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Case Study: Best Small Venue at the UK Event Awards

By The Drum Team, Editorial

The Drum

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December 12, 2011 | 4 min read

This case study outlines the strategy behind Ghillie Dhu, a venue which won the award in the category of best small venue at the UK Event Awards 2011.

Ghillie Dhu is a restored Grade A-listed building which showcases all the traditional features of what was originally the St Thomas Episcopal Church. With an enviable location, tucked in at the west end of Princes Street, Edinburgh, between the main shopping district and the city’s financial hub, Ghillie Dhu is easily accessible for all manner of events. Since opening in March 2010, Ghillie Dhu has hosted an array of events on a weekly basis, from conferences to wedding including events for clients including BAFTA Scotland, The Edinburgh International Film Festival and Movember.From conception to completion the events team at Ghillie Dhu work closely with clients ensuring that they are looked after by the same contact from the initial enquiry to being in attendance at the actual event itself.The past year at Ghillie Dhu has been focused on creating concepts for the venue which have allowed it to compete within a busy market. Some examples of these concepts in direct relation to driving the events business within the venue are detailed as follows.Specific Ghillie Dhu events and wedding literature was created, designed and implemented, allowing the venue not only to function as a bar/ late night venue but also a bespoke city centre event space. The team created and organised events to generate business, including four-day music festival ‘Ghillie Dhu Late Night and Live’. Ghillie Dhu functioned as a standalone Fringe Venue this year with the programme being created and run in-house. Proactive selling of the space through social media including bi weekly newsletters, regular Twitter and Facebook updates and proactively utilising membership of key organisations such as The PA Exchange, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Edinburgh Convention Bureau.There were approximately 170 events held within the venue from March 2010 – March 2011. In addition to corporate business, weddings have proved to be a key source of event revenue within Ghillie Dhu. Within the first ten months the venue delivered 11 weddings.As a new venue the key focus for Ghillie Dhu in 2010 was consistently based around improving client service. Key examples of tools implemented to support this are detailed below:
  1. Customer loyalty scheme offering discounted offers to the venue’s top 20 corporate clients
  2. Feedback System: This was a key focus of the venue and feedback is now collated and evaluated via an online tool after each event in the venue to allow the service delivery to be enhanced and constantly improved
  3. Training: As part of the G1 group Ghillie Dhu operates an aiming for excellence programme, ensuring that staff are trained effectively and that the venue standards are maintained at all times
The following case studies illustrate the type of events Ghillie Dhu has hosted since opening.BAFTA SCOTLAND / Edinburgh Film Festival Events June 2010 Ghillie Dhu played host to two events for the above clients in June 2010. One of which was the launch ceilidh of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the second was a private reception hosted by a key patron of BAFTA and the EIFF. These events took place one day apart as part of the festival and involved meticulous planning from the in-house team in conjunction with the EIFF team, key sponsors, media and also a large security aspect due to the high profile guests in attendance at both of these events. The largest event project to date for Ghillie Dhu operating as a Fringe venue after the venue only being open for five months was a real challenge that was embraced by the team at Ghillie Dhu. Initial planning commenced in April 2010, with plans being implemented to cover the programming, marketing, branding and licensing of the venue to allow Ghillie Dhu to not only showcase numerous acts but also function from 12 noon until 5am.On completion of the programming and marketing the logistical planning of the month-long event commenced, including recruitment of additional staff, re-training staff in front-of-house service, and seven days to transform the auditorium into a unique event space fit to run as a Fringe venue. All of the above culminated in a month-long event within the venue with over 10,000 guests in attendance.

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