February Venue – Not a wally in sight

This month’s favoured venue is one that we took our monthly industrial press briefing to, and what a treat it was for the client, Sage, and the twenty two editors from the most influential industrial media titles in the land! Here’s why.

From the very first step into the shimmering 180m high, 41 floor icon at 30 St Mary Axe, or the self-proclaimed ‘Gherkin’, visitors are treated to professionalism and efficiency usually reserved for high end Pall Mall clubs. It was born from the ashes of The Baltic Exchange which was destroyed by a bomb set by the provisional IRA in 1992 – a day I personally remember vividly as the atmosphere in my Holborn flat became still and lifeless as the shockwave of the bomb hit from 2.5  miles away.

The beautifully attired and professional reception staff wouldn’t be out of place in the First-Class cabin of a British Airways flight and the airport-style security lends itself further to the experience – although security here is a lot friendlier than your average airport!

Once through the scanners, guests are invited to ‘tap in’ to the building using their unique reception-issued card. Then it’s ‘head to the skies’ in a dedicated lift which rises rapidly to the 34th floor. This is where is gets a bit complicated, and there is no obvious reason why.

Floor 34 has its own reception, which seems a bit pointless. Visitors have to exit the lift, only to step  into a different lift designed to whisk them up to floor 38, which used to be a private members’ club, but is now transformed into a corporate hospitality space whose rooms are all named after cloud formations. We held our initial reception in the ‘Alto-Cumulus’, then moved to the ‘Stratus’ for the formal presentations overlooking the skyline of the City and beyond (see picture). AV was provided and our dedicated technician set up the laptop and plasma screen from which the presenters from SageMAKE UK and Pukka Pads – the editors do like a case study in the flesh!

Cadence MD, Tom Spencer moderated a lively interactive panel session went down a storm as editors asked salient questions of the expert panel in order to build the articles. In fact, the session was so popular the event even over ran by half an hour. But contingency and a bit of careful negotiation with the venue meant that the three-course lunch and wine was ready and waiting.

Then it was back into the Alto-Cumulus for a stunning, Searcy’s-created lunch of Ham Hock, Peterhead Cod followed by a stunning Sticky Toffee pudding – one of the perks of my job is to choose the menu!

So, in summary the entire function and venue were faultless. The views and food were stunning and the rather corporate atmosphere was soon softened by the personality of the presenters, guests and the courteous waiting staff. I personally preferred the floor when it was a private club with its soft furnishings and exceptional views, but times change and the public can now visit both floors – The Helix Restaurant and The Iris Bar (at the very top) provide an exquisite venue for thrill seekers.

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