Venue Features: Buzz Lockleaze, Bristol

front + flowers

At Zipcube, we’re often impressed by how many unique spaces there are out there in the UK and elsewhere. One of the best parts of what we do is getting the opportunity to speak to venues and find out more about these individual gems hidden away in (sometimes) unexpected places.

Buzz Lockleaze is a great example: a small venue making a big difference to its community. Housed in a former Post Office, the team at Buzz have been working hard since 2014 to empower local residents and help people develop their job skills. We chatted with Sarah King, who handles marketing and social media for the venue, to find out more…

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Buzz and what it does?

SK: Our organisation is situated in the heart of Lockleaze and occupies a four storey building comprising a community café, health food shop, an allotment-sized garden and enterprise space.

Buzz Lockleaze CIC was set up in 2014 and we acquired the building on Gainsborough Square as an asset-locked community transfer from North Bristol Advice Centre. Buzz café and shop was set up, as well as our Employment Project, in an effort to address the local unemployment and food poverty rates. Historically, the building was a Post Office and lots of people from the community still walk in and remember how it used to look before – which gives the building a bit of a sense of nostalgia.

On the ground floor is the café/shop and access to the garden at the rear, we are also developing our basement space to provide further seating for the café and it will serve as event space for activities, workshops and meetings.

How would you describe the core aims of what you do at Buzz Lockleaze?

SK: Buzz Lockleaze CIC is a social enterprise with a focus on employability & enterprise support, and improving wellbeing through all things to do with healthy food provision. We are trying to address the economic and social inequalities of Lockleaze, including unemployment, health and wellbeing, and aim to offer a local place where people can come and relax in a safe space. Through our older people’s project we are working to reduce social isolation and engage a wide range of generations in activities and clubs.

Have you found that hiring out your spare space for hot-desking or meetings has been helpful?

SK: The people we’ve met through hiring out the meeting room and through hot desking have really made the experience worthwhile. It’s great to be able to offer our space to them and show them what we’re all about, we especially love to see the space used by other social enterprises or SMEs.

The offer of renting the space has also attracted more people that wouldn’t have come to Buzz otherwise and who didn’t know we were here. They get to hang out in the café and pick up a few things from the shop, and they also know they can get support with employment, enterprise, training, etc.

What has been the most enjoyable experience you’ve had while working at Buzz?

SK: I would say getting to meet all the local people over time, as they discover Buzz and find ways to get involved and connect with us. It’s great to see someone come through the doors just for a coffee and end up joining the gardening club or receiving a business grant from us.

What are the greatest challenges you face as a social enterprise?

SK: Our main challenges at Buzz are securing steady streams of income. The low footfall in the area means that we can’t make as much profit as we’d like from the café and shop, and we rely heavily on the funding we receive to keep things going. We also have marketing limitations, as we can’t compete with other cafes/shops who can afford big budget marketing campaigns and advertising. We try to promote our services locally and hope that word-of-mouth will keep people coming back!

20 Must-Read Books and Blogs for Event Planners

events image

If you work in the event industry, you’ll know that there are certain experiences which almost beg to be written down.

In such a frantic business, with so much in-built complexity, advice and professional wisdom can be essential. Thankfully, there are plenty of guides which offer exactly these types of tips and insights.

We’ve put together our list of the top 20 must-read guides for anyone working in the world of events. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, we’re sure you’ll find some invaluable wisdom in the links and resources below –

1. The Bizzabo Blog is a great resource for eventprofs. This Prioritisation Guide for planning events, courtesy of Stephen Kim, is a really useful primer for thinking about and understanding the whole planning process.

2. Event Management for Dummies by Laura Capell. Something of a classic in the field, this was first published in 2013 but still offers one of the clearest, no-nonsense guides to the industry.

3. Organising a Conference (3rd edition): How to Run a Successful Event by Pauline Appleby. One of the greatest go-to guides for running a large-scale event: this book will take you through the important steps, one by one.

4. The good people over at Hull City Council have put together a helpful quick-guide on how to plan and run an event – the checklist they provide at the end is especially useful.

5. The Event Manager’s Bible (3rd edition): The Complete Guide to Planning and Organising a Voluntary or Public Event by D. G. Conway. Another classic in the world of events, the additional focus on planning voluntary events gives this book an extra dimension to other similar guides.

6. If you need a quick and simple guide – just for reference’s sake or because you’re hosting a small event at home – this Essential Guide from the folks at Social Tables is a great resource.

7. If it’s another quick and easy guide you’re looking for, then this ten point guide from We Are The City provides a good initial set of questions to help you think through your event.

8. Does your business have more of a focus on corporate events? If so, you may well already be familiar with Event Manager Blog. This 2018 article on corporate event planning is a great overall piece packed with insight and ideas.

9. Essential Tips for Organizing Conferences & Events by Alison Robinson, Fiona Campbell, Phil Race and Sally Brown. This is a recommendation for those with a specific interest in setting up conferences. You might be from an academic background or setting up an industry conference: this book will help you negotiate your way.

10. Are you looking for ideas and inspiration? Anyone who works in events for a decent length of time will be familiar with Eventbrite (and if not, now’s a great time to check them out!) This article has plenty of event formats and ideas to help you on your way.

11. If you’re looking for more general inspiration – and don’t have a huge amount of time – Thoughtfully Simple is a nicely written blog which covers a wide range of topics. From simple decoration tips, to planning weddings and baby showers: there’s something there for everyone.

12. Conferences: A 21st Century Industry by Tony Rogers. Although essentially an academic approach to the conference industry, this is still an eye-opening read which is of value to those with a professional concern in gathering people and speakers together in one place.

13. Looking for direct insight from an established pro? This interview with event planner Steven Duggan is full of interesting detail and makes for a very enjoyable read.

14. Leading Great Meetings: How to Structure Yours for Success by Richard M. Lent. If meetings are the main function that you help to organise, this is a very readable guide to improved methods and productive approaches.

15. Mission Critical Meetings: 81 Practical Facilitation Techniques by Ava S. Butler. A collection of core insights on how to run meetings with a greater degree of success and productivity. If you help to run or plan meetings, there’s a lot of food for thought here on how to make the whole process run much more smoothly.

16. Do you worry that your events are a little stuck in the past? This blog post (the second one courtesy of Event Manager) carries some great up-to-date ideas on how to freshen up your events for the digital age.

17. Are you more interested in the field of Small Business event planning? The folks at Small Biz Trends have written a handy blog post which offers some good planning tips.

18. Confessions of an Event Planner by Judy Allen. If you want to get under the skin of the industry, there’s no better way to do it than by reading this intriguing book based on first-hand event experience.

19. The Practical Guide to Managing Event Venues by Philip Berners. For those who work behind the scenes at a venue, this is a compelling read: full of interesting observations and, you guessed it, practical guidance.

20. Ok, we lied. There is no number twenty. Feel outraged? Feel free to tweet @Zipcube and we’ll personally send you a recommendation based on your interests.

We’re Hiring for Front and Back End

Who we are

We are a rapidly growing online marketplace for hiring event spaces, meeting spaces and offices. Backed by the same people behind Rentalcars, Zoopla, LoveFilm, Shazam, Betfair and more, you’ll be joining an incredible team of ten people who have been working like crazy in a collaborative, innovative and progressive tech company. We’ve been going a few years (we’re even profitable!), but we still feel very much like a start-up. We encourage feedback from everyone on our team and then factor it into core strategy.

Our tech

microservicesOur technology roadmap consists of a Lumen (PHP) API, React/Redux (including server-side rendering,) MYSQL, Redis and Docker DevOps on AWS (although GCP is looking increasingly tempting…). You will be working closely with the CTO to develop tech strategy and architecture while also adapting and improving legacy (CodeIgniter PHP & JQuery) code to the new paradigm. We like to use cutting (but not bleeding) edge tech to keep us in the sweet spot of improved speed and efficiency, but without sacrificing confidence in the tools. We are a dynamic team so whatever your starting point, movement towards genuine full-stack skills will be strongly encouraged!

Your role & responsibilities

Our mission is to use tech to solve every aspect of space hire, from individual user-targeted search results to live messaging systems. To achieve this we need your help and problem solving skills!

You will be:

  • Solving complex problems quickly and elegantly
  • Migrating from legacy applications to cutting-edge technologies
  • Understanding the entire application life cycle
  • Profiling and optimising performance
  • Follow emerging technologies
  • Advising on and implementing best practices

Who you are

We are looking for amazing new talent to join us in Fulham. Creative with known skills and adaptive to new skills,

You:

  • love what you do
  • have advanced creative problem-solving skills
  • are incredibly quick to pick up new ideas
  • are incredibly quick to generate new ideas
  • embrace ownership and responsibility – and rise to it
  • have an in-depth understanding of the entire web development process
  • love working flexibly in a small team
  • have some experience with functional and event-driven programming

The interview…

Will focus significantly more on your ability to think rather than problems that can be solved with judicious use of Google. We will, however, expect a good level of understanding of various programming styles (such as OOP and functional) since the learning curve is going to be steep enough as it is…

Salaries, benefits and the rest…

PizzaOur main goal is to develop a brilliant team – so potential is more important than experience. However, we currently don’t need anyone who’s looking for less than £30,000 or more than £70,000 a year. We offer support and skill development from a great team, weekly climbing/yoga trips, free pizza and drinks and regular work-from-home days.

If you’re interested, send an email and a cover letter/CV/manifesto for world domination to: william@zipcube.com

How To Hire A Developer: The Start-Up Guide

devOne of the biggest challenges for any business is attracting the best talent. At a start-up like Zipcube, where funds are limited, this can be particularly tough. Agency fees are prohibitive and, as an early-stage CTO, you aren’t just spending your time hiring: you’re also maintaining architecture and developing the code base. Time is very much at a premium and you have to tread carefully.

If those were the only challenges, things would almost be simple, but there’s a further complication. You’re also looking for a certain sort of candidate, one who goes beyond the technical skills listed on their CV. You’re looking for someone who thrives on working beyond their job description and embraces the responsibility to innovate and explore new tech. They need to have strong opinions as well as a willingness to voice them. Finally, hopefully, this person has a bit of an appetite for risk. They will be working for a start-up, after all.

Once you’ve filtered all your applicants against these pretty stringent criteria, you’ll be keen to grab any candidate who fulfils them! But then you’re presented with a new problem…

Why would they want to work for you?

Luckily, by this point you’ve already narrowed your candidate down to someone with a certain sort of mindset. By being selective at first, you’ll have found someone driven by a passion to learn – and this is where being a start-up finally becomes an advantage!

At Zipcube, we’re always looking for that sweet spot of speed and agility which a cutting-edge tool can offer, balanced with the relative confidence that it isn’t just next year’s failed buzzword. We’ve gone from being an early-stage start-up with a clunky MVP based on a legacy framework, to a progressive company that is ready to face the challenges of rapid scaling. We’ve heavily invested in a React and Redux front-end driven by a data API that is slowly evolving towards an event-source driven set of micro-services. We strive to use the best tool for any individual job, but within a set of rules influenced by the mistakes made by those who have gone before. (Including, for instance, Uber!)

And of course, there’s the company culture. First and foremost, Zipcube offers the support and training of a great team, a progressive tech stack and the responsibility of evolving that stack. But there’s also Friday pizza and drinks, work-from-home days and climbing and yoga afternoons courtesy of the company. To be honest, we don’t score as highly on the Joel Test 2017 as we would like: we’re still young and many of our processes are still being developed. However we are working on it and plan to achieve top marks within the next 6 months.

So, what are we looking for?

We want experience, but technology moves so fast that stubbornly sticking to your current tools and methods can be a real disadvantage. We also want flexibility, but having your head turned by every emerging technology means that implementing the latest features is a steep learning curve. Therefore we need wisdom – a commitment to continually improve the art of discerning when it’s time to use a new technology and when your old stack is ‘good enough’.

But even this is just one aspect of the skill we’re after, which is to see the whole picture, not just the issue you’re currently trying to solve. Anyone can learn PHP, Python, React or Redux, but we demand that much more rare commodity – the ability to think.

5 Beautiful Baby Shower Venues in London

Once upon a time, baby showers were seen as a uniquely American tradition: the kind of thing an expectant mother would only get up to if they also celebrated Labor Day and the 4th of July.

But like a lot of traditions which have begun to make their way across the Atlantic, baby showers are being embraced by parents-to-be in the UK as a fun way to celebrate the impending arrival of their newborn.  Before the sleepless nights and endless nappy changes makes celebrating an unlikely luxury.

If you’re helping to organise a baby shower – either for yourself, a close friend or family member – we’ve put together a selection of fantastic venues in which to exchange gifts and play parlour games: all available to book online through Zipcube.

1. Gallery 2

1983-gallery-2-room

If you’re looking for an elegant space which still feels intimate and warm, then we would strongly recommend Gallery 2 at The Pelham Hotel. The hotel itself is the epitome of five-star refinement and this gorgeous meeting suite blends old-fashioned elegance with a modern style sensibility.

2. Betty Blythe

 

bb

If cupcakes and vintage bunting are more your sort of thing, then you can take a step into the 1920s at Betty Blythe’s Tea Room. The team over at Betty’s pride themselves on hosting themed parties and events which can transport you back to the golden age of flapper dresses and Art Deco indulgence.

3. The Nash Room

hh-nash-drawing-room-lr

Do you prefer cool interiors and plush furnishings? If you want a baby shower that has an air of Arts & Crafts style to it, then The Nash Room might be just what you’re looking for. Exchange presents and share a laugh with your nearest and dearest in an exquisitely presented drawing room.

4. The Rib Room

rr

Are your parents-to-be closet foodies? Do you think they’d appreciate a spot of fine dining alongside the baby shower itself? The Rib Room is a choice spot for those who enjoy private dining as a crucial add-on to any major celebration.

5. SAMA

sama

Of course, a baby shower doesn’t have to be a tea and cake affair. Those who are with child may not be able to drink, but that’s not to say they won’t want everyone else to enjoy some tipple and make merry. If you’d like more of a party atmosphere for your shower, then the upstairs Arch Space at SAMA can be hired out privately. It makes an ideal space for dancing and frivolity.

What makes a good meeting room…

Here at zipcube.com we know how tough it can be to find the perfect meeting room for your event. Luckily, we have had quite a lot of experience at this now and have put together a little guide to help you in choosing that venue.

1475612304761_meeting_room_template_0004_bloomsmr-7

 

  1. Location, location, location. It is an old saying, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate today. You need to choose somewhere that is convenient for everyone coming to the meeting, not just for you. Access to public transport is essential these days when making a decision as to where to hold the meeting.
  2. Your Budget. Have a budget ready before you start your search, but make sure it a realistic budget or you are going to be searching for something that doesn’t exist. If you are holding a meeting for 20 people in central London… you aren’t getting a room for £20/hour. Remember, you get what you pay for. Spending that little bit more might mean your meeting goes much better overall.
  3. Size. You can’t compromise on this. If you have 12 people, get a room that can accommodate 12 people. Don’t decide that you will squash into a 10-person room. This will lead to an unpleasant meeting for all involved.
  4. Refreshments. How long is your meeting? All day? Well, you are probably going to need to keep your attendees fed and watered, unless you want a lot of grumpy people sat around a table. Keep this in mind when picking your venue as not all will necessarily offer catering.
  5. Facilities. Most meeting rooms on zipcube.com do have some form of AV facility, but it is important to make sure that your room does have everything you need for the meeting you have planned. It can be easy to overlook something, like disabled access or use of a microphone, when booking a room, so make a list beforehand of everything you need.
  6. The décor. What type of meeting are you holding? What type of impression are you trying to give? These are things you need to consider when deciding on your room. Some rooms are better suited to brainstorming, creative meetings. Some rooms are better suited to executive, professional board meetings.
  7. Recommendations. Here on zipcube.com everyone that uses a meeting room has the ability to review the room afterwards, so pay attention to what they say. Our staff also spend all day on the phone to venues and venue bookers, so they tend to know what they are talking about, since they want you to have a good meeting and come back to us, they are going to recommend venues which they know can meet all your requirements.

How to get your events trending.

 

639_428_b454cf4314078a6810be2520b7d694c5

 

You have a large event taking place in the coming weeks and you have been tasked with getting it trending on social media… How do you go about making sure that the right people are following it and that they engage in conversations about it, in the build up to the event, and on the day?

There is no doubt that you will have dozens of other things happening to do with the event… and well, not to do with the event, because we know the rest of the world doesn’t stop turning just because you aren’t in the office that day.

 

Firstly, if you are going to take this seriously, then you need to make sure either you, or someone else, is the designated social media manager on the day. In the run up to the event, sure, everyone can chip in, but on the day… you will need one person looking after social media, and that will have to be their only role.

  • They need to make sure that they know the days running order perfectly so that they can post the appropriate content at the right time. Even better, have it all prescheduled through a social media tool well in advance, so that they can spend their time actually replying to people and driving those all-important conversations.
  • Have a decent amount of content ready to go… you know what the likely questions are going to be, so have responses ready so you can just paste them in.
  • It sounds obvious but make sure that all the platforms are ready to go, far too often people just focus on one platform and miss out on a huge amount of potential interest.

 

Contests. These are always a great way to stir up interest in your event. The more exciting and unique the prize, the more interest you are likely to generate. These contests can take several different forms and there is no limit on the number you can have running concurrently as long as you have the prizes to dish out… (competitions are an art form all of their own, and we will be putting together a list of dos and don’ts for this very soon.)

  • The most basic is just a tweet containing the hashtag that you have assigned to the event, but why not make it more interesting than that add a leaderboard, the more tweets with the hashtag that a user makes, the higher they climb… keep track of it openly and get some competition flowing.
  • Take a photo with a certain person (warn that person!) to enter.
  • Caption contests can be good fun… but know your audience here, this can go horribly wrong, as Shell learned with their “Arctic Ready” campaign.
  • Fastest fingers… quiz your followers about the event and the first one to respond wins. Simple.

Make sure your content is interesting, and is delivered with a punch. Posts with images get a lot more views, favourites and a hell of a lot more retweets. Get someone posting photos of the speakers, the networking and some of the parties going on. The more images and exciting content that you can get out there, the more likely people are to post their own experiences as well. Get some videos loaded onto your channels as well. Maybe have someone on your team wandering around the event taking photos of attendees and then sending them directly to them on twitter or Instagram… this is also a great way to capture leads!

639_428_4c9152a0d57b67ea5269f2146c2bc85a

 

Choose those Hashtags carefully.

  • Make sure you check every possible way that the # can be read, otherwise you could end up with some embarrassing tweets being added to your event.
  • Keep the # short and simple, people need those extra characters for their tweets.
  • Educate the audience; make sure that everyone knows the # before they arrive, at the very least as they enter the event. Why not encourage people to start using the # before the event itself, let them know that they can start using it for networking before the event. You can also run a pre-event competition to get the # out there early on.
  • Showing social media up on screens around the event will encourage people to use the # in hopes of seeing their message up on the screen.

 

Got a sponsor? Get them using the hashtag as well. Get them running competitions where entrants need to use your hashtag to enter; it is win win for you and the sponsor as both of your coverage will increase across social media.

Got a big guest? Same rules apply.