in the first place – who would be responsible for evaluating its business performance.  But we know that the concept of ‘before-and-after’ numerical comparison is still largely untried amongst corporate event organisers.  The PAs and EAs who attended our seminar will be in the vanguard of championing and executing this discipline.

For KDM it was really gratifying to welcome such an interested and engaged audience (especially as our seminar session had strong competition from the other theatres!).  It was clear that PAs are not only keen to be proactive and make an assertive contribution in their jobs but also delighted to support their bosses in demonstrating  ROO – the return on objectives for their events.

To be able to demonstrate to the CEO or the Board that the event provided a real return on its objectives, will link the event organiser directly to the overall performance improvement of the business, earning considerable kudos – for the PA and of course their boss – in the process.


The Happiness Factor

September 2015

Who’d have thought five years ago that employee wellbeing would one day be the focus of  boardroom concern?  Now that the fiercest threats of economic gloom are receding, global corporations like Google and Starbucks are leading the way in addressing the cost to their business of  stress-related sick-leave and high employee turnover.  It’s beginning to dawn on the business world that companies literally can’t afford to have unhappy, unwell staff.

But while these multi-million dollar global brands are at the forefront, many smaller companies have a long way to go in addressing workplace stress.  Although businesses are finally back in expansion mode, organisational leaders are slow to invest in new people to share the load. They are not ensuring that working conditions will keep staff feeling motivated and fulfilled.  Instead, people are expected to do increasingly more in less time.  The numbers of over-stretched staff working under unmanageable pressure are climbing.

One factor that might help to reverse this trend, is the acceptance that employee happiness has a measureable impact on business. Economists at the University of Warwick conducted research amongst 700 participants and found that their productivity increased by around 12% after being given happiness-inducing treats.  Trying the experiment in reverse, subjects who had good reason to feel unhappy (such as those going through bereavement or divorce) had significantly poorer performance levels.

Increasing employee productivity is a critical goal in many businesses, and the 12% improvement will go straight to the bottom line.

And while we’re focusing on that bottom line, let’s not forget that unhappy staff are likely to leave.  It’s well documented that costs related to directly replacing an employee can be as high as 50–60% of the employee’s annual salary, but the total cost of turnover can reach as high as 90–200%  when you factor-in the value of the knowledge they take away with them (especially if they take it to a competitor!).

So strategies to increase employee motivation and reduce turnover should be viewed by employers as an essential financial investment.

But how do you make your staff happy?  Motivational strategies used to be based on money: in the form of bonuses and salary rises, but psychologists have proved that beyond a certain comfort level financial incentives become progressively ineffective.  Other factors such as peer-group recognition, a sense of community and social interaction all play their part in making people want to give of their best at work.

Clearly HR leaders need to consider a whole raft of initiatives that will make employees feel cared-for.  In addition to the bonuses, rewards and training programmes these should include experiences both inside and outside the workplace that leave a positive emotional impact.  Organisational stress-busting programmes can include lunchtime tai-chi, yoga or massage; or one day a year charity fundraiser bake-offs or bike rides.

We’ve discovered that the most noticeable (and measurable!) improvements in staff motivation occur when a company’s board publicly champions wellbeing as a pillar of its business strategy,  allocating resources to sponsor and support these initiatives.  Social interaction and a sense of community can be fostered through a carefully planned schedule of events throughout the year.

So if the annual Christmas party is your company’s only opportunity for staff to have fun together, maybe it’s time for a rethink. Especially as fun activities and motivational games can be incorporated into many internal events that have a business objective.

Corporate wellbeing is a truly sound investment and should be a part of every business strategy – no matter how small or large.  If we compare that to the cost of maintaining an emotionally sick workforce it’s a no-brainer!


Is the UK Skills Shortage Helping Drive Events Growth?

July 2015

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We certainly are seeing more companies planning events to train, motivate and thank their staff in 2015. Companies seem to be loosening the budget purse strings and acknowledging the importance of positive communication with staff through events. I recently had an interesting conversation with Allan Norbury at M&IT on the subject of growth – you can take a look at the release here:

http://www.meetpie.com/Modules/NewsModule/newsdetails.aspx?t=UK-skills-shortage-driving-events-revival&newsid=21294

What are your experiences with the UK skills shortage and retaining talent?
Nicky Whyman

 



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