Taking events outdoors 'enhances experience for visitors'

25th March 2009

As the summer approaches, British people love to make the most of any fine weather and get into the great outdoors.

One of the best ways of doing this is by attending an al fresco event and organisers respond with a host of exhibitions, concerts and shows for sun-worshippers.

From the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show to Glastonbury festival, Party in the Park to Shakespeare's birthday celebrations, the UK offers plenty of opportunities to draw people out of their homes.

An outdoor event in the summer is also a great way for companies looking to do something different with their conference or function.

Businesses can go al fresco on a small or large scale, depending on the type of do they want to organise, who it is for and how much money they have to spend.

Taking delegates to the races is a simple way of hosting an outdoor function.

Hospitality at meetings is laid on and attendees get to don their finery, have a flutter on the horses and - hopefully - enjoy the sunshine.

For the more adventurous, activity centres' offerings combine the great outdoors with team building, creating a memorable experience for employees and associates.

Delegates could find themselves climbing up cliff faces, building rafts or paddling in canoes in beautiful surroundings, while improving their communication and leadership skills.

Holding events and exhibitions outside can also be a way enhancing the experience for visitors, according to an expert.

Chris Skeith, director of Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA), says organisers of indoor conventions often look to take elements of the show into the open air in order to do this.

"They are looking for experiences making it a great day out for their visitors whether they be business to business or business to consumer. The beauty of events and exhibitions is that it is all about using the five senses that other mediums cannot replicate - it doesn't matter if this is indoors or outdoors. You can make that connection - they can experience the product," he states.

"Whether it be a business or a consumer looking to buy something, you can search all you like on the web but until you have actually seen it, touched it, usually you will not have made that connection," he continues.

Mr Skeith gives the example of last year's motor show, where BMW, Honda and other main manufacturers had an outdoor exhibition showcasing their motorcycles.

Renault also came up with the innovative idea of staging an exposition at a stately home, he reveals.

"Visitors could drive a Renault round the local area, like a test drive, but they could pick any model in the range."

Guests also received free entry into the stately home.

"They took the showroom out and put it in a nice environment that allowed visitors to experience that product in a no-pressure environment," he explains.

Mr Skeith also gives the example of food festivals, such as the Taste of London in Regent's Park, which he says are becoming increasingly popular.

Such events attract the biggest chefs and give visitors the opportunity to sample cuisines from the most famous restaurants, such as Le Gavroche, L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon and Cocoon.

"The more creative the event, the nicer the weather, the easier it is to get people out and about, which is great," he concludes.