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On 18-19 September this year, over 7,000 enthusiastic event bookers descended on Old Billingsgate in the City, where Square Meal’s ninth annual Venues & Events Live show brought together hundreds of venues and event suppliers under one roof. Spirits were high, budgets were healthy and business was brisk.
‘We noticed how budgets seemed to have increased,’ said Warren Campbell of 15 Hatfields, who also exhibited in 2012. ‘The calibre of delegates was really high this year. Over 800 of them came to see us and a lot of good enquiries were made as a result.’
The busiest stand at the show was newcomer Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, which saw a steady stream of visitors queue up for a peek at the new space and a chance to grab a ‘green-screen’ snap of themselves on a broomstick. Lets Race, showcasing its full-size F1 car simulator, and Strictly winner Karen Hardy, who hosted dance demonstrations on her studio’s stand in The Vaults, stood out among the other new exhibitors.
Square Meal’s new Ideas Hub, where visitors could interact and get personalised event advice, was also very popular but our best new feature was arguably the daily VIP gourmet breakfast cruises, which saw specially invited guests ferried to the show aboard the London Eye Barracuda. Featuring Champagne, breakfast canapés and live entertainment from the brilliant acoustic three-piece Wandering Hands, not to mention gorgeous river views, these were an unsurprising hit.
‘I hear this was the first year the boat trips have been organised and I really hope you keep up this amazing experience. The arrival by boat made the Square Meal exhibition even more enjoyable and exciting,’ said Fran Zavaterri, a personal assistant from AON, who was one of the lucky passengers.
As usual, there was also plenty of food and drink on offer at the show itself. Every visitor was given the opportunity to enjoy a complimentary breakfast or lunch, courtesy of Office Diner, while our Drinks for Events programme offered free wine, fizz and cocktail tastings. At the end of day one, 300 pre-registered judges got to taste their way through all the entrants in the Square Meal Canapé Cup. Quite the feast.
Throughout the show, Square Meal’s in-house team of experts hosted packed-out seminars on restaurant and venue openings, the latest catering trends, Christmas party options, social media tips, and the most exciting teambuilding activities on the market. There were also talks by invited guest speakers, including wedding guru Sarah Haywood, Green & Blacks founder Jo Fairley, and Fay Sharp, the MD of event agency Zibrant.
For the first time in nine years, there was rain – proper heavy stuff – at the show, but with Addison Lee on hand to ferry visitors and a Ten by Fifteen marquee to keep the Alfresco Terrace dry, our spirits weren’t dampened. How could they be? Venues & Events Live 2013 proved that the UK events industry is alive, kicking and back in business. We can’t wait for next year.
TakeOnServices: Visiting the Square Meal event venues&eventslive #ve13 . Great event, great people, great contacts. <3
Niel Deepnarain: What a awesome time we had at Square Meal Venue and Events Live, got so much information about great venues and events
Louise Heasman: Fantastic event this morning by @SquareMeal - Great venues on show and looking forward to sharing these venues with our clients in 2014!
Emilie Gousseau: Great show! @squaremealvande @SquareMeal Thanks for the Tshirt! @theBreweryVenue Fab Xmas packages
LNL Corporate: Last week was a great week for us, we had a great show at @squaremealvande and met some fantastic clients! Looking forward to next year
Josie Pether: Great morning yesterday at @oldbillingsgate for @SquareMeal Venue & Events show, good to learn about all the amazing venues out there! #VE13
Innasol: Had a great time at @squaremealvande Venues & Events Live yesterday. So much inspiration for future partner meetings and events!
LB Foundation: a wonderful way to start our time @squaremealvande yesterday - wine matching with @CinnamonClub #VE13
AllianzPark: Had a fantastic 2 days @squaremealvande. Thank you to all of the people who came by our stand #VE13 #newvenue #eventprofs
Amy Gibson: @skinnypunter on social media for events was brilliant. Would love to know his predictions on upcoming trends #VE13
This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events, autumn 2013.