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Spotlight With Justine Meek

spotlight with justine meek
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Justine Meek works as Agency Relationship Manager at Warwick Conferences and offers first class Training and Conference facilities at the venue. She is dedicated to innovation and invigorating the monotony of the meetings world through advancement and the creation of experiential spaces for delegates.

We sat down with Justine Meek to gain her valuable insight and experience into the events industry and here's what she had to share:

1. Tell us about your background in the events industry?

My career has always been within the events industry from Forte to De Vere, a few years with an agency before I joined Warwick Conferences nearly 10 years ago. I love the vibe of the industry and feel very privileged to be the voice for agents at Warwick Conferences.

2.Tell us a little bit about Warwick Conferences...

We are located in the heart of the UK at the University of Warwick, Warwick Conferences encompasses 5 flexible meeting and event venues. Our three training and conferences centres, Scarman, Arden and Radcliffe are highly flexible, distraction-free and are accompanied by hotel-styled accommodation and catering. The Slate is our newest venue and has been designed to re-write the rules of conferencing and events. It is an exclusive flat floor expanse of 650 square metres, with a capacity of 400 guests. The space is a blank canvas in which clients can brand with their own identity and vision for their individual events. For larger events up to 1,200, we offer the eclectic event space on the University's campus itself, we call this The Conference Park.

3. What is unique about Warwick Conference for training and conference facilities?

As a venue that is dedicated to continual innovation, our Scarman training and conference centre has its own unique suite of creative spaces, designed to inspire collaboration and an elevated level of thinking amongst delegates. As our experience within the industry strengthens, so does our wealth of knowledge and expertise when it comes to exceeding customer expectations. We understand that the typical meeting room isn't always satisfying enough when it comes to hosting a memorable event. These spaces offer an experiential environment that many training centres are yet to provide for guests, rather than simply satisfying the numbers of a cohort the space acts as a feature to the programme itself. The ethos of these creative spaces mirror our brand promise of ‘Anything is Possible' and this will continue to be reflected in our future venue developments. We're currently working on implementing an outdoor meeting space that will hopefully invigorate the monotony of meetings and therefore increase their delegate productivity.

4. Given all your experience in the field, how has the industry evolved?

As the industry evolves so do the needs of our clients. We widely look to industry research to analyse how things are moving forward in the wider environment and how this can have a direct impact on our market. We are starting to see that the dynamic of today's workplace is being driven by a greater desire for an advancement in technology and memorable experiences. We believe this is due to the upcoming generation that is starting to enter the workplace, meaning the four walls and a flip-chart just do not cut it anymore. This is what created our impulse to launch the new suite of feature rooms, but also look at how we can do things to remain at the forefront of experiential developments that keeps our customers on their toes. Examples of how we have achieved this is through elevating the catering offer here at Warwick. Last year we expanded our portfolio with a Warwick Conferences branded food truck, this enables us to deliver the Warwick experience all over the country with a true sample the presentation, taste and aromas of our fresh food offering. This again reflects our customer-centricity, we understand the time-poor landscape our market operates in, so if delivering the product to the client makes the sales journey more fluent for them – we'll do it. We all know work is a major part of our lives and bringing some home comforts with us into our working lives has a positive impact and we see this having a direct impact on the hospitality needs of corporates. We've already began a journey of implementing domestic inspired features into the design of our training environments as a method of enhancing delegate relaxation, but we see this trend becoming more and more transparent within the sector. Even corporate giants like Google and Apple have started integrating this into their office space, so we're expecting the ripple effect into industry. We've already innovated memorable homely sparks across the business. We now include the option to provide slippers for guests within the creative spaces for an advanced level of comfort. We fill our coffee lounges with the sweet scent of cookies as we bake them for breakout sessions, we have Xbox consoles throughout the breakout areas, as well as bikes for guests to explore the local area and unwind. These memorable quirks are the small touches that seals the emotional connection between our venue and the delegate. These initiatives have all been implemented from the recognition of the equal importance of delegate relaxation, versus stimulation.

5. What trends do you see emerging in the corporate hospitality sector?

We're already seeing a greater demand for a venue to reflect an increased affinity with digital technology, that's why we've started to integrate virtual reality into our sales process. The true impact of our facilities can really be expressed once we get clients through the doors on show rounds, but we understand this isn't always possible. We are now mailing our virtual reality goggles to prospective clients in the post with a link to a VR tour of our venues so they can really visualise their events in our spaces whilst creating a rich, immersive and interactive user experience. Virtual reality is going to bring a significant change to the way venues advertise and inform customers, flat images and text won't be engaging enough soon. We're always working to stay one step ahead of our customer needs, so we can create a solution before they even know they require it themselves. It would be fascinating to integrate this into the meeting environment as the next stage, but we'll see. The industry is also recognising the importance of ‘green meetings' and choosing a venue that can promise functionality in addition to sustainability. We're already Gold and Silver Green Tourism accredited across our venues, we're always looking for the next initiative to reduce our impact and see the drive for this from customers becoming greater. It's important to our clients, so it's important to us.

6. What is your favourite team building event?

I have been part of a fair few activities for Off Limits during my time at Warwick Conferences and these are always very interactive and great fun, I would have to say my best was at an MIA Agents Event when it was pouring of rain however everybody got stuck in and had so much fun!

7. What is your favourite place in the world to visit and why?

I went to Dubrovnik last year for the first time and loved the beauty of the old town encased within the city walls, a great destination for culture as well as offering relaxation and great food.

8. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

It would be my grandparents who are sadly no longer with me, being older now I would love to hear all about their lives, I was too young to appreciate this before.

We're excited to see what Justine Meek has to offer the industry over the coming year and where she takes Warwick Conferences. Watch this space.

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Written by Jenna Halford

11th Wednesday April 2018

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