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9 Knockout Venue Dressing Tips

June 2014

Some venues are fabulous inside and out; others need a little help to create a setting that will truly  wow your guests.  Our in-house theming expert, Kathy Davies shares some valuable venue-dressing tips. 

Whether you are hosting a formal reception, a product launch or a party, choice of venue is the first and most important decision to be taken, and factors such as budget, size, location and timing will narrow your choice dramatically.  So once all of those boxes have been ticked you may still be left with the challenge of transforming the event space into a stunning environment.

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How much should you spend?

Top-line expenditure will be on room hire, catering and possibly transport, but it’s important right from the outset to safeguard some budget for dressing the space.  We suggest that the absolute minimum sum required to dress a venue would be £1,000.

Venue assistance 

Don’t forget that the venue will almost certainly have some decor resource at its disposal, so a conversation while you are still at venue-selection stage will reveal what is available in-house.  With a little timely negotiation it will be possible to have such elements as table centrepieces and coloured chair covers and tie-backs included within your overall hire cost.

Working within the space

For a large scale project with a decor budget of over £1,000 you will have several spaces to work with and some traffic flow considerations.  Factor-in the importance of allowing room to position some large props to create a stunning first impression.  And be very careful not to end up with a lot of guests crammed in a tight space for the drinks reception.  Not only is the effect claustrophobic, but the wow factor of your gorgeous decor will be sadly missed in the crush.

Eye-catchers

Sometimes organisers have the opposite problem – a large space that won’t be filled by the expected number of guests.  The natural response would be to fill up every area of empty space, but in fact if you create just a few key focal points, your guests’ eyes will be drawn to these and they won’t notice the empty corners.  We find that putting a lot of focus on a dramatically themed doorway or walkway between reception and dining rooms confers more visual impact than a collection of smaller props strategically positioned around the room.

Themed settings

If you have the space and the budget to work with large set pieces, avoid the temptation to park them at equal distances around the room.  Instead group them in pockets.  By siting props together you automatically create a themed setting, which will have the affect of attracting guest to cluster together and form natural conversation groups.

Screen drama

Events that incorporate AV production provide an added opportunity to amplify and dramatise the decor or theme at little or no extra cost.  On-screen visuals add colour, movement and of course messaging to grab your guests’ attention, while supporting the overall theming. Plasma screens and projection are a great way of injecting a ‘live action’ feel to the event, while adding light and extra focal points.

Star-spangled venues

If your budget allows you to really go to town on decor, imagine silk drapes falling from a central spot on the ceiling, bathed in coloured LED lighting.  Corporate branding or event theme can be projected by lights which sweep around the room, spotlighting your giant props and set pieces of scenery as they go. Tables are the key areas of focus in a dining room, so invest in some fabulous LED-lit centrepieces.  Entrance doorways are also prime areas for dramatic treatment, and these can be framed with swathes of fabric, with spot lighting to guide your guests into the adjoining room, or special prop archways leading the eye to a glittering carpeted runway beyond.

The centre of attention

We can’t always have free rein when it comes to decor spend, but  it’s still possible to achieve a stunning effect on a modest budget. If you are decorating a room that will be largely populated by dinner tables, it’s probably a waste of money in any case to decorate the walls with props or other solid objects.  Far better to dress the tables themselves to create maximum visual impact.  Again, those  self-lit themed centrepieces will steal the show, supported by stylish linens and colour-themed chair covers. And shining colour washes of light up the walls will, in itself, transform a non-descript room into a magical space.

Creativity on a tight budget

Occasionally there’s no option but to theme your event on a shoestring, and for such occasions there’s still scope to inject some sparkle into the proceedings – via novelty elements such as colour-themed cocktails, or cupcakes that have been branded with corporate logos or messaging.

No matter what your budget, the secret to gaining maximum mileage in dressing the venue is to  make sure that styling and theming your event are included in the action plan from the earliest  planning stage. It’s amazing how far your money will stretch with some creative thinking and clever resourcing from the outset.

Kathy

App, App and Away!

April 2014

Making for a more interactive and user friendly personalised experience, the first outing of our brand new KDM event app for game shows was a great success in March.

10 teams worked hard to outwit one another in their branded company Mega Quiz held at Ettington Chase, Stratford. Using the pre-installed app on hand-held tablets, the teams were able to interact with the on screen visuals, video and questions to send in their team answers. Guests racked their collective brains to summon up the answers to a list of crazy questions such as:

  • True or False? Duelling is legal in Japan as long as both parties are registered organ donors.
  • Sport: In Greyhound racing what colour vest do dogs running from trap two always wear?
  • Rogues Gallery: Which 2 celebrities are mashed together in this picture? (see below)

Working on a secure & fast Wi-Fi network (installed by us!) the app worked smoothly allowing the guests to submit their answers and clock up their team scores! By the end of the night though, as usual only one team was celebrating and enjoying the winner’s prize of champagne!

With further developments in the pipeline we are upgrading all of our evening and team events throughout 2014 to enable use of the apps in conjunction with hand-held tablets. Get in touch to find out more about how these new apps will work on your events!

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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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Animation Explosion!

January 2014

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Here at KDM we pride ourselves on looking at something, even if it’s working, and asking whether it could be done better. Consequently, our Animation Innovation event was great, but now it’s new and improved!

Previously guests were provided with cameras and laptops to create their Wallace and Gromit style animations, meaning saving , transferring and uploading all the images between the 2 pieces of kit. Now, following heavy investment, teams are provided with touchscreen tablets and tripods. This clever use of one piece of equipment means production of the animations is slicker, less techie and far more accessible for all your delegates. The images, taken using the tablet’s camera, can be immediately edited using the film software..and your animations come to life!

Now teams can focus on their creative animations rather than the different pieces of technology involved, making the event even more enjoyable. And as they say, the proof is in the pudding – we provided three Animation Innovation events with the new amendments in the same week just before Christmas. (and 2 on the same day!)

CLICK HERE  to see the teams’ very entertaining results and contact us if you’d like to know more for your next team event.

Expanding Plans for 2014

January 2014

We hope that you had a fabulous Christmas and New Year and that 2014 is looking as exciting for you as it is for us! With so many things coming up this year we thought that we would give you a glimpse of what we are up to.

New Event App

Following months of reviewing code and pulling out his (already sparse) hair, our MD Kevin has created a great interactive event app. Designed in-house the app is completely unique to KDM and will be a great addition to many of our events. It is slick, highly reliable and great fun! It will enable us to provide live Q&A and event feedback for your events, personalised quizzes and game show rounds both easily and cost-effectively. We will be rolling the app out over the next month so ask for it on an event near you soon!

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Vans

We imagine that breaking down on the way to your event because we are travelling in a rusty old van would be really bad! Bad for us and bad for you! Cunningly, we have always avoided scenarios like this by continually investing in repairs and improvements to our equipment. Recently, this has seen us add two brand new vans to our fleet. The additional vans:

  • Enable us to respond to an increased demand for events on the same day.
  • Are also larger – enabling us to hold a greater capacity of the equipment. So, we don’t have to send two vans on your event which is cheaper for you and better for the environment.

What’s more, our Event Staff are sure to enjoy the plush comfy seats whilst travelling the country delivering events from Inverness to Eastbourne!

And finally… New Staff

A survey by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), reported by the Telegraph, advises that 20% of workers will be on the lookout for a new job in 2014. This is great for us as we looking to recruit two new sales team members to continue the steady growth we achieved last year. We have been inundated with applications and first interviews will begin soon. But if you are one of the talented 20% looking for a new challenge in 2014, there’s still time and we’d love to hear from you so don’t be shy. Details can be found at TotalJobs KDM Events

 

Breaking Records?

December 2013

We needed new ideas for 2013! This was the third year our client had chosen us to provide the team event at their annual staff convention for 165 delegates at Best Western Rockingham Forest.

Having provided brilliant pub games and simulator competitions for the last 2 years, KDM was tasked with suggesting new ideas for 2013’s event. It had to be a fun activity which would have a wide appeal and be accessible – enjoyed and understood by guests whose first language is not English. With 165 guests participating in 2 hours the challenges also had to be easy to understand and quick to take part in.

So our creative team took inspiration from the challenges in our range of existing events to deliver a bespoke ‘Worlds Records’ event involving 12 all-new activities designed to allow the company to set their own world records! Paper planes, chopsticks, superman pants and beer mats have never been so much fun!

The activities were mixed to ensure there was a wide appeal to guests with different skill sets and so the event on Monday saw the teams taking part in memorable challenges such as:

FLIPPIN HECK – How many beer mats can you flip using one hand without spilling them everywhere?

HIGH FLYER – How far can you fly a paper aeroplane you have made yourself?

THIS SUCKS – Move ping pong balls from one container to another using a straw in the fastest time possible!

PEA IN A BOTTLE – Drop a pea from a height into a Champagne bottle in 5 or fewer attempts!

CHOP CHOP – How many jelly beans can you pick up with chopsticks?

THAT’S PANTS – How many pairs of pants you can put on (over your clothes)?

Points were racked up by each member of the team attempting to set a new ‘World Record’, noted and assisted by our enthusiastic event staff. Coloured lanyards helped the teams to coordinate their efforts and attempt to break as many records as possible to accumulate the highest score.

12 individuals went proudly home with specially designed  “KDM World Record Holder”  certificates whilst the overall winning team celebrated with medals.

But most importantly our client said that “this year’s event was the best yet!” So having raised the bar again this year we just need to make sure 2014’s event is better still! I’m sure our creative team will come up with something…

Sarah McGregor, Account Manager

Taxi for Caroline!

November 2013

When a client tells us they have a short lead in booking, it usually means we have a few weeks or at the very least a week…

It was a rainy day last Tuesday when an email enquiry for a team building activity suitable for an international group in London landed in my inbox. I immediately thought that our new GPS Black Cab Challenge would be perfect. We’d just set up a great deal with a family run cab company and we were excited to be able to begin working with them so I called the client to share my thoughts about how this would be an excellent activity for the group – the combination of the iconic Black Cabs and historical points of interest within the capital city makes for an exciting and unique tour of London. Guests have the opportunity to visit a number of key locations such as Westminster & Whitehall, the Square Mile of the City, St Pauls, Soho, Southbank, Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park in a short amount of time. Plus you get chauffeured around the city door to door and don’t get too rained on!

The client was delighted with the idea, but then dropped the bombshell – “and so we’d like this event on Thursday” I gulped and replied “This Thursday? In 2 days?”

Fortunately, I was able to quickly speak to Garry one of our Event Managers here on site to check the availability of staff and GPS tablets. Next, our cab company sprang into action (thank you Helen!) to check the drivers for us and so within 90 minutes the entire event was confirmed and organised with time to spare!

Feedback from the client was that it was a ‘Great teambuilding event, and run really professionally at very short notice.’

A happy end to the rainy week! So if anyone else has any last minute bookings – bring ’em on!

Caroline
Account Manager (and speed booker extraordinaire)

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Warmed up by Ice

November 2013

Finding an event to suit everyone – male and female, old and young, physically active to couch potatoes –  is not always an easy brief to fulfill but we managed just that when we provided an Ice Sculpting Workshop for Costa Coffee’s staff event in October.

Sixty five guests, in 18 teams, took part in the challenge, which saw them turn blocks of ice into works of art! There were a few raised eyebrows when the team first saw the huge pieces of ice but they soon got into the spirit of the event and the competition was fierce!

The client said that “the event was great fun and enjoyed by all!” No mean feat apparently and a great result.

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Back to School… Again!?

October 2013

September Back to School … again?

When given the brief “we would like an afternoon activity for 350 people that lasts 2½ hours in September for under £30 per head” the KDM team got to work creating a tailored event to meet the client’s requirements. Given the limited space available at the venue we knew the only style of event that would work would be an indoor/outdoor event. The indoor space would hold 175 cabarets and the outdoor space would comfortably hold the other 175 guests so the thinking caps went on and our bespoke ‘Back to School’ event transpired.

The indoor lesson would consist of 45 minutes of high energy, fast and furious challenges including maths and social media as well as a compulsory science module where teams designed and built their own rocket to be launched as the finale. Within the 45 minutes, teams had to choose their challenges wisely and allocate their resources skilfully to score as many points as possible.

Then we proposed to take guests back to the good old days of PE and the traditional School Sports Day with the outdoor lesson, but with the two main differences being that the parents were absent and no-one was picked last! Guests would participate in a number of track events all with a slight twist including ‘Funny Feet’, Hop-A-Long and of course the Egg & Spoon race.

Finishing touches of the event included our event staff wearing ‘Victorian’ style teacher clothing, and teams being given their own individual school ties. The winners would be awarded a Trophy and medals with the losers the compulsory wooden spoon!

And following a site visit to the venue with the client by Caroline (Account Manager) and Garry (Senior Event Manager) to pitch our concept to the client…we were delighted to get the phone call that they had chosen KDM Events to organise, manage and run the event!

Feedback from the client: ‘The event staff on the day were really helpful, polite & professional. Garry made me feel relaxed about the activity as he had everything under control. An Excellent very well managed and fun, I really enjoyed working with you all.

What now? Give Caroline a call on 01782 647032 if you’d like her to solve your next challenging team build briefly!

Zero Tolerance

August 2013

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Pitted head to head in 2 teams, our office staff faced certain humiliation when we recently completed our event training for our newest event ‘Zero Hour’. Given a catalogue of 50 different challenges ranging from mental conundrums to physical dexterity challenges, we raced against the clock to successfully complete as many as we could before the timer ran out. Each task had a different difficulty level and points available for beating it, so choosing which tasks to tackle became increasingly important as things become more frenzied whilst on-screen clock counted down ever closer to the Zero deadline!

Highlights of the competition came when Sarah and Nicky had to ‘headbang’ nodding dog style to record 200 steps with a pedometer … and managed to look as though they had just been discharged from A&E. Plus the moment where one team momentarily gave up competing in order to doggedly complete their lego house roof… awww.

Amazingly, cheating was kept to a minimum because the tasks kept everyone so focused that there was no time for sabotage! Whilst I don’t think any of us will be entering The Cube anytime soon, we all had serious amounts of fun and learnt that good time management, staying calm under pressure and knowing your team’s strengths/weaknesses are definite requirements if you want to come out a winner!

For more information about Zero Hour check out our video here and get in touch for a detailed quote.

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