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Client Case Study: Opencast People Engagement Programme

“A huge thank you for your help. Everything was super organised to a degree that it felt like it couldn’t possibly fail…you were a massive part of our success.” BeaconHouse Events has been working with Opencast since 2019, creating experiences to support the fast-growing technology consultancy to connect with their internal stakeholders and external communities.

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