Client Case Study: Opencast People Engagement Programme

From the moment they give us a brief we let our imaginations run wild to meet and exceed expectations. Seeing the company grow at such a rapid rate encourages us to deliver bigger and better events with every new addition to their calendar, becoming an integral part of their team, sharing their aims to develop an award-winning culture and create experiences that help their people to flourish.

So, how do we work alongside one of the best tech employers in the region?

How did it all start?

Back in 2018 Opencast realised that software developers in the North East had limited access to conferences and events, without costly travel to London – therefore creating barriers to training, connections and inspiration for skilled people here in the region. Enter BeaconHouse Events. We were initially commissioned to create an engaging B2B event called Build IT Right, in collaboration with Opencast’s CTO at the time, with the aim of engaging the local developer community and delivering an exciting, relevant event that people would otherwise have to leave the region to find.

The inaugural conference delivered a thought-provoking event to delegates from across the region and the BeaconHouse Events team worked with the conference committee to deliver the experience from concept right through to delivery. The one-day event had a packed schedule with three keynote speeches from Dave Farley, Timandra Harkness and Simon Brown, alongside 24 speakers across four parallel tracks, plus a panel session and lightning talks.

This was just the start of discovering what was possible when collaborating with an ambitious, future-focused team like Opencast. That same year we launched an exciting series of internal conferences focused on people engagement, starting with their annual away weekend.

People engagement

After the success of Built IT Right in 2019 the conference took place again in 2020, this time virtually after the global pandemic scuppered plans of bringing everyone together again. During Covid we pivoted to deliver wholly virtual quarterly conferences, and helped Opencast to launch their first summer festival celebration, ‘Castonbury’ as an online event. In 2023, we are now delivering three in-person quarterly conferences, one virtual quarterly conference, a summer social and Christmas party, along with a range of client-focused events within the company’s HQ space in Newcastle. 2024 will see the return of the away weekend adding to the programme of exciting people engagement events we now deliver for the Opencast team across the year.

In 2022 Opencast turned 10 years old and we were there to help the team celebrate in style. We created a large-scale event in the company’s home town of Newcastle upon Tyne and transformed Brinkburn Brewery in Byker into a transitional event space that would perform well for formal presentations followed by less formal celebrations to be enjoyed by Opencast people. The celebration boasted all the perks worthy of such a celebration; street food, yurts, delicious cakes, balloons, branded merch, company brand beer, lights, cameras, action and plenty of drinks!

Our first event for Opencast back in 2019 hosted 40 attendees – and by 2023 we hosted in the region of 300 delegates quarterly. For 2024 we are planning to welcome over 400 people to each event.

How does it work?

We work closely with the internal team at Opencast, including internal communications manager Holly Hudson and head of learning and culture Sheena Widdowfield.

Together we work to understand the objectives of the event and build a strategy that supports their ambitions as a business. Once we understand where events and experiences fit within Opencast’s wider plan we can start to source venues that meet their vibe, shape conference content delivery, brief internal people who will be speaking at the event and make sure they feel confident and comfortable.

From there we can start to have some fun with the softer elements of the event –everything from themes, room dressing and accommodation to entertainment and catering. We try whenever possible to surprise and delight our delegates and build in moments that make them proud of the place they work and give them ways to share the experience outside of the event itself.

It’s our job to make sure that everyone leaving an Opencast event is happy, energized and connected. Our team are there to handle all the logistics in the lead up to the event, and on the day, so the Opencast team can relax in the knowledge that all the details are covered.

The impact

Speaking about the impact that creative, well-run events have had on the team at BeaconHouse, internal communications manager Holly Hudson said:

“As we grow as a company, so does the scale and the ambitions for internal events, and BeaconHouse is with us every step of the way. It feels like a true partnership. They understand our company values, the kinds of experiences we want to give to our people and, importantly, what our people respond well to. We always know we are in very good hands with our events, strongly supported by BeaconHouse from the concept stage all the way through to evaluation.”

To speak to the team at BeaconHouse Events about how to put events at the heart of your plans for staff recruitment and retention in 2023 call on 0191 691 3456 or email


BeaconHouse Events partners with North East environmental charity to pioneer industry-wide change

Our strategy aims to address two key pillars in the coming years when it comes to reducing carbon; internal emissions and event carbon, the latter of which covers the emissions from client events delivered by the agency, the majority of which comes from travel.

We thought long and hard as a team about whether we wanted to offset our carbon impact as a business and ultimately, we wanted to give back ethically to communities in our immediate vicinity here in the North East, rather for opting to plant trees or support projects overseas.

We have committed to donate the company’s annual carbon footprint offset equivalent each year to a regional project, which in 2022 was approx. 7.5 tonnes, and we are aiming to decrease carbon emissions by 5 percent year on year by taking steps including moving to a new office space to lower our heating bills, looking at energy consumption, and sustainably sourcing materials. However, we recognise that the event industry has a major impact on our planet, and our internal carbon emissions as a business only accounts for a small proportion of our yearly total, the rest is generated from the client events we deliver. It is our job to lead change within our sector and model what is possible for other event agencies and rather than handing over responsibility to our clients, we are working with them to make consistent, considered changes together.

90 percent of event carbon comes from audience travel and we want to take some accountability for the carbon impact that our events generate. Therefore, we have also committed to offset the remaining 10 percent of event carbon (equating to approx. 31.6 tonnes for all major events delivered in the 2022-2023 financial year) and donate the carbon credit equivalent to bolster our donation to Groundwork’s Nature-based solutions programme. We believe it is our responsibility to support our clients and their delegates to make better choices about travel and think about how they can safely take actions like car sharing or sustainable travel, we will then work with clients to help them understand and choose solutions to reduce their travel emissions. This could include using apps like ‘TripShift’ which tracks individuals’ movements, and how you are travelling, and uses this vital data to understand behaviours and patterns of travel to support a change to more sustainable mobility, implement positive strategies to reduce emissions, and offset individual’s impact.

Steven Roberts, Chief Executive of Groundwork NE & Cumbria said:

“BeaconHouse Events are showing how any business, big or small, can play a part in helping to tackle the environmental challenges we all face. I really am moved by their generosity and their genuine interest in Groundwork’s pioneering work around Nature-based Solutions and biodiversity net gain.  Their contribution will help us continue our work to revitalise estuaries across the region which has already had notable success in conserving and restoring eco-systems. Their support is a great example of partnership in action and we hope it will be the start of a long and productive relationship, as well as encouraging other organisations to follow suit!  Any organisation looking to build, or enhance their corporate environmental and sustainability strategies, can explore working with us through our new investor portfolio. Together we can make a difference.”

By collaborating with our clients, delegates, and other event professionals we can make consistent, real change as a sector, rather than passing the carbon buck on to the businesses we work with, many of whom are right at the start of their ESG journey or are simply overwhelmed with the options available to make strategic change. Everything that we have planned works in tandem with our growth plans for the coming years and allows us to support our clients to achieve both their business ambitions while supporting them to reach their own ESG goals too.

Alongside our environmental commitments, our ESG strategy also outlines plans to track ESG activity via timesheets and donate the equivalent amount of time or in-kind support to local community groups supporting health and wellbeing, quality education, and economic growth.

To speak to the team about creating sustainable events and achieving your business ambitions email email

Case Study: ATOMICON, A conference like no other

The client 

ATOMICON was created by Andrew and Pete, founders of the highly engaging network ATOMIC, a worldwide community of small and mighty businesses sharing advice, training, and programmes to support entrepreneurs on their growth journey. ATOMICON is a conference like no other, bringing ATOMIC members and the wider business community together to engage with world-class speakers, engaging content, and epic sales and marketing content, all geared towards businesses that want to outperform their size.

How it started 

We first started working with Andrew and Pete back in 2019 when they had already sold out the inaugural event in Newcastle and were looking for support with on-site planning and to make sure the day went off without a hitch for their 300+ attendees. By taking over the logistics and organisation of the event, we allowed Andrew and Pete to dream up the really fun elements that make ATMICON so special.

Since then we have worked with the team to bring their virtual conference to life during the pandemic in 2020, before coming back to Sage Gateshead in 2021 and 2023, and we’re already looking forward to the next conference in 2024!

The conference 

After an online edition in 2020, an online teaser in early 2021, the event came back with a bang in November 2021 featuring Dragon’s Den Star Deborah Meaden, Facebook guru Ann Handley, keynote extraordinaire Drew Davis, and TikTok star Kyne alongside a variety of other parallel sessions. The Sage Gateshead provided a perfect backdrop for the learning, alongside the entertainment on offer for attendees including Cyclone Machine, Selfie Spots, Gif Generator, sweeties, and a comfortable chill-out zone. The fun started on the afternoon prior with member meet-ups, a Speaker party at ABOVE, and a Pre-Party Jazzy Shirt Party at Livello. The event culminated in an after-party at the hotspot Revolución de Cuba. Online guests were treated to live streams of the content alongside exclusive competitions and virtual parties.

In 2023 we welcomed 1,000 delegates in person and virtually to ATOMICON. We returned to Sage Gateshead to welcome solo entrepreneurs from across the globe to be motivated by the stellar speaker lineup, including Joe Wicks, Chris Do, Rob & Kennedy, and the ever-inspiring hosts and founders Andrew & Pete.

During the conference, the Sage concourse was alive with activations from sponsors including a prosecco wall, a GIANT inflatable whack-a-mole, arcade games, and sweets galore. The main conference activity started on the afternoon prior with fringe events across the city, member meet-ups, a Speaker party, and a Pre-Party Jazzy Shirt Party at the By The River Brew, taking advantage of the glorious weather. Online guests were treated to live streams of the content and virtual parties within the platform Flox.

Flox was also utilized for ATOMICWorld – for the two weeks before ATOMICON, ATOMICWorld covered a range of marketing topics from world-leading experts in a daily speaker slot with live Q&A, alongside 40+ curated networking sessions.

How we work together 

We work with Andrew and Pete, as well as their wider team including designers, the social media team, and ‘FOMO Creator’, along with their membership managers to explore how we can learn each year and create a bigger and better experience for ATOMICON attendees. Alongside daily communications in slack with the best emoji use, we thoroughly enjoy a monthly meeting with everyone involved in the project to make sure that we are on track and to explore new ideas together.

On the run-up to the event, we manage venues, the virtual platform, speaker sourcing and briefing, supplier liaison, AV, exhibitors, and branding, while on the day we’re on hand to look after registration and onsite delivery to give everyone peace of mind that there will be no surprises.

What the client says… 

“We love working with BeaconHouse Events, delivering an annual 1,000+ hybrid conference like no other with an international delegation growing year on year. We need all hands on deck from initial bookings of major personalities such as Joe Wicks, to being onsite from the crack of dawn on the event days BeaconHouse is a fantastic extension to our team. All details, large to small are considered, with Sophie and Rebekah always ready to explore our wildest ideas and turn them into a reality each year.”

Andrew Pickering, Co-Founder, ATOMIC

Best seat in the house – How does your seating arrangement impact delegate experience?

There are lots of things to take into consideration when thinking about where and how to get your delegates comfortable. What is the purpose of the event? Do they already know each other, or are you trying to help people connect? Do people need space to make notes during the speakers sessions? Different seating arrangements can majorly influence the learning experience and have the power to alter or enhance the whole atmosphere (your speaker can be the most interesting person in the world, but if you’re sitting behind a pole with a numb bum it won’t be that engaging).

So how can you make the most of your seating options to meet modern audience requirements?

Classic theatre set-up 

Close your eyes and imagine a traditional conference speaker set-up, and this is probably what you see. Theatre style is made up of rows of chairs facing the stage and is great for an event where the main focus is on one, or a range of speakers with a large audience, something like an annual company presentation, product launch, or awards show where you want your delegates attention centered on the stage. If you’re going with theatre-style seating, remember that it is not particularly well suited to taking notes or audience participation. Sitting for long periods can cause people’s attention to wander, so reassure them that stretching their legs, grabbing a drink between speakers, or using the loo is permitted by arranging the seating accordingly. Rather than long rows, create smaller sections of chairs so attendees can move around the space without awkwardly weaving along rows or disturbing others. Modern venues like The Glasshouse International Centre for Music (venue formerly known as Sage Gateshead)  have tiered seating so no one is looking at the back of someone’s head rather than the stage.

Life is a Cabaret 

Cabaret or café style seats delegates in small groups around a circular or overall table, with the chairs in a semi-circle so everyone is facing the stage (no awkward turning or craning necks here). This option is perfect for fostering conversation and for more interactive meetings where you want your attendees to do activities, workshop ideas, or discuss key themes throughout the day. This style lends itself well to taking notes or doodling, something that can be helpful for visual and kinetic learners. Small groups like this can be really helpful to get to know more people rather than only being able to speak to the people sitting on either side of you, but this can cause distractions or side conversations during presentations. Circular seating patterns like this also eliminate the problem of finding the best seat – all vantage points offer the same view and experience!


Just like school, each delegate gets their own table with plenty of space to make notes and spread out – all facing the front of the space. This setup is great for taking detailed notes, using laptops or tablets, or even enjoying a drink and a snack while listening to the speaker without any balancing on your knees. Consider this option if for a training session, where there might be lots of information to refer back to. Classroom style is great for sharing ideas with the group as a whole or interacting with the speaker, but it can be restrictive when it comes to group work, so carefully consider how you want people to interact with each other during the session. Interactivity can be accomplished in this setting with live polls, Q&As via mobile polling platforms such as Slido.

Flex appeal 

Flexible seating arrangements allow for the best of all worlds, allowing you to customise your setup depending on the purpose of each session during the event. Use chairs and tables that are easy to move or adapt and reconfigure the room in between each period to accommodate different types of activities, learning, or idea sharing. This type of arrangement is particularly handy for events with multiple sessions, breakout groups, or opportunities to engage and keeps your delegates interested and meeting new people, rather than sticking to the core group on their table or in their row.

Mix it up 

Seating doesn’t have to be boring! Showcase your creative side by incorporating some unique or quirky pieces into your event chill-out spaces, or split up your spaces to include multiple ways for people to relax. Think beanbag chairs, comfy sofas, swing sets, or even deckchairs in an outside space so your delegates can enjoy the fresh air between sessions. Not only are they comfy, but they will make a great photo op too.

Quiet seating areas 

The hustle and bustle of a conference or event can be overwhelming for some people, and sitting in a crowded room with strangers doesn’t make everyone feel comfortable. Create a quiet seating space where people can go to relax and escape the busy atmosphere. Signage can make it clear to other delegates that this space is not for taking calls or meetings, it is a sanctuary away from the main event space. Make sure there is lots of space to spread out, use low or dim lighting, and limit noise and distractions.

Power to the people 

Note-taking apps, emails, project planning tools; having access to our devices for a full day without the power running low is an important part of the conference experience. Many attendees will expect sustainable event materials like itineraries, notes, or venue information to be provided digitally, which means they will be using their devices more than ever before, so when you’re planning your seating arrangements, make sure that there is adequate access to power, without having to crouch by a wall socket. You could even invest in portable charging stations or wireless charging pads to keep your delegates connected and engaged.

To speak to the team at BeaconHouse Events about the best way to bring your next event to life, contact

Do you Doodle? The power of sharing ideas through drawing

A space to do-odle. 

Were you ever told off for doodling at school? Well, you might be surprised to learn that doodling is much more than simply a way to keep yourself awake; the act of doodling can actually help you solve problems, understand complex information – especially if it is being delivered verbally – and create new ideas. In 2009, there was even a study by Harvard Medical School that looked at how doodling can help us retain and process information; the research team asked two groups to listen to a long voice message, one group just listened while the other was asked to perform a simple doodling activity. The results? The group of doodlers recalled 29 percent more information than the other group, and the research team concluded that, for some people, paying continuous attention to something for too long overstrains our focus and allows our minds to wander.

While an auditory learner will be captivated by listening to a keynote speaker, if you are a kinetic learner, having the space and tools to doodle and make notes during a presentation can make all the difference to your experience during and after an event.

A tool for visual learners 

But it doesn’t always have to be you who is doodling! For visual learners, the way that information is presented can be just as impactful as the information itself. That means illustrating data and providing well-designed materials to bring key ideas to life. We’re always looking for new ways to give every delegate a meaningful experience, and the brilliant team behind InkyThinking is often on hand to bring our events to life in a unique and visual way.

At many of our events, we have brought in the team to deliver rich picture design; a way of dynamic visual storytelling, crystallising messages on one page, and providing teams with an engaging tool to start conversations and carry on learning from the event back in the office. A rich picture is an impactful way of collating many ideas together on one page and, literally, showing your big-picture thoughts for the future of your organisation, complexities in teams, or challenges on the road ahead. Not only that, you can take it back to the office as an amazing piece of artwork as a legacy for your event, giving people who couldn’t be there the chance to get involved in the conversation too.

Outside of the event 

No two events are the same, and while photography can capture moments, emotions, and scale, sometimes the ideas and nuance of conversation can be difficult to explain after the event is done and dusted. Organisations invest a lot of time and resources into creating events with impact, so having a visual way of sharing what happened post-experience is a great way of extending the reach of your ideas. Dynamic pictures can be shared on social media channels, posted to your website, and displayed in your reception area, creating a legacy in a way that photography just can’t capture.

Are you a visual learner? What resources or spaces would you like to see at events to help support your learning and enhance your experience? To speak to the team about working with BeaconHouse Events to bring your ideas to life, email