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Holiday parks

In the past few years, the British have rediscovered the pleasures of holidaying in their home country. This is thanks to the effects of the financial crisis, and the fall in the value of sterling following the Brexit referendum. And we are rediscovering the holiday park. Once a byword for spartan conditions, holiday parks now offer high levels of comfort and sophistication. Their furniture should reflect this.

In the accommodation and living areas of these parks, space is at a premium, so it’s best not to squash in too much furniture. A breakfast bar with high stools in the kitchen area is a space-saving solution. Living areas will need comfortable sofas and armchairs, preferably in neutral shades. And bear in mind that people will visit each other’s accommodation and take note of the decor, so perhaps each unit could be individualised by varying fabrics and finishes. Customers will appreciate this “personal” touch.

But it’s in the outside areas that a holiday park can really make its mark. Increasingly, these parks offer hot tubs, decked areas and terraces. Some even offer “treehouses” – accommodation elevated to treetop level, linked by walkways, with lots of outside spaces. These spaces will need furnishing. Outdoor furniture has long since progressed beyond the bog-standard set of four white moulded plastic chairs (with matching table) and the ubiquitous picnic bench.

Tree house furniture

Chairs and tables in a variety of durable materials are now available: hardwoods, cane and metal (usually aluminium), weatherproof rattan, wood-effect finishes. Many of these are stackable for winter storage. These products show that outdoor furniture can be both stylish and practical, comfortable, and functional.

Cricket clubs

The thwack of willow against leather; a ripple of applause.  On the green, the teams are kitten out in cricket whites. In the afternoon, everything will stop for tea – and it will be a grand tea, a table laden with sandwiches, cakes and scones.

cricket club furniture

Cricket is a sport that’s steeped in tradition. Things have to be done a certain way. Don’t ask why: it’s just the way things are done. And that should go for the furniture. A cricket clubhouse is not a place for modernist designs – it should be soberly furnished, with predominantly natural fabrics in neutral shades (and the cricket tea should be presented on tables draped with white linen tablecloths).

Inside, there should be comfortable chairs, club chairs and tub chairs in leather (or, at a pinch, a convincing substitute); in the bar and dining areas, there should be chairs and tables in wood or wood with upholstery. Nothing too shiny! Outside, for spectators, white benches and perhaps some folding chairs, or stackable outdoor chairs. How very traditional. And perfect.

Rugby clubs

The rugby club is still at the heart of many an English town or village, a place where both players and followers of the game and hangers-on will congregate, celebrate, eat and drink. There was a time when the clubhouse would have been, essentially, a cavernous space with functional chairs around the perimeter, perhaps a few tables, a bar, and little else. Many people would have spent their time standing up.

These days, we want a bit more comfort. But that shouldn’t mean setting out rows and rows of tables and chairs in regulated ranks; the heart sinks at such a sight. Interior designers use a method which they call “zoning”: dividing a space into zones, which have different uses. So there will be the bar itself, with space for people to buy their drinks, but also perhaps some high bar stools.

Next, there are the standard-height tables and chairs, where groups can sit, drink, snack, chat. Don’t put them in straight lines – mix them up, put them at angles. And in the corner, a more laid-back vibe could be created with low tables, armchairs, club chairs, tub chairs and suchlike. And mix up the finishes and fabrics – tartan and checks have recently made a comeback. The zones, of course, are not separate, but flow into each other: an evening that begins at the bar might end on a sofa. 

Golf clubs

They call it the “19th hole”: the place where, at the end of a thirst-making round of golf, the reward is to sit back with something cool and refreshing. It’s also a place where non-golfing visitors meet up for a drink, a coffee, a snack or a bite to eat. But whether it’s populated by dedicated players or by those who wonder what this pursuit of a small round ball is all about, the golf clubhouse is a sedate place, and its furniture should reflect this. It’s a place for sitting back, clinking glasses, murmured conversation; softness, comfort and elegant simplicity should therefore be the guiding rules. Low-level chairs and low tables will encourage a relaxed ambience. Deep leather sofas and club chairs lend an air of tradition and solidity.

Perhaps a few high stools could be placed up at the bar for solitary drinkers. Golfers are a quiet bunch; many golf clubs ask members and visitors to be discreet with their mobile phones, and some etiquette guides advise against their use in clubhouses (and also on the course itself). The furniture should be likewise: quiet and comforting.

No mobile caravans allowed

Student unions

Readers of a certain age will remember the student union bar fondly, but not for its ambience. The floor would probably be sticky with old beer; the air would be a fug of tobacco smoke and beer fumes; the furniture would be chipboard tables with peeling veneers, wobbly chairs, and little else. There might be a jukebox. Today, following the huge growth in universities and the numbers studying at them, the student union bar has had to smarten up – it will have plenty of local competition, after all. So: the decor will be bright, clean, contemporary. The bar will serve a broader range of drinks than the old menu of Newcastle Brown Ale (though brown ales are said to be making a comeback). And the furniture will be clean-looking, in metal or perhaps blonde wood.

Student bar furniture - student union decor

This is not a place where you’ll find a comfy armchair in the corner; youngsters are less bothered about home comforts. And bear in mind, too, that many student union bars also function as cafés during the daytime, so furniture should be flexible: seating cubes that can be moved around, tables that can be shunted together or scattered, stackable chairs. And it’s worth bearing in mind that most students are youngsters. They can be careless. So everything should be durable, hard-wearing and easy to clean.

Wedding venues

It used to be a straight choice: church, or register office? Today of course all kinds of premises can host weddings – all that’s required is a licence; the local council will need to be convinced that the premises are “seemly and dignified” and that they will be regularly available for marriages or civil partnerships. So, grand estates, country houses, hotels, converted barns, as well as well-known locations such as London Zoo and Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s southbank – all these are now hosting ceremonies and the celebrations that follow.

wedding venue furniture

Many of these venues are used for other purposes, so they need to be flexible. Each wedding is of course special and unique, and will be decorated with the patrons’ choice of flowers, etc. But at the same time there will need to be predictable elements: the chairs, the tables, the table linen, cutlery, crockery, and so on.

Tables and chairs will need to be stackable so that they can be stored away between weddings, thus freeing up the space for other purposes. Removable seat cushions are a useful way to give guests comfort while being easily stored away. So the choice of furniture will be a trade-off between style and functionality, between aesthetics and practicality. White is a popular colour for weddings: room full of white furniture and white table linen, with subtle flowers, can serve as a backdrop against which the bride and groom and their guests can shine on their special day.

Sarah Easton, winery manager at Hush Heath Winery:

“After rethinking our tasting room layout we found the perfect tables through Trent Furniture. They allow more room for customers tasting through our wines and ciders and allow us to use the room we have in a more flexible way. Our products are of an exceptional quality and we only purchase equally good quality furniture to fit with our tasting room.”

Ordered five black disc poseur tables.

Dave Palmer, operations manager at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre:

"We needed comfortable furniture for patrons to sit on which was lightweight, durable and was at a competitive price. Trent Furniture ticked all the boxes.

"The furniture was used to fit out a refurbished bar area for the Theatre, providing a place for our patrons to sit and enjoy a drink/snack pre-show and at the interval whilst also enjoying the view.

"The furniture has added to the look and feel of the refurbished space and we have already received many positive comments from patrons to say how much they appreciate and like the new bar area."

The theatre ordered 33 Catania chairs, three brown Manhattan sofas, seven brown Portobello tub chairs and eight chrome pyramid tables: two rectangle, three square and three coffee tables.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a wonderful list of 12 top tips to make any Christmas dining experience flow as well as hot goose fat over golden roast potatoes. So here it is, an early present from us at Trent Furniture.

Menu

The menu should get customers salivating at the thought of what superb food is to come. Be really descriptive and let customers know where their food is coming from, think Marks & Spencer’s luxurious adverts when thinking about wording. Buffet menus can be really cost effective and a crowd pleaser, don’t forget to include à la carte options to cater for different tastes.

Also be sure to cater for a wealth of different dietary requirements, such as vegans and those who require gluten free options. It could be vital in enticing customers and large groups to your establishment.

Pricing

Christmas dinners are notoriously expensive so customers won’t be put off by high prices. Remember that staff will want a higher rate of pay for working Christmas day and putting on a spectacular meal and entertainment will cost a fair bit. Though it’s vital to not overcharge and ensure customers feel they are getting true value for money, getting customers to return year on year is the main goal.

Furniture

Customers paying up to £100 a head will expect the best from their experience. Any dated or tatty furniture will stick out like a sore thumb and it can detract from all your hard work. Get customers talking about the lovely and comfortable chairs (such as the Abrruzzo range), Christmas is a great time to invest in some new fixtures and fittings that will lift the decor.

Decorations

Expectations are high for Christmas and customers will want to feel a special and festive atmosphere when they go out for food. Decorations that go above and beyond will really capture people’s imaginations. Splash out on special Christmas decorations that will give the venue a traditional seasonal feel. Remember to keep décor looking warm; dimmed lighting and fairy lights will give a cosy festive effect that will excite customers as soon as they walk in.

Bookings

Check, double-check and triple-check. This is one day of the year that double bookings for tables cannot happen. Make sure that the tables are all accounted for and remember that over booking tables can stretch staff if numbers are going to be short on the day.

Remember to tell customers that they can book for next year with a small deposit. If they had a great time they will want to book it straight away so they don’t miss out, it’ll also be a great indication of how much the event was enjoyed. Give customers at this year’s dinner an offer for next year, keep them loyal and you’ll have plenty of bookings for 2017 before the year has already begun. Get an online booking system, it will help organise and automate the booking process and it is much easier for customers to use.

Staff

Reward staff for coming to work on Christmas day; double pay or even treble pay can help motivate staff and help prevent anyone from not turning up. Organise the rota for the Christmas period early and let staff know as soon as the rota is done, giving them plenty of notice.

Keep the team as relaxed as possible over the festive period, too much pressure can be a recipe for disaster. Split shifts lasting around four hours can help take the edge off working on Christmas day

Advertise

Do customers know that business is open as usual on Christmas day? Advertise that Christmas lunch is available as soon as possible and get booking forms and menus ready. More people are going to restaurants and hotels than ever for Christmas dinner, so announce an attractive and comprehensive menu for a reasonable price to entice them to choose your business.

Send Christmas cards out to local businesses and as many customers as possible reminding them that the venue is open for Christmas and a personal touch always helps to make customers feel more valued. Produce a promotional video for the Christmas menu, get it posted on social media and link it to online booking. Spend the year compiling a healthy contact book and try some email marketing with discounted offers.

Food

Make sure there are plenty of trimmings for dinner, last thing customers want is not enough pigs in blankets or roast potatoes. Source local ingredients and focus on food quality rather than trying to cut corners with cheaper options. This may be the most important point of all; food quality can trump above all others in convincing customers to return.

Drinks

If drinks aren’t a speciality, do some research and find complementary wines, beers and spirits that go with the menu. Customers spending upwards of £100 on food won’t mind splashing out a little extra on drinks, especially if it’s an extensive collection of seasonal favourites.

Real ales and craft beer has never been so popular so include some recommendations to go with each course and keep everyone happy, as well as bringing in some additional income.

Planning

As every veteran of Christmas day dinner will know, planning is paramount to success. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Get as much preparation done as early as possible, make sure all supplies are fully stocked up weeks in advance.

Communication

At some point during the planning stage have a meeting involving the whole team. If last year’s Christmas was chaotic or hard to handle, ask everyone what any problems were and what could be improved on. Sometimes simple changes can make a massive difference and the staff could be holding information that can save time and money.

Preparation

Christmas day is going to be hectic no matter how much preparation can be done, but there are things that can be done to make it a little bit easier. If dinner was getting out late last year, get staff to come in earlier.

Any food that can be prepared the day before or in advance, should be. Don’t be tempted to freeze prepared food weeks in advance as customers are expecting the best food that is on offer. Find the right balance that takes some of the burden whilst giving the freshest meal that will keep diners happy and full.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, it’s everyone’s favourite time of the year (apart from the scrooges). It’s also the busiest time of the year for venues, thanks to the traditional work Christmas party. For the employees at a Christmas party, they have worked hard all year and a corporate party is a great way for staff to blow off some steam and go into the New Year with a boost of morale. For the venue it’s a great opportunity to show how great their setting is and experiment with different Christmas décor and ideas. We have put together our top five tips to turn you into the host with the most.

Five – Creating a safe environment for event attendees

We all know what office Christmas parties can be like! It’s a well-deserved chance for employees to let their hair down and enjoy themselves as their boss treats them for all their hard work. Most corporate parties go as planned; everyone enjoys themselves and has a drink or two. However, sometimes things can get a little out of hand, someone enjoys themselves a little too much or all that office tension can build up to breaking point.

Make sure the team knows how to handle certain situations in a calm manner. Well trained staff can diffuse a situation and usually a cool head can relax a heated situation. A host can use their experience to work with management to recognise anyone who needs an extra pair of eyes on them, to keep a positive atmosphere at the party. It’s vital not to babysit guests though, it is a party after all and you want to keep a fun atmosphere.

Four – Making functions and staff parties memorable

Remember that for many guests at the event the office party is the biggest occasion of the year and something they look forward to. Making the night something that they’ll never forget can keep the office talking for months.

When they have a great time, they’ll want to come back year after year and word will spread. Don’t be afraid to splash out on some things that will get customers and their employees talking. Try to offer something that no other venue can and make the location unique.

Don’t resort to having mixed furniture that looks like it was the last thing that was thought about; make sure you have plenty of matching tables and chairs for the evening. Folding tables and stackable chairs can be a lifesaver, finish with a lavish cover to give a luxury feel to the event.

Three – Getting the party décor right

A festive spirit and corporate parties can provide that little extra budget to dress up a venue to make it look more joyful and appealing. It may be tempting to raid the local pound shop for tinsel and party poppers, however stay well away from tacky decorations.

If some of the furniture and interior design is looking like its best days are behind it, now is a great opportunity to invest in some contemporary furniture. Create a look fit for any hipster Shoreditch café for less with the new Bella range of tables, stools and chairs in a variety of colours and combinations.

Take plenty of time when choosing furniture, discuss a plan with the sales team and make sure it fits in with the venue. If a complete overhaul is stretching too far, lighting can make a massive difference for a surprisingly low cost. Combining fairy lights with large plants or features, like beams, can create a festive party mood in no time.

Two – Keeping staff motivated during peak party seasons

Without doubt this will be the busiest period for any venue and it’s necessary to take on extra staff to help cope with the amount of parties and events. A team of staff represent the establishment better than anything else and extra staff who don’t understand the key values can hurt a good reputation.

Patience is a wonderful skill to have in the hospitality industry; nerves will be tested among any team so it’s vital to keep heads cool whilst giving the best customer service possible.

It’s difficult to judge just how busy the place will be over the next month and all the members of staff will need to pull their weight. Remember to make sure the rota always has enough staff so they’re not overwhelmed.

One – Creating the perfect corporate menu

Food and drink are the fastest ways to capture anyone’s heart. Budget well for food and drink, find some places to save on and then go that extra mile in other areas to make it a memorable event for the guests.

Prepare a separate menu with a small selection of varied dishes, so there is something for everyone but chefs can focus on producing high quality food. It’s vital to cater for vegetarian and gluten free diners, to ensure all guests leave happy and with full stomachs.

Depending on the employer’s budget for drinks, make sure that there is real value for money and try to work with the employer/party organiser to provide drinks at a reasonable rate.

Providing lots of soft drinks and non-alcoholic options will please any designated drivers and non-drinkers, while also offering an option to help ‘sober-up’ anyone with too much festive cheer.

One idea could be to provide a small amount of food near to midnight or the end of the evening for a surprise treat before the guests leave the venue. A little extra food will help soak up some of the drink and their boss will be grateful if they’re due in to work the next morning.

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