Team Building Events (Without the Cringe Factor)

If the idea of company team building events makes you shudder, you’re not alone.  Most of us have had a cringe-worthy experience over the years, including one member of the Octopus Events team who had to write and perform a song about a company product to the tune of a well-known Christmas song.  Toe curling doesn’t even cover it! It’s time to rebrand team building as an opportunity to build relationships, improve communication and boost morale without the need for staff to feel embarrassed or exposed.  Good team building events bring employees together to share an enjoyable experience and get to know each other better in a relaxed environment, away from the distractions of the office.   Team building is usually either incorporated into a larger conference or run as a stand-alone event.  If it’s a bolt-on to a bigger event, scheduling is vital so that staff don’t opt out.  Putting team building in the middle of your sales conference is usually a better idea than at the end when delegates are itching to get away. Make sure the activity you plan complements the venue and location of the wider event. Stand-alone teambuilding events should be carefully planned, taking into account busy times of year, and any flexible working arrangements.  In a hybrid working landscape, the benefits of bringing the team together can be huge. Done well, team building improves performance, encourages collaboration between different departments and improves retention rates by keeping staff engaged and interested. It can also help to identify strengths and weaknesses within a team. Making your event inclusive is key. Make sure you invite any homeworkers and those on maternity or paternity leave.  Create a buzz around the event by promoting it internally and gather feedback and suggestions afterwards via a survey so that employees can have

Creative Christmas Parties

There’s a reason the media call it ‘Christmas in July’. A bit like booking your summer holiday in January, if you want the festive season to sparkle and shine it’s never too early to start planning.  The majority of companies have booked their Christmas celebrations by early autumn so the sooner you start researching, the more choice you’ll have when it comes to venues, caterers and entertainment providers.    Once you know the size of the group you’re entertaining, whether it’s a company-wide event, a department or team party, consider who will be attending and what they’ll find most enjoyable.  Boozy Christmas parties are definitely not to everyone’s taste so don’t be afraid to break the mould and try something different and infinitely more memorable that takes into account people’s lives beyond work. Your Christmas celebrations are a chance to boost employee engagement and morale by arranging something that staff will genuinely look forward to.     If a lot of employees have children, they might prefer an event in November or January when diaries are less packed with nativity plays, grotto visits and family commitments.  Acknowledging the reality of the season shows empathy for staff, plus you might benefit from a discount on venues and catering outside of December.    Christmas Getaways If you’re in charge of a Christmas celebration for a small team or a group of senior execs, consider an overnight retreat with partners invited.  Country properties that offer exclusive hire are perfect, like Pywell Park in the New Forest which has 10 luxury, eclectic bedrooms and huge grounds. If more bedrooms are required, additional accommodation could be provided by other nearby hotels such as Chewton Glen, Limewood or The Pig. Offer an optional menu of indoor and outdoor activities for guests to choose from during the day with key meals

Chelsea Flower show

Creative Ways To Wow Clients with Corporate Hospitality

The days when a box at Twickenham was the epitome of corporate hospitality are behind us. Today there are endless, creative ways to engage with clients and customers through in-person events and corporate hospitality. The golden rule of corporate hospitality is that it should be designed around the interests of your guests and reflect your organisation.  Like a great date, it should show clients and customers how well you understand them and how much you appreciate them. To continue the dating analogy, keep things fun, light and don’t come on too strong!  Inviting clients to an event is a brilliant way to get to know them better, develop lasting relationships and drive new business.  Wow them with an imaginative and thoughtful experience and you’ll build loyalty more effectively than any sales pitch. Broadly speaking, there are four main types of corporate hospitality – sports, music, arts and food.  At Octopus Events we’ve got tried and tested ideas in each area to inspire you when planning your next corporate hospitality experience.  If you need support, get in touch and we’d be delighted to use our expertise and our bursting little black book to help you. Sporting Events Sporting events are exciting, bringing people together to get swept up in the nail-biting action. Corporate hospitality at events like Wimbledon, Henley Regatta or Ascot should provide the whole package. This would include excellent seats,   fantastic catering including drinks and a sit down meal, and an engaging entertainment host for a talk and Q&A. This might be a retired sportsperson who once competed at the venue.  Make sure every detail of the experience is taken care of. Clients want ease and access in order to feel relaxed. They’ll need a parking space (or travel provided), a safe base to leave their belongings, nice bathroom

Grand Hyatt Seoul pool and gardens

Top 8 Destinations for Corporate Events in 2024 

Whether it’s a big company conference, a leadership retreat, sales incentive or a high-profile meeting, the destination holds the key to your guests’ experience.  The place you choose influences the atmosphere and style of your corporate event, the activities on offer and the type of hotel and dining experiences.  Cocktail making in a chic Manhattan rooftop bar works brilliantly for some groups while others will be far more at home on a golf course at St Andrews. Always ensure you tailor your event to your specific audience. It goes without saying that the destination is also central to budgeting, travel times and the carbon footprint of your event. Take a look at our tips for delivering more sustainable events.  To give you a flavour of the different options available, we’ve rounded up the hottest corporate event destinations for 2024 in the UK, Europe and beyond. Places that offer memorable culture experiences combined with professional meeting settings and luxury hotels with great facilities.  The UK London  London is always calling when it comes to corporate events and sales conferences.  England’s buzzing capital reigns supreme for hotel choice, culture, fine dining and public transport links.  Make use of The Thames for twilight drinks and adrenaline pumping RIB trips, or take a short day-trip to the home counties for country pursuits.    Give your attendees an unparalleled experience with a hotel setting like Raffles at the Old War Office. Set in the heart of Westminster, this long-awaited opening has a luxury spa, lavish bedrooms and several epic event spaces including a beautiful ballroom. The service is second to none. For a vibrant Soho setting, Ham Yard Hotel is a firm favourite, well-loved by creatives. The bars, restaurants and theatres of the West End are on the doorstep while inside you’ll find modern British luxury


10 Ways to Make Your Event More Sustainable

Events bring people together. They boost motivation, forge lasting connections and can even benefit the local economy but – there’s no getting away from it – in-person events inevitably have an environmental impact in terms of energy consumption, waste and emissions. As UK businesses become more eco-conscious, the majority are increasingly prioritising sustainability when planning events.  We know that responsibility and accountability should be at the heart of our organisational decision-making but when events have so many complicated moving parts (and inevitably tight deadlines), how can we make them more sustainable? A good way to start is by looking at the overall potential environmental impact of your event.  Factor in every different aspect from the venue and catering to the decoration, equipment hire, production and transportation, and consider how to make each element greener.  You could use an online carbon calculation tool to work out how much CO2 your event is likely to produce and work on ways to reduce this. Make sure the responsibility is shared across the whole team from any in-house event planners to department heads and external agencies so that it’s not down to one person to wave the flag for sustainability. Stay inspired by keeping up-to-date with developments in the industry and seeking out fresh case studies. You might not be organising a global music festival but it’s still heartening to know that all of Glastonbury’s power needs were met by renewable energy and renewable fuels in 2023. Generators were run on fuel made from waste cooking oil and the organisers provided reusable 100% stainless steel water bottles for visitors, along with multiple water refill points.  At the Coachella festival in the US they have an “Energy Playground” complete with “Energy SeeSaws” that allow attendees to power energy sources like phone charging stations, while they

summer party decoration

Top 5 Tips for Unforgettable Corporate Summer Parties

A corporate summer party is the perfect way to entertain clients and reward staff. As we usher in long, light evenings, people feel relaxed and ready to celebrate outdoors with a glass of something sparkling.  Whether it’s a drinks party, summer ball, BBQ, posh picnic, cocktail evening or mini festival, make sure you dial up the feel-good factor and add a few memorable flourishes to your event. Your guests will always remember the first five, and last five, minutes of any event so welcome them in and see them out in spectacular style to leave a lasting impression. In between, think of the mood you want to create – style, theme, lighting and sound all add up to an overall impression that makes your guests feel a certain way – ideally excited, delighted and part of something special.   At Octopus Events we plan and deliver corporate summer parties in Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds, London and beyond.  The beautiful southern English countryside where we are based is home to an abundance of stunning venues with gorgeous grounds, so we’ve got plenty of ideas and suggestions up our sleeves.    If you’ve left your planning a little late this year, we can work with a short lead time. Sarah once pulled off a mini Olympics and summer BBQ for around 200 people in a matter of weeks! When it comes to guest (and venue) availability at short notice, holding your party on a Monday or Tuesday evening can work well. This often avoids clashes with people’s prior social engagements or with highlights of the summer sporting calendar, like Henley, Wimbledon, Goodwood or Cowes.  Here are our tried and tested top 5 tips for creating an unforgettable corporate summer party. 1. Planning and Brainstorming Resist the urge to dive in feet first and take the

corporate party

How to Boost Employee Engagement at Your Summer Conference

As the bluebells and alliums start to flower, organisations also turn their attention to growth and new beginnings.  A summer conference is a major event in the company calendar, bringing employees together to share key messages and updates, show them how valued they are, and motivate them.  In these challenging post-pandemic times, with hybrid working and squeezed household finances, employee engagement is more important than ever.   At Octopus Events, we organise creative conferences for clients here in Oxfordshire, the UK and around the world so we see the impact that well-executed events can have on staff morale. “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.” Richard Branson What are the benefits of boosting employee engagement at your conference? A positive company culture creates a ripple event. Employees who feel appreciated are more productive and more likely to perform at a higher standard at work. That means happier clients, satisfied customers, and, according to a recent Gallup survey, increased profitability. When people feel connected and loyal to the organisation they work for, businesses experience decreased employee turnover saving themselves time and money. So how can events help to boost morale and employee engagement?   Put simply, they’re a memorable way of showing staff how much you value them.  There are innumerable possibilities when it comes to creating positive experiences for staff at company events, whether it’s teambuilding activities at a conference, family fun days, small monthly events celebrating teams or reward and recognition programmes with luxury trips to be won. Just remember to listen to your teams to find out what they would appreciate the most. People love to recount positive experiences to their friends, family, peers and via social media, so not only do employees feel more engaged as a result, events are

venues - South-East

Top 10 Most Exciting Conference Venues in the South East

You don’t have to travel far to trip over a fabulous conference venue in the south-east of England.  The capital has some spectacular spaces but a hop, skip and a jump away in the home counties, and beyond, you’ll find barns, luxury hotels, palaces and private islands to choose from.  Most of these venues are easily accessed from London but they offer the space, fresh air and tranquillity that comes from escaping the city. When researching venues, remember to keep the objectives and target audience for your event in mind.  If you plan to include team-building activities within the event schedule, making sure your shortlisted venues have spacious grounds should be high on the list of priorities. Don’t forget to check if there are any restrictions (in terms of what activities are allowed) with the venue too.  For upcoming summer drinks parties, think about rooftop locations with spectacular views and for conferences with jam-packed agendas, it’s advisable to have accommodation and meeting space all under one roof.  Always check accessibility and consider the eco-credentials of venues too if you want to ensure that they reflect your organisation’s own environmental ethos.    At Octopus, we’ve got great relationships with venues across the south-east, London and nationwide.  If you’d like us to organise your conference, we can negotiate excellent rates on your behalf while taking into account all of the finer details that will make your event memorable for all the right reasons.   Without further ado (and in no particular order!), here are our Top 10 most exciting conference venues in the south east. 10. Chewton Glen  5-star Chewton Glen hotel and spa needs no introduction.  Set in 130 acres of Hampshire countryside on the edge of the New Forest, minutes from the sea, it’s somewhere to treat guests to quintessential luxury and exceptional service.

Awards Ceremony

Secrets of a Successful Awards Ceremony

The excitement and hype of an awards ceremony can result in some infamous moments, whether it’s Kanye storming the stage, Gwyneth’s tears, Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie with Hollywood A-listers or Will Smith…well, let’s just leave it there.  While you should expect a little less drama from your corporate awards ceremony, it still needs to be memorable for all the right reasons.  A well-executed awards ceremony can be a key highlight of the company calendar.  A chance to put your glad rags on and celebrate individual success, team wins, and hard work.    But before you start googling venues and canapés, spend a little time thinking about the overall goals and objectives for your event. “Sarah, without a shadow of a doubt is what any client needs when staging an awards ceremony regardless of guest numbers, objective or location. Knowing Sarah is on board and an extension to your team is invaluable.”  Odell Dair, JLT, London Planning your awards ceremony Start by asking yourself why you’re holding the event and what outcomes you want to achieve. Is it an internal awards’ do for employees, or a wider industry event?  Reward and recognition are usually at the heart of most internal awards ceremonies so consider how it will play a role in your wider employee engagement strategy for the year. If the event has been held in the past, what has worked well, what traditions should continue and what elements could do with a refresh to reflect the direction the company is going in?  If there is one key message you need to convey, think how this can be incorporated into the fabric of the awards ceremony, from the strapline to the smaller details. Put together a brief and a budget to refer back to at every stage of planning and consider bringing in an experienced event

Table set up

Create a Winning 2023 Events Strategy – it’s Not Too Late!

As we snowball towards the big C, the distractions of year-end and festive celebrations can make it hard to focus on 2023 priorities.   In the back of our minds, we know that – along with resolutions and detoxes – January will bring with it the need to pin down objectives, hone marketing strategies and plan for a successful year ahead.    A robust 2023 events strategy can go a long way to support your business’s strategic goals for the year.   In-person is back on the table and there’s a renewed appetite for meaningful face-to-face interactions with colleagues, clients, and peers.    But don’t panic if you’ve not yet planned your 2023 events.  At Octopus Events we’re here to guide you by sharing a few key considerations and top tips drawn from over 20 years of event management experience. Why do events in 2023? The logistics of planning and running an event can feel incredibly daunting but the rewards are powerful, and you can always use an experienced events agency like Octopus to arrange and deliver events for you. In a world of video conferencing, inbox overwhelm, and remote working, bringing people together in the same room – with a sprinkle of the WOW factor – can have a hugely positive impact.  A considered 2023 events strategy can support your key objectives, particularly when it comes to employee engagement.   As well as an effective way of sharing company messages, events are fantastic for motivating, rewarding, and thanking employees and teams, helping to minimise staff turnover and boost productivity. Valued and appreciated staff always work harder. Events are also a great way to build fantastic relationships with top clients, suppliers, and prospects, and to celebrate company successes – internally, externally and to the media.  Your 2023 events could bring PR


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