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Valentine's Day Yorkshire Tea Hamper
Storm Jameson Court-Venue, Exterior in the Snow

Storm-Jameson-Court-in-the-snow

Following the popularity of our festive competition to win a Leeds city break we are pleased to offer a special discount rate for all bookings to Storm Jameson Court made during December and January!

Book now using the promotional code: COMPDEC2014 and you can stay in our state-of-the-art campus accommodation, just minutes from the centre of Leeds, for JUST £40prpn!

booknow

That means that you can enjoy all the benefits of staying in a city-centre location.  You could use it to:
•    Stay over after a busy day’s shopping
•    Follow the Leeds Reindeer trail as part of Magical Leeds
•    Book a night for your work Christmas party
•    Use it as a base to explore the UK’s finest county!

Whatever you use it for make sure that you book your city break now – rooms are limited and are sold on a first come, first served basis.

REMEMBER TO USE PROMO CODE: COMPDEC2014 WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR BOOKING.  BOOK NOW!

Storm Jameson Court-Venue, Exterior in the Snow

Storm-Jameson-Court-in-the-snow

MEETinLEEDS are celebrating Christmas with a fantastic competition to win two bedrooms for a one night stay in Leeds City Centre!

This Competition is Now Closed!

Need to do some last minute Christmas shopping? Need somewhere to stay for the work Christmas Party? Or do you just need a break in one of the country’s finest citiesYou need to join our free to enter competition to win a festive break!

We are offering two bedrooms at our state-of-the-art Storm Jameson Court campus accommodation, just minutes from the centre of Leeds, to one lucky winner. The winner will have the choice of taking the rooms on one night between the 1st or 18th of December 2014.

If you are in a quandary over what date to choose, have a look at the fantastic events that are taking place in Leeds between 1st or 18th of December:

  • Sinfonia – Tuesday 2nd December 2014 at the Leeds College of Music
  • Alfie Boe – Friday 5th December 2014 at the First Direct Arena
  • The Human League – Monday 8th December 2014 7pm at the O2 Academy Leeds
  • Status Quo – Wednesday 10th December 2014 at the First Direct Arena
  • Diversity – Friday 12th December 2014 at the First Direct Arena
  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf – Sunday 14th December 2014 at the Lawrence Batley Theatre

There is also the German Christmas Market; over 40 traditional wooden chalet stalls decorated with festive greenery and twinkling colourful lights, along with the Alp Chalet Bavarian eatery providing a warm and cosy place to sit and enjoy authentic German food and drink, all taking place at Millennium Square!

For a full list of events take a look at the website of our friends at the Leeds List here.

To enter the competition all you need to do is subscribe to our blog and you could be in with a chance to win the fantastic prize, worth almost £100!

You have to be in it to win it – SUBSCRIBE NOW!

 

The competition will close at midnight on 26/11/2014 and the winner will be drawn at random on 27/11/2014 and contacted by email.  Click here for full terms and conditions of the competition.

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Regular readers of the MEETinLEEDS blog will remember that long ago (a week is a long time in the Digital Age) we pledged to show our support for Le Tour Yorkshire by cycling the entire Leeds to Harrogate stage of the Tour de France 2014, using spinning bicycles at the Edge Sports Centre.

For those of you that missed the story, here is a quick recap:

Along with our colleagues at the Edge, (all conference delegates and MEETinLEEDS residents at Storm Jameson Court get free access to the facilities at the Edge, remember!) and Great Food at Leeds, who provide catering for our conferences and events, the 20 riders each completed 9.5km to take us the 190km distance to the finish line. We calculated the total time it took us and then we will compare this to how the professionals fare on the 5th July!

“Team Leeds” ranged from novices to spin class teachers, travelling in pairs to instigate a bit of healthy competition. A full gallery of the photos from the day can be found on  our dedicated Tour de France page.

So without further ado, here is a rundown of the day (you can click on the images to make them larger)…

Marion-Tony-and-RobResidential Services took on The Edge in the opening pair, with Tony Hall posting a credible 24:43 for his 9.5km (bearing in mind Tony cycles into work, and at an hour that even the tweety birds are still napping. He hastens to add that he had the resistance on the bike set to high, and so did the equivalent of the Ilkley to Chelker Reservoir section of Stage 1) and his Sports counterpart Rob Wadsworth averaging 18:45 per 9.5km. We say averaging because Rob thought he may as well do 21.1km while he was on the bike. This was just after taking an hour long Spinning Class. We think he is going to enter the Tour de France team next year to join Froome, Wiggins and Boardman on Team Sky.

Lisa-and-Tilly-FinishNext up was MEETinLEEDS’ own Lisa Wood, who took on Tilly Hall of Great Food at Leeds. Tilly had also taken the same Spinning Class as Rob, forgetting she would be back on the bike within an hour, but posted an excellent time of 20:59, and was there to cheer Lisa over the line in 24:08. This was despite Lisa’s protestations that she could not do it (but still pedalling at the same time as pleading).

Alan-and-Nat-Face-offIt was an all MEETinLEEDS affair in the next round, as Alan Gallagher squared up against Natalie Ruecroft. Alan steamed over the line in 20’06” with Natalie shortly behind in 21:54. It was Natalie’s first time on a bike since her school days at Castleford High School, so she treated herself to a nice Mocha from the Edge Café to celebrate.

Matt-and-Helen-FinishMEETinLEEDS’ Digital Guru Matt Hamnett took on Helen Moulding of The Edge next. Helen crossed the line in 19:48, without even breaking sweat, while Matt’s effort to make 19:15 was manifested on his brow. “Fit people sweat more” was his mantra, in which case he could give Mo Farah a run for his money. Admittedly, your reporter did try to quiz him on the finer points of Digital Marketing throughout his 9.5km stint, which he answered with aplomb, if a little breathlessly.

Harriet-and-Luke-Fist-BumpIt was MEETinLEEDS vs The Edge as we passed lunchtime to hit the halfway stage,  Harriet Boatwright facing off with Luke Wilson from The Edge. The crowd anticipated Luke to be a strong contender and were proven right as he raced to the top of the leader board with a terrific 17:26. However, just 5 seconds later Harriet zoomed over the line and into second overall. This turned out to be the best time of the non-cyclists. Harriet put her amazing effort down to the pacing of Luke (“I just made sure my legs were spinning as quickly as his”) and pure grit.

Miek-and-KevWe then had a Financial Face-off as Kevin Stephenson and Mike Ferraby from the University of Leeds Finance Department. The partner-pacing effect came into play once more, Kevin hitting the 18 minute mark exactly and Mike not far behind at 18:35. Brilliant effort from the boys more accustomed to spreadsheets, budgets and other elements in the dark-arts of Accountancy.

As news of the event spread Paddy Craig of The Edge fame decided to try his hand (or legs) at the 9.5km mini-stage. As he didn’t have a cycling partner, I hopped on to help Paddy keep the pace. Unfortunately, he left me in his slip-stream and took the lead with a time of 15:56. After obviously taking a wrong turn somewhere I wheezed over the line in 19:52. I wrote this off as rustiness as the full extent of my training was walking to the chippy the night before.

As the competition heated up 2 pros stepped up to the plate, as Gary Butterfield from The Edge and Ricky Thompson of Great Food at Leeds straddled their stationary steeds in full cycling garb. They finished with times of 15:53 and 17:25 respectively. Gary is training for an Iron Man event in Australia, and took the lead with just 3 seconds between him and his closest rival. A special commendation goes to Ricky who not only posted a top time, but carried on for a full hour, completing a total of 30.9km!

Nick-and-Jo-FinishAnother member of the Finance Department, Nick Holdsworth, took to the saddle along with Jo Bayley, the PA to the Big Boss of MEETinLEEDS. After some good natured banter and ruddy faced exertion Nick crossed the line first in 18:53, taking time for a quick lay down as Jo breezed in with 21:33.

Tom-and-Ryan-Square-UpIt was time for me to make my practice run count, as I attempted to tackle Tom Exeter from The Edge. Now, Tom is a spinning instructor, and I am brilliant at spinning on my chair, so all I could do is try and do MEETinLEEDS proud and sabotage Tom by chewing his ear off. However, Tom had a plan: headphones. My plans scuppered, I endeavoured to beat my earlier showing. I looked over to my right after around 13 minutes, as there was some very audible exertion coming from Tom. After 14:04 Tom had crossed the finish line, reporters were scrabbling and pushing microphones in his face, asking how he felt after beating the 9.5km record by nearly 2 minutes. At least in my exhausted mind they were. 5 minutes later in a time of 19:23, I crossed the line, attributing my lack of a sprint finish to cramp (honestly).

Ian-And-Stew-FinishThe final 19km was a clash of the titans, as Stewart Ross, Head of MEETinLEEDS, took on Ian Robertson, Head of Residences. There was an obvious healthy rivalry (and excellent colour coordination with our background banners) as they took to the saddle and a look of determination on Stewarts face as he chased Tom’s record. After 9 and a half minutes Ian declared himself finished, much to the astonishment of the crowd. After an official adjudication, it was discovered that Ian had mistaken his time for the distance covered. Ian recovered and regained momentum to finish with a superb 17:40, while Stewart had already streaked over the line in 15:08, taking silver and a place on the podium.

It was time to tot up the totals and see how long it took us to cover the 190km of the Tour de France Stage 1. Drumroll please…

6 hours 18 minutes and 10 seconds was the total time of the top 20 of our 21 riders (sorry Tony, you missed the cut). This was at an average speed of 30.1 km/h.

Tour-De-France-2014-InfographicThe fastest average speed of the Tour de France is that of Lance Armstrong in 2005 at 41.7 km/h. However, our performance was only enhanced by Mocha and Espresso.

Our clear winner, Tom Exeter, had an average speed of 40.5km/h. If this was extended over the total 190km of the Leeds to Harrogate route it would give a total time of 4 hours 41 minutes and 28 seconds, which would give the peloton a run for its money. However, being privy to the colossal effort it took to keep up that speed for just 1/20th of the total distance makes you appreciate the dedication and preparation it must take to compete at the very top level.

A massive thank you to everyone involved in the event and roll on the 5th of July!

Do you think we have what it takes to beat Froome, Wiggins, Boardman and co over the finish line? Tune into the Tour de France and cheer on Team SKY. Better still come on down to Leeds and join in the fun!

 

For more information about the Tour de France and for some awe-inspiring images of our Homage Event you can visit our dedicated webpage here.

 

Rumour has it that the recession is over and recovery has begun! This may be so, but in the events market it’s still a fact that there is an over-abundance of suppliers and therefore a massive choice – a buyer’s market.

When retail shopping, we tend not to compare products with products – we compare experiences, and this in the end guides where we shop. As venues, it’s hard to resist bigging up” our décor and audio-visual facilities as state-of-the-art”, but in reality, buyers now simply expect top quality facilities in any venue.

The two main deciders in the conference market have historically been location and price, and the former is often a combination of geographical, micro- and macro-location. At first glance, if a potential customer states that the destination they want is for instance Liverpool, and we are in Leeds, the location seems hard to counter in a sales context. And also, in this over-supplied market, price can be tough to beat. This is where differentiation can play a major part, and there are two key differentiators – innovation and service. The experience.

To work to advantage, innovation needs to be creative and constant, because, given the speed of modern communications and mass connectivity, competitor copying can occur instantly. Overnight change is a reality we have to live with.

Excellent service gives us the edge, and if we get it right, can overcome both location and price challenges. I have even experienced examples myself, where good service has even overcome product quality issues! I gave one particular Leeds restaurant – which shall be nameless – a second chance, due to fantastic service, even though the quality of the meal was dire. Suffice it to say that they won’t be getting a third chance regardless of the service!

meetinleeds-heart2There’s an old adage that people buy people, indeed in some cases people are the ONLY experience, for example many products bought from visits by trusted sales reps. Customers will also buy trusted brands without even trying them first. But service is also a major factor in many successful top brands, eg M&S, Prêt á Manger, John Lewis. Once this close association of service, quality and brand becomes complete you’re flying. The idea behind the marketing of these companies is to induce loyalty beyond reason. The creation of loyal customers who don’t quite realise why.

It’s very similar to LOVE.

Brands that have this have actually been called “Lovemarks” (Saatchi & Saatchi).

At the heart of a strong brand, will be a great experience, and at the heart of that are people.

Success needs people who are committed, creative, engaging, professional, pleasant, caring, competitive, enthusiastic, conscientious, and saleable (phew!). Commitment to providing good service needs to be strong Service delivery needs to be excellent, and the product great. Exactly our goals at MeetInLeeds. No wonder our order books are filling!