Conference Winchester woos clients with chocolate

The promise of an evening of luxury at Winchester's Hotel du Vin, including a demonstration and tasting by the Alresford Chocolate Company, proved irresistible to conference bookers from across the South attending an event organised by Conference Winchester. The aim of the event was to catch up with existing clients and attract new business for the consortium of venues.

Attendees made the trip from companies near and far, based in Windsor, Bournemouth, Newbury, Eastleigh, Portsmouth, Reading and Havant to name a few. A wide variety of companies and groups were represented, from DIY to insurance, telecoms to finance and from IT to HM Prison, Winchester.

The event was held in the Abbeywell Room, at Winchester's Hotel du Vin in Southgate Street. General Manager James Nicholls arranged for delicious canapés to be served with drinks as guests had a chance to talk and relax. James commented: "It was a great opportunity to network and get a feel for the conference industry in Winchester."

Opening the event, Hannah Lane, Conference Operations Manager at the University of Winchester and chair of Conference Winchester said "Winchester and the surrounding area is an excellent place to consider for any event, however large or small. The great transport links make it accessible and there is an enormous choice of places from a high-tech science centre and luxury hotels to interesting and quirky places like the Alresford Goods Shed at the Watercress Line steam railway."

Diane Slater of Right Location, the consortium's preferred agency, gave a presentation explaining the benefits of Conference Winchester's one-stop shop service. She explained: "Members of the Conference Winchester team have specialist knowledge of the venues and can help with extras like theming, partner programmes, even booking taxis. We'll be with you every step of the way to help you find your perfect venue. You'll get a comprehensive and detailed proposal to help you draw up a shortlist and we can also arrange site visits to ensure you meet with the right people."

The presentation was followed by a fascinating talk from Debbie Carter of the Alresford Chocolate Company. Guests heard about the chocolate-making process from cocoa bean to chocolate Easter egg, with interesting anecdotes and a demonstration of chocolate tempering. Then there was a chance for everyone to taste the chocolates, including the award-winning 'chilli zing' chocolate truffle.

Guests departed with a goodie bag and supplies of brochures from the many venues belonging to the Conference Winchester consortium. Regular user Sandra Smith, Marketing Manager at Tenon in Chandler's Ford, said: "Conference Winchester are always helpful, especially when we have unusual requests or are looking for something a little out of the ordinary. For a staff Christmas lunch, they organised a Jane Austen tour followed by a meal at Winchester Cathedral - a truly memorable occasion."

Since its launch in June 2003, Conference Winchester has generated nearly £1 million worth of enquiries for the conference venues in the Winchester District. To find out more about the free venue-finding service telephone 0870 744 7022, e-mail: , or visit