Venue Focus Magazine Feature, Spring 2004 - 'C is for Compliments'
Convenient, contemporary and cool, with cutting-edge facilities for anything from cocktail parties to conferences in rooms with names like the Council Chamber and Congress Hall, the Congress Centre in central London takes a communicative approach to customer care and is such a clever venue we’re completely lost for words with which to describe it – hence all the Cs.
Actually, that last bit is not true. A few other letters do spring to mind: A, G and M, for instance. Kitted out with all the latest meetings technology, including free-to-use plasma screens for company branding in the reception area, the easily accessible and varied function rooms on offer combine to make the Congress Centre a popular setting for annual general meetings and large conferences. ‘It was a superb venue – professionally run and very fitting for our purpose,’ says Debbie Oliver of the Department for Education and Skills, who recently organised a large event there.
Brambles Industries PLC was equally pleased after staging its AGM at the centre last year. The event focused on Congress Hall, a stunning space that seats 500 delegates in retro-chic surrounds beneath a glass ceiling that feels very space age but is actually a 1950s original. Brambles also made use of the Foyer (for catering, registration, and as an exhibition area), the Congress Suites (for behind-the-scenes preparations) and the technical facilities (to connect with an international audience via webcasts and video conferencing). ‘It was a huge success,’ says Kerry Porritt, the company’s deputy secretary.
But, despite being a purpose-built conference centre, this place isn’t all about meetings. If there’s one thing that defines the Congress Centre, it’s flexibility. The venue has hosted product launches, weddings, exhibitions and fashion shows, but it is the premiere party for Tigger – The Movie that sticks in centre director Martin Aberdeen’s mind as the most remarkable event to date.
‘It was incredible. The Congress Hall was decorated to look like the Hundred Acre Wood and characters from the film were mingling with celebrity guests. After the screening, held around the corner at the Dominion Theatre, guests came back for a themed tea party, complete with Pooh and Piglet lunch boxes.
Lots of children came and they all had a fabulous time,’ he raves, adding that the high-profile media launch of the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, attended by the likes of Sir Clive Woodward and Lawrence Dallaglio, was also ‘very memorable’.
Going back to those Cs, the catering here is cool, too. ‘Out of this world,’ even, according to Debbie Oliver, who tells us the lunchtime meal served as part of the ‘reasonable’ conference package offers ‘good quality, beautifully presented food – and lots of it!’ And with the transport hub of Tottenham Court Road on the doorstep, you don’t even have to worry about the Congestion Charge. So, cut to the chase and give the Congress Centre a call before we come up with more complimentary Cs to chuck at you.
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