The MEETinLEEDS team like to think we are at the top of our event-hosting game, attracting some of the biggest and best conferences to the University of Leeds.

Where is the proof, we hear you ask? Well, our conferences are award winners and hopefully our events have even more accolades in the post!

However, this isn’t just us bragging about a hat-trick of industry awards (ahem). This is all about us acknowledging how you, our customers and colleagues, have been instrumental in helping us constantly improve our service. By giving us honest and constructive feedback before, throughout and after your time here, you let us know exactly how we can make your event the best it possibly can be. It also helps us make any future conferences even better. In other words: you don’t pay feedback, you pay it forward!

So enough of the preamble ramble: here are the top 10 things you said and we did this year.

Food for thought

The Nutrition Society Summer Conference aimed to not only inform and educate delegates but to practice what it taught. We provided food provenance maps, liaising with our chefs and suppliers to source healthy, local produce with reduced sugar and reduced fat. In addition, an activity programme was created for attendees, which included morning jogs yoga and exercise classes at the Edge, our on campus gym and fitness suite.

World in motion

Large screens were the order of the summer, as the Nutrition Society Summer Conference asked for a large screen but for slightly different reasons – to watch the progress of the World Cup! We worked with Leeds Town Hall to provide a screen and setting for fans to support their countries, because nothing stops conference season, not even football!

A friendly face

We host a number of summer schools here at the university, and we are often asked for assistance getting groups of young people from Leeds Station to the campus. We enlisted the help of Leeds Welcome Ambassadors and brought in a number conference assistants guide people, assisted carrying baggage and generally welcome people with a friendly smile. Working collaboratively has been a key theme in many of our events this year, so we love to work with other friendly folk in the city like the ambassadors!

Access all areas

Communication Matters is a UK based charitable organisation which work to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs. We are extremely proud to have collaborated on their annual conference for the last 6 years. Many of the delegates that attend the conference are wheelchair dependent, and this year a higher number of accessible bedrooms were required than in any of their previous conferences. In addition to the accessible accommodation, including our premium residence Storm Jameson Court, we secured additional rooms in our “Smaller Property” accommodation, which is in close proximity to the conference venues and usually unavailable to conference guests.

We hop to it…

Social events can make or break a conference, so when one of our clients requested a beer sampling event, we went to town – literally! We sourced a local Leeds micro-brewery to come to the event and deliver a bespoke beer tasting session for attendees, which obviously doubled as a networking event, too!

A fruitful break

Providing nutritious and delicious catering to our delegates has always been our mantra and that of Great Food at Leeds, the University of Leeds catering team. A number of our customers are marching to the same beat too, with many asking us to provide healthier catering options, with the snacks on refreshment breaks highlighted as an area we could improve. We now offer fruit as an alternative to pastries and biscuits with refreshments as standard for any event!

Badge of honour

Being sustainable is at the heart of every part of our service – yes, we have won an award for this too – so when we are asked to be more even more sustainable, we can only say yes! We were asked to source a provider that could produce fully recyclable name badges and a pen that was also fully recyclable, which we did, and made them available to every event we host.

Charge!

The European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (EC-TEL) conference, as the name suggests, has a particular emphasis on the use of technology. We kept the conference as paper-free as possible by hosting the programme, abstracts and personal conference scheduling system online. As this led to a high number of attendees relying on mobile devices and laptops, we kept everyone up and running by providing a number of charging stations around the various conference venues.

Lighting strikes!

For the last 5 years the Teach First Summer Institute, an event which sees over 3,000 teachers descend on Leeds in the UK’s largest teacher training event, has been hosted by a collaboration between the University of Leeds and Leeds Becket University. On 28 July 2018 – the last day of the event – a lighting strike caused train signals to fail, which led to long delays for the attendees coming from further afield. We worked with our residences and cleaning teams to prepare 250 bedrooms for those affected, meaning they could enjoy another day in our amazing city and avoid the chaos in the train station!

Put big telly on!

The Astbury Conversation is a biennial event in which researchers, academics and organisations share the latest developments from their scientific disciplines and expand their networks. This prestigious event takes place in the Great Hall, the focus for the University’s ceremonial activities. We were asked to provide a large screen with high definition projection, but one did not look out of place in this grand venue. We worked with an external AV company to supply a bespoke screen and mounting that looked almost as grand as the hall itself!