What makes a great awards ceremony host?

Without proper thought and a bit of creative thinking, awards ceremonies have the potential to lose momentum after dinner has been served and the drinks are flowing. While it is tempting to opt for the tried and tested favourites for these kinds of events, for the Dynamites Awards 2023, we wanted to change the format slightly and have two co-hosts, your traditional regular-on-radio-four comedian to warm, the audience, and a host who brought something different, would be a break from the norm, and could captivate over 450 of the brightest, and best tech minds in the region. Enter, Duncan Leatherdale. Duncan is an award-winning journalist and writer working for the BBC in the North East, and we knew that he would be the perfect fit for the 10th annual Dynamites Awards, as our ‘roving reporter’ bringing the action to the tables throughout the ceremony. We chose Duncan because of his ability to hold people’s attention with his lighthearted interview techniques, to keep the room energised, and to ensure the packed evening schedule ran smoothly with some fun along the way.

Speaking about his experience of hosting Dynamites 2023, Duncan said, “Being involved in the Dynamites was a real pleasure from start to finish. Considering the number of guests and awards, the whole thing ran super smoothly and everyone involved was welcoming, friendly, and, most importantly, fun. You could say the Dynamites went off with a bang!”

Despite being his first time hosting the event, feedback on Duncan’s ability to engage and entertain the audience was fantastic, and it got us thinking about what makes a fantastic event host. We asked the team what they thought…

Stage presence 

Some people just have a natural charisma and you can tell they were just born to be on a stage. They can make everyone in the room feel included and can hold people’s attention among a whole host of distractions (including alcohol!). A host who can create a positive atmosphere and pick up a crowd when there is a lull in the evening is gold dust. If they have a passion for what they are doing, it can be contagious!

Poise under pressure 

Live events can be stressful for those working them, and there is always the opportunity for something to go awry. Choose an event host that you are confident would remain professional and collected in the face of something unexpected – which can happen more often than you think (a great host will just make the audience never know there was an issue). They should be a great time manager and be aware of keeping the schedule moving to pace; work closely with them in advance to discuss the flow of the event, timings of speeches, and how to transition between segments and then trust them to do the rest.

Great communication skills 

A great communicator will have the ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. Find someone who is articulate, well-spoken, and can convey sometimes complex information about the businesses in the room in a clear and accessible way. There is nothing worse than a disinterested host who has their nose stuck in their note cards for the whole event. Whether they are telling an anecdote, introducing a speaker, or presenting an award, a great host will keep everyone informed and excited about your key messages.

A quick thinker 

Events can be fast-paced and there may be some details that change at the last minute or a live situation unfolding needs to be handled with a bit of quick thinking to address. Find a host who will notice, understand, and react to an unfolding situation quickly and fittingly. Appropriate humour and a bit of quick wit can go a long way to diffuse a situation and will give the audience a laugh at the same time.

Well researched 

While it would be helpful for your host to have a working knowledge of the sector for the event they are hosting, you want a host who has put in the leg work to research the key players in the room, and businesses in attendance and understands the key reasons why the event is taking place. We’ve all been to events where the host has stumbled over names or fumbled what businesses do. The trick to being a great host is to start before the event itself so everyone in the room feels like their work is respected and appreciated.

A team player 

Ultimately, your awards evening is about your guests, those shortlisted, and your winners, and you don’t want someone who is all about taking the limelight for themselves. A great award host will be generous and make delegates feel like the most important people in the room, especially if they have to come on stage to present or receive an award. Before and during the event they also need to work closely with the events team, venue, and technical crew to make sure that everything runs smoothly and everyone knows what is happening and why.

Do they make sense? 

There are plenty of agents online who peddle their high-profile or celebrity clients as awards hosts – but do they actually make sense for the event and the people in the room? Sure a famous sports star might be a cool name on the agenda, but even with a good script can they carry a conversation about your sector with enthusiasm and authenticity – maybe not. If you do go for a high-profile name make sure that there is a valid reason for them to be there, maybe a link to your region or an interest in the kinds of work you deliver, otherwise, it can come across as a little superficial.

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.

Lost in translation: meet our co-founder Sarah Thackray

BeaconHouse Events turns 10 next year, that is a huge achievement! What was your driver to start your own business? 


I wanted to be able to take the learnings from my experiences working in the sector and use them to create something better than what I thought the sector was doing already; something that had a positive impact on the people working to deliver the events, that offered a great experience to clients and that fit with my ambitions for the future. One major driver was being able to choose the clients that I wanted to work with, clients who were delivering great work that I believed in! We didn’t set up BeaconHouse Events right away after leaving my last role, I initially freelanced from 2009 before Catherine and I eventually co-founded in 2014. We knew each other from a previous role and prior to setting up the company we had been collaborating on some client accounts, The Great Run Company and Dynamo, and the rest is history.


A lot of your team have very varied careers, have you always worked in the events industry? 


I studied modern languages at Newcastle University and lived in France and Spain running walking tours and lugging equipment around for tour groups in my early twenties (which was when I realised that I really liked organising people!) and teaching English to Spanish kids. However my first “proper job” was in HR services with Proctor and Gamble, specialising in relocation management for colleagues that were heading overseas on special project assignments, which again was heavily focused on logistics and detail. I’ve always been ambitious and although I enjoyed the job, working for a large corporation just wasn’t going to allow me to progress as quickly as I wanted to. Months earlier I had emailed an events agency to ask if they had any roles available and the managing director reached out and invited me in, and I’ve been in events ever since. 


Have you ever looked back after starting your business? 


I haven’t ever looked back, but I do think I could have easily had a corporate career path rather than an entrepreneurial one if I had joined a graduate scheme or been on a path where I could have progressed quickly. I felt like I didn’t have a path having studied languages and knowing I didn’t want to be a translator or a teacher (!), but I like the structure of corporate organisations and I thrive when I am being pushed to achieve and do more. Owning my own business was never the plan, but I always go with my gut instinct for where I can achieve more or take the next step – after joining my previous agency as a co-ordinator and leaving as head of events, the next logical step was to start up my own business and set those challenges for myself there. I’ve immensely enjoyed growing the business with Catherine and there is always something new to learn or understand which keeps things interesting. 


What did you want to be when you were growing up? 


I wanted to work as a translator or at the BBC in backstage production! I always loved languages and I grew up living close to White City so those two careers seemed the obvious options for me. I studied Modern languages at Newcastle University but I think if I was to go back and choose again, I would probably pair languages with something like business. I’m quite a practical, hands-on learner so I want to understand how things work in the real world, rather than just the academic side. My degree taught me a lot about Spanish Literature in the 15th Century, but that didn’t really float my boat and needless to say I have never used it in the real world!


You’re a little more removed from the day-to-day delivery these days. What are you enjoying most about your role at the moment?


We have this incredible, experienced, trusted team who are delivering fantastic experiences for our clients, which gives me more time to work on the parts of the business where I think I can add value. I spend a lot of time developing relationships in the region to champion the North East as a great place to do business and growing our new business pipeline which allows us to offer more opportunities for our team and our clients. Currently, I’m leading the agency’s ESG strategy which is really exciting! I was clear from the start that I didn’t want to make grand statements and big promises, we are simply committed to working with our team, our suppliers, and our clients to make consistent, considered changes that will move us closer to our goal of ethically offsetting our carbon, both within the agency and through the events we deliver. 


The inclusion of financial resilience was important to me, and I want the strategy to be realistic so we can keep delivering great work and providing opportunities for many years to come. Without a robust business model, you simply don’t have the capacity, skills, or resources to invest back into the wider community. I’m proud that recently we have aligned with organisations that support our vision and supported a range of community initiatives in the Northeast, including Groundwork NE, The Children’s Foundation, and funding kits for the newly formed North East Sporting u11 Saturday team, based in Wallsend. 


It can be a hard balance to find your place when you aren’t doing as much direct delivery anymore, which in an agency is what you are there to do. It’s important to trust the team to do what they are great at and use my skills elsewhere, they joke that I would just get in the way anyway! 


What do you think would surprise people coming into the industry today? 


The misconception is that you can spend all of your time flouncing around on-site and looking after glamourous people because often all you see from the outside is the finished product of the event photography and video. You have to be a good all-rounder, 90 percent of the work is done at your desk planning, working with your team, and preparing for onsite delivery. It doesn’t matter how senior you get; the admin doesn’t go away I’m afraid. It’s not just being able to turn up and talk to people on-site, attention to detail is incredibly important, combined with the ability to communicate and build positive relationships with people – whether that is clients, suppliers, venues, speakers, or your team. Events are all about people so it is important to understand how to work as part of the team which can sometimes span multiple countries and time zones depending on the event you are creating. 


And finally, who would your dream client be? 


I love big government events! I enjoy the complexity of delivering events with high-level stakeholders. Events that make a statement, like the TechNExt festival which we created alongside Dynamo and Sunderland Software City, is the kind of experience that I enjoy being part of; it has something to say and makes a difference in the sector. I do enjoy pushing the events sector forward, whether that be through our ESG ambitions or through initiatives like the Good Festival Ambition which was created as part of TechNExt 2023. While there are D&I policies or environmental agendas in silo, there isn’t anyone else looking at what makes a ‘Good Festival’ in a holistic sense, and I’m excited to develop that more and see where we can take it. 


Sarah has two children and two stepchildren and lives by the sea with her partner and family. To find out more about how BeaconHouse Events can support your business to meet your ambitions in 2024 and beyond email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk 

How to keep your delegates in high spirits – even if they aren’t drinking

Sales of non-alcoholic beverages saw a surge this year, and there has also been a rise in demand for spaces and activities that aren’t centered around booze, particularly some Generation Zs and millennials, who want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Half of the UK adult population bought a no-alcohol or low-alcohol product during 2022, boosting volumes by 9% last year, according to the IWSR, and sober night-clubs are becoming more mainstream as people look to have fun, without the headache the next day. A sobering thought if you are looking at planning your next corporate event.

Catherine Duhaut, co-founder and director here at BeaconHouse Events said, “There are lots of reasons why people don’t want to drink; health, driving, recovery, religious beliefs, pregnancy, or just simply because they don’t want to, and I think we need to move away from the stigma that if someone isn’t drinking it has to be noted. As a sector, we need to be more inclusive when it comes to offering alcohol-free refreshments and activities that are just as good, or even better, than their boozy counterparts. Gone are the days of being offered a warm lemonade, or worse, a free Prosecco but you have to pay if you want a soft drink (yep, that happened), as an acceptable alternative. Post-conference get-togethers are sometimes where some of the best conversations happen, and it is our responsibility to make everyone feel comfortable and included, not just those who want to drink.”

We spoke to the team here at BeaconHouse and they shared their top tips for creating an inclusive event that doesn’t center around drinking.

  1. Offer tasty alternatives 

From delicious mocktails and non-alcohol like Sipsmith Gin, or Caleño Dark & Spicy rum, to low-alcohol like Brewdog Lost AF (0.5%) there are plenty of enjoyable options that look and taste just like the real thing. If you are offering a welcome drink, make a non-alcohol version readily available so delegates don’t have to ask and serve non-alcoholic drinks in the way you would serve an alcoholic beverage – just because it is 0% doesn’t mean it can’t look stylish and you won’t be able to tell the difference. You could even set up an interactive station where people can customize their drinks and have a bit of fun with their concoctions! Provide a selection of fresh fruits, herbs, and mixers, and let your delegates enjoy creating their signature drink.

  1. Knowledgeable staff 

Choose venues, bartenders, and servers who are knowledgeable in alcohol-free options, know how to mix a great mocktail, and can recommend the best flavours to go with your dining options. A great venue team will make sure that drinkers and non-drinkers get the same level of care and attention during the event. Ask the team to consider how they are communicating the alcohol-free options so people don’t feel ‘other’ if they are ordering from that menu.

  1. 0% networking

Plan opportunities for delegates to get together post-event outside of the bar. This could be organising a walking tour of local sites, mini-golf, or holding post-event get togethers at a local independent coffee-house. Keep your guests busy and engaged and they’ll soon forget they don’t have a drink in their hand.

  1. Keep your guests entertained 

Focus on the experience that your delegates are having while they are with you, and give them plenty of things to do to keep them entertained, and spirits high. Depending on the type of event you’re designing, this could be live music, dance instructors, craft stands, pinball machines, photo booths, or trivia games – just get creative.

Remember, the reason why people may choose not to drink varies, and it is a completely personal choice as to whether they choose to consume alcohol or not, it is our role as event planners to make sure everyone is comfortable, feeling confident, and having a great time, regardless of what’s in their glass.

For more information on how to create an event that your delegates will remember, contact info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.

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 info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk.


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 info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

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 info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

Is the Black Tie Dress Code a thing of the past?

To fully meet the traditional black tie brief, you could choose to don a dinner jacket, white shirt, black bow tie and dress shoes, or opt for an evening gown more akin to old Hollywood glamour than office chic (dresses crafted from silk, satin, chiffon and lace are all black-tie winners according to fashion designer Samantha Benveniste). These strict dress codes should help delegates to understand what the expectation is ahead of an event and give an insight into what other guests will be wearing so they can prepare in advance, but it can also add extra pressures and expense if you don’t have anything handy in your wardrobe and feel expected to buy a new dress or hire a tux.


Shifts in workplace culture, particularly with start-ups and tech companies, has seen a noticeable move away from traditional dress codes in the office. According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management as many as 24% of businesses in the UK now offer a flexible dress code policy and this relaxed approach reflects a broader trend towards creating a more vibrant and inclusive work environment – making the black tie dress code even more obscure to modern workers. Millennials and Gen Z now dominate the workforce and they are leading the way with a more casual dress both in and out of the office. In fact, 74% of millennials said they thought that a relaxed dress code positively impacted their productivity.

Not everyone is ready to get rid of the chance to feel a little fancy in 2023. According to market research firm Mintel, 37%of people in the UK still believe that dressing formally to a work event is a sign of respect and seriousness in a corporate setting. Certain sectors, like finance and law, are much more likely to adhere to these stricter guidelines for event dressing – usually down to maintaining a level of tradition and meeting client expectations for professional services.

We spoke to one North East based business leader in the manufacturing sector, who said, “I like that black tie events give everyone the chance to dress up, these events are usually a celebration of our team’s achievements and it adds sense of occasion that feels different and exciting. Most members of our team love the chance to get their glad rags on and take part in something out of the ordinary that marks all of their hard work during the year.”

Love it or hate it, the formal attire dress code has been a part of events since 1860 when the first dinner jacket was first worn by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). The jacket was initially born out of practicality as he wanted to wear a shorter jacket when on his yacht and this style evolved into the form of eveningwear that we know today. But, as its unlikely that you will be sailing to your event in 2023, is requiring guests to dress in a certain way still fit for purpose in 2023? We turned to LinkedIn to find out what our network had to say…

Surprisingly 84 percent of people who responded to our poll said that they still enjoy black tie events and love the opportunity to get dressed up, with only 16 percent of people thinking that they are a bit old fashioned.

So, it turns out the black tie dress code is not totally obsolete but it’s certainly on the down turn and will undoubtedly become less and less prevalent as younger talent moves up the ranks. Do you still love the chance to get dressed up? Head over to our social media pages and let us know your thoughts…

To find out more about creating an experience that your delegates will remember, right in the North East contact info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

Ready for any event-uality: Meet our Event Manager Katie

Hi Katie! You’ve been at BeaconHouse Events since 2018 what did you study? 

Seventeen-year-old Katie thought that Acting would be a sensible choice for a university degree! I wanted to go to university and I always enjoyed, and was good at, drama at school so I took a place in the Acting degree. I did my first two years in Bournemouth and finished my final year here in Newcastle before heading up to Edinburgh for a month to perform in a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

What did your first role look like after Uni? Did you know you wanted to work in the events sector right away? 

When I got back from the Edinburgh Fringe, I knew that a career in acting wasn’t right for me. The reason I didn’t pursue a career on the stage is that I found it too stressful, I didn’t enjoy the pressure and the anxiety of going on stage so I came back to Newcastle and ran a B&B; cooking breakfasts for 40 people, cleaning the rooms and working behind the front desk which was a complete change from what I was used to! From there I started working on Reception for a large chain hotel which I really enjoyed. After I had been there a little while, they happened to need support in the events team while a colleague was off sick and asked if I would be interested in joining the team and covering. I was good at it and I guess the rest is history! Working in events was nothing I ever planned for – I’m not a natural planner outside of work.

I knew that a role in the venue was not something I wanted to do long-term, but I wanted to stay in the industry and stay in the North East, so when I saw the role advertised at BeaconHouse I jumped at the opportunity.

While working in a venue is completely different from working agency side, it is still very busy and you have to learn to juggle a lot of tasks at once and maintain a level of professionalism. I think that knowledge of what goes into an event from a venue perspective, and the on-the-ground learning in that role, really helped me to transition into the event manager position here at BeaconHouse pretty quickly.

Did your stage training prepare you for a career in the events sector? 

While I didn’t enjoy the pressure that comes with performing, it did prepare me for being able to step out of my comfort zone and to positively react to any situation, which is helpful when you are on-site and dealing with any number of possible scenarios. Working on-site is my favourite part of the role and having the skills to be able to think on your feet when you are dealing with delegates, venues, and clients is definitely a skill that I’ve brought with me – the show must go on right!

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you always want to be an actor? 

Not at all, I either wanted to be a vet or I wanted to run my own rehabilitation centre for orangutans in Borneo!

While I was working with the events team at the hotel I had the opportunity to take eight months to go exploring and I was lucky enough to see a semi-wild orangutan in Borneo which was just an incredible experience. I have a curiosity to try and experience new things which I think is a skill that is really valued in the events industry – being curious and excited to bring new experiences to our events is a huge part of the role and you can only create new things if you take an interest in the wider world around you and are inspired by it.

You’re originally from Cornwall, why did you choose to build your career here in the North East? 

I have family connections to Teesside and am a huge Middlesbrough fan. I originally intended to move here for a year, go to loads of games, and then move back down South, but I completely fell in love with the region and didn’t want to leave! I don’t think I could live anywhere else in the UK now; I’m one of five siblings and none of us live any further South than Sheffield!

I have a golden Labrador, Luna, and the North East is such a great place to explore with her too.

Speaking of Luna, the BeaconHouse office in Hoults Yard is dog friendly – what does that mean for your work-life balance? 

It’s amazing. I had always wanted a dog, but I didn’t think that there would be enough flexibility working in events to do it. About a year into the role I decided that I would like to get one so I spoke to Sarah and Cat and asked if I could change my working hours to have longer lunch breaks so I could cycle home and walk her, and asked if she would be able to come into the office sometimes and they said yes. When she was just a pup she would just come in on a Friday so she wasn’t too disruptive, but now she is older she comes in all the time. Though we’ve not trained her to be helpful on-site yet! She would love to welcome delegates.

The office is perfectly located to walk her on lunchtime by the river or along the Hadrian’s Wall cycle path which is also nearby. Bringing Luna into the office gives me a real incentive to step away from my desk over lunch and get some fresh air; I value that hour to be able to think, come up with new ideas, and re-focus, especially with the busy season that we have coming up.

Are there any misconceptions about the industry that you would like to see banished in 2023? 

I still don’t think there is a lot of understanding about the level of work and level of detail that goes into the events that we create, especially outside of the sector. I remember during my first week at BeaconHouse Events, I was working on a major awards event and was asked to write the script for the evening – I had no idea that that was part of what an event agency would do! All these little things go into making an event a success and we often spend over a year researching and planning for our clients which is the part no one sees. As a team, we are already planning experiences for September 2024 and there are always events at different parts of their planning life cycles running simultaneously. The job is so much more than the common stereotype of booking rooms, walking around with a clipboard, and ordering lunch.

Is there a particular part of the process that you love getting involved in? 

I do love the end point of being on-site and seeing months of hard work cumulate into an experience that the client is proud of. I do like the pressure and the high stakes of being on-site too.

I also spend a lot of time pre-event working with speakers to make sure that they feel comfortable and prepared before they get up on stage which I enjoy. I hate public speaking so I think I can empathise with what would make me feel more confident. We have so many different types of speakers partnering with us for events, and not everyone does it professionally – often they are simply experts in their subject matter and need some additional support to make sure that they have everything they need in advance to do an amazing job. It can be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of 600 people so knowing that there is someone there who has your back and can walk you through the process is only going to add to the quality of the event.

Do you have any events that you look forward to every year? 

That’s a hard one because I work with so many different clients and it is the variety that is part of the reason I love my role but one that stands out is Planet Mark. They have been a client of mine since they first partnered with BeaconHouse in 2018 and each year we deliver their annual awards, looking after everything from guest booking and management, sponsorship relationship management, budget management, and cost control. Together with the management of the entries and judging process, script writing, production, staging and AV, venue management and liaison, and venue dressing.

It has been fantastic to see the team grow in the time we have worked together and to have been a part of the amazing things they have achieved.

And finally, who would your dream client be? 

I’m not sure that I have a dream client as such but if there was an opportunity to put on an event that encompassed all of the things that I love; sustainable travel, food, good wine then I’m there! I love outdoor events, like the kind we organise for The Great Run Company, so I would like to deliver more of those. They are a totally different kettle of fish to a traditional corporate event – there is so much to consider when it comes to health and safety and logistics, even the weather has a role to play!

Six things to do in the North East if you’re visiting for an event

We worked with the team at NIC-A to support with full logistics planning from invites, venue sourcing, liaison, speaker and delegate travel bookings, stage management, and onsite delivery and the event ended with a reception and dinner at Blackfriars restaurant which allowed our international delegation to experience a taste of Newcastle’s medieval past. This got us thinking – what are the things you can’t miss in North East if you’re visiting for a conference this year?

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Take a short walk across the Millennium Bridge to the Gateshead side of the River Tyne and you’ll find the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. This world-class gallery stretches over five floors and is free entry so it’s the perfect way to spend a few hours in the city, even on one of the drizzlier days. Head to the west-facing windows of the old flour mill for a dramatic view up the river and across the city, taking in the iconic Tyne Bridge.

Entry is from 10 am. Visit the website for further details on events and exhibitions taking place during your visit: https://baltic.art/

Newcastle Castle and Keep 

Steeped in history, this imposing Norman fortress is a rugged reminder of northern England’s turbulent past. Just a stone’s throw away from Newcastle Central Station, the castle is where the story of Newcastle began and the reason the city got its name – now it welcomes visitors seven days a week where you can explore and enjoy hidden stories of the keep and its former inhabitants. Used in many films, serials, and other video shorts to set the scene that you are in Newcastle, it is the quintessential view over the River Tyne!

Opening times, events, and further information can be found at https://www.newcastlecastle.co.uk/

Visit the North East coast

Hop on the Metro from Newcastle City Centre and in 20 minutes you’ll be soaking in the beauty of the stunning North East coastline. Boasting white sandy beaches, dramatic views, and some of the best fish and chips in the region, no trip to the North East is complete without a trip to the seaside. The Metro underground train will take you right from Central Station to Tynemouth where you can get your fix of fresh air before all the hard work begins. The Metro system can also take you directly from the city centre to the airport, so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic when you’re heading home.

Find out the latest travel news, maps, and prices for the Metro at https://www.nexus.org.uk/metro

A stroll along the Quayside

Conferences and events can be overwhelming, so get out and stretch your legs with a walk along the scenic River Tyne which runs through the heart of the city. A 15-minute stroll along the river will bring you to the bustling Ouseburn Valley which is paced with independent eateries, a thriving city farm, pubs serving local suppliers, and street art celebrating the city’s shipbuilding past. Today the Ouseburn Valley is made up of social and cultural venues, nestled alongside reminders of the area’s industrial heritage, including the old flax chimney outside the famous Cluny bar and music venue and the recently refurbished Ouseburn Railway viaduct.

Traditional North East dishes

If you fancy a bite to eat after a busy day, you’ll find traditional North East food, friendly company, and good cheer – with a fresh, modern touch at Broad Chare, which is listed in the Top 50 Gastro Pubs, the go-to place to find the best pubs to dine in in the UK. Nothing fancy, nothing fussy, just genuine warmth and an open-hearted welcome which is sometimes just what you need after a day of networking and inspiration.


Mocktails with a difference

In 1898, with Queen Victoria still on the throne and the North booming with newfound industry, a water closet was installed for the people of Newcastle. Nowadays W.C bar is housed in that same Victorian public toilet beneath the well-known Bigg Market, but don’t let that put you off! Its extensive drinks menus have added to the appeal, especially the remarkably lengthy list of cocktails which can mostly be served alcohol-free if you ask. They have a wide range of interesting soft drinks and it is worth a visit for the quirky venue alone.


We always encourage our delegates to get out and see our city in the most sustainable ways possible, and visitors to Newcastle will notice the abundance of Neuron scooters that are available for you to hop on and start exploring. Download the app and see more of the North East in a way that doesn’t cost the Earth.

To find out more about creating an experience that your delegates will remember, right in the North East contact info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

What is a good festival and how do you create one?

This ambition meant working hard to deliver a diverse events programme with the aim to make our core events truly accessible, considering those with different protected characteristics and ensuring we meet a wide range of needs and make everyone feel as welcome as possible.

As well as speaking to people from our community for their suggestions on how to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere across the week, we also considered everything from how to minimise the use of single-use plastics to delicious food options that helped guests to make more conscious choices! Across the week our Good Festival Ambition came to life in many different ways…

  1. Festival buddy system

We know that attending an event alone can be an intimidating experience for some people, that’s why we put a buddy system in place that gave attendees the option to be met by a friendly face from the TechNExt team or wider community on arrival. Festival buddies helped attendees feel comfortable at the event by chatting over a coffee on arrival, introducing new faces, or helping them understand more about the content of the event and what was planned that day. Anyone could apply for a ‘buddy’ through the ticket booking process.

  1. Sustainable catering

The catering was designed throughout the week to reduce 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 being asked to ‘opt in’ to 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 the carbon footprint of the event across the week. We also worked with venues to ensure that single-use plastics were replaced onsite with environmentally friendly alternatives and recycled event materials wherever possible.

  1. Quiet spaces

A major event like TechNExt can be overwhelming so we made sure that there were signposted quiet areas in each venue where delegates could take time away from the crowds. This space was designed for everyone to make the most of, but we took steps to help guests understand that it was a sanctuary away from the event activities and not a place for meetings or phone calls.

  1. Accessible venues

With events taking place up and down the region we cherry picked venues that were easily accessible by public or alternative transport and communicated green travel options with delegates in advance of the event. From trains to metros, car sharing, e-scooters and bikes we had guests utilising a range of environmentally friendly ways to get around events. We also ensured that venues that were used across the festival programme were as accessible as possible to attendees.

  1. Funded tickets

The tech sector is diverse and we wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to be inspired, share their knowledge and gain insight into the latest developments in the North East tech sector. We knew that cost may be a barrier to some individuals or organisations so we offered several funded and supported places for the Main Stage conference and the party, allowing those who may not usually get access to such events a chance to be part of the festival. Funding was also available to allow a range of organisations host their own fringe events too.

We are always interested in how we can continue to learn and develop the kind of experiences that we offer delegates. Let us know what you would like to see as part of a ‘Good Festival’ of the future.

To speak to the team about your event ambitions for 2023 and beyond call on 0191 691 3456 or email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

From upholstery to events, Meet Katie our Project Coordinator who has you covered.

Katie joined the BeaconHouse team in early 2023 to support on the delivery of TechNExt, a major new tech festival that took over the North East this June. The event was attended by over 3000 people across the region and included over 50 events, and after getting stuck into everything from organising industry dinners, briefing speakers, working with fringe event organisers and liaising with suppliers, Katie decided to stay with the BeaconHouse team long-term and bring her skills to the other clients in our portfolio. We caught up with Katie to hear what drives her and why she loves living and working in the North East.

What did your career path look like before you joined BeaconHouse Events?

I studied English Literature at university in Newcastle and took a year out while I decided what I wanted to do next. During that year I did voluntary work in South Africa and part of that project involved organising a fundraising ball. Until then I hadn’t really had experience in what went into delivering something like that and, as I love organising things, it was a great fit for me. When I came home I looked for a role where I could put those skills into practice and I joined the team at CastleGate in central Newcastle as an events coordinator, and then events manager. I worked with the team there for almost 10 years, organising everything from conferences to weddings and corporate meetings, but after a long time in the business and having two children, I decided to try something completely new and I left to set up my own upholstery business.

I really wanted to establish a business that allowed me to be creative and to explore new ideas, and after taking a course in Manchester I ran that business successfully for around 6 years, before a chance conversation with Sarah (Thackray) tempted me back to working in events.

What was it about the role at BeaconHouse Events that really made you excited?

I was at a bit of a crossroads with my business and it was during a conversation with Sarah that she asked if I knew of anyone who might be interested in helping to support with a new tech festival in the region. Running a business on my own was getting a little lonely and I missed being part of a team and that creative collaboration, so I joined the BeaconHouse team with the expectation of just being here short-term to deliver the project and, spoiler, I ended up loving it. TechNExt was delivered back in June and it was a steep learning curve to understand the nuances of the North East tech sector, but that learning has been so valuable to bring to the variety of projects that I am working on now.

The opportunity to be part of an event that was going to have such an impact on the region was just too exciting an opportunity to turn down.

How did you find working on the TechNExt festival? What did you get involved in?

The tech sector was completely new to me and there was a lot of new terminology to learn! The tech sector in the North East is big and blossoming and it was a fantastic opportunity to see the scale of the businesses that are operating here, I had no idea about the work that a lot of them were delivering or how many businesses are based here in the region. There were over 50 events taking place across the week so I was the point of contact for a lot of the businesses who were organising fringe events and had a unique opportunity to work with a wide range of different clients in unison to bring the festival to life.

We had an ambition to create a ‘good festival’ so a lot of work went into finding venues who were forward thinking when it came to accessibility and sustainability, which was really important to the festival team. That meant a lot of work behind the scenes to make an event like TechNExt look seamless and, with working venue side for the majority of my career, I guess brought quite a unique perspective to the team because I understand the level of communication and detail that venues need to deliver something brilliant for our delegates.

The week itself was amazing, we were onsite across the whole of the North East delivering everything from an industry dinner to a talent fair, festival party and main stage event – it was a busy week but it brought together everything that I enjoy about events and we really had each other’s back as a team during the stressful moments.

What does an average day look like for you?

Now that TechNExt has been delivered and we’ve completed our evaluations and project reports, I’ll be starting to work with different project groups on some big client experiences, including a leadership event taking place in the September and an annual conference and party for one of our biggest clients. I’ve been working on sourcing the best speakers for each event, briefing them and organising venues and travel. I’ve been onsite recently too, supporting on the reception to welcome guests and make sure they are comfortable with the running of events and where to go if they have any questions.

My role is part-time and I sometimes work from home for part of the week so I always try to get some fresh air along the coast to break up the day too. We’re so lucky here in the North East that you can enjoy the coast and countryside but still be close enough to the city centre to easily commute to the office.

Is there anything about your role that you think would surprise people?

The amount of information that you can absorb on a whole range of topics really surprised me when I moved agency side. I’m pretty curious by nature and I really enjoy learning about new topics or ideas and you have the opportunity to hear some incredible people speak while you are working at an event.

Recently I supported with the delivery of an event for the National Centre for Ageing and I was fascinated to hear about the work they are doing with ageing populations in the UK, something which is going to become more and more important for employers to consider in the future. Working across such a range of different clients really opens your eyes to new experiences and opportunities which, if you’re interested in hearing new ideas, can be a real perk to the role.

I was also really surprised about the options to continue a career in events as a working mum. Catherine and Sarah have built a business that empowers women to come back into the workplace and use their skills, and there are policies in place that allow me to work from home some of the time so I can be there for the school run, then pick up again later in the evening. I didn’t expect that going back into the industry and I would encourage anyone who is considering a career in events not to be put off by the assumption there is no work-life balance – it’s worth having the conversation!

If you could design an event for any client in the world, who would be the dream?

It would have to be a large scale interiors conference or festival. We would have the best speakers in the industry, stations where delegates could learn and have a go at upholstery or upcycling and stands for people to find out about the latest trends and be inspired. That would definitely combine by two career passions in one!

We’re currently recruiting for a project coordinator like Katie. If you are interested in a career in events, we would love to hear from you. Visit www.beaconhouse-events.co.uk/careers to view our current vacancies.