Themed Venues

At this time of year why would any delegate favour standard corporate venues over acres of parkland and a relaxed, fun theme? Two major themed venues tell Red Carpet how they court the corporates. (23 Jul 10)

 Drayton Manor Theme Park

 Over a million visitors a year combine the tranquility of 280 acres of Staffordshire  greenery with the excitement of rides such as Shock-wave, G-force and Maelstrom. And that's before they've visited the 15-acre zoo at Drayton Manor Theme Park. 


'Artists' impression of the new hotel at Drayton Manor'

Corporate and consumer guests can look forward to its 150-bedroom hotel which is scheduled to open in summer 2011 and is set to boost Drayton Manor’s event and hospitality traffic. Hospitality manager Jo Arrowsmith talks us through the attractions. 

Which client sectors hire Drayton Manor and what types of activity do they stage there?  

 Our clients range from banks and building societies, the NHS and education sector to private companies such as solicitors and engineering firms. MKG, the food distributor, uses us for product launches, meetings and corporate fun days for their employees and families. Companies also hire too for Christmas parties and summer balls eg. M&S and Sainsbury's.

Banks and building societies are returning this year, showing restored faith in public spending as the majority last year were unable to have employee fundays due to the credit crunch.We are hopeful this will increase next year with more of the banks and building societies using Drayton Manor as a venue.

Can external caterers and party organisers be brought in for events or do you prefer in-house? 

 We do use in-house caterers and if additional help is needed we can bring in our own external catering company.

What impact do you anticipate the new hotel will have on corporate bookings in 2011 and beyond?

 The new hotel will hopefully have a massive impact on the hospitality department as a whole; we are already receiving an increase in the numbers of wedding bookings for 2011 and 2012 and even 2013, many of which have expressed an interest in the hotel. It will also help us to offer more two/three day events for conferences and corporate events as guests will be able to stay overnight on site. Everyone at Drayton is very excited about the prospects the new hotel will bring for the company as a whole.

How will the hotel blend consumer needs with those of business users ?

 Event attendees will be able but families will also have the opportunity to stay overnight, which is great when travelling with children. The hotel will feature some themed rooms, which will complement the park's Thomas Land attraction and add to the experience for children and Thomas fans. Drayton is as a venue that can mix business with pleasure and the hotel will be no different.  

Warwick Castle

Olde England continues to create new business at Warwick Castle, a member of the Merlin Entertainments Group. Located in leafy Warwickshire the historic venue is busy working on its new Christmas corporate products.

 Georgina Kelly, head of sales and marketing at Warwick Castle, reveals past corporate conquests and the business plan ahead.

What types of business client hire Warwick Castle and which activities do they stage there?  

 All types of industries visit Warwick Castle for events from small departments for team building events to entire companies for family fun days as well as numerous blue chip companies. Past clients include ARUP (concert hospitality), KPMG, National Grid and MasterCard (concert hospitality). We have led family fun day events for IT specialists Civica and a themed evening meal event for distribution company Palletways.

Our Knight School and Castle Quest products are proving to be very popular at the moment. Our Knight School involves a mixture of Archery, Sword Skills and Bill Drill. It allows clients to swap the boardroom for the battlefield and works as a way to incentivise and reward colleagues as well as build relationships and promote team work. We also offer corporate hospitality at annual concerts which is very popular as are our Great Hall and themed dinners.

Can clients bring in their own external caterers and what's the potential for event theming?

Catering is done in-house and our new chef has reworked all of the menus so our food is better than ever. The lighting in the Great Hall can be changed to reflect corporate colours and we offer such enhancements as flying company flags and projecting company logos onto the side of the castle. We have our own team of dedicated event hosts who facilitate every aspect of the event and will work with external event organisers to make the event run as smoothly as possible. We have a vast amount of experience dealing with event managements companies and always welcome the opportunity to build relationships.

How's the business outlook for 2010/2011?

 Business has been consistently good throughout 2010 and we are  looking forward to strong Christmas and 2011. We are receiving plenty of enquiries through our website and are looking forward to beginning the new year on a high.  We have also recently sold our 10,000th event and relish the challenge of hitting out 20,000th! 

Any forthcoming innovations?

 Information on our New Years Eve banquet will be released over the next couple of weeks but it is set to be a sensational event and the best yet. Also in prospect is a brand new corporate Christmas product including Great Hall Mediaeval Banquet and candlelit tours. Not to mention the Mediaeval Knight School we are looking to offer allowing teams to come to the Castle where we will train their workers in the skills of battle in authentic 14th Century reality.

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