BEST LONDON VENUE COVID-19 RESPONSE 2021
From the outset of the pandemic we welcomed local charities in need of facilities to the Palace Our Great Hall – which should have been hosting 10,000 capacity gigs – was turned into food distribution centre, while our kitchens opened to enable the preparation of hundreds of thousands of meals for vulnerable people across the city We also turned a car park and an un-used hall into covid-testing centres, which have been used by thousands of people to date We also utilised the empty Palace to host films, documentaries, photography and video shoots, including Top Gear’s epic ‘Wall of Death’ stunt Meanwhile our Victorian theatre was transformed into a tropical paradise to host artists streaming performances for Wireless Connect Festival – the first virtual festival of the pandemic Off the back of this we developed our streaming offer to host online performances from Michael Kiwanuka, Laura Marling, London Grammar, Arlo Parks and Coldplay to name just a few We also hosted Jools Holland, the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival and the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend, among others. Our diaries may have changed overnight but the team adapted and ensured we were able to keep on entertaining throughout.
Church House Westminster
Church House Westminster is a Covid-Secure hybrid and virtual event venue A technical production team creates innovative and engaging digital and in-person event experiences.
The Grade II building offers event organisers an eclectic choice of 19 versatile and modern events spaces, including hybrid and virtual studios, a podcast studio, and a new TV Outside broadcast venue service.
In a year like no other, the resilient venue team developed a strategic plan for the venue to explore new revenue streams This was to overcome ever-changing event restrictions and to use the event spaces optimally, albeit with alternative uses.
What followed was:
- the roll-out of a robust internal and external communications plan to reassure clients that events are safe
- the creation of a state-of-the-art virtual studio
- upskilling of the team across new and existing areas of work
- collaboration with industry partners to establish new virtual team-building experiences
- hosting of an online event series by the venue team
- proactive and ongoing research to confirm long-term rentals for the second largest room and the large catering kitchen
- the appointment of new local caterers to increase sustainability
- the installation of a new TV Outside broadcast (TVOB)
How ExCeL London responded to the needs of a nation by turning 100,000 sq. m of highly flexible event space into a fully functioning COVID hospital in just nine days.
In this submission, we have demonstrated flexibility and innovation in dealing with COVID-19 restrictions by providing the blueprint for future Nightingale hospitals, and rapidly implementing new ways of working that helped us have a positive impact during challenging times.
Furthermore, we have been able to include testimonials from government officials, including a letter of thanks from the Former Health Secretary for the role we played during COVID-19, and recognition from the Mayor of London.
When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, it was clear to us that our response to this crisis had to be centred around communications and organisation. We were proactive, transparent and reassuring for our customers and staff. Events would still be enjoyable, they were just going to take a different shape. We involved our whole team to remodel our spaces, make our venue Covid-secure and rethink our offer, introducing more flexible terms for event bookers. We launched our Covid-19 resource centre on our website, listing and detailing our processes and guidelines to keep everyone safe in Friends House.
We wanted customers to trust us, and our hard work has paid off. We have managed to reopen our venue after each lockdown and provided great event experiences for our customers, some of them being first time bookers. We have had great feedback, where customers tell us that they feel safe and would come and meet again. That is the most uplifting compliment after a difficult year.
Since 1986, The QEII Centre has been the trusted destination for more than 450 national and international events annually, including press conferences, meetings and global conventions for up to 2,500 delegates.
As the first venue in the UK to have a delegate attend an event, who was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 a few days later, QEII was placed at the forefront of implementing Covid-19 measures and subsequently took the lead across the industry.
Its swift Covid-19 response – praised by Public Health England – and comprehensive measures designed to keep delegates and staff safe – set a precedent for other conference and event venues.
The venue, which has AIM Secure and We’re Good To Go accreditations, has continued to improve and innovate in all areas of the business – from developing hybrid packages and new catering styles – to providing additional support to clients and enhanced safety measures ahead of the return to face-to-face events.
Royal College of Physicians
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is over 500 years old and currently in its fifth home since 1965. This iconic grade 1 listed modern building overlooking Regent’s Park houses an award-winning conference and events centre, RCP London Events. The venue offers highly versatile facilities, including tiered auditoriums, conference, meeting, exhibition and dining spaces as well as a medicinal garden ideal for summer entertaining and a museum.
Prior to COVID, RCP London Events hosted over 600 physical events per year for associations, charities, medical organisations and the wider corporate community across several sectors.
Since March 2020, RCP London Events has implemented and introduced virtual and hybrid services to be able to support the RCP’s work during the pandemic and allow clients to reach their audiences in an impactful way.
The development and launch of their in-house virtual and hybrid events platform, combined with renowned industry standard accreditations and operational standards in line with government guidelines secured RCP London Events high-profile events at their venue, allowing them to support the RCP’s important work during the pandemic and ensuring clients could reach their audiences in an impactful way.
RSA House is a multi-functional events venue in Westminster, combining Georgian grandeur with modern facilities providing 11 private spaces for hire. The team capitalised on spare time during the pandemic by investing in refurbishing seven event spaces and new audio-visual capabilities to ensure facilities were market leading for the return to live events. Throughout the last 18 months the team demonstrated upmost flexibility and empathy when dealing with over 150 event postponements and cancellations, introducing flexible T&Cs and keeping a fair policy throughout. Having won bronze for best venue customer service in 2019, this shone through even more in recent times and the team has excelled at putting their clients’ best interests at the heart of every situation, offering emotional and practical support to those clients who needed it. Despite the significant reduction of 25 staff to a core team of five, they have pulled together to help support one another along the way, in order to support their clients, including a wedding that was delivered with just three days’ notice. The team have curated case study events and useful documentation around Covid-safe events and have led the way with informative webinars, all of which have benefited the industry.
The Roundhouse is widely known as being one of the largest and most iconic music and events venues in London. However it is often less-known for being a registered charity. Each year, we are proud to give thousands of 11–30 year-olds the chance to develop their skills and increase employment opportunities through creativity.
Over the past 16 years we have built a successful mixed economy model, one that relies on commercial income (venue hires, music promoters, ticket sales and bar spend).
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, in March 2020 the Roundhouse closed its doors to the public, staff and, most significantly, to our young people. As a result, we forecasted a 61% drop in revenue across the next two years.
However, we acted quickly, planned prudently, deployed reserves and have taken the following actions in response to the pandemic:
- Made our workforce more efficient; implementing new and efficient digital systems to continue working as normal from home
- Adapted our commercial model, securing over £450k worth of income as result
- Pivoted to a digital youth programme, ‘#RoundOurHouse’
- Reviewed and developed COVID compliance documentation, to keep staff, visitors and suppliers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.