We recently spoke to Glenda Carlyle, Senior Sales Manager at SEC, Glasgow to get an exclusive look behind the scenes at Scotland’s multi-purpose, national events venue.
Tell us a little bit about your venue
We’re the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) – Scotland’s national events venue. We’re purpose-built for staging all types of events, and feature three iconic venues; the SEC Armadillo; SEC Centre, which includes five exhibition halls and 19 conference spaces; and The SSE Hydro, our live event arena. Most importantly we’re a campus, which means everything from the venue itself to over 1,500 hotel rooms, a whisky distillery, and Scottish media headquarters are all within a few minutes’ walk. What’s more, our top bar and restaurant district of Finnieston is on our doorstep.
What’s the ideal-sized event for you to host?
We can do all sorts. Everything from smaller meetings in our recently launched SEC Meeting Academy, to huge conferences, exhibitions and live events. However, I think our sweet spot is when the event takes advantage of combinations of the venue; a conference followed by a brand activation; an exhibition with an educational programme; or a festival event linking in with a concert or live experience.
We love it when our events tap into the campus mentality we’re building here; linking with local universities, media, or even the music and cultural scene the city is famous for.
The style and design is certainly amazing! Who designed it and what was the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! It’s something everyone here is really proud of. It’s an amazing place to come to work! We’re the only place in the world where you’ll find two Foster + Partner designed venues in one place – the SEC Armadillo and The SSE Hydro. The inspiration has always been about providing cultural reference points that reflect the city’s heritage, but also creating buildings that the people of Glasgow can be really proud of.
Our architecture is world-class and offers a ‘nod’ to our industrial past, but at the same time is striking and modern, reflecting the mood of the city, which is evolving as a forward thinking, progressive city. The architecture of our venues resonates with this mentality.
What do you love most about being a part of the SEC team?
The fact that it is a team. It’s something the business really focuses on. We understand that creating events is a collaborative process and the need for the different moving parts within the venue, alongside our client, agency and city partners, is crucial. We take this seriously and have gelled over time to a really close-knit business where we work together closely to deliver great events for our customers.
We completely agree, it’s all about working together! What element of the venue do you consider to be the wow factor?
It’s easy to say the designs, they’re so striking. But really, it’s all about the people. We all know that an iconic venue helps, but it doesn’t make an event. Events are about people, personality and culture, and I think we have this in abundance throughout our city, but also within the people at the SEC.
Any top tips for our readers when it comes to selecting an event venue?
It’s becoming more and more common to see clients prioritising venue teams as one of the main factors in their decision. I couldn’t agree with this more; event organisers put huge faith in their partners to get things right, and we’re really proud of the trust that we develop with the people we work with.
When it comes to the facilities themselves, for many event organisers, it’s about putting their events into more than a room, but a destination in its own right. That’s why we’ve developed as a campus where delegates can freely explore the local communities and areas, but also benefit from knowledge and industry hubs that can enrich the event and the experience.
What do you think sets you apart from other event venues?
That’s really for our clients to say!
What kind of catering is available for corporate events?
We’re really proud of SEC Food, our Food & Drink partners; they get things so right and completely understand how food can be a key component to an event. This means they can do fine dining hospitality or an ‘on-trend’ street food or festival experience, all with locally sourced and seasonal produce.
They launched Streetspitality last year, a really cool concept of street food style catering for large delegate numbers, that has been very well received. Basically, they’re incredibly agile – they get events. They’re also part of Levy UK, so can pull in loads of ideas and experience from other venues they cater at. They create great food made right here on campus, that always suits the event and the customer.
We love the street food concept. Tell us about one of the most creative events that’s been held at SEC to date
The industry is talking a lot about ‘festivalisation’, and we’re always a fan of experiences that create multi-faceted events that use different rooms and spaces for different content streams. One of our clients took this to the limit with a ‘Greatest Showman’ theme, where the conference rooms were linked together by a giant circus inside the SEC. It was brilliant; so visual, so memorable, and it gave the delegates a great experience that they were free to curate for themselves. If this is what modern events feel like, we’re sold!
Do you have any exciting developments on the horizon that we can share with our readers?
As a business, we’re constantly evolving, so we’ll keep you posted!
What would you say are the key elements required to deliver a successful event?
Having a clear common goal, listening and sharing expertise are key to delivering a great event. Being nimble, adaptable, timely and collaborative are all essential ingredients.
We couldn’t agree more. What would be the perfect event for the SEC setting?
It’s fantastic when organisers can take over the whole site. This creates limitless opportunities for brand activation. This simply means that organisers can create highly tailored experiences for delegates. Positive experiences create positive emotions, and therefore, positive memories. That’s great for our clients, and for us. When delegates come to the SEC they can embrace our rich Scottish culture, with the convenience of on-site hotels, and a venue that offers limitless configurations and set-ups.
If SEC were a person, past or present, who would they be?
Hmmmm… Rabbie Burns – creative, fun loving and people focused.
What is the SEC mantra/philosophy you live by, or quote that sums you up best?
Delivering events with our clients that help to drive social and economic progress and leave a lasting legacy for their organisation and our city.