The way in which the requirements of event organisers and those of holidaymakers can dovetail is very well illustrated by the three resorts operated in the UK by Butlin’s.
Billy Butlin was a famous South-Africa-born entrepreneur who established his first holiday camp in the UK in 1936, which blossomed into a multi-million-pound business.
There are Butlin’s seaside resorts in three different regions of the UK: Bognor Regis, in Sussex on the South Coast, Minehead in Somerset in the West and Skegness in Lincolnshire in the North East.
Large investments have been made over many years to enhance their accommodation, their amusement parks and their sports facilities and they attract hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers each year. As much as £70m has been spent recently on accommodation alone.
Emphasis has been placed recently on facilities for MICE business and arrangements can be carefully made to keep holiday and corporate clients separate. However, it may not be widely known that, from November until March, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week are allocated to business events. This puts unrivalled facilities exclusively at the disposal of event organisers, with lavish resources for conferences, leisure programmes, incentives and, of course, teambuilding.
The MICE facilities are extensive. The Bognor Regis site, for example, boasts a purpose-designed conference centre that can seat up to 600 delegates theatre-style or which can be subdivided into five separate but interlinked meeting rooms.
During a corporate or association event all the holiday facilities are available to delegates for indoor and outdoor sports and entertainment.
Little wonder that Amanda Ellis, National Sales Manager for Butlin’s Conference & Events, uses the slogan ‘Festivalise your event’ to encapsulate what can be on offer.
‘We have modern spacious meeting facilities,’ she says, ‘and accommodation that really impresses delegates. Our Bognor Resort has three new hotels, called The Wave, The Ocean and The Shoreline, whilst there are also, naturally, a wide range of properties in all three resorts.
‘There are f&b outlets of almost every kind. They range from Indian cuisine to a Carvery or simply fish and chips in a pub ambiance. International buffets can be set up, allowing delegates to choose for themselves.
‘No venues anywhere can exceed such an array of exciting leisure attractions, such as our Traditional Fairground, the Splash Waterworld and our intimate bars and restaurants either for organised dine-arounds or where delegates can network.’
Because of the length of time that the Butlin’s resorts have been family holiday destinations in Britain, and since they have even featured on popular comedy tv series in the past, Amanda agrees that there may still be preconceptions in the UK that are very much out of date.
‘A big part of my job is to show British organisers just how different the resorts are to what they might imagine. During a personal visit to see for themselves, they cannot fail to be impressed by all we have to show them.
Amanda emphasises that the Butlin’s chefs are very accustomed to catering for literally thousands of visitors, so gala dinners, even for up to 1200 diners, are no problem at the resorts.
‘Furthermore’, Amanda is keen to add, ‘events can be staged to this high level well within most budgets. For example, our Day Delegate Rate is only £35, whilst the 24-hr rate, inclusive of accommodation, f&b and meeting facilities, can be as low as £145. These are very competitive prices.’
Naturally, especially for large events, longer lead times are desirable, so that every detail can be planned in advance. However, Amanda surprised me when she said that in August she was preparing a quote for a large event scheduled for September!
Organisers can ask for a quotation for one of the resorts specifically, or they can ask the Butlin’s MICE team to recommend the resort where the best fit and the best price would apply to meet an event’s requirements.