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Luxury feel, reality budget




Does this sound like the sort of event you would like to plan? Then read on for our expert guide…

Luxury used to be all about velvet, gilt-edged everything and carpet pile so deep it tickled your ankles.

But luxury has changed. Now, it isn’t something you can reach out and touch. It is how you make people feel inside.

The good news is this means you don’t have to spend the earth to give your event an out-of-this-world luxury feel.

The new luxury
"2019 luxury is about making people feel special," says Alice Franks, CWT marketing events manager, messaging and content, UK and Ireland. "Start with personalised invitations and make sure welcome staff use – and hopefully remember – people's names."

If your budget is limited, but you are aiming for a luxury event experience, Alice recommends spending smart. "It can often pay to splash more on a venue with a wow factor, which saves you on decoration and branding."

Hasnain Alloo, commercial director at Edwardian Hotels London also highlights the premium touches that can make your event stand out in the right venue. “Luxury events entail a higher expectation of service. Our on-site AV production team make full use of technology and work relentlessly for your event to be successful and highly impactful.”

A robo-butler
Technology can be a cost-effective way to raise the look and feel of your event. Have you met Edward yet? He is the Edwardian Hotels London’ AI, on hand to support on-site requests before and during events.

His built-in assisted machine learning uses Natural Language Understanding (NLU), so Edward can answer more than 1,600 requests in different languages. Which would put even the most competent concierge in the shade.

“Innovations in hospitality technology, such as Edward, help to deliver exceptional experiences and exceed expectations,” says Hasnain. “Meeting planners can interact with Edward on their phone, discretely and quietly.”

That fresh coffee refill or chilled water which appeared in the room as if by magic just when your attendees were in need of refreshments. Why thank you, Edward!
When your venue has a luxury feel and the finest customer service, the stage is set for your event to shine.

Fresh ideas
Alice also adds a wow factor to everything she organises by working with her team to channel ideas and innovation. “We’re a small team, but we really listen to feedback from the press, attendees and suppliers after an event,” she explains. “What you think was an amazing luxury event might not have felt that way for your guests. Learn how to improve for the future.”

“We also work especially closely with suppliers, such as our AV partners,” says Alice, who organised this year’s BTJAs. “I always ask what they have seen or done at other events in other industries.”

This mix-and-match approach is key to luxury touches that people will snap for Instagram, talk about – and remember.

Alice follows influencers, bloggers and vloggers to check out what they do at their luxury product launches. Can their ideas be translated to the message your brand wants to put across at your own event?

Tag it
“It is worth remembering that even the most amazing ideas have to fit your event and your brand,” explains Alice. “However, I am constantly on the internet and Instagram searching for new event inspiration in terms of décor, food and entertainment. It’s great to look outside your industry as long as the idea fits for you.”

A fresh take on an event can really up the wow factor. When Alice took on the Business Travel Journalism Awards (BTJAs), she questioned why there were always chocolates on the table. In these days of healthy eating, could something different work?

“We wanted to offer guests something special they would actually enjoy and take home,” she explains. “So, we had leather luggage tags designed with our brand on them. They looked really luxurious, were a perfect fit for our travel theme - and they were actually cheaper than the chocolates."

Luxe up your layout
Creative layouts can also luxe up the look and feel of an event. Could your classic cabaret table set up work better in the round with a central stage? Would a relaxed lounge zone, with low lighting, offer attendees an informal space for networking?

However, Alice cautions against change for change's sake. "There is a reason why traditional seating, and table layouts have stood the test of time. They ensure all attendees in the room can share the event enjoyment,” she says. “Sometimes small tweaks work better than massive transformations.

Which can be as simple as the comfiest chairs. Ask your venue what seating options they have. At Edwardian Hotels London, ergonomic chairs ensure attendees are comfortable throughout the event.

“We have also invested in better lighting systems and the latest air control systems and air-conditioning to ensure delegates and event planners have an exceptional wellbeing experience,” says Hasnain.

Storytelling & fun times
With the growing popularity of Vegan food and people's desire to know where the food on their plate comes from, you have a chance to elevate event catering simply through the information you include on your menu.

"Ask the hotel or venue chef what has been sustainably sourced, what is in season, or local," suggests Alice. "Then tell those stories on the menus. The main investment is your time, and it feels more distinctive.”

Attendees can sense when time and thought has gone into an event. It shows you care how they feel and makes your event much more memorable.  

If you can make 'em laugh – even better! Does your keynote speaker or awards’ compere need to be a company person?

“We booked a comedian as our last award’s compere,” says Alice. “He was a total hit. Many celebrities and comedians are available to hire for corporate events – and they are a great way to make your event feel extraordinary and create memories for your attendees.” When people share a special experience it’s a real talking point and they are more likely to spread the word.

* Want to know more about wow-factor, budget-friendly events? The CWT M&E team are here to help you create memorable experiences.


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