Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd (CCE) is responsible for manufacturing, selling and distributing a wide range of soft drinks across Great Britain, with around 260 million cases produced every year. It sells and delivers soft drinks from Coca-Cola and other brand owners to a range of customers including retailers, wholesale suppliers, and the licensed trade and leisure or workplace operators. It employs around 4,650 people and has seven manufacturing sites across the country, as well as a number of regional offices and depots.
Its central region sales team consists of 250 staff, covering the whole of The Midlands and East Anglia.
CCE’s central region management team holds half-yearly briefings for all staff. The single day briefings have a range of objectives: to update employees on key developments, including the latest products and impending commercial and marketing initiatives, and to achieve their engagement and positive involvement; to recognise the performance of individual employees and to showcase their achievements; and to optimise the opportunity for staff to interact with each other.
The mid year briefing for 2010 needed to incorporate a number of specific activities, together with support displays. With CCE being a key partner of the 2012 London Olympics, there was to be a display of historic Olympic torches, including the torch used at the previous London Olympics in 1948: this is insured for £3 million. To demonstrate the company's commitment to the environment, relevant employees were to be allocated eco-friendly, low emission vehicles, and a car was to be displayed to allow staff to inspect and ask questions. A ‘Powerade’ drinks dispenser lorry would also be present to allow staff to sample a new vitamin water product.
CCE was conscious that the spectrum of activities involved in the event, which included a number of stand-alone displays and activities inside and outdoors, demanded a venue which would allow tight control and security, with all locations providing adequate space while being close to hand.
It also needed a venue with convenient relaxation facilities in which attendees could have short breaks. With some attendees travelling significant distances, CCE wanted a venue that was as centrally located as possible. It was also aware that the very varied programme, with attendees frequently moving around the venue, might be disruptive to other users, so the option to hire a venue on an exclusive use basis was particularly appealing.
The company decided on the Robinson Executive Conference Centre at Wyboston Lakes, opting for exclusive use for the full day. The briefings and the employee recognition events took place in the centre's main conference suite: this area also housed the Olympic torch display, with the company’s own security arrangements reinforced by the exclusivity of the event. The low-emissions car and the drinks display lorry were positioned just outside the centre in its own grounds.
The centre, located close to major road networks between Cambridge and Bedford, just off the A1, 20 minutes from the M1 and 30 minutes from the M11, was easily accessible for all attendees. They were also able to use the ample free car parking areas immediately outside the building.
Lunch was taken in the centre’s restaurant, a few metres from the main presentation areas, while attendees used the main lounge for coffee and tea breaks. Having all refreshment areas in close proximity to the meeting rooms allowed all delegates to stay focused on the meeting objectives and also allowed colleagues to network.
“As an organiser, I really appreciated the feeling of control that we achieved by using a compact, focused venue with all key areas close to hand and its own external areas,” said Abbey Sturton, Regional Operations Executive for Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd: “All activities linked extremely well, and the fact that there were no other users at the centre helped our staff to respond and to relax: it was also good to feel that we didn’t have to restrain any activities for fear of disrupting other events!”