Venues of Excellence (VOE) has hosted its 2024 Annual Conference at the award-winning Alton Towers Resort sponsored by Oyster Recruitment. The theme for the conference was titled ‘The Power of Discovery’ and was attended by 143 delegates and supported by 21 exhibitors.
The Power of Discovery theme was a major success with delegates and as always, VOE provided motivation and inspiration from an excellent range of industry speakers and informative sessions all focussed on helping venues strive for continued excellence. With a stellar line up of speakers, themes included Inspiration, Motivation, Entrepreneurial Vision, and Industry Best Practice.
Venues of Excellence CEO, Mandy Jennings opened the conference sharing that the objective was to provide the knowledge for delegates to unlock their potential and give everyone an inspirational kickstart to 2024. Mandy shared that VOE have been on a very exciting journey of discovery as a business and summed up their 5 winning ingredients as Vision, Destination, Focus, Action and Success. She stated “Our Vision is to be the leading consortium of choice for independent conference and event venues in the UK. Giving a clear route and Destination to our member venues and setting stretching targets for the VOE team to achieve, has seen us bring in 18 new venues in the past 18 months. Witha clear Focus on sales, we have achieved an outstanding result and ensures we are keeping the business in our VOE family of venues. By implementing a clear Action plan, we haveintroduced new initiatives for our members such as the #AgencyExcellence programme and our Quality strategy giving a platform for our venues to work together to get recognition as leading conference and events venues, and finally we have seen Success in achieving excellent financial results, making us stronger as a business.”
As delegates settled into the conference, Junaid Ishfaq, Hotel Operations Manager, Alton Towers Resort, welcomed them to the award-winning venue, giving his own personal journey from Doorman to Operations Manager and his ambition to be a Director of the future, before handing over to Tim Sissons from In2action to deliver a motivational session around having the right mindset and attitude can help individuals achieve their goals in life and business encouraging them to work on always being a 10!
The conference gained momentum as Carrie Barber from Kigo Consultancy shared a session around ‘daring people to believe in the change they want to make, because we achieve what we believe.’ David Abbott shared some great tips on pricing and customer psychology and VOE Preferred Partner Paddy and Scott’s presented an inspiring session focussing on an entrepreneur’s journey ‘the bedrock of great business’ and shared the recent management buyout success story.
Delegates had a fantastic choice of workshop sessions from ‘Inspirational Journeys in Hospitality’ hosted by Caroline Orme, Worldwide Events Manger from JCB, and Bianca Sammut, Divisional Director from Merlin Entertainment Group to Peter Heath from Venue Performance and Louise Tawadrous from BVA-BDRC giving an insightful session on Industry Trends and Statistics. Riccardo Corbinzolu and the team from Wilson Vale gave great advice on Creative Delegate Menus.
When Mark Field FIH, Operations Director, Victory Services Club was asked to comment on his experience as a delegate to the conference, he said: “As a delegate at the VOE Conference 2024, I can say every speaker was great, and getting involved in the events community can also help you in your current job role. Remember, we work in a people-led industry so you never know when you will need your little black book of contacts to help. Building a network of suppliers is a strategic advantage that goes beyond your day-to-day responsibilities. Knowing reliable contractors and understanding the broader supply chain enhances your ability to deliver success. This was all under one roof. Being a member of Venues of Excellence provides you a network that becomes a valuable resource, ensuring you have access to top-notch services, products, and industry trends, ultimately contributing to the success of your business. Being part of the Advisory Board I would suggest anyone interested in working with Mandy and her team reach out, you will not be disappointed.”
The conference programme came to a close with a thought-provoking session delivered by Darrell Woodman, The Art of Brilliance who explored the concept behind ‘Shift Happens’ looking at the power of discovery and understanding how ‘Hope Thinking’ can transform your performance, your productivity and your life.
Oyster Recruitment Director, Karen Brodie on sponsoring the conference for a second year commented: “What an incredible experience at the annual VOE conference this year. Being a sponsor filled us with pride, and it was an honour to support such a fantastic portfolio of venues. The 48 hours of non-stop networking flew by, providing us with ample opportunities to connect with clients and delve into the latest industry updates. Meeting familiar faces and catching up with clients we work with was a highlight and the speakers at the conference were engaging, offering valuable insights into everything from personal motivation to pricing techniques. Oyster Recruitment are grateful for the chance to be a partner of such a strong membership of exceptional venues.”
Karen Johnson, Corporate Sales Manager, Alton Towers Resort, commented “We are so proud to have hosted the Venues of Excellence Annual Conference 2024 at the Alton Towers Resort. The dynamic exchange of ideas, coupled with valuable networking opportunities and informative sessions made it a truly enriching experience. A shout out to our operational team for delivering service excellence throughout. This has been a great opportunity to promote our Resort as a conference venue and it was an absolute pleasure to welcome fellow members of Venues of Excellence and demonstrate Business With A Twist!”
Blendology, provided the paperless and sustainable delegate badges making it easy to network and capture key contacts on the day. The conference was complemented by a great networking area for peer-to-peer engagement and to meet exhibitors who offer products and services to the hospitality sector. Many of the exhibitors work with Venues of Excellence (VOE) members within the renowned Preferred Partner Programme and Supplier Directory. This provided delegates with an excellent opportunity to meet with a range of suppliers; from software companies to sustainability, catering suppliers to recruitment and so much more during the breaks and lunch, providing key contacts to work in partnership with for the future. Noel Sexton, Director of View It 360, and Premium Preferred Partner commented: “This was our 6th year of exhibiting at the fantastic annual conference run by the Venues of Excellence team. To have the opportunity to directly speak to the decision makers of so many amazing venues from across the UK is still and always will be invaluable, and all done in such a friendly, fun, and relaxed environment!“
After an informative conference programme with industry experts, the annual conference concluded with a gala awards dinner with two esteemed VOE awards. The “Referral Team” award is given to the venue who provides VOE with the highest number of confirmed referrals to their partner member venues, which went to NTU Events and Conferencing, and the VOE Ambassador award went to Julian Kettleborough, Commercial Director from thestudio for his invaluable support of Venues of Excellence through 2023. During the dinner, a raffle raised £1,500 for the VOE nominated charity – Ambition Unlocked, for the Ruiga Primary, Mixed and Secondary Girls Schools in Kenya. VOE are now in their fifth year of supporting the charity through its preferred partnership with Paddy and Scott’s.
Stewart Elsmore, Director of Campus Services, Cranfield University and Chair of the VOE Advisory Group reflecting on the Conference Programme said: “Our Venues of Excellence ‘The Power of Discovery’ Conference 2024 was an absolute triumph, with representation from the majority of venues within the collection and delegates from a wide-ranging selection of teams, including operations, sales, management, and principals, together with invited guests. We had the best ever attendance in our conference history. The award-winning Alton Towers Resort and Conference Centre provided the perfect setting for showcasing ‘The Power of Discovery’ with their unique blend of top quality conference facilities and exciting world class leisure themes creating an amazing ‘Bleisure’ experience. The flood of feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive.”
As always, the success of the 2024 Conference is attributable to many, including our great host Jim Cockell and fantastic speakers. We would like to thank In2action, David Abbott, Kigo Consulting Limited, Paddy & Scott’s, The Art of Brilliance, Wilson Vale, BVA-BDRC, Venue Performance, JCB, Merlin Entertainment Group, Blendology, Quadrant Events and Off Limits for all their contributions to the conference programme, our sponsor Oyster Recruitment, host venue Alton Towers Resort, all our exhibitors and our VOE Team who successfully delivered our Venues of Excellence Annual Conference 2024 – The Power of Discovery.