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 info@beaconhouse-events.com 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.

ChatGPT – Design this event: Why the human touch is important in event planning

With near-constant news stories about how technology will change the future workforce, it got us thinking about the parts of our event planning process that are intrinsically human. In September 2023, the World Economic Forum looked at the impact of generative AI and large language models on jobs as part of its ‘Jobs of Tomorrow’ series. The report found that roles where AI posed the least threat, were those that involve human interaction and complex thinking skills – sound familiar?

 

1. Being a critical friend 

Our clients often tell us that one of the things that they like most about working with BeaconHouse Events is our ability to act as an extension of their internal team, offer sound advice based on years of experience in event planning, push back on ideas that don’t add values and be an arm around their shoulder through what can sometimes be a stressful process. By building relationships with our clients we understand them inside out and can form a truly collaborative partnership that goes much deeper than a client/agency transaction.

 

2. Logistical problem solving 

While Chat GPT has many benefits, we’ve yet to see it solve a last-minute problem with the sound equipment, track down elusive keynote speakers, or collaborate with partner organisations to create a sustainable event programme that doesn’t greenwash. Our clients know that in the lead-up to an event, and on-site, they don’t have to worry about the logistics being taken care of because our team has it covered, instead they can concentrate on speaking to delegates and enjoy the experience.

 

3. Building relationships 

Event planning doesn’t happen in a silo and we rely on building high-quality relationships with our clients and our network to make sure that we are delivering the best experience possible. Over the years we have worked in tandem with venues, AV teams, photographers, and speakers and built genuine friendships that have seen us through when the going gets tough and allows us to keep developing new ways to bring our client briefs to life.

 

4. Creative thinking 

Creativity isn’t just the nice fluffy stuff. Strategic creativity is born from client conversations, an appreciation of their brand and vision, and an understanding of what they are trying to achieve through this experience. Crafting innovative and engaging event concepts requires an understanding of our client’s brand, values, and ambitions, and true creativity is born from collaboration. With every new brief, we work with our colleagues, clients, and partner organisations to come up with ideas that surprise and delight delegates and push our clients to be brave and bring personality and purpose to everything from the signage to the snacks. Call us cynical but we don’t think AI is quite there yet.

 

5. Negotiating contracts 

90% of the work that we deliver goes on at our desks, and while negotiating contracts might not be the most glamorous part of event planning, it is an essential element that needs time, experience, and dedication to do well. By understanding each event brief and client individually we can find the best way forward when it comes to event insurance, venue hire, catering, or speaker fees rather than adopting a one size fits approach.

 

6. Emotional intelligence 

A big part of event planning is the ability to predict delegates’ wants and needs, how they may feel about certain choices, and how they could interact with different aspects of the event experience. We are experts in making the intangible, and tangible and put people at the heart of every experience – and people are complex creatures!

 

7. Adapting to the unexpected 

Any event planner worth their salt keeps their cool under pressure – ask any of them and they’ll have an event story that starts with ‘oh you’ll never guess what happened…’ and AI would just not be equipped to handle some of the things we have seen!

Every event and experience that we create is highly tailored and based on months of collaboration, conversations, idea generation, and strategy and despite its sophisticated algorithms, AI has a long way to go before it can navigate the intricacies of human beings that the best event managers have mastered.

At BeaconHouse Events we love to create event experiences that people at the heart. To speak to our team about bringing your next event to life email info@beaconhouse-events.com or call 0191 691 3456

 

Meet the North East businesses doing great things for people and planet

Everyone is at a different part of their ESG journey, and no one has all of the answers, but we think it is worth celebrating every step of the journey and learning from each other so we can cultivate a thriving, sustainable, and vibrant region for generations to come. We caught up with the team to find out which sustainable businesses they think deserve a shout-out in 2024…

Magic Hat Café 

Magic Hat Café is Newcastle’s only café kitchen dedicated to challenging the issue of food waste. Every dish that the talented team creates is made from surplus food that would otherwise have gone to landfills. Every week the Magic Hat team collects and shares 1.5 – 2 tonnes of food waste and turns it into delicious dishes that are served to over 500 + people a week in their city centre kitchen. Anything not used in the café is redistributed through a weekly hamper service and across the wider local community so nothing goes unused. Magic Hat believes that true sustainability is not created by a handful of people doing sustainability perfectly, but by everyone doing a little something – and we’ll second that!

The Glasshouse International Centre for Music 

The Glasshouse (formerly The Sage) has announced big ambitions to get to Net Zero by 2030 through working with their artists and audiences, as well as making changes to the main building. The team behind the Glasshouse will also be using their platform to commission and showcase work that highlights the issues facing people around the globe. We choose our event venues carefully and the team at The Glasshouse has already committed to changes that align with our sustainability agenda, including offering free Metro travel with each ticket, reducing their meat consumption on-site (50% of all menus in their Brasserie and Café are now plant-based) and consciously presenting work that responds to the climate crisis.

Northern Print Solutions

Green is the new CMYK according to Tyneside-based print provider, Northern Print Solutions. The team, led by founder Craig Daly, is a Certified Carbon Capture® Company, meaning that they offer their customers the opportunity to carbon balance their print, capturing the carbon emitted from the production and manufacture of paper to support the plantation of new, native UK and international woodland and using accredited paper sourced from sustainable trees. On top of that NPS runs energy-efficient machinery, uses easily recyclable machinery, and uses local supplies in their supply chain.

Something good 

Something good is a plastic-free pantry and ‘refillery’ based in Jesmond offering daily essentials (and some luxuries) without plastic packaging. There is no excuse for single use with how gorgeous their sustainably sourced products are, containers all made from glass, cork, cotton, or stainless steel. You can weigh, fill, and pay for the exact amounts you need so nothing goes to waste, and once you are finished you simply have to pop in-store, and off you go again.

Big River Bakery 

Big River Bakery is on a mission to change the world, one loaf at a time. We recently worked with the team to deliver stottie-making kits to our amazing clients this Christmas and we were thrilled to learn that the team invested the profits from the bakery back into the local community. The team is small but mighty, delivering everything from ‘breakfast bags’ for children who don’t have access to breakfast clubs, warm hubs where local people can enjoy a cozy, friendly space and meet over food and activities, and the first-ever National Stottie Week which is taking place this February, raising money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund.

Full Circle Brew Co.

Just as we are committed to change in the event sector, our neighbours in Hoult’s Yard are a driving force behind sustainability in the brewing industry. Sustainability is at the heart of everything that Full Circle crafts, and the talented team is aiming to set new industry standards when it comes to environmental good practices and inspire positive change in the North East and beyond. Just some of their initiatives include carbon labelling, which prominently displays the carbon footprint of their canned beer on each label, and investing in decarbonisation software to allow the team to effectively track and manage emissions.

Ingram AV 

Ingram AV offers Audio Visual Solutions and at our recent sustainability roundtable, our trusted friends and partners shared how they are moving towards greener energy through their solar-powered NRG innovation, which has already resulted in a huge reduction of carbon at large-scale events. The NRG system is a 2m x 1.6m unit that fits on to a trailer and is capable of providing 45KVa of clean energy with 120KWh of storage that is expandable. That means the system could be used to power a festival for about 5,000 people for a day if being used to power audio and lighting systems, or it could be used to power a location drama unit for a day!

To find out more about our sustainability goals, and to speak to the team about taking a green approach to your next event email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk.

Ready to rock: meet our co-founder Catherine Duhaut

First things first, how did you get into events? 

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve organised people. I used to buy Top of the Pops and Smash Hits magazine and I’d read about these big celeb parties I remember thinking that that would be a great job, but not realising that people did that in real life. Staying on the showbiz theme, I went to the University of Sunderland to study Media Production to work in film and instead fell into radio which I loved. The course was mainly centered around production which I found fascinating, even in school I would build the stage sets for the drama productions rather than be front of stage.

My studies led me to some amazing work experience at XFM and BBC Radio One which I loved, but being impatient and (overly!) ambitious I decided that if I couldn’t have my own show on Radio One straight away… I would develop and produce music festivals instead, which led me to my Masters degree in Project Management. I didn’t realise going in that an MSc in project management is less about music festivals and more about engineering and manufacturing, which I ended up really enjoying! I wrote my dissertation on the difference between event management and project management and talked about the disparity between the two which led to a volunteer role at a Newcastle-based events agency, which is where I met Sarah!

What was your first role in events like?

I was coming in pretty blind, working minimum wage with zero experience, far more people arrived than they thought were going to and I ended up operating the bar (my by-night job!), I guess my resourcefulness paid off as I was hired off the back of that event. Before I finished my masters I had a full-time job at an events agency, which was too good to be true. I led a tough double life for six months managing the two,  I knew if I was serious about building a career in the sector I had to make it work. I ended up working at that same agency for six and a half years and gained a tonne of experience in organising and running events across the UK.

After I left, I freelanced for a while before the workload got a little much and Sarah and I joined forces in 2014 and BeaconHouse Events started to form to be the business it is today.

BeaconHouse Events turns 10 next year, how does that feel? 

Sometimes it feels like much longer than ten years and other times it feels like two! There have been a lot of life changes over that time and sometimes it is hard to wrap our heads around how much we have fitted into the last ten years. When we started we didn’t have this grand business plan or an idea of what the business would look like today, we have grown organically over that time but what has never changed is the mission and vision of what we wanted to deliver when we started the business. When we work with new members of the team to explain our values and mission now, it is so authentic because it is what we have been living and breathing for almost a decade – it has been embedded in the culture from the start.

Have you always been entrepreneurial? 

It’s funny because I would say no, but my parents would probably say yes! “Typical” entrepreneurial traits have always been part of my make up, such as I’ve always enjoyed organising people and could maybe be a little bossy with it, which I can now see coming through in my eldest daughter! I’m also quite competitive and ambitious which I guess are considered to be entrepreneurial traits too, but I never did a business degree or economics or sought out life as an entrepreneur. That’s where the partnership with Sarah works so well. Sarah tends to look after more of the business and strategy side of the business whereas I focus on the processes, operations  marketing and culture. Sarah excels in the parts of the business where I don’t – while I have big ambitions for BeaconHouse Events and have a real interest in the story of where our growth is coming from, I’m less inclined to spend the necessary time with spreadsheets. I think what Sarah and I have is quite unique – people will often look for a business partner after they have gone into business and my best advice would be that you can’t seek them out. If you have an affinity with someone and want to start a business, that’s great – but it’s difficult to build that rapport and trust if there isn’t already a relationship there.

Neither you nor Sarah are from the North East – why is this region a great place to do business? 

We both had personal reasons for settling in the North East and building our business here. I had met my now husband in Sunderland – I’m from Northern Ireland, and he’s French, so there was a conversation to be had about where we were going to call home and we settled on England because it was kind of in the middle…kind of! I wouldn’t change my home now for the world and I’ve not officially lived more of my life as a Geordie than in Northern Ireland these days. The North East has such a supportive, collaborative culture that it was the perfect place to start and grow BeaconHouse, and while we are fairly Northern-focused with our portfolio, the last few years and the rise of virtual and hybrid events have really shown us that we can be delivering work nationally and globally from our base here in Newcastle, which is really exciting.

What is coming up in the future that excites you? 

For me, it’s the ESG work that we have been focusing on and building on our ‘Good Workplace’ credentials. It is exciting to be delivering great work with a clear purpose of why we are doing what we are doing. Part of what we believe is that we want to create events with lasting purpose, those game-changer events where people go away with a different mindset to when they walked through the doors – and the other side of that is building an environment for a thriving team who can work together to make that happen. Creating events with meaning is still what excites me, especially when we work with a new client for the first time and we can exceed expectations about what is possible, seeing the team go above and beyond to create an experience that will have real-world impact for a client never gets old, and as we grow we’re able to be even more creative and ambitious about what we can deliver.

Do you think the events sector would benefit from more diversity? 

Absolutely. If we want to keep being creative and driving forward, we have to have that diversity of thought in the sector. Everyone in our team comes from different backgrounds, of varying ages, and have different career paths and experiences which has shaped how they see the world. Even having younger members of the team join has helped us positively challenge the way that we work and how we communicate with each other and deliver work for clients. Having access to more ideas and points of view will only make us more creative and the more diverse we are as an industry the more resilient we are and the better equipped to create experiences that are meaningful to everyone.

What do you think the most important character trait is for an events professional? 

Whatever your background I think it is really important to be curious about the world and want to be inspired by getting out and experiencing things. Our events aren’t boring and that comes from our team bringing all of their experiences to what they deliver. For me, I love food and have been lucky enough to eat in lots of different places all over the world. Transferring that experience to an event, would typically mean challenging the venue to create something brilliant, rather than your run-of-the-mill meat and veg that you might expect. Curiosity and a desire to challenge the norm and to do things differently, combined with an attention to detail and a good work ethic will get you a long way in events.

We offer training for the team and if there is something that they want to do, even if it seems a bit left-field, so long as they can tell me what they can bring from it back to the team I’m more than happy for them to go and try something new if they’re excited about it.

And finally, who would your dream client be? 

For me, I like the ‘challenging’ events – where a client comes to us to solve their problem and we have to solve the puzzle of how we are going to do it. That could be any type of event or sector, having the scope to be creative about what we deliver and seeing the client’s mind change from thinking something wasn’t possible to being excited is my dream scenario.

I’ve come a long way from where I started, I doubt very much I’d even pitch to organise something even remotely like Glastonbury any time soon! I’m much more likely to attend than seek out to be the organiser!

To find out more about how BeaconHouse Events can support your business to deliver events with purpose in 2024 and beyond, email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

More than a pat on the back: The true benefit of corporate award ceremonies

Awards ceremonies offer much more than a vanity project and a chance to get dressed up, and when done right they can hold significant value for your teams, serving as a thank-you for hard work throughout the year, celebrating your success together, and creating a sense of camaraderie within your team. Let’s take a look at how investing in awards can add value to your organisation in 2024. 

 

Building morale 

Celebrating hard work, great ideas, or teamwork sends a clear message that these positive actions have been noted and rewarded. By saying thank you, you are not only boosting the morale of the winners but also sending a clear message that great work doesn’t go unnoticed and inspiring other members of the team to challenge themselves with their projects too. Saying thank you to individuals and teams for excellent work that has helped the organisation work towards its goals instills a sense of pride, and people who feel like their work matters form the bedrock of thriving teams who are creative, resilient, and much less prone to burnout. 

 

A chance to reflect 

Everyone is busy, and we rarely take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months and applaud the achievements that we’ve made. Writing award entries, nominating colleagues, collecting stats, or reading client feedback gives people a chance to think about the impact that they have made on the company or your clients, it can reaffirm their commitment to the company and the work you are doing, lead to higher levels of engagement in the year ahead, and create a more positive atmosphere when work gets busy. 

 

Bringing your team together 

In the age of remote or hybrid working and global teams, some colleagues may not get the chance to spend time together in person very often. Hosting an awards event not only gets people in the same room, but it can also be a chance to share stories from other parts of the business that individuals might not usually hear about if it falls outside of their immediate role. Seeing the skills of the company and learning from other departments can make people feel proud to be part of something bigger, making them much more likely to stay and engage than if they feel like they are working alone. Plus, it is always nice to get off the video chat, get dressed up, and meet colleagues in person. 

 

Increase productivity and creativity

Recognition can act as a powerful incentive, and so can a healthy dose of competition! Celebrating success, creativity and innovative thinking can create a culture that can have big conversations, tackle difficult problems, and aren’t afraid to try new ideas. Showing people what great work looks like can help them set higher standards for the coming year and positively challenge themselves and others. 

 

It gives your team something to talk about 

Your people are your best asset when it comes to talking about your business, so give them something great to talk about! A well-designed awards night won’t be a boring run-through of categories and a soggy dinner. A great awards ceremony will keep your delegates invested throughout the night, have activities or talking points to keep them engaged, and provide plenty of opportunities to share their experience with friends and family. By giving people a reason to talk about where they work, particularly on social media, you are increasing awareness of your brand as a great place to work and reinforcing your investment in your talented team, both important things if you are looking to attract and retain staff. 

 

Showcase your network 

An awards event doesn’t just have to be for your internal team, why not consider a celebration of your sector, your clients, or your neighbours? Getting external teams together is a fantastic marketing and networking opportunity, plus it gives you a chance to be inspired by other businesses and showcase what you have been working on too. 

 

Struggling with what to wear? Check out our guide on what Black Tie means in 2023

 

This season our team has been working hard to bring to life the Dynamites – the highly anticipated North East Tech awards, as well as the Planet Mark Awards in London and the very first HyHubs HyHeroes Awards at TyneBank Brewery. To speak to the team about organising an awards ceremony for your business, email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.

The North East charities we’re supporting as part of our commitment to health, education and economic growth

This year our team has chosen to support health & wellbeing community projects across the region, including funding The Children’s Foundation-led Fuzzy Subjects project, giving the charity the ability to give even more children access to sessions focused on mental health and well-being. Alongside support for Fuzzy Subjects, we’ll also be getting our hands dirty helping to plant hedges on the charity’s allotment and wrapping Christmas gifts this festive season, all in support of the charity’s vital work in the region.

 

Linked to the health & wellbeing focus, and as part of our further commitment to North East communities, we’ve also chosen to fund kits for the newly formed North East Sporting u11 Saturday team, based in Wallsend. 

 

Alongside our societal donations and as part of our environmental strategy, we’ve partnered with the local community and environmental charity, Groundwork NE & Cumbria to ethically offset our carbon impact by supporting Groundwork’s nature-based solutions programme.

 

As our societal focus for 2023 is on health & wellbeing, we recognise the need to support local charities and initiatives to help our local communities thrive. We are therefore committed to donating the equivalent monetary value or time through in-kind support, to local community groups focused on health and wellbeing, to match our ethical carbon offset donation to the environment. We’re also providing the BeaconHouse Events team opportunities and time off to support societal and environmental projects that matter to them, as well as encouraging them to engage in activities that support their mental health & well-being.

 

Earlier this year we were proud to be awarded the Good Work Pledge from the North of Tyne Combined Authority. This award recognises our efforts to be a fair employer, our commitment to staff health and wellbeing, and our demonstration of social responsibility in the region. We have some incredible projects in the pipeline this year and these ambitious plans will mean more opportunities for people across the Northeast.” 

 

We spoke to Sean Soulsby, CEO of The Children’s Foundation who said, “We are incredibly grateful to the team at BeaconHouse Events for their support of our work here in the North East. We run our Fuzzy Subjects mental health workshops in primary schools across the region, using colorful, accessible fuzzy puppets as a tool to engage children and young people in the subject of mental health and well-being, increasing awareness, understanding, and resilience in young people, while encouraging big conversations. The support from Beaconhouse Events means that even more children can tackle these big subjects, at a time when the number of children in mental health crisis is at a record high. 

 

“The Children’s Foundation was founded over 30 years ago to support the needs of children and families at the time, and those needs are now more significant than ever. Businesses owe it to their communities to ensure that they have the opportunity to raise well-rounded, creative, confident, and aspirational children, no matter what their economic circumstances are, and it is fantastic to see BeaconHouse Events taking their responsibilities as a Northeast employer seriously. 

 

“Far too many Northeast children are born into poverty and our region has fallen behind others in terms of school attainment and health inequalities. Investing in our region isn’t just a fluffy, nice thing for leaders to do; if businesses don’t invest in the wider communities and issues that surround them, especially children and young people, then that has a direct impact on their workforce or customer base of the future. It is people who make up businesses and leaders today must understand the crucial role that they play in shaping what our regional society looks like tomorrow.”

 

Our ESG strategy is based on key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as the Global Goals, which look to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Our strategy particularly focuses on Climate Action, Responsible Consumption and Production, Quality Education, and Good Health and Wellbeing; all areas where we can have an authentic and lasting impact both in the North East and across the events sector as a whole.

 

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 info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk.

Are corporate meat-ings a thing of the past?

As an office of foodies, we know that the catering options are a corner stone of any event, but the amount of meat consumed was having a major impact on how sustainable our events could be. So we got our heads together and came up with a simple solution – what would happen if you had to opt-in for a meat option, rather than opt out?

BeaconHouse Events co-founded the TechNExt Festival, delivered in partnership with Dynamo North East and Sunderland Software City, and the week-long event took place in June 2023. As part of the event the team created the ‘Good Festival Ambition’ in order to curate an experience that put quality, inclusivity, diversity, accessibility and sustainability front of mind. As part of this ambition, the catering throughout the week was designed to reduce our carbon emissions by encouraging people to make conscious choices about what they were consuming. That meant that all buffet options at the Main Stage event and Festival Party were meat-free and the menu for the 120 guests at the conference dinner was vegetarian by default, with delegates having to request the meat option if that was their preference. The result was 55% of the attendees at the dinner choosing the meat-free options, as opposed to the average of only 10% that we would see at a usual event, greatly reducing our carbon footprint across the week.

The climate impact of meat is enormous – roughly equivalent to all the driving and flying of every car, truck and plane in the world and when forests are destroyed to produce industrial meat, billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. This one simple change allowed us to do better for our planet during the week-long festival while still providing a delicious dinner for the guests to enjoy.

Under 5% of people in the UK are vegetarian but there has been a dramatic rise in the amount of people attempting to cut down on the amount of meat that they consume, either for health or environmental reasons. That means that as an industry we have to adapt. And the issue is coming into mainstream consciousness more and more, over the last year we have seen the news that Oxford Council have banned meat from their menus at corporate events, with Cambridge, Exeter and Norwich Councils following suit and Cambridge University Darwin’s College served a fully vegan menu for their ball this June.

But the key to creating impact isn’t simply switching to a veggie or vegan menu, the trick is to communicate the importance of why. Going meat-free was just one element of our ‘Good Festival’ ambition and ‘for good’ was a core value that ran through everything throughout the week. That meant a focus on quality, inclusivity, diversity, accessibility, and sustainability, all of which we communicated the impact of to our delegates in the lead up to the festival.

It is our job as a responsible employer and business to forge the path of what is possible and to collaborate with other organisations, both in and outside of the event sector, to learn from, and inspire, each other. We are seeing an increased demand for environmental reporting from our clients and are proud to be early adopters of TRACE, a digital carbon measurement platform to help the event industry reach Net Zero. TRACE helps us to gather data on our carbon impact at each event, which in turn gives us the ability to work with clients to benchmark and track success alongside their ESG strategy.

This small step is part of our wider goal to reduce our carbon emissions by 5% year on year, with the key ambition to become and remain a carbon responsible business, looking at carbon neutrality, alongside supply chain engagement, research into sustainably sourcing materials, digital solutions to limit single-use print and staff training to upskill the team on the future of events both in-person and online

There is still relatively low adoption for sustainable change across the sector, but with consistent and considered steps we can make real change together. To speak to one of our team about how you can put sustainability at the centre of your next event call on 0191 691 3456 or email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

Five things people will actually remember from your 2023 events

Your event is an experience, and whether you are planning an awards ceremony, a festival or a conference, you want people to remember your event for all the right reasons. Everyone wants to be ahead of the curve and while A.I. and digital technology can add extra dimensions to an event, those big flashy moments don’t always add as much value as focusing on the everyday details. Research shows that people actually prefer personalised experiences at events, which means they want to feel like you have thought about what THEY need or want from the experience, not just picked an off the shelf generic solution, however fancy that might be.

We spoke to our team here at BeaconHouse Events to find out from their experience what makes an event to remember…

 

1. Things to discover People love being the first to discover something new, so surprise and delight your delegates with little touches that will make them smile. This could be regionalised or themed wording on signage, places to relax, selfie stands and photo points or pop-up entertainment as they move around the venue. Not only will your delegates remember these moments, it also gives people something to talk about and share on social media after the event is all wrapped up.

 

2. Service with a smile Events take a lot of planning but if the staff on the ground are tired, stressed or aloof, it will undo all of your hard work. Try and provide as much information as possible in advance but have attentive, visible team members throughout the event space to answer specific queries or help out with any issues that might need solving. Encourage staff to make an effort to remember names, offer extra information that might be useful and enjoy the experience. Customer focused staff who go above and beyond, who are friendly and proactive are going to make everyone’s experience more enjoyable and leave delegates feeling positive towards you and your brand.

 

3. Feeling like a local If you are welcoming delegates from out of town they might not have a lot of time to explore the local area or find the best places to visit. Always put someone with local knowledge at the registration desk, armed with information on great places to eat nearby (not just your local golden arches), things to do in downtime (like free walking tours), local gyms, art gallery opening times or day trips. Help your delegates make sustainable choices as much as possible when they are travelling to and from the space, send out public transport routes, e-transport information or car sharing options for people that aren’t familiar with the area.

 

 4. Not having to ask Keep in mind that there will be a mix of people with different preferences or requirements at your event, so make sure alternative options like vegan food or non-alcoholic drinks are not only available but visible. If someone has to ask for an alternative it can make them feel out of place, and they are going to remember how they felt in that moment over any free gift or fancy venue. When it comes to catering we always try to make sure that everyone feels included and can enjoy the same experience, there’s nothing worse than a soggy salad when everyone else is enjoying a hearty meal. Take into account any religious or cultural accommodations and communicate them clearly, this could include halal food options, spaces for prayer or catering timings during Ramadan.

 

5. Making connections Meeting interesting people and having great conversations is one of the best and most memorable things about bringing people together. Build in moments where people can organically connect outside of formal networking sessions and create spaces that encourage informal conversations – sometimes that is where the best ideas flow! Plan personalised socials and networking based on how individuals like to spend their time so there is the chance to meet people with similar interests and get value from the more relaxed sides of the event too. Not all socials have to involve drinking, things like yoga, city runs, historical tours or craft sessions are a bit different, fun and definitely memorable!

To speak to our team about your 2023/24 business goals and how events can form part of your strategy, give us a call on 0191 691 3456 or email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

Earth Day: Our four year ESG strategy

Our strategy aims to deliver considered, achievable actions, help us to reach responsible carbon neutrality and drive sector-wide change from inside our organisation.

This strategy is incredibly important to us as a business and is the product of over a year of research, team consultation and expert guidance. It outlines our key commitments to the environment, people, governance and financial resilience. These plans include steps to reduce our carbon emissions by 5% year on year, with the aim to be a carbon neutral business by the end of 2027, alongside supply chain engagement, research into sustainably sourcing materials, digital solutions to limit single-use print and staff training to upskill the team on the future of events both in-person and online. Alongside this we have a commitment to educate and empower the next generation of North East talent, supporting local charities and initiatives and giving our talented team opportunities to sign-up to support education initiatives, including Girls Network and founders4schools as well as supporting individual young people to thrive in the sector through mentoring schemes.

This launch of our strategy also coincides with the exciting news that we have been awarded the Standard Good Work Pledge by North of Tyne Combined Authority. This award recognises our efforts to be fair employer, our commitment to staff health and wellbeing and our demonstration of social responsibility in the region.

Explaining why we have launched our strategy now, and what it means for the business and the sector, our co-founder and director Sarah Thackray said, “Since forming in 2014 our vision has always been to drive positive, lasting impact with every event we do, whether that be a conference, exhibition, awards ceremony or festival, and now is the right time to also focus those efforts internally and look at how we can make lasting change from within the business.

“We recognise that the event industry has a major impact on our planet and by doing our part we can lead the way in making sustainable change in the sector. It is our job as a responsible employer and business to forge the path of what is possible and to collaborate with other organisations to learn from, and inspire, each other. We don’t want to make grand statements and big promises, we are committed to working with our team, our suppliers and our clients to make consistent, considered changes which will move us closer towards our goal of being carbon neutral within the next five years. We are proud to be early adopters of TRACE, a digital carbon measurement platform to help the event industry reach Net Zero. TRACE helps us to gather data on our carbon impact at each event, which in turn gives us the ability to work with clients to benchmark and track success alongside their ESG strategy.

“The inclusion of financial resilience was important to us as a team, without a robust business model you simply don’t have the capacity, skills or resource to invest back into the wider community. 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.”

Over the past year we have been working closely with innovation sustainability manager Katrina Appleyard to develop an ESG strategy which will form a key pillar of both our internal and external delivery from 2023-2027.

Discussing our work together Katrina, innovation manager for sustainability at Dynamo North East said, “BeaconHouse Events are taking responsibility for their own organisational impact before they are under any legislative pressure to do so which is incredibly refreshing to see. As part of our work together I carried out a lot of research into how the events sector is approaching sustainability globally, and while there are a lot of organisations looking at how they can produce green events, there is nothing being said about what it means to look internally and be a responsible events company from the inside out. While BeaconHouse were already behaving in a way that was socially conscious, this strategy has helped them to pin down what this looks like and make it much more explicit when it comes to achievable actions.

“The fact that BeaconHouse Events are even considering what they can control, and how they can make positive change from within the business, automatically makes them leaders in their field. The events industry is in a unique position in that they are built to bring people together and address societal issues, however that often has a direct impact on the environment when you consider things like travel or single-use materials, so there is a lot of learning to do within the sector on how to address this juxtaposition.

“This won’t be a linear journey for any organisation and there will be a lot of learning along the way. A big part of this process will be trying different approaches to see what works, and educating both clients and peers within the industry along the way, collaboration really is at the heart of it. What is inspiring to me about the work this commitment from BeaconHouse is that they are striving for social change and business habit change which is much bigger than simply looking at the impact of their events in silo.”

Sarah continued, “We have worked closely with Katrina on this strategy and her comprehensive guidance and expertise has been invaluable as we shaped our vision and goals.”

Our ESG strategy is based around key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as the Global Goals, which look to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. We particularly wanted to focus the strategy on areas where we could make meaningful change as a team, including Climate Action, Responsible Consumption and Production, Quality Education and Good Health and Wellbeing; all areas where we can strive to have an authentic and last impact both in the North East and across the events sector as a whole.

To find out more about how we can help you to work towards your sustainability goals or to understand more about how we are making changes as a business contact info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

Hot off the stress: Top tips to reduce stress and burnout

Stress is a major problem for our sector, and knowing how to manage it can improve mental and physical well-being as well as minimise health-related issues brought on by life in what can be a stressful sector. Here at BeaconHouse Events we’re committed to giving our team the knowledge to understand what stress looks like in our colleagues, as well as the space and tools to preempt a situation or tackle it head on.

This Stress Awareness Month we sat down with the team to learn their top tips coping under pressure and how they juggle busy client portfolios while keeping themselves healthy and effective…

 

Go outdoors Build time into your diary to get outside and into the fresh hair – it really can blow away the cobwebs and help you approach a problem from another point of view. This can be anything from a walk around the block between meetings, eating lunch outside on a sunny day or something more extreme like sea-swimming or planning a hike on a weekend. It’s not just a nice thing to do either, studies show that being in nature lowers your stress-hormone cortisol and decreases your heart rate!

 

It’s good to talk Make time to spend time with your direct reports or team leaders for a weekly check-in to plan tasks and prioritise workload. These sessions are great for getting another point of view on a problem or to ask for support if you need it. Spending time discussing a problem one-on-one can help to manage expectations and allow you to plan your workload accordingly. Find the people that energise you, both in and outside of work, and if something is on your mind make sure you share it with a colleague, friend or family member, a problem shared really is a problem halved!

 

Get enough ZZZs Sleep can be elusive when you’re counting tasks instead of sheep, but a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to avoid feelings of stress. Research has even shown that people who sleep better feel less negative emotions and are able to be more resilient in the face of a stressful event, and recover faster. If you’re struggling to get to sleep, try to keep to a regular nighttime pattern, keep your bedroom cool and quiet and avoid working, looking at your phone or watching TV right before you fall asleep.

 

Take time out to do something you enjoy Plan in time to do things that you enjoy and stick to it, that can be anything from reading a good book to watching your favourite TV show and spending time with friends. Taking moments to allow your brain to turn off will let you approach your task-list feeling refreshed and with renewed vigor. Try a ‘self-care’ day once a month where you totally switch off.

 

Fail to plan, plan to fail Build in a point at the end of the day to clear your inbox or at least make a note of the bigger tasks you need to tackle the next day or after the weekend. Ending the day with a good plan of what you need to achieve next means that you can end the day feeling confident that nothing has been missed and leaves you able to fully switch off. Be intentional about planning your time, or try time blocking in your diary, and be present in the task you are doing with no distractions to make the most of the time you have put aside for it. If there is a job that you are worried about, try to get it out of the way early so it is not hanging over you for the whole day.

 

Be present At BeaconHouse Events everyone has each other’s back, including our clients. Really be aware of the people around you and offer support if you see someone is struggling or not acting like themselves. Take time out to ask a colleague if they want a coffee or to take a walk, it can really turn someone’s day around! Knowing that you have a support system around you and a culture of trust is a huge benefit when there is a curveball to content with.

 

Look after your health Looking after your physical health can have an enormous impact on your mental wellbeing. The BeaconHouse team do a whole range of things to keep our bodies and minds in top condition, including gym memberships, midweek football, running, long dog walks, netball, zen-days and outdoor swimming!

 

Find your groove Get your favourite song on in the car, in the shower, on your headphones – anywhere at all – and sing along as loud as you can. We love everything from noughties indie rock to 90s trance in the team but it’s less about what you listen to and more about how it makes you feel!

If you are interested in joining the team, we would love to hear from you. Visit https://www.beaconhouse-events.co.uk/join-us/ to view our current vacancies.

*World Scholarship Vault