With expectant guests, highly-stressed product owners, and potentially members of the press eager for a good story, product launches not only come with a high-degree of risk, but can also be the cause of great stress and anxiety for event planners. Not surprisingly, with product launches, there’s a lot at stake!
Understandably, the choice of venue is crucial, and you need to do more than rely on the marketing blurb found on the venue websites. In fact, to get the right venue, you’re going to have to go the extra mile and do your homework. Our golden rule is to discuss your event in depth with the venue. The more they understand what you want and need, the more they can help.
Questions before you start looking at venues
It’s always important to know as much as possible about your own event requirements before doing your venue search. This will not only let you recognise your perfect venue when you see it but will also help you quickly rule out ones that are obviously ill-suited. Here are some questions to start the process:
- How many guests, stakeholders and press will be attending?
- What style of venue is required?
- Where is the ideal location for the launch?
- Do you need outside space?
- What are your AV requirements?
- Do you need exclusive hire of the venue space?
- What is your budget?
With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at some venues in London that caught our eye and could work for your product launch.
1) Old Billingsgate
Old Billingsgate is a Victorian Grade II listed building that was once a world famous fish market. The Grand Hall was the market floor and the basement, now The Vault, was covered for 50 years with ice that was used to store the fish. The building has undergone a major transformation to become a key event space in London.
Old Billingsgate encompasses three versatile spaces and a beautiful terrace with stunning views of Tower Bridge, City Hall and The Shard. The three spaces are; The Grand Hall, The Gallery and The Vault.
The Grand Hall is Old Billingsgate’s largest space accommodating 1,800 people banquet style and 2,500 people for a reception. It has 47,000 Sq. (4,300㎡) available.
The Gallery is distinctive. This is a light and airy space with arching white beams offering a sleek contemporary location, whilst the accompanying reception area has stunning river views. Two further ‘break-out’ rooms provide useful additional facilities which could be used, for example, as dressing rooms. Numbers here are banquet for 250 people and reception for 500 people, in space of 10,000 Sq. feet (1,000㎡).
Finally, the third space is The Vault. The Vault is Old Billingsgate’s hidden gem. Concealed beneath the banks of the Thames, it once housed the icy cold store. It’s exposed brickwork and vaulted ceilings create an atmosphere that is in contrast to the Grand Hall. You can have a sit down dinner for 600 people or a reception for 900 people. The Vault has 21,000 Sq. feet (2,000㎡).
The versatility and size of the distinctive Grade II listed building makes Old Billingsgate a good choice for product launches.
Old Billingsgate is found on the North bank of the River Thames and it could help you make a real splash if your guests or the press arrived by boat. Or of course they could come by rail or tube. The nearest tube is Monument and the closest rail stations are Canon Street and London Bridge.
2) Atmosphere venues (formerly Altitude London)
Situated in the heart of London, Atmosphere Venues (Formerly Altitude London) is a collection of stylish, contemporary event spaces located in the iconic Grade II listed Millbank Tower. They overlook the River Thames, with some of the Capital’s most famous landmarks close by.
There are three event spaces: Atmosphere Ground, Atmosphere 28 Skyloft and finally Atmosphere 29. All of these are available for dry hire. With dry hire you pay for the venue space only and then bring in whatever else you need, such as food and drink, AV etc.
If your product lends itself to a Hollywood feel you could host your event in Atmosphere Ground. There is a private outdoor terrace, café bar space and a 270-seater auditorium that can provide your guests with a film premiere experience.
Moving up from the Ground you could also consider the Atmosphere 28 Skyloft. The Skyloft has reclaimed wooden flooring from old gymnasiums and exposed brickwork from Manchester factories which add to the stunning London skyline views. Capacity is 500 people if you take the whole floor, or 180 people for the Thames view, 280 people for the Westminster view or 40 people for Belgravia.
Atmosphere 29 is a stylish blank canvas space that offers wraparound views of London and beyond. In terms of capacity it can accommodate 550 people. Dining capability is for 300 guests. If you want the space can be divided into two and then you can hire either a Westminster view or a Thames view.
Atmosphere Venues are situated in the tallest building in Westminster on the bank of the River Thames. Transport links of rail, tube, road, bus and river are all available. The closest rail station is London Waterloo.
3) CEME Conference Centre
The CEME Conference Centre is an ultra-modern events and meetings venue which offers flexible solutions across a number of meeting rooms and spaces. The larger meeting rooms can look after 50 people theatre style and if you need a bigger space then the capacity can go up to 100 people.
However, the biggest attraction for your product launch here is the POD Theatre, a tailor made conference auditorium with outstanding acoustics, tiered seating, individual writing tablets and excellent visuals. This 120 seat theatre has an inbuilt projection system, PA and integral sound and lighting system, all of which can be operated with a mobile control panel. It also has vehicle access and offers plenty of space to display products and services in the POD Theatre and the adjoining circulation space.
The POD Circulation Area, is a large space which contains the POD Theatre. Surrounded by glass and steel with natural daylight and an over-head mezzanine floor level, the space offers all sorts of possibilities to enhance your product launch. Overlooking the POD Circulation is the POD Deck. This is a first-floor mezzanine level area which offers a more compact, but no less impressive, space.
With onsite parking, excellent transport links and located just 15 minutes from the City and Canary Wharf, the CEME Conference Centre sits in an ideal East London location. There is parking for 600 vehicles with there electric vehicle ‘charge ports’ also provided.
4) Black Swan studios
Black Swan Studios is a ground floor event space of 3,500 Sq. feet. The space has an industrial feel to it, which no doubt comes from its heritage and of course from the bright white décor and the original grey gloss concrete floor.
The Victorian building was originally a factory that produced leather and silk. Fittingly, there are Victorian style loading doors which make vehicle access easy. To give you an idea of size, the ceiling height is 6.5 metres and rigging is at 3.3 metres with six giant sky lights which flood the interiors with natural light.
At Black Swan visual impact is something that will impress. They have state of the art HD projectors, fully incorporated surround sound and a 12ft by 6ft light box
With 3,500 Sq. feet of space it’s important that you choose the right layout for your launch. You could look at banquet, theatre, trade show or another style. Another way to consider the size and whether it’s going to work for your product launch is to think in terms of 150 people theatre style, or 120 cabaret or 180 standing. Black Swan Studios are located about a five minute walk from London Bridge rail station.
Gracepoint is a historic Grade II* listed building located in the heart of Islington. Previously the Carlton Cinema, this London venue has recently been refurbished and the original décor is being restored. It offers auditorium style seating with a capacity of over 1100 and for products that need to be launched via a big screen this is perfect.
Beyond the auditorium there are additional spaces in the inner foyer for 200 people standing, a reception area for 100 people standing and three other break out areas that can accommodate 180, 90 and 70 standing. Your product could be launched in the auditorium and then you could move your attendees to other areas for discussion or for trying the product out. At Gracepoint there is over 16,799 Sq. feet of space available.
The original cinema was built by the famous architect George Coles, who is celebrated for his Art Deco cinema designs. Evidence of his influence is easily recognisable. The venue has a magnificent Art Deco style façade, infused with an Egyptian theme, dressed in multi coloured Hathernware tiles.
Gracepoint is located in Essex Road, Islington which is well served by public transport. Essex Road railway station is only 60 metres away. In addition Highbury and Islington Underground station is within 800 metres and Angel within 1,100 metres.
Whatever venue you decide to work with, it’s important to understand pricing. In general, pricing will depend on a number of factors: time of year, number of people attending and precise requirements for your launch. What may be more important in your pricing considerations rather than number of people attending, is the amount of space you can hire. For example, a vehicle launch is going to need much more space than a product being launched via a screening. Pricing will also depend on whether you need a self- contained space in a venue or exclusive use of the entire venue. What you want the guests, stakeholders and press to do immediately after the launch will determine if you need additional break-out areas etc. which of course will impact on the final price.
Related reading: 7 Pricing Strategies to Drive Event Ticket Sales
How well will the venue work for your product launch?
It is worth asking the venue of your choice, about their experience of product launch events. How familiar are they? If you are hiring the venue on a dry hire basis do you have to use their own preferred suppliers or can you bring your own suppliers in? But, more importantly, there are two final questions you need to consider: firstly, will the venue overshadow the product or service being launched and secondly, is there anything about the venue (or any of their suppliers) that works against the launch? For example, does the venue need to have strong sustainability credentials to fit with your product launch? Only sign with the venue, once you are sure it is absolutely the right choice and will accentuate the product or service being launched.
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