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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!


Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

July 2015

At Office 2015 we’ll be running an unusual training session on ‘How to Prove the Success of your Business Events’.  At first glance this could seem a bit unnecessary and already quite obvious.  Surely anyone can tell if their conference, client event or product launch went well?   In fact you might be surprised at how we (and Office) arrived at the conclusion that such a session will be of great value to event organisers.

We recently conducted some research into event evaluation and began by posing the simple question:

What does event success look like to you?

Most of us are likely to say “It was a great conference – lovely venue, great food; the speakers all turned up on time and there was lots of applause throughout the day.”  Another successful event, then.  Or was it?  We discovered that the 88% of us who do conduct post-event surveys, only skim the surface in trying to establish whether our events actually achieved their original purpose.

And the reason for this is that in many cases we have only a general idea of why the event was conceived in the first place.  Or – during the busy planning process we lose sight of that original intention because, for all the right reasons, the up-front imperative of getting the practical arrangements in place commandeers all of our attention.

Our research revealed that  ‘everyone enjoying themselves’ was quoted most often as a business event success  indicator, while getting the logistics, budget and scheduling right scored heavily as well.  These are all very valid and necessary components. But they don’t feed back to the original purpose of the event.

It was impressive that 71% of our research respondents said success meant having their event objectives met against targets.  But when we delved a little deeper to look at what those targets actually were, the answers were often rather vague.  ‘Raise staff morale’ appeared quite frequently, as did ‘Communicating business strategies’ and of course ‘Education’ (training or raising staff knowledge) was high up on the list.

But we discovered that in most instances there were no measures in place to determine just how successfully those objectives had been met.  Very few figures had been gathered to actually quantify the degree to which staff morale had been raised, or the level of understanding that had been reached after the new business strategy had been communicated. So it boiled down to a general consensus that the audience had probably understood most of what they’d been told. Not the most scientific of outcomes – and hardly likely to impress the Finance Director or the CEO!

In fact, setting goals that could be measured and monitored for business performance improvement came way down the pecking order. Only a fifth of our respondents cited the improvement of staff retention or the collection of new business initiatives, and a quarter mentioned helping to achieve sales targets.  And while goals like these could have had numerical targets set against to enable post-event analysis, they usually weren’t.

All of which led us to the conclusion that to make a business event truly successful there’s a need to retain some strategic thinking right the way through the planning and delivery process. To get some form of measurement in place that would help event planners prove the success of their event with hard numbers.

So intrigued were we by this whole issue that KDM approached the Office Show and suggested running a seminar to show event planners just how they can introduce measurement into their events.  Because 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 in the process!

We’re delighted to say that the Office Show organisers jumped at our suggestion, and our seminar ‘How to Prove the Success of your Business Events’ takes place at 9.30 on Tuesday 13 October in Office Theatre 2.  We hope you’ll come along and join the discussion about measurement and evaluation, while discovering how you can add some smart thinking into the planning of your next business event.

And don’t forget that this seminar will be CPD-accredited, so you can get a CPD Certificate of Attendance if you come along.  Not only that – we’ll be on stand 9020 throughout the show and will be delighted to meet you in person. So please, save the day and we look forward to seeing you at Office 2015.

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Register to the Show FREE: www.officeshow.co.uk
Look at the seminar timetable: www.officeshow.co.uk/timetable


Brighton Festival Anyone?

November 2014

The chance to work on a truly bespoke event is always an exciting prospect, and a recent event delivered for a leading Housing Association & Developer was certainly no exception!

The brief from the client was very simple – they wanted to create an indoor festival atmosphere for their annual staff away-day for 250 guests, to be held in a unique & quirky venue.

Hence the 1st task was to source a suitable location & venue for the event, step forward Brighton Dome which is a renowned multi-arts venue located in the heart of Brighton – its origins date back over 200 years, and the character & enormity of the Corn Exchange room provided just the right environment to allow for lots of varied entertainment, food and drink to keep the group engaged over the 4 hour event.

Of course food is supremely important and as the venue is ‘dry-hire’  we worked with independent caterers to find the best solution to keep within the catering budget. Fish & Chips was the perfect menu for the day to deliver the fun informal festival theme and tie in with the venue being by the seaside!

A mix of music, live comedy, games, green screen photo studio and simulators gave the vibrant festival feel the client was looking for and we chose to book Dan Mitchell to act as both compere & comedian. Dan is a veteran of the comedy circuit appearing on a number of TV shows & didn’t disappoint on the day!

Following the serving of lunch & Dan’s stand-up set, the DJ kicked-in for the remainder of the event whilst guests enjoyed a variety of games & activities ranging from Crazy Golf & Test Your Strength, to a Rodeo Bull & Surf Simulator amongst many others. Our green screen photo studio was popular with guests enjoying posing on the Brighton Pier…whilst remaining warm and dry inside!

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On the day itself our team of 7 Event Managers were on-site from 7.30am to transform the room, set up the various games & activities along with managing the delivery of tables, caterers, comedians and DJs. As a lasting memento for the client, our staff were also able to film the event to produce a 3 minute video recap of the day – ensuring that the event will live on in the client’s memory!

Most importantly the client’s feedback was that “The event & venue were fantastic – we have had very good feedback from everyone, who all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the event”.

Now enough words! See the video of the day here


KDM Super Heroes Conference Management

March 2014

One of the world’s largest chocolate snacks companies again asked us to organise and event manage their Field Sales Super Heroes themed Conference for 2014…but with a few new twists and challenges!

1)      Their budget was reduced by 40%!
Of course the client still needed to re-create a similar atmosphere to the same high standard following the great feedback from our 2013 event. We quickly got creative with the AV, theming and entertainment for the 2 day conference to meet the client’s new budget with the elements below:

  • We calculated the amount of KDM pre-event assistance needed for PowerPoint presentation re-formatting and on-site management the day before the event. With our assistance, the client was then able to allocate to their internal resources responsibility for handling these areas.
  • The AV specification was re-worked dramatically to give a completely different feel, allowing for a more intimate setting by reducing the amount of equipment and technicians.
  • By using a multi skilled team of event staff we were able to provide the additional games for the evening entertainment at a very small nominal fee.
  • And branded personalisation of two digital Photo Studio backgrounds was completed by our KDM graphics team at no extra charge.

2)      The venue space was much smaller

But the number of guests and itinerary were still the same! We arranged a bespoke AV set to suit the room layout; including a main stage simply with the printed company logo as the backdrop and two 50” plasmas either side. Two large projector screens were also placed on either side to ensure good visibility for all delegates which overcame the room being long, thin and a tight squeeze for the numbers.

3)      The itinerary timings were a challenge, with no breathing room for enthusiastic speakers running over…However, the first presenter over ran by one hour! So with some quick amendments to breaks and other presenters’ times we managed to get the times back to the original itinerary by lunch time.  KDM Events managed the full conference providing on-site support throughout registration, syndicate rotations & main room presentations.

By preparing all the centre pieces beforehand, we managed to transform the room into a Super Hero themed dinner space in only 90 minutes. We incorporated the corporate colours of red & purple along with a bespoke ‘exploding’ centre piece featuring a comic strip themed graphic in a tall lily vase. Back by popular demand we also provided our Photo Studio with themed company backgrounds including T-Rex, Space Invasions and an Action Movie Explosion partnered by giant games including Test your Strength to complement the theme.

Day Two was full of presentations, rotations and a filming activity – leaving no time for editing or handovers. KDM provided a Camera Technician and cameras for each group during their 45 minute Hollywood taster. We then premiered the top 5 films after lunch through the AV set and PA system before handing all the videos to the client on the day.

The conclusion? The feedback received was great, with the organiser commenting that it was seamless once again, especially taking into account the entire budget, time and space challenges. Both our client and KDM were Super Heroes on this event!

Get in touch with us if you’d more information on how we can help you with your next event.

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A Star is Born!

August 2013

We recently had the privilege of having a charming work experience high school student with us for a week this summer.

When 15-year-old Hope phoned in and asked to speak with Kevin our MD, he was so impressed that she had called in person to inquire about a placement that he agreed immediately!   So, we organised a week full of event, website and marketing administration for Hope, then asked her to write a short blog about it:

“My experience at KDM was amazing! I’ve always wanted to be an event manager so this just made me even surer that is what I want to do.

When KDM agreed to let me do a week of work experience with them I was overjoyed. On my first day everyone introduced themselves and made me feel like I was an actual part of the work team. They gave me my own desk and made sure I felt comfortable to ask them if I needed help with anything.

One of the best parts of the week was when I got asked to order some fancy dress products which meant that I got to browse the web to choose the products as well as ringing up the supplier to see if the products were available.

There was never a dull day, all week I was occupied with something to do from looking at venues to taking photos of some of the table theming props”

If she is anything to go by, it’s very encouraging to know that there are young people as motivated, capable and personable as Hope that will be entering the workplace in the near future.

In fact, she was so great that we asked her to come in to help us finish a stock control catalogue project for a second week. We hope (!) to see more of Hope if she decides to pursue a career in events as she was a delight to work with.


Big Dreams!

August 2013

2013 is the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s inspirational ‘I have a dream’ speech that changed the world as we know it. Whilst most of us won’t need to have such an incredible vision for our corporate events, we do all have goals and objectives that we aspire to achieve. So here are our top 3 tips for helping turn your event visions into reality.   

1)      Set measurable event objectives. So often we can plough straight ahead into the logistics and detail of an event without stopping to clearly identify what makes the event a necessary business activity and what success will look like. Defining exactly why you want to hold the event and what has to happen as a direct result helps to avoid burning budget and time. Once the objectives have been defined, setting related targets and ways to measure them should be straightforward – the less complicated the better! Very often, an entire brief can change as a result of pausing to consider the desired outcomes of an event. For example, we recently spoke with a client who wanted to run their annual conference at a business style venue with a full day of presentations, sit down 3-course dinner and a comedian. When they stopped to consider that they had 20% less budget than last year and the event needed to be an opportunity for the guests to network, share best practise ideas and take latest business developments back to their departments they realised they needed to redesign their format.  The final event was a relaxed country house affair, exclusive meeting spaces, shorter presentations and lots of networking opportunities during drinks and a BBQ dinner on the terrace. Their event results? Total costs came in £1000 under budget and they achieved scores of 90% (against targets of 85%) rating the event content, format and application back in the workplace.

2)      Think like your audience. We can all fall into the trap of organising the style of event that we would like, the food we like, the entertainment we like, the venues we like…you get the picture! Finding out what the audience appreciates makes all the difference to the success of an event. For example, considering the age range of your attendees is an obvious start. People are retiring much later in life, the demographics of the workplace is changing and so the entertainment you offer may need to reflect a more travelled, experienced delegate. Understanding your guests will go a long way in delivering the professional, memorable event you need. You could also avoid making mistakes such as the occasion our client booked dancing ‘Santa’s Elves’ for their Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, the elves were very scantily clad girls and the audience was employees and their partners!

3)      Dream big and then scale down. I’m not suggesting you go crazy imagining you can achieve a Blenheim Palace backdrop, Take That as your after-dinner band and Cartier gift bags for a budget of £100 per person! But thinking of the very best style, atmosphere and feel for your audience (an unrestricted budget wish list if you like) helps to take the barriers off thinking to explore unlimited possibilities. That way, you can imagine an effect that you’d like to have on your audience … then discover the best way to achieve it with the available budget. Remember, your guests won’t know that you imagined flying them on a private jet to Barbados to enjoy the amazing Crop Festival … but they will appreciate the VIP Concorde Flight invitations, airport styled check in at pre-dinner drinks,  Coral Reef themed bar with rum cocktails, ‘beach’ dressed dining areas, seafood BBQ and Rio style costume parade. (Before you think I’m hopelessly out of date, Barbados’ airport is home to Alpha Echo, one of BA’s old Concorde aircraft, and it’s been turned into an all-singing, all-dancing visitor attraction!)

Hopefully, these pointers will help you achieve all your goals when you’re planning your next event. But, if you’d also like a little more specific assistance then we’d love to hear from you!

Author: Nicky Wrighte, Commercial Director at KDM Events


Bribery Act – Not Again Please!!

July 2012

The Bribery Act came into force in 2011 and all the event industry talking heads promptly went into overdrive rambling on and on bemoaning the imminent end of the corporate hospitality industry.

Obviously we all know that the purpose of the act was twofold, namely:

1. Discourage dodgy builders from slipping brown envelopes into the sweaty hand of a grasping local authority luminary.

2. Prevent the British Arms Industry from being able to compete with their American and French competitors in generating overseas orders and consequently add to the decline of British manufacturing jobs.

Despite our lords and masters in Whitehall making this blindingly obvious the lawyers saw the £££ signs, the pen-pushers took the opportunity to find another way to hinder their sales force from selling widgets, and the self-proclaimed ‘voices of the events industry’ saw another opportunity to bore the pants off us all by talking complete twaddle.

Surely it’s obvious to anybody with enough nous to be able to work out which end of a toothbrush you clean your teeth with exactly what is and what is not a bribe?

Which brings me to the point. I know they’ve got to write about something but why oh why is the front cover of this month’s Meetings and Incentive Travel magazine trumpeting yet another article on the subject? Don’t ask me what it said as I don’t know. All I do know is that the red mist descended and I threw that highly respected publication at the paper basket. And missed.

Kevin



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