Sustainable catering for your next event

These staggering statistics show the enormous impact that the event industry is having on our planet, but we can’t make change alone. We know that there are brilliant initiatives, big and small, happening up and down the country when it comes to tackling food waste and creating sustainable catering experiences, and we are constantly inspired by the creativity that we see to tackle environmental issues. If we all commit to making small, considered practices within our industry, maybe we can start to turn the tide when it comes to food waste.

So, how can you create high-impact events that don’t cost the earth?

1. Partner with sustainable caterers

Where possible we partner with sustainable caterers to help us to reduce the amount of food wasted through our events. Magic Hat Café in Newcastle offers bespoke, freshly prepared catering for events, all created from food and drink destined for landfill. The team at Magic Hat collects food from hospitality venues and shops across the region and uses these surplus ingredients to make delicious food. We love working with the team and our delegates are always impressed with the quality of the catering they deliver. By partnering with an organisation like Magic Hat, you’re directly impacting the amount of food being wasted in the UK with every mouthful.

Make sure you communicate your sustainability goals to venues and catering teams, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to combatting food waste. We love to learn from our partner venues and organisations, by having an open conversation and sharing ideas you can make real change, rather than trying to combat the issue in a silo.


2. Don’t over cater

Try to accurately estimate the amount of people you are expecting at an event and try not to over-order when it comes to food and drink. We’ve found that serving food through sharing platters or ‘family style’, rather than in individual portions, reduces the amount of food wasted and also limits the amount of packaging being used per event. This method allows delegates to serve themselves according to their preferences, or how hungry they are and avoids plates of wasted food at the end of a meal. Why not provide branded food boxes so guests can take home food to enjoy later if they can’t quite finish everything during the event?


3. How are you disposing of waste?

While limiting the amount of waste produced is the goal, there will inevitably be some food waste left over at the end of your event. For the Dynamites Awards 2023, we worked with a North East based anaerobic waste digestion plant to dispose of excess food, converting it into renewable energy, biofertiliser, and biomethane Gas. The biomethane produced is also injected into the local Gas Grid, helping to heat local homes and businesses as a renewable alternative to natural gas. How amazing is that?!

If it is safe to do so, leftover catering and ingredients could be donated to local charitable initiatives like The People’s Kitchen so people in need can get a taste of the event too, rather than it being destined for the bin.


4. Get delegates involved

Engaging attendees in your sustainability efforts will help people feel more invested and foster a sense of shared responsibility while allowing you to communicate your sustainability goals authentically. Why not try incorporating integrative elements into your event like a waste sorting station where guests can learn about your recycling practices and feel like they’re doing their part? Provide interesting educational materials on the impact of food waste and what you’re doing to combat it, and signpost to charities or organisations where people can visit to learn more about mindful consumption.


5. Track and evaluate your success

Make sure that at every event you have a robust way of tracking how much food was wasted, and where you have started to see positive change. This will help you to build on your success and adapt future events to have even more impact. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like a lot at first, by making small changes together we can help each other to turn the tables on how much food is wasted in our sector. Share your success with your team and delegates so everyone can celebrate the part they played in your achievements.

For more information on how to create a sustainable and impactful event contact or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456

How events can engage your people in 2024

This might be a reaction to more colleagues craving connection with the rise of hybrid or remote working, global businesses looking for innovative ways to engage teams around the world, or simply a way to celebrate success and shared achievement after a turbulent few years – whatever the cause we are thrilled to see more organisations realising the power events have when it comes to retaining and attracting the best people.

Forget the boozy summer get-togethers and forced fun, these days leaders are looking to engage their teams with a diverse programme of events; keeping the momentum going with things like round-tables, dinners, awards ceremonies, or event programmes that bring people together in an authentic and considered way. We’ve been working with clients to utilise a mix of in-person, virtual, and hybrid event formats to engage audiences and empower as wide a range of people to attend as possible.

Engaged people are more committed to their place of work, tending to stay at their organisations longer and be more productive and effective when they are there. According to the 2023 ‘State of the Global Workforce’ report from Gallup, nearly 90% of UK employees are disengaged from their job and are either quiet or loud quitting. This puts the UK at 33 on Gallup’s table of employee engagement in European countries. Only Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, and Northern Cyprus scored lower.

So how do events help you to engage your teams in 2024?

1. Celebrate shared success and say thank you

People are busy, and when everyone is focused on the next thing to do it can be difficult to reflect on what has gone well and learn. An event is a collective moment to stop, give each other a pat on the back, and say thank you for all the hard work that has gone into the previous period. Truly thriving teams understand their purpose and feel like they are making a valuable contribution to the overall success of the organisation.


2. Connect multiple sites or remote teams

With the rise of remote or hybrid working patterns and teams often sitting across multiple sites and time zones, it can be difficult for people to feel connected to the organisation or their colleagues. Bringing people together at an event helps co-workers to interact away from the usual day-to-day, spend time with departments or people who they might not usually cross paths with, and strengthens their sense of belonging in the organisation – all things that directly impact the likelihood of them staying with the business long-term. Building real-life relationships with colleagues through shared experience leads to a strong sense of community and camaraderie, which in turn has a positive effect on teamwork, creativity, and collaboration.


3. Keep everyone informed

Be honest, how many times have you read a company update email or annual report cover to cover and retained that information? Yeah, thought so…

Events are the perfect tool to communicate important information or complex ideas in a way that is memorable and engaging. Inviting all colleagues to take part in a company-wide event will make your people feel informed and heard. When we have an understanding of the bigger picture, people are much more likely to be engaged with their particular role and how it fits with other priorities. We work with clients to understand the key messages that they would like taken away from the day, and from there, we devise the best strategy to convey the information to the people in the room – this could be anything from an engaging presentation, a panel session with the senior team, digital downloads for people to read post-event or opportunities for 360o discussions.


4. Boost morale and motivation

An event that is well put together, professional, and engaging shows that a business is authentic when it says it invests in employee development, learning and success – all things that are proven to boost morale and motivation. And don’t forget that events can be fun too! Giving people the opportunity to spend time away from their day-to-day jobs and let their hair down can invigorate tired teams, especially if it is at the end of a stressful period, rather than moving right on to the next priority.


5. Inspire new ways of working

Investing in an event for internal teams is an investment in their CPD and future learning. By understanding issues or barriers to success, we can find the perfect keynote speakers to fire up your team and get them thinking from a different perspective. Inspiring speakers, learning opportunities, and the chance to share their knowledge are powerful tools when it comes to engaging teams in 2024. By understanding a business inside out, we can devise the best tactics to encourage learning and problem-solving together. Creating a culture that champions learning, creativity, and innovation through events can unleash the full power of your people and drive sustainable growth and success.


What do our clients say?

“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.”

Julian Blake, External Relations | Opencast

To speak to the team about your event ideas for 2024 email or call 0191 691 3456.

Meet Rob Charlton – CEO of SPACE Group

In our new series, we’ll sit down with our clients to talk about what it is like working with our team and why events form such an important part of their business planning. First up we spoke to Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group, a collective of four different companies working across the built environment, Space Architects, BIM. Technologies, bimstore and Twinview. Headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne, Space Group operates globally, working with high-profile clients including universities, local authorities, and national names like Vistry Homes, Barratt Developments, and Lidl.

Over to you Rob…

BeaconHouse Events has been working with Space Group for a long time – how did it all start? 

I had to rack my brains a little for this one, it seems like such a long time ago. Space Group had been running an event called BIM Show LIVE in London for quite a few years and it had become huge, with almost 2000 people attending at one point. We’re not events people, we just wanted to use the event to spread a message. In 2017 we decided to move the event back to Newcastle and take back control of it a little but we didn’t really know any event management agencies in the area who could help us to bring it to life. By chance, I met Catherine at a meeting at Northumbria University and agreed to talk through what we were looking to deliver at the event and that was where it all began! BIM Show Live continued to be hugely popular after its return to the North, with 400 national and international delegates joining us over two days. BIM Show Live was one of the most trusted information-sharing platforms for Building Information Modelling (BIM), but we always endeavored to make it fun and engaging for the delegates – and BeaconHouse showed that they can take any brief and make the magic happen.

From there we worked together to create and develop _shift, an annual event that is focused on showcasing the decarbonisation of the built environment and the value of innovation in the industry, which forms a key part of our status as a BCorp. We also work with the team on One Space, our conference which brings together our internal teams.


What makes working with the team at BeaconHouse Events different? 

Since that first event together in 2017, BeaconHouse events have become an extension of our team, not just an external agency – every year we challenge ourselves to do something different and I always throw some challenging  ideas and watch the horror on their faces. The team at BeaconHouse always brings their brand of creativity to every project, but what I value is that they push back if an idea is over the top  and I really value their expertise and opinion on what is going to make the event the best that it can be. Sarah, Catherine, and now Katie always take full ownership of the event and that means that I know all of the detail is taken care of – they just take all of the logistical pain away.

On-site the BeaconHouse team keeps the day moving and you don’t get sidetracked. I’m always looking to Katie for what we should be doing and I know that she has an eye on timings, the AV, and all of those logistics so I just don’t have to worry and can enjoy the day.

Any events we have will always be through BeaconHouse Events.


Is the process collaborative? 

Absolutely. We work on the content for each event together and the team is very talented at finding the best speakers that align with what we are trying to achieve. Both sides will share ideas about people who might be a good fit, but it is always aligned with the budget and what is realistic. Sarah is a spreadsheet queen, our FD likes working with her because they speak the same language so they keep my feet on the ground when it comes to event spend. We work together at the start of the process to set that budget and we discuss each time we meet to make sure we have enough for what we want to do. Their financial management is very strong as an agency and their transparent way of discussing budgets is refreshing and gives me confidence in what they are delivering. There is a lot of trust there, and that’s what happens when you build a long-term relationship.

They liaise with our internal graphics and marketing experts to make the most out of the assets from the events, like video and photography to make it work hard on our social pages, website, and other platforms.


How important was it to you to partner with a North East based event partner? 

We want all of our partners to be based in the North East. It is really important to us as part of our BCorp commitment to maximise the local pound and it is great to find talented businesses that we can work with.

Over the years we have seen the team at BeaconHouse grow and develop; from working closely with Sarah and Catherine back in the BIM Show days, we have now seen Katie move through the business and take on _shift as very much her event, that’s a testament to the strength of the business and the great people they employ. That’s what’s good about working with relatively small businesses, you still have that owner connection that I enjoy, despite the team growing and evolving. Even as they are less hands-on with the events these days. Sarah and Catherine make a considered effort to keep in touch with me and they do that really well – there is nothing transactional about the way that they work and I never feel like it is just someone doing a job.


How have events shaped your strategy as a business? 

I’m a frustrated party planner, and you tend to spend time on the things that you enjoy doing, I love it and it is never a chore. Seriously though, I think we do it well and it is genuine – not just something to tick a box like you sometimes see in our sector. What we learned from BIM Show Live was if you have a level of familiarity then you can build a real rapport with your delegates that continues from year to year – for example, for ten years we had the same two brilliant guys MCing, a standard format that you can then play with and tweak. We’ve taken that learning through to _shift and use the time to bring together fantastic speakers for our clients, it’s not about selling Space Group, and you build a reputation and get people talking. We’ll hear people talking about the conference throughout the year and they look forward to it because it’s different from what other people are doing. Boozy lunches are great for some businesses, but that’s just not us.


Your team is based all over the world, how have events helped you to keep them engaged with business? 

Our One Space event is a quality event for our people. We work with BeaconHouse to make it professional, bringing in paid keynote speakers to inspire and support our learning. We are at our strongest when all of our four businesses are working together because there is absolutely nobody else doing that, so the One Space event is a fantastic opportunity for all of the businesses to come together and present what we are doing.


How important was it to find a partner that operated sustainably in the event space? 

To be honest, it wasn’t always on our agenda, but what has been good is that BeaconHouse has educated me on that during the journey. What I like is that when I have ideas that maybe aren’t sustainable, they push back and they are very innovative in how they approach sustainability. We re-use everything year after year so we limit the amount of waste, we have moved away from printed materials in favour of digital information and most recently our catering has been fully vegetarian, which I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about at first and had to be convinced. By the time we got to the event I had forgotten that we had made that decision and I didn’t notice that it wasn’t meat, it was just delicious. The team is always challenging what can be done and coming up with new ideas but it never feels like a gimmick – it’s just a core part of how they operate as a business.


As architects, how important is the venue to you? 

Incredibly important, and we work with BeaconHouse to find spaces that align with our brand and what we want to achieve with the event we chose the Henry Daysh building on the Newcastle University campus for the _shift and One Space conferences. That was strategic for a couple of reasons, one because it was a building that we designed and fitted out, but also because it aligned with the sustainability messaging of the event. As an existing building, there is a lot of embodied carbon in it, and it highlights our message that ‘creative reuse’ of buildings is more sustainable from an energy perspective.

Catherine and I visited the venue together to understand how we could work with the space to make it conducive to learning and the team worked with the director of estates at the University to take care of the contracts and logistics.

Choosing the right space is crucial to the success of the event and I know that the team put a lot of thought into how and why certain spaces are chosen over others. I hate events in boring old hotels, we have to keep it interesting.

Thanks Rob!

Find out more about how we bring _shift to life here and to speak to the team about your event ideas email or call 0191 691 3456.

A year of sustainable growth

Throughout the past year, our team at Hoults Yard has forged partnerships with leading businesses across various sectors, including emerging tech, education, innovation, architecture, healthcare, and creative arts sectors. New clients include Newcastle Building Society, Newcastle Strategic Solutions, Newcastle Carers, CF Fertilisers, HyHubs, North of Tyne Combined Authority, the British Applied Mathematics Colloquium (the largest applied mathematics conference in the UK) and the British Society for Oral and Dental Research.

The increase in turnover in 2023, fueled by a blend of in-person, digital, and hybrid events delivered for our national client base. As organisations grapple with burnout and talent retention challenges, our strategically designed staff engagement events have been pivotal in driving our growth trajectory. Additionally, the addition of three new team members has bolstered our capacity to deliver exceptional experiences.

Alongside an organic growth plan, we unveiled our ambitious five-year ESG strategy early in 2023. This comprehensive initiative aims to position BeaconHouse Events as a trailblazer in driving positive change within the event sector. Over the past year, we’ve spearheaded collaborative efforts to offset our carbon footprint ethically and instigate sustainable practices industry-wide. This includes ‘meat-free by default’ catering at major events (a tactic that significantly reduced the carbon impact with one simple, measurable change), an investment into in-depth carbon tracing technology TRACE and donating the carbon credit equivalent to local charities and community organisations who align with the business’ mission.

Looking ahead, as we approach our 10th anniversary in 2024, our vision remains to drive lasting, positive impact with every event that we deliver. We have seen a rise in clients looking to engage with their teams in a really meaningful way post-pandemic and we see that trend continuing over the next year as organisations strive to recruit and retain the best talent and say thank you to their teams for navigating a particularly turbulent few years. We have had the pleasure of working with a range of incredible clients over the past year, both here in the North East and nationally. We are proud to call the North East home, and it is encouraging to see national organisations looking outside of London, especially to our region, to deliver events of national and international significance. We have big plans for 2024 and beyond and we can’t wait to get stuck into another busy year and work with even more ambitious businesses to raise their profiles, engage their teams, and put our region on the map.

We have some high-profile projects in the pipeline this year and these plans will mean more opportunities for BeaconHouse. The talent in our regional freelance community is fantastic and we are always looking to speak to resourceful and trusted people to partner with us. We continually invest in our people and our success is truly a testament to the team and the culture that BeaconHouse Events has today.

In 2023 we co-curated and delivered the inaugural TechNExt festival in partnership with Dynamo and Sunderland Software City. The festival is set to take place again in June 2024 and will see over 3,000 attendees and feature a lineup of 50+ community-led fringe events alongside its flagship event programme and a new schools challenge initiative to engage young people in tech.