Thames boats: The best value venues and parties in the world

A bold statement? Yes. Has it got any credence, really? Yes it has. This of course is no academic study and yes you are finding these words of wisdom on the blog of a Thames boat operator but hear us out! Any statement must be based on some kind of research and over our 25 years of running hospitality on the Thames we’ve done a fair bit of competitor research. That indeed is an ongoing process. Not only that, we’ve attended quite a few parties and venues in London, worked with several caterers, and even started and run our own successful land-based venue agency Riverside Events.

So what are the variables we are dealing with here? Really they are too many and too subjective to go into great detail on here, but let’s focus on what we see as the most important: price and value.

Price of Thames boats versus land based venues

There are of course a whole world of massively varying prices out there and it would take a statistical and analytical whizz with oodles of time to produce a report with all the prices and other variables, all weighted appropriately, and come up with a real guide to value.

If you look around any of the big venue finding agency websites and compare many venues against our fleet prices, we more often than not come up with at least equivalent prices and very regularly much better prices.

Thames boats, steaming ahead in value

How do you calculate value? Now there’s a big question. We approach this from the perspective of experienced event planners. There are some standards that any event planner would want to see met wherever they spend their hard earned Christmas party or corporate entertaining budget. These might typically include:

– Good customer service before, during and after the event

– Excellent catering

– Polite, helpful and courteous staff

– Flexibility

– Venue appropriateness, cleanliness etc.

– Understanding of the client’s needs, and ability to offer creative suggestions and solutions

Actually, the list could go on and on but you get the picture. We pride ourselves in being great event organisers as well as boat operators and know we can compete with any venue you might otherwise enquire with. (If you want to know a bit more about event planning, why not see our other blog post ’10 steps to the perfect christmas party’, the principles and ideas there apply for all events.) For us though, the really interesting part comes beyond the ‘standard’ expectations.

Beyond the ordinary

Back to the title of this blog; we did say Thames Boats, and we did say the World. London’s river is where we operate and we think London is the greatest city in the world, so that’s how we’ve found our angle on this subject! (In case you were wondering). The important principle though comes in connection with the river itself and what that gives us: a huge advantage. Actually whether you are on the Seine in Paris, the Hudson in New York, or any other great city river, the advantage is still there. It is essentially twofold.

Why boats are best reason #1: What a view!

Whether your event falls on a sunny day, or a clear night, or indeed any flavour of weather and time in between, events on boats provide you with something no land based venue ever can. Taking in London’s sights as you glide calmly along its serene river will set you way apart from the hustle and bustle and give you the best seat in the house. There is no single view to stare at here; it’s always changing and moving, and quite simply looks better from a boat. At night is my favourite time to do this. London is lit up spectacularly along the river, and now more than ever this riverscape/cityscape is looking incredible. With the Shard and the Walkie Talkie adding to the glass city around Boris’s City Hall, all nestling cosily with Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, our boats HQ at Tower Pier and the ‘Pool of London’ alone just have the most stunning amphitheatre of a backdrop. Then of course there are a few more sights you’ll take in as you cruise: Somerset House, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, the OXO Tower, the London Eye, Royal Festival Hall, Tate Modern …the list goes on and on.

Just last month, the Thames became the first river in Europe to be fully mapped by Google Streetview for Google maps. There’s a reason for that, it looks great.

Why boats are best reason #2: Keep on moving

Land based venue: walk in the door, event finishes, walk out the door. Boat on the Thames: Walk in the door, event finishes, walk out the door…but hang on, you are somewhere else! Of course we won’t do this without you wanting to but another great thing about the flexibility of boats is that they do double up as transport. We don’t know any land venues that really do that at the moment. OK, the odd limo, Dr Who’s tardis, but not really. This can open up many possibilities for you and your guests. Start in central London, finish at the O2 for your another event perhaps? Get on at the pier closest to your office, disembark at a pier close to a mainline or tube station. There are loads of possibilities encompassing further transport options and integrating with other great venues also. Talk to us, we can help.

That’s confirmed then: London boats win every time!

OK, so this may not be the most scientific research of all time, but it is based on both some factual research on prices, and also some genuine insights from professional and experienced Thames event organisers. It’s also a bit of fun but the outcome is one we are very serious about. In our humble opinion, boats on the Thames (and the Seine and the Danube etc etc!) offer something else, something beyond their land-lubber, concrete-booted, stuck-in-the-mud landside cousins: we’re just that little bit more dynamic. Oh, and a little bit more fun.

By Guy Wimpory guy@topsailevents.co.uk

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