Interview: Kate Kirby, RDS Venue

21 Feb 2020 | 09.41 am

Interview: Kate Kirby, RDS Venue

‘We can create tailored experiences for our clients’

21 Feb 2020 | 09.41 am

Kate Kirby (pictured), Sales Manager with RDS Venue, recounts a successful 2019 for the venue, and its enduring appeal for conferences and events

How was business for RDS Venue through 2019 and what factors are driving growth?

We had a very successful year in 2019, despite starting the year with a level of uncertainty due to short lead times. We welcomed more than 300 events, which varied from international conferences and exhibitions to trade shows and a variety of smaller events, including gala dinners and awards nights.

Some of the key international conferences that took place at the venue last year included the European Conference on Optical Communication, Dublin Tech Summit and SaaStock.

Annual events are extremely important to the RDS, many of which have been returning to the venue for many years. The expansion of our annual events was one of the key factors that drove growth in 2019, as well as new events coming on stream, such as Ireland Skills Live and Dublin Wizard Con.

It is also evident that Dublin is becoming more and more desirable as a destination for international conferences and events.

Did you initiate any recent facility upgrades?

The latest venue refurbishments took place in Hall 6 and the Band Lawn Foyers. These are complimentary spaces to the Concert Hall, providing an upmarket breakout, lunch or bar area that is filled with natural light.

As a venue welcoming hundreds of large events every year, the RDS recognises that our venue and its associated events have an impact on the environment, the economy and the community. We are committed to promoting positive impacts through communicating sustainable development goals while identifying and minimising any negative impacts.

Having initially achieved ISO 50001 Energy Management certification in 2017, we are striving towards ongoing improvement in our business practices. The RDS is now taking steps to achieve ISO 20121, the globally recognised best practice certification for sustainable event management.

Recent sustainability initiatives include the establishment of an RDS Innovation Sustainability Environmental team, a new monitoring system of energy usage across halls, installation of solar panels for electronic car chargers, replacement of catering equipment with energy-efficient alternatives, installation of energy efficient lighting, and a focus on waste management and training.

We are also actively engaging and supporting local community groups, including Ballsbridge Living and their Tidy Towns initiative.

What trends have you noticed in the meetings/conferences space?

Companies are looking to create the most interactive and engaging events for their attendees. More interactive experiences have also been introduced during breaks to enhance customer satisfaction or staff engagement.

We have noticed that more creativity and experiential networking opportunities have been created using exhibition stands.

Sustainability is now high on the decision-making criteria for clients and they are looking for the provision of catering services to align with their own sustainability promise. We support this through our caterer’s local sourcing approach, the removal of single-use plastics and introduction of compostable food containers.

There has been an increase in demand for vegan-friendly options and it’s important that produce is sourced locally where possible.

What tips would you give to event organisers to ensure event success?

  • If you want your event to be extraordinary, focus on the attendees. Specifically, focus on the quality of their experience and their interaction at the event itself through speakers or exhibit displays etc.
  • Attention to detail cannot be overstated. The RDS Venue team are on hand from the outset to go through the full details of the event with the organiser. This results in client’s expectations being met in a focused and efficient manner.
  • Plan in advance as much as possible so that you can have the desired space you need, speakers etc.
  • Sustainability is very important to attendees, so put effort into reducing your waste.

What is your venue’s USP for meetings and events?

Flexibility — Our range of unique spaces offers endless possibilities to create a bespoke event, and to facilitate relationship-building through clever use of breakout spaces for networking and refreshments.

We have 22,000 sq. m. of scalable floor space and facilities for up to 30,000 delegates per day, and we can create tailored experiences for our clients.

Our team – What brings 70% of our clients back is what our people bring to the table: energy, experience, imagination and advice. A calm voice on the other end of the phone. A ‘can-do’ attitude to resolving every obstacle in the planning process. A reassuring presence on the day.

A truly amazing story – We are a non-profit organisation. When you bring your event to the RDS Venue you make a vital contribution to our work programme. You help us to nurture future generations of Irish talent and show the world that you are committed to corporate social responsibility.

While Ireland’s premier venue for decades, the RDS has a long and proud tradition of giving back to Ireland that stretches back for almost 300 years.

Amazing ideas have come through the RDS. Throughout the centuries, many shows and events (the origins of the RDS venue) were hosted by the RDS to showcase the best Ireland had to offer and to encourage Irish endeavour by demonstrating the latest international developments.

Today, the RDS mission of contributing to Ireland economically and culturally is realised through a science education programme that reaches almost 15,000 primary schoolchildren; through awards and bursaries that help our most talented musicians and artists fulfil their potential; and through sharing ideas and new thinking in business and agriculture that might inspire others.

Events at our venue are the primary funding sources for turning our ideas into action.

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