What the group experienced during this three-day, two-night study tour, were inspirational examples of institutions creatively and successfully using their spaces for events and conferences, both internally and externally.
The group met on the first day of the tour at Motel One, Glasgow, and following a networking opportunity, travelled together to their first visit; The University of Glasgow. The university is named the ‘father of modern economics’ after Adam Smith, a Professor at the University in the 18th century, who was the first to introduce this subject as a taught course. TUCO delegates received a very warm welcome from Scott Girvan, Executive Chef, and Scott Masterton, Director of Catering and Events and the rest of the events team. The group enjoyed refreshments alongside an opportunity to speak amongst themselves about topics important to their institutions.
The University of Glasgow events team gave the group an introductory presentation into their events and conferencing to understand their statistics, figures and objectives, before taking the group on a tour of the grand university. We visited many of the main production kitchen, event halls, and conference spaces the university has to offer. Glasgow had a good utilisation of many event spaces which they promote and used in different ways to appeal to all types of clientele. Such as Bute Hall, suitable for large functions, formal dinners and weddings, Hunter Halls, for large receptions, the Sir Charles Wilson Building for lectures and seminars, and even the Hunterian Museum; “For organizers it’s works really well because you don’t have to do much to make the space special. For attendees it’s great as it creates conversation, encourages socialising and acts as an ice breaker”, Ellen Thompson, University of Glasgow.
Throughout the tour of these spaces, the group stopped frequently to talk about important topics such as Brexit, Recruitment, Banqueting challenges etc. This was a useful opportunity to cover subjects that were events related and often brainstormed with solutions offered, amongst the group.
Following the tour of the oldest part of the University, the group were then taken by minibus to the Garscube Estate to visit the Mary Stewart Building. Just three years old this building offers much more modern event and conference spaces and showed a strong contrast to what had already been explored.
Delegates then visited an open-air event space, The Cloisters, for a quick photo opportunity where Outlander and other series and movies for Netflix and the BBC are often filmed. Filming is a good source of income for Glasgow University. The events team also stressed that by allowing filming, they are also able to raise the University’s profile thanks to students posting on social media.
After a hugely insightful tour, dinner on the first evening was hosted by The University of Glasgow in the beautiful Melville Room used for private dinners. The Scottish menu had been designed especially for the visiting group of TUCO delegates, created by the head chef specifically for this event, and sampled and approved by the events team.
After a good night sleep, the group met the following day for a half-day visit to The University of Strathclyde. Gordon Hodge, Head of Conferencing and Events, met the group with his team at their Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) for a tour of the award-winning conference spaces that hosted over 650 events last year alone. The group received a presentation of the conferencing and hospitality activity at the University, followed by a presentation by Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, on how the university works with them to support academic staff and win business. The Glasgow Convention Bureau has won the M&IT award for the UK’s Best Convention Bureau the for the past 12 years in a row – the group were certainly learning from the best!
The group embarked upon a tour of TIC and found the building to be completely state-of-the-art. At TIC, they purchase and manage their own Wi-Fi to guarantee ease of access and speed, all furniture and décor has been carefully selected to complement each room and be as functional as possible, the AV technology is one of the best in the world… It was no shock to the group to hear that TIC was recently named the UK's Best Academic Venue at the 2018 Meetings & Incentive Travel Awards. The TIC is home to some of the most state-of-the-art conference facilities in the heart of one of the UK’s most vibrant cities. From amphitheatres, to seminar and meeting rooms, to exquisite break out spaces.
Lunch was exquisite; provided by the University of Strathclyde’s in-house catering brand ‘Nourish’. Delegates were very impressed with the quality of the food and the variety of menu options. To name a few, we sampled venison sausage rolls, soft shell crab with sweetcorn puree and slow cooked beef in lentils. It was clear that Strathclyde went to great lengths to satisfy their clientele and go beyond expectations to gain repeat business – something which was very important to them.
After lunch, Gordon and his team took the group to see some of the older surrounding buildings which also belong to Strathclyde and are used for events and conferencing. The group had a private tour of The Barony, home to Graduation Ceremonies, banquets, conferences and weddings.
Full of energy, ideas and inspiration, the group walked a short distance to their last institution visit; City of Glasgow College. Gordon McIntyre, Associate Dean – Hospitality and Tourism, welcomed the group into the very impressive college and led us up the grand stairs for an introduction into what the college is all about.
The group were privileged to visit some of the departments where the students were trained, such as the air cabin crew operations unit, where air-hostesses are trained, and the patisserie department, where students create exquisite cakes amongst other delicious items.
Dinner was served to the group at Glasgow City College’s ‘Scholars Restaurant’, a training restaurant where the students create, cook and serve the menus. A three-course meal at lunch costs just £11.00, or £17.00 for dinner service. That evening’s dinner followed a Thai theme which the students had created the menu for and cooked themselves. Dinner was accompanied by Thai style cocktails, creating an all-round delicious meal in a great atmosphere. In doing this, City of Glasgow College are able to showcase the talent they had helped build with their students to members of the public, whilst also allowing the students to show their new cooking, serving and bar skills. This was a real eye-opener to the TUCO delegates who were now discussing the possibility of introducing student roles back at their own institutions to help the events and conferencing run smoothly, while developing the talents of their students.
On the last morning of the tour, delegates had the opportunity to visit Social Bite for breakfast. Social bite is a not-for-profit organization who’s focus is on ending homelessness across Scotland. They act as a coffee shop with the goal of rivalling Prêt and other food and beverage units. The group were met by Neil Findlay, Head of Social Bite Delivers, who explained the concept to the group. “Social Bite is on a mission to build a collaborative movement to eradicate homelessness. We are an Edinburgh-based Scottish registered charity, which started as a single sandwich shop in Edinburgh back in 2012. We began offering jobs to people affected by homelessness and giving out free food - paid for in advance by our customers through a scheme called ‘Pay it Forward’. We now operate 5 social enterprise sandwich shops (in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen), through which we support more than 400 homeless people each week”.
Neil’s talk on Social Bite was an emotional one, and delegates were proud to use the ‘Pay it Forward’ scheme through TUCO, whereby members of the public can purchase a drink or meal in advance so that a person without the means to pay for it would be able to have a hot meal or drink anytime. Moved by Neil’s talk and inspired to make a change, TUCO members quickly filled up the ‘pay it forward’ board with donations of lots of hot meals and drinks’
After the end of another great study tour, delegates were ready to get back to their own institutions and implement their new ideas. Samantha Potts, Academy Coordinator, explains: “TUCO understands that each person on the tour is looking for inspiring ideas to take back to their own institution in order to develop positive, forward thinking change. Our mission is always therefore, to help delegates find that inspiration. Whether this be one small change encouraged from something experienced on tour, a new idea to be incorporated that was put forward in a networking session amongst the group, or a huge change developed from one of the experiences on tour, if a delegate can bring positive change to their institution following attending a TUCO study tour, our mission is accomplished.”
Jonathan Minshull from The University of Manchester told TUCO: “For Universities/Colleges who are serious about delivering Events and Conference space, this is an ideal opportunity to meet and discuss ideas, share your challenges and share great practices with fellow colleagues. The whole study tour was a huge success with great company. Organisation was superb from start to finish delivered by a great TUCO Tour guide who didn't lose any of the delegates throughout the tour!”
All study tours are created with a focus on a cuisine, catering need or trend, and provide unique and educational hands-on experiences along with invaluable opportunities to network with delegates in similar roles to you at other institutions. To see TUCO’s upcoming study tours, or to book onto any event, please visit www.TUCO.ac.uk/Learn or email [email protected].
“The whole Study Tour was enjoyable which was supported with a good mix of University and College Visits. It allowed delegates and hosting institutions to share and discuss good and bad practices.”
- Delegate from The University of Manchester.
“Excellent tour - very well organised and very enjoyable indeed.”
- Delegate from Royal Holloway University.
“It was a pleasure for us all to host the delegates; I think we had as much knowledge garnered as we did gathered.”
- Study Tour Host from The University of Glasgow.