Introducing Society Awards

I’m delighted to announce that nominations for your new look Society Awards open today, celebrating the achievements of societies and media outlets at Royal Holloway.

You may have noticed a name change there, we’re dropping the Socs Ball name in order to really give the event its own personality away from Colours Ball. They’re both huge events in the calendar but they also have very different vibes and it’s time we made the distinction really clear.

There are quite a few other changes as well. Based on your feedback, we’ve dropped the ticket price to £35 – from £55. With your ticket, you’ll get a welcome drink on arrival, a selection of delicious canapé bites and bowls, two additional drinks and some awesome entertainment.

Nominate/buy your ticket

Change of venue

A reduction in ticket price has meant we’ve had to make a number of tough calls about the look and feel of the event. For the past nine months, we’ve been working hard to find an alternative venue. However, once we started searching for new venues, the same problems popped up with the cost of food and transport mounting up, and we don’t want to be changing it up but still creating the same issues!

Unfortunately, there is little choice in the area when looking at an event of this size – we’re aiming to accommodate about 250-300 of you. Venue and catering prices are high, and as soon as we add transport into the equation those costs increase significantly.

So we needed a venue that was accessible to all, that didn’t burn a hole in your pocket, and that could be transformed into a celebration focused around you while also being well-located, avoiding unnecessary transport costs (as well as being a good place to boogie of course).

There was one clear solution for this year, which was the SU Main Hall. This multipurpose space has been used for tons of incredible events that go way beyond your normal SU nights. For example in the past year, we’ve hosted a fashion show and our annual Laurels Awards, both pictured below.

Image of the SU Main Hall dressed up for Fashion Show

Image of the SU Main Hall dressed up for Laurels Awards

Drinks Offers

By bringing this event in house we’ll also have much more control over the pricing of the bar. Drinks at Socs Ball have always been quite expensive but now we’ll have the ability to reduce prices. I’m really happy that we’ve been able to come up with some great value deals on the night. These will include:

  • Glass of house wine £2.50
  • Draught beer/cider £2.50
  • Bottled beer £2.50
  • VK £2.50
  • Mocktails £2.50
  • Bottle of house wine £10.00

Why did Socs Ball need to change?

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a steady decline in demand for tickets to Socs Ball which has resulted in the event losing money for a considerable amount of time – with last year’s event falling well below breakeven despite the introduction of plus ones. This means we’ve been subsidising the event with funds that could be utilised elsewhere to support student groups.

This is why the decision was made last year to review the event in its current form, motivated by three primary issues:

  1. Feedback about the cost of tickets
  2. The ongoing decline in ticket sales
  3. Relevance and appeal of the event to a number of diverse societies

Your feedback, both verbally and through Rate Your Union, clearly said that the ticket price of £55 was too expensive. And even though it was set at this price to cover the cost of a three-course meal in a venue like the De Vere Beaumont Hotel, it was considered too high for the majority of you.

In the process of finding a solution to this, we tried to reduce the costs and increase the value for money in the current venue, however, this wasn’t possible while maintaining the same model.

Another factor is the number of societies that hold their own awards ceremonies throughout the year. Due to this duplication, we’ve always had less interest in Socs Ball than in Colours Ball. This meant that we needed to downsize the event to meet the lower demand.

The move to the Students’ Union means we have an answer to all these issues. The smaller venue allows the creation of a more intimate event while we can remove the transport and venue hire costs to give you the best value for money possible. Essentially, the £35 ticket price breaks down as follows:

  • Food and drink - £14.00
  • Venue dressing, entertainment and tech support - £9.48
  • Security and first aid - £1.00
  • Awards and marketing - £1.85
  • VAT and contingency - £8.67

As someone who has attended Socs Ball for numerous years, I know that I’ve always had a blast. However, things do need to change when they aren’t working – as an organisation we constantly adapt and change in accordance with student needs, so we didn’t want to continue hosting an event that was clearly too expensive and not desirable for you.

Fundamentally, we want to make this an event that is more inclusive to our wide range of student groups, and I hope you share our view that this is a good step forward.

If you have any further questions or thoughts on this, pop by the Union Helpdesk for a chat or drop me an email. I also run society drop-ins every Friday from 13:00-15:00, and it would be great to hear from you.

Sophia Bolton // Vice President Societies & Media