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Premier Inn Project Diary: A few days in the life of the Graphics Team

25 JUN

It’s not always easy to explain all the big and little things our Graphics Teams do behind the scenes that help an event run beautifully. Hopefully this project diary will give you a taste of kind of roles we play for our events clients by taking our recent work for Premier Inn as an example.

Premier Inn ‘Bigger Bolder Better’ 2013 Conference

Brightfive are fortunate enough to name Whitbread PLC and its divisions, including Premier Inn, among our regular clients. For the ninth time we were invited by Roebuck Productions to provide creative support for the hotel chain’s annual conference, which took place on the 26th June at London ExCeL.

To reward their staff for their ‘Oscar-Winning performances’, Premier Inn wanted to create an atmosphere like that of the Hollywood awards ceremony, with plenty of glitz, glamour and the highest of production values. Incorporating formal presentations with live and recorded video, theatrical performances, live music and celebrity guests, the conference certainly lived up to its promise, giving it’s delegates an experience that was ‘Bigger, Bolder and Better’ than ever. Katie and I spent three days on-site for this red-carpet inspired event. Here’s a brief roundup of what we got up to…

premier inn

Monday 24th June

Working on-site generally means early starts and so we are up with the (relatively lazy) lark to catch the 8am train from York to London. We began work on this project several weeks ago, working with the key members of Premier Inn executive team who are speaking at this event to design and format their Keynote presentations. A few changes have come in over the weekend which we action on-board, over coffee and bacon sandwiches.

We arrive at the venue around 11am. Having visited the site last week for rehearsals, we don’t get lost, having got that out of the way last time (the venue really is huge). The rest of the day is spent making more changes to the presentations, testing our equipment and working with the rest of the technical crew to ensure that the live camera shots - which will be projected on top of our slides - fit into our templates seamlessly.

After dinner it’s time for the Paper Tech. We join other members of the technical team- including the Heads of Department for lighting, sound and video - and, led by the Executive Producer and Showcaller, we work systematically through the script. This allows the opportunity for questions to be raised and any problems addressed before tomorrow’s client rehearsals. We head to our hotel (a Premier Inn of course) for a quick drink with the crew and a Good Night’s Sleep.

Tuesday 25th June

Up bright and early and armed with another (!) bacon sandwich we climb aboard the shuttle bus to ExCeL. Rehearsals with the client begin at 9am so we have some time beforehand to set up and test our equipment, answer emails, have a coffee and take a peek at the event signage which is being put up in the foyer. We designed the event theming and branding for the event and have subsequently produced all the printed materials - that’s everything from directional signs to car parking passes. The novelty of seeing your work in the flesh, 4 metres across, never wears off.

Rehearsals take up the best part of the day. This is the first and only time before the conference itself when we can run the entire show, with the speakers, screens, autocue, lighting, costumes and sound (including, in this instance, a 25 piece orchestra). Katie is the Content Manager for this event, so this is her opportunity to gauge the timings of each slide change and ensure that they content flows consistently. As Graphics Assistant, I spend this time making further changes to the slides and fielding enquiries whilst Katie rehearses.

A long and tiring day for us both, we return to the hotel for an early night (well, I do, Katie grabs just one glass of wine with some colleagues - always a good time to network).

premier inn

Wednesday 26th June (Show Day)

The morning is dedicated to final checks and last minute rehearsals before 10.30, when the delegates begin to pour into the hall. There is a real buzz in the air which can even be felt behind the curtain in the dark backstage area. At 11am the orchestra strikes up the unmistakable ‘20th Century Fox’ sting and the show begins.

Katie is particularly busy on this show as we have a lot of visual content, with hundreds of slides, incorporating video and live camera feeds on the 20ft Encore screen.

The first half of the show runs smoothly and before we know it we have broken for lunch. Suddenly ravenous we gulp down our pack ups (show days always seem to have this effect) before heading back to our desk for ready ourselves for part two. At this point today’s celebrity guests, David Walliams and Barbara Windsor, arrive backstage. Unfortunately, no, we did not get any pictures.

Part two runs just as smoothly and the show ends almost bang-on 4.40, as planned (we love it when that happens). We backup our files pack up our machines and say goodbye - ‘til next time - to the rest of the crew.

Our work is, for the most part, over for this project, we’ve just a few loose ends to tie up once we’re back in the office tomorrow, then it’s the turn of our Web Team who will produce the post-event website and delegate questionnaire.

A taxi takes us to Kings Cross for a pub dinner and a much deserved glass of wine before our train home. We really enjoyed working on another successful event for the lovely Premier Inn team with our brilliant client, Roebuck Productions.