Tips & Guides

Tips and guides for event organisers. Our experienced team share their tips for organising a successful event.



You’ve spent a lot on your event. The content is ready. The stage is set. Now you’re just hoping for some good social engagement from your attendees to take it to the next level.

Needless to say, the stakes are high.

Social engagement is a vital part of any corporate event strategy—before, during, and after the event. A good social engagement strategy can help drive brand awareness and deliver a better return on all that money spent.  But event hashtags and location check-ins are just table stakes these days. If you really want to create something memorable, you need to step your game up.

Here are five refreshing ways you can improve social media engagement during your events.

1. Sell with Social

Have you ever heard of a Twitter-powered vending machine? Turns out, you can immediately reward attendees for using your event hashtag. You can fill a special vending machine with desirable event swag and the only cost to get an item is to send a tweet including your event hashtag and dedicated Twitter handle. Once the machine recognizes the tweet, hashtag, and handle, the gift is automatically released! It’s a rewarding way to get more social engagement and give attendees more reasons to share their gifts and experiences on social media.

If you have the budget to offer attendees something that’s truly valuable in exchange for interaction with your brand, you’re bound to get a great boost to your social profiles. According to the Social Media Examiner, “Westin Hotels’ National Running Day-themed machine drove 183,000 impressions and 15,000 engagements with content mentioning the brand or campaign hashtags.”

2.Live to Live Stream

A good rule of thumb for events is to capture everything. Thanks to live streaming’s mass popularization, that’s never been easier. Don’t worry if a videographer isn’t in your budget; a team member with a love of Facebook Live or Instagram Stories can still get the job done.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: live streaming seems counterintuitive. If you want people to attend your event, and be really present once they’re through the doors, why post a stream of the entire thing online?

As the Swapcard blog says, “The answer is you don’t. Your live streaming should be a teaser trailer, not the entire event.” Is your goal to get people to buy tickets for the next day of your weekend-long event, or get on the wait list for the next one? Provide something that’s useful, exciting, and that people are likely to share.”

Again from Swapcard: “Don’t just tell them about the awe-inspiring speakers your event has, include a live stream of an interview or keynote speech.” This will give viewers a taste of what they want—and the knowledge that they have to be there in-person to get the full experience.

As you stream, make sure to constantly interact with your viewers. Oracle recently did this by live streaming their Modern Customer Experience conference’s keynote speaker. Non-attendees could watch the speech in real-time, and better yet, leave questions and live chat with designated Oracle social media representatives.

This tactic created a flurry of social engagement on Twitter and provided the Oracle staff with key questions to ask during the Q&A section that may not have been voiced from the live audience. It enhanced the conference’s value by incorporating the opinions and questions of those who were unable to physically attend the conference.

3. Strike a Pose

Having a photo booth—or GIF booth, if you’re really fancy—isn’t just fun for attendees. It’s also an opportunity for guests to immediately share their experience with your brand and get people at home to follow along. HubSpot employed The Danger Booth to turn a traditional photo booth into a headshot opportunity for each attendee. Conferences are a great place to network and sprucing up your professional headshot is a timely and valuable activity. By making this available to their attendees, the photo booth generated over 4,000 images!

People love to share a great picture of themselves, so naturally these headshots were shared on social media and tagged with the event hashtag. This level of social engagement indicated enthusiasm around the unconventional photo booth and boosted HubSpot’s credibility with its potential audience as they offered something its attendees needed and wanted in a convenient way.

If you want to really optimize social sharing, add your event’s hashtag to the corner of each photo. That way, curious scrollers on social media can click through and see other content from the day. Plus, people who are reminiscing on the day later will be able to find and share the posts more easily.

 4.Shoot Behind-The-Scenes

If people are already at your event, you need to give them a good reason to check your social media channels throughout the day. Exclusive, behind-the-scenes content is the perfect way to boost social engagement from attendees.

The Next Web hosted a recent conference in Amsterdam and gave followers a behind-the-scenes view that could only be seen across their social channels. They displayed videos featuring celebrities and even cross-promoted social sharing across their various platforms by referring people to their Snapchat and Twitter accounts for even more backstage action. This drove impressive engagement and increased the conference’s visibility while it was happening.

Not sure what to post? Trying showing your speakers getting ready before they go onstage, your production crew prepping the after party, and your caterers plating some particularly delicious snacks. These tidbits will make attendees excited for what’s to come and give those who forgot to get a ticket a sense of what they’re missing.

5.Do it Live

Panels are the perfect opportunity to get questions and feedback from the audience in real-time.

“When we get requests to integrate social media into the AV or presentations of an event, we usually direct our clients to applications like Tagboard or Everwall,” Richard Young Director of Technology at Cavendish Venues, told us. “Both allow you to input hashtags related to the event, and then collect all posts using that hashtag across multiple social media platforms for display in a customizable display dashboard.”

According to Richard, this type of presentation is effective because it lets attendees know that their posts are being noticed, which encourages more participation. This leads to more activity on the screens, rather than a couple of occasional posts.

6.Give ‘Em Something to Talk About 

These days, social engagement is a bit of an arms race—unless you’re offering something new that people haven’t seen before, they won’t be busting out their phones to snag a picture or talk about it. That’s a heavy burden, but it should also be encouraging. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s the only way to stick out from the


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big issue



Venue contracts are notoriously opaque and deliberately so, many venues quote low hoping to make their mark up on extra items which are added down the line, catering, audio-visual etc. Someone like the London Stock Exchange has a particularly bad reputation in this respect. It really pays to think through carefully what you need in a venue.


Prices within London vary enormously, to give you an idea etc.venues prices can vary by 50% depending on location and then again by a similar percentage depending on day of the week. Its worth defining your geographical locations as tightly as possible.


Nearly all venues are cheaper on a Monday or Friday, the are also cheaper during school holidays etc. Next year venues are bound to be cheaper on days when England and playing in the world cup etc. This sort of dynamic pricing cab be seen at venues like Church House and Inmarsat


Simple add-ons can be an absolute killer, at a venue like Conway Hall the price of AV can easily be as much as the price of the room.


This is absolutely key, simple things which you might assume to be the case often aren’t in this world. Did you know for example the 15 Northumberland Avenue doesn’t have any natural light, or that DeVere venues Holborn or DeVere W1 will charge you for a private dining room


Venues like resource for London on the Holloway Road, or Cavendish Venues in Central London.


If you are going to use an agent like use a local agent, there are is a far greater chance they will have actually seen the venue, its simply not credible to assume that the large regionally based agencies banks Sadler, Zibrant, Conference Care etc will have actually seen the spaces.


This is a world with low barriers to entry, there are lots of agents out there who have never booked space as a principal and or have never worked for a venue, in which case they really are only a human version of Google, you are far better with someone who has experience in the industry and can truly help you avoid the pitfalls. The likes of Capita Business Travel spring to mind.

9.Use a specialist agent

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Top 6 challenges faced by event planners

By Cheryl Hill, events manager, Forever Manchester

Events management is an art. To run a good event you need to think of many elements, and sometimes one or more of those elements can leave you up a creek without a paddle, potentially jeopardising your event. Here are some common challenges of being an event manager and how to avoid them, or at least reduce the risk of occurrence.


If there is something I’ve learnt to do in my time as an events manager, it’s how to stretch a budget and get more bang for my buck; whether it’s sourcing a drinks sponsor to cover a cost by providing the product or finding a sponsor to pay for your event. Working for a charity, the profit is the money that goes to support the cause we work towards, so I can’t just break even or make a loss. It affects people’s lives.

Try and think of everything, not just the venue cost but also the cost of getting there, bits and pieces you might need, and expenses. There will sometimes be costs you can’t foresee, so you are better overestimating. Give yourself a buffer.


A constant battle is getting venues to do what you ask of them. You need to be prepared to double, triple and even quadruple check the confirmation document you’ve been sent and then reiterate it all on the day of the event.

You are one of many clients, you probably aren’t at the top of their priorities as the staff working on events at most venues also have additional roles, so nit-pick and question everything you’re unsure about. I once went for a menu taste, picked it all out and then on the day they served all the wrong food. I didn’t check and assumed the venue knew. I won’t make that mistake again.


The issue with sorting out dietary requirements is that people don’t really understand what a dietary requirement always is. In a nutshell (pun not intended), it is a restriction to what someone is able to eat, either through lifestyle choices or through physical intolerance. It is not picking out things you don’t like because mushrooms aren’t for you. I loathe sending out menus prior to events. I’ve had it all, from “I can’t have anything that comes from an animal with feathers” and “Oh I’m lactose intolerant… except for hard cheeses”.

My only advice is to make sure you ask attendees to your event about their dietary requirements ASAP and specify the above definition, otherwise you’ll be scrambling about contacting people individually and you’ll waste a lot of time.

Drop offs

The biggest fear for anyone working on an event is no one turning up. It isn’t so bad for events where attendees have to pay, as they want their money’s worth. It is the free events that cause me palpitations. The key is in the selling, and investing a little to make it work and reminding your attendees that it is actually happening. For example, the free monthly networking event I used to run had a welcome drink for the first 50 people and we put on local musicians.

Being unique

That brings me to my next challenge, and that’s being unique; creating something that stands out from the thousands of events that are happening. Regularly I have to choose between three different events on one night. How can you create that pull that brings people to you over someone else? Always try and find out what else is going on, and think about the audience you’re trying to appeal to.

Everyone who thinks being an event manager is easy

I understand that coming up with creative ideas is fun part of being an event manager, but it is one small aspect of the role. You need to have a lot more about you to make it work and have the ability to spin a significant number of plates at any one time. I actually agree that most people can cobble an event together, but will that event be well attended, create a profit and be an enjoyable event for both the guests and the people running it, most likely not. It is a nuanced business that takes tact, common sense and getting off your butt and getting stuff done.

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5 simple concepts for the perfect meeting environment

Light and colour

We have been banging on about the importance of natural daylight for years but almost as important is the colours of light you can use to establish the ideal tone for your agenda:

Blue will establish an air of confidence, reliability, competence and productivity

Red symbolises power whilst evoking friendly and lively emotions at the same time

Yellow signifies optimism and energy, stimulating happiness and positive communication

Green is a restful colour, relieving stress and sparking creativity

White encourages an open mind, allowing ideas and fresh approaches to be explored

Aromas and scents

Using scented candles can create particular responses – lavender is comforting and soothing, citrus scents are uplifting and alleviate stress, vanilla and cinnamon are invigorating and aid creativity, whilst lilac encourages decision making. Blends of different essences are powerful mood enhancers and can be used to good effect in a meeting room.

Sounds and music

Far from distracting (provided that the volume is thoughtfully set), background music can help to set the atmosphere of a room. Changing up the soundtrack or volume setting for breaks or to change the energy level is also a great way to stimulate your audience.

Harmony and balance

Eastern ideas that have developed over more than 3 millennia may seem odd-ball to western thinking but there are some important lessons to be learned from disciplines such as Feng Shui and the balance of Yin and Yang.

Clear clutter and organise – When you clear clutter you bring in vital energy that will help you with mental clarity, focus, and inspiration. Feeling organised has a profound impact on emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Use appropriate imagery – Choose artwork for presentations and images to pin up that stimulate and inspire. Surround yourselves with items that stimulate creativity. Include plants, flowers and articles that speak to you of prosperity, abundance and success.

Bring balance by including both Yin and Yang elements – compliment bright natural light with soft colours, hard and angular surfaces and furniture with flowing shapes and soft furnishing.

Play and creativity

It is widely understood that our minds seek constant stimulation. We find it very hard to concentrate for any length of time, especially when being spoken at. Experiential learning is ingrained from our earliest development. Often characterised as play, some of the most powerful personal and group development is achieved when people have fun.

Mix traditional presentations with group work, play acting, role playing, games and team building activities. Get your audience out of their chairs, go outside, be invigorated and exercised. Keep the blood flowing and laughter coming. If it’s a classroom situation allow participants to keep their hands occupied, give them pipe cleaners to fiddle with for instance.

Right now at Sundial we are having fun experimenting with these ideas. We are establishing a meeting laboratory and encouraging our guests to try out ideas so that we can learn how best to upgrade and develop the meeting environments we provide. Please contact us with your thoughts and ideas and to find out more about trying out our meeting spaces and settings.

Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard is the Deputy Editor at Conference News. Formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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Choosing food and drink for your office Christmas party

The festive season is all about indulgence especially when it comes to food and drink. So choosing how to cater for your office party is very important.

From small to large groups you’re often faced with varying tastes, likes and dislikes and choosing a style of food to suit everyone can often be a bit of a headache.

Here we look at a few things to consider when choosing the food for your office Christmas party.


What you’re going to serve guests to eat and drink is the central part of any party, and needs to be carefully co-ordinated with your theme, if you have one. Don’t feel like you have to stick to Christmas food either, explore all your options available to you. Depending on your choice of venue, you can either rely on in-house catering (if it has a good reputation) or, venue permitting, you could hire an external caterer. Things to consider for food are:

  • How do you want the food to be served? Do you want a formal, sit-down meal, or do you want a buffet-style event?
  • Make sure you consult with the chefs to choose a style of food that incorporates your theme
  • Organise a vegetarian option, and ensure that individuals with other special dietary requirements are catered for.
  • Always insist on a menu tasting


When it comes to drinks, budget is a massive factor. Are you going to prepay up to a certain amount, or are you just going to pay for everything that gets consumed on the night? Obviously, depending on how much your guests drink, the latter can result in spiraling costs and a whole lot of sore heads the next day, so maybe consider either narrowing down the options or having drinks vouchers for attendees to spend as they want.

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Christmas Parties

Planning The Christmas Party: 18 Steps to Organising the Perfect Party

First, if the idea of planning an event all seems too much use a professional venue booker / event management company. They will do the vast majority of the leg work for you + you don’t have to pay them. They are paid by the venue, who in turn don’t pass this cost on to you, the venue relies on the agent’s bulk purchasing power to obtain more business, much like a travel agent.

The job of planning the company Christmas party can often seem something of an unwelcome and scary prospect. You are not alone if that’s how you are feeling about it, as the time constraints and pressure of wanting to organise something that all your colleagues will enjoy can make it a stressful ordeal.

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venue search london

How technology has revitalised our industry

When I first started in the industry, organising events was a labour-intensive affair. As an events manager for a major London institution I remember only too clearly registrations coming in by fax, long nights manually checking registration lists and printing and stuffing badges. Latter when I became a venue finding agent our primary tool for finding venues in unfamiliar cities was huge paper based directories or even that long gone dinosaur the yellow pages.

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venue fnd london

How to find the Ideal Destination for your event

Every experienced planner knows that choosing the right venue and location can make or break the success of an event. Site selection is often the most challenging part of the event planning process, since even a small oversight can cause major setbacks for attendees, that’s what we are here for, at the end of the day nothing beats experience. The below is intended as a brief guide as to how the process works.

Researching meeting destinations and negotiating with venues can be time-consuming, and in many cases, it is difficult to know if you are really getting a good deal. Here are the top five ways to select the ideal destination and venue for your next event, without breaking the bank.

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green conference 4

How to Organise a Green Conference

Greening an event can have two positive impacts. It increases the sustainability of your organisation, but it also makes the participants aware of the importance of sustainable actions. Use both pre-event communications and post-event evaluation and follow-up to tell participants that this is a green event and provide them with further information (this check list) if they are interested.

Before you start…

1. Is your event definitely needed?

Consider whether video (tele) conferencing, local workshops or a digitally broadcast lecture would work instead. If you decide that getting together in one place is essential, design a programme that makes the most of this! No snoozing in the back row… Use training workshops to share knowledge and skills, allow time and space for related meetings to be held, and give out any local resources to save posting them later.

Planning your event…

2. Transport

The distance and the available modes of transport are major determinants of how facilitators and participants travel and therefore their carbon footprint. A very few venues have specific carbon calculators to measure this ie Cavendish venues

Minimise travel during the planning stage, using alternative methods of communication;

Choose location of event to minimise travel and facilitate public transport use;

Provide comprehensive travel information, to include pedestrian/cycle routes from bus andtrain stations – work with the venue staff to find out about local transport options (encourage them to make the same information available to future clients);

Organise group discounts well in advance to encourage train and bus use; encourage local branches to make group bookings for their members;

Consider providing a coach service, if there is no good public transport available;

Reduce the delegate fee for people travelling by public transport (or bike!)

Try to organise conference sessions, socials and accommodation within walking distance of each other Provide facilities for remote participation in the event (e.g. video link-up could allow contributions from overseas colleagues);

Use tools, such as an online carbon calculator (see “L’EcoComparateur” provided by the French train company SNCF);

Collect information from participants on how they travelled to the event. This will raise awareness and help you to plan future meetings.

3. Catering

Food and tableware are the two relevant items to look at. The carbon footprint of food and tableware is determined by its production, storage, transport and disposal.

Liaise with the staff at the venue to request locally produced, seasonal food;

Ask suppliers to minimise packaging, and take back the rest on delivery;

Choose reusable tableware instead of disposable items;

Offer jugs of tap water rather than bottled spring water;

If juice or alcoholic drinks are included, try to source them as locally as possible too;

Provide mainly vegetarian food (which is usually acceptable to all) with a vegan option – this will help to reduce the carbon footprint

Avoid highly processed food (which also has a higher carbon footprint);

Liaise with venue staff about recycling of food waste and other disposable items;

Inform the attendees of the sustainable procurement and provision of the food – if possible, label the dishes.

4. Venue

•We at the venue booker maintain a list of green & sustainable venues throughout the UK, ask for details.

•Ask for a copy of the venue sustainability policy before booking – look out for sections on energy, transport, food and waste.

Choose a venue with lots of natural light and air;

Consider a venue where energy (heating, cooling and electricity) is provided partly or fully by renewable energy sources (at least asking about this will flag the issue for the venue managers);

Consider a venue set in a natural environment, e.g. with a garden or a nearby park;

Choose a location which provides cycle racks and changing facilities;

Inform the manager of the venue about your commitment to sustainability and about options to make the venue more sustainable.

5. Equipment & Stationery

 Send pre-event information by email rather than hard copy;

• Avoid overprinting and duplicating documents provided during the event:

 Use blackboards, whiteboards, projectors and posters rather than handouts;

 Make presentations available by email or download rather than printing out;

 Keep hand-outs short and relevant, print double-sided;

• Use recycled paper (including for any folders – if these are needed);

• Provide pencils or pens made out of recycled material.

• Re-use name tags

6. Involving delegates

•Keep delegates informed of your commitment to sustainability and your efforts at greening;

Ask for their feedback: you could offer a prize or donation to charity for those who arrived by the greenest means, or put   forward the most imaginative ideas for improving future events;

Review the event programme: is there scope to include content on environmental aspects of the subject matter?

Arrange an information stall – perhaps with a personal carbon foot printing service?

Offer a bookswap or other opportunities to freecycle at the event;

Put emphasis on reducing electricity usage, by turning off lights & projectors when not needed, etc. – include reminders in housekeeping notices;

Provide sustainability guidelines to all event organisers.

If you are outsourcing the management of the event to a third party, simply hand them this list and get them to use it.

We are passionate about organising sustainable meetings, talk to us.






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Organise an Event

How to organise an event

Organising an event can seem like an incredibly overwhelming task, however with good organisation and forward thinking, your event is sure to run smoothly. If you follow the few steps below you will be well on the way to a successful event!

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