An event that promises to be a little different from the bog standard trade shows, one that promises ‘no boring forums’ and ‘no endless one-on-one sales pitches’. Admittedly, I was a little dubious to begin with (forgive me), but much to my delight no promises were broken and the two days were jam packed with fun, informative sessions , tailored to allow maximum networking opportunities as well as bringing out creativity and competitiveness in all attendees – the ultimate in work and play!
Being based in our Welsh Office in Pinewood Studio Wales, I was delighted to hear that this year’s M&IT Challenge would be hosted just down the road from me at the world renowned, Celtic Manor Resort. Located beside the M4, yet surrounded by greenery, this venue is easily accessible to all delegates but also feels like you’re nestled amongst the rolling Welsh hills once sat at the back of the property. From the service, to the catering and all the facilities available at the press of a button, Celtic Manor really showed off what they had to offer during the two day event. With ample restaurants, bars and outdoor activities available on-site, this felt like the perfect location for an event with a twist, and what a beautiful way to showcase Wales as your go-to destination (Cymru am byth).
On arrival to the Celtic Manor, I was greeted by the friendly M&IT Agency Challenge team and presented with my lanyard which notified me, along with all other delegates which team I had been allocated. Full to the brim with tea, coffee and the most mouth-watering welsh cakes, we then headed into the base for the two day event to meet with other attendees and suppliers on our teams.
The morning was jam packed with fun and interactive presentations, from suppliers and venues from around the world, highlighting the best of their services, all with a twist! At the end of each presentation, there was a quick quiz where each team had to answer questions about the venue, within the given time frame. This was a great technique to ensure everyone was engaged throughout the entire presentation and also got everyone talking within their teams about services and facilities available. There was no boringness at this event, you weren’t talked at for hours upon end, which was of course welcomed with open arms!
Once the morning session had come to a close, we were then sent out in different groups to undertake the first challenge of the event! For my team (go team purple!), we had the ‘Video Making Challenge’ first – GULP! Despite everyone being a little shy to begin with, we all took different roles (mine being presenter, being the Welshy of the group) and headed out to find the best backdrops to start filming our ‘Why the World Cup should come to (choose a venue from this mornings presentations)’ pitch. With all that the Celtic Manor had to offer on our doorstep, we obviously chose this venue and had great fun creating our pitch! This was such a great team building session and definitely broke the ice between everyone!
After a delicious networking lunch and further presentations in the afternoon, we then went on to complete the second team challenge of the day; clay pigeon shooting! Unluckily for my fellow team mates, we quickly discovered that shooting was not my forte – why are those guns so heavy?! Thankfully, others took to this challenge naturally and my low scores didn’t effect our overall total too badly (sorry)!
After checking-in (to the most spacious of bedrooms), a quick spruce and a five minute rest, it was time for the evening event! With seating plans which meant you sat with different venues and agents at each meal, it was another perfect opportunity for networking and building new connections. From the BBQ, to the bubbles and all of the entertainment this was a relaxed yet enjoyable and memorable evening for all involved!
Despite the brilliant networking and informative sessions, the second best thing about these events is the endless flow of food! Day Two was kicked off with a traditional Welsh breakfast and yet another opportunity to network in our private dining space.
Breakfast was followed with further informative yet interactive presentations and with everyone now very competitive to win the most points, everyone’s interest was spiked. The final team building activity of the event for the purple team was chocolate decorating. Very eager to top up our team points further, we all watched the demonstration with eagle eyes and then set to work on creating the perfect chocolates! Ours not only looked beautiful, but also tasted delicious; yet again, another brilliant networking and team-building activity!
The finale of the M&IT Agency Challenge 2018 was the black tie gala diner hosted at the Twenty Ten Club House, located within the Celtic Manor grounds. Think mindbogglingly beautiful cocktails, jaw-dropping views across the Welsh hills and a mouth-watering three course dinner, followed by a presentation confirming who the winners of the event were!
Unfortunately for the purple team, we didn’t nab first place on this occasion, but everyone had a brilliant time laughing at the complete videos from the video making challenge. The event closed with a live band and lots of (questionable) dance moves from everyone that attended the event, I can honestly say that this was an extremely beneficial event which allowed me and I’m sure others who attended build life long connections to make sourcing your perfect venue, be that for overnight accommodation or a similar event to impress, that little bit easier.
PS – if you want to brighten up your day and have a good belly laugh, click the link here to see the end results of the video making challenge
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