Tom Lambregts is marketing manager at Grass Roots Meetings & Events, and co-edited the Meetings Industry Report. Starting his career at Clarion Events, he then went on to become head of marketing at Olympia London, where he directed and delivered the award-winning rebrand of the venue. He specialises in digital and content-led marketing, and maintains a keen interest in music and reading.
Our consultants are constantly out and about, visiting and evaluating meeting and event venues. Here are some highlights from their recent excursions. We take our own photos to give you a true representation of what we've seen.
The Lowry Hotel, Manchester
This iconic five star hotel is part of Leading Hotels of the World and has recently undergone a complete refurbishment. Described as "very central", the city is easily accessed via the contemporary Trinity footbridge, crossing the River Irwell. The extensive meeting space has a "nice flow" for delegates, and there's a sense of exclusivity with the celebrity clientele. Photos by Duncan James.
This venue is "very impressive" with a "vast array" of blank canvas spaces. The Cotton Sheds is the larger event venue, set over two floors, with eight areas. Shed A can host 1,600 theatre-style. As you'd expect, these "huge" dry hire spaces have lots of Victorian-era features retained. Lots of breakout areas are complemented by a vintage cinema; and there's a small, functional hotel next door which is "ideal for event staff" and has its own meetings facilities. Photos by Duncan James and Charlotte Vincent.
Hilton Garden Inn Emirates Old Trafford
Opened only a few months ago, this "functional" property impressed with "good food", and is appended to the Emirates Old Trafford - home of Lancashire County Cricket Club. There's a great selection of "modern, clean" venues, ranging from private boxes and training rooms, to the "massive" suite that can hold 1,200. Photos by Duncan James. Photo of the Suite supplied by venue due to an event taking place at the time of the visit.
Another "superb" restoration of a city landmark. Previously a Freemason's lodge, the venue now has four floors of event space and potential for a roof terrace. They have done a "wonderful job" of retaining traditional features, adding contemporary touches to create "immaculate, light and neutral" rooms. One consultant was reminded of the "Châteauform' design aesthetic", and even the toilets were picked out for "cool design". Photos by Duncan James.
The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast
A "Sketch-style" lobby sets the precedent for a "clean, modern" décor. This carries through to the "beautiful, large" bedrooms, with views over the whole of Belfast. There is a meeting room for 12 with lots of natural daylight. Photos by Luka Valatkeviciute.
Titanic Museum, Belfast
"So unexpected" - our consultants loved this venue. On the site where the famous ship was built, its story lives on in this "really impressive" complex of museums and event space, right down to the details of the replica staircase and main hall. A cabaret capacity of 550 and a "very affordable" DDR make this a compelling proposition. Photos by Luka Valatkeviciute.
The Dylan, Dublin
A five star boutique hotel in the centre of Dublin. The bedrooms alternate between "modern and traditional" and there is a space for up to 70 theatre. Lots of "fun, communal spaces" have an "arty" theme and there is a "cool, local feel". Only five minutes from the Aviva stadium, it's a viable option for the sports fan too. Photos by Luka Valatkeviciute.
The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Dublin
Dark wood and traditional design of the "cosy" bedrooms is offset by bright colours in the three meeting rooms, the main one of which can hold up to 70. There is a lack of daylight, but the "well-configured" spaces compensate. A recently opened restaurant has Michelin aspirations for this "cool new hangout". Photos by Luka Valatkeviciute.
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
This "absolutely beautiful" building can also be an original event space. The nave can cater for 525, but the "real hidden gem" is the crypt - underground arches enclosing an atmospheric space which can seat 140, with a permanent bar. Photos by Luka Valatkeviciute.
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
As you'd expect this venue has a "very warehouse, very rustic" feel. There are "so many spaces" set over seven floors of blank canvas, with a "superb" sky bar with uninterrupted views across Dublin. Up to 2,000 people can be hosted in the home of Guinness. Photos by Luka Valatkeviciute.