Accelerate To Impress And Thrill
What do we all try and achieve with an event? Dare I say it, we always want to deliver a message, create a buzz, impress the delegates and try to create a lasting impression!
Well, in my opinion a recent open day at Silverstone I attended certainly ticked all those boxes. The day was set up to educate and showcase the new Silverstone wing and entice agencies and clients to use this fantastic venue. Think Silverstone and you think iconic race track but why would I go there outside of the ‘Formula One Grand Prix’! In short there are so many reasons to use this venue; great service, food, centrally located and some amazingly flexible events space.
The stats on this historic race track are epic. Silverstone isn’t only home to the British F1 Grand Prix, it also plays host to superbike meets, rallys, test days and launches all adding up to 57 events throughout the calendar year. They even have an international reach and appeal as they consult abroad on a whole host of topics such as track design, safety and hospitality.
Back in 2009 it was great relief to the circuit; its staff and the local economy that they managed to obtain a new 17 year deal to host the British Grand Prix. With 45,000 people visiting over the race weekend and 8,000 covers served in hospitality onsite who can blame them!
I turned up not really knowing what to expect from the venue even though, like many I have seen it many times on TV while watching the race coverage. Driving along the service road directing me to the new wing the first thought I had was how massive the building actually is, TV coverage really doesn’t do it justice. On arrival the standard coffee and tea welcome greeted us, however the sight of the track one side of the building and the finishing line the other was impressive and definitely got people talking.
After the usual welcomes my colleague and I joined a group to start our tour and slowly but surely our jaws started to drop (in a good way mind). Halls 1 and 2 can each hold around 1000 people theatre style and have pillar free space of 1,200sqm each and these were the inflexible areas apparently! Both of these rooms have car access and are well lit with natural light which is great for conferences or exhibitions. However if you need blackout some funds would need to be held aside for drapes.
Later during the tour we were shown the international media centre, a 693sqm room that can be divided how you see fit. Cleverly the room has been designed with ceiling tracks allowing you to move panels around to create an almost tailored space for your event. Next to that are some smaller rooms that would be ideal for break out meetings (for any F1 fans these rooms are used by Bernie and the FIA staff as their offices during race days).
The track circles the wing so every room has a great view and you have a real sense of where you are. Just off from these rooms there’s a 100 seat auditorium which is very stylish, fully equipped with the latest AV tech and soundproofed. This section even has its own entrance and thus helps you section the wing off if needed.
Lunch was much better than most of us had anticipated, lamb, fish and chips and Thai curry were selected to showcase the standard of food you could have. The chef doesn’t have a Michelin star however by the standard of food you really wouldn’t have known it and I doubt it will be too long until he does (I wasn’t the only one that went back for sneaky seconds).
From there we went to the pit lane and the 41 garages hosted along the wing. The garages aren’t the branded pods that you see on TV; these are brought in by the teams themselves and built for race day. We then had a choice of cars to drive round the track. You may have been on a track day before but trust me on this, the adrenaline rush you get from leaving the Silverstone pit lane in a Ferrari and racing round the world famous track is off the charts! For a split second overtaking another car at speed in an Aston Martin I was Lewis Hamilton and James Bond all rolled into one!
In summary, Silverstone offers a massive venue (four football pitches long), that is flexible for even the smallest of groups. It has a global appeal due to the Grand Prix heritage and is centrally located making it easy to reach. The food is delicious and the service levels are high enough to complete with any major hotel. Put simply, if you want an event that will rev up your delegates, then this is the venue for you.
Ash EL Menshawy, Events Team