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Business Events Finder

Basic Website Information:


Business Link regional offices were to be closed at the end of November 2011 as the main contract ended. The service was to be brought back into a small number of websites and a call centre. Free Rein was to provide the events management website for the country as a whole with variants for the devolved authority.

  • Site is for event organisers (EO) to promote relevant business support events
  • EOs should be self-sufficient with smaller organisations content moderated by Free Rein partners AdviserPlus (event specialists)
  • System should handle on-line booking and optional ecommerce
  • Events should support multiple sessions, capable of handling break-out seminars and workshops
  • System should be capable of email broadcast for invitation, booking confirmations, reminders etc and under EO control
  • System must meet government IL3 security standards, pass performance and penetration testing
  • Free Rein to manage secure IL3 hosting environment


  • Design was from Free Rein but to be within the new Business Link brand guidelines and fit with the other main new website
  • Design was to be clean, obvious and uncluttered. Design should provide clear direction on visitor journey and be


  • The content is entirely generated and updated by the event organisers
  • EO apply to join (AdviserPlus evaluate and train)
  • EO can manage complete event, site content, bookings, emails, feedback and archives
  • Content is presented through different sites for the devolved authorities
  • Content is delivered out through APIs to other BIS  sites

"Under the hood":

The overall project was awarded to Thomson Reuters who chose AdviserPlus for the day to day EO and moderation management and Free Rein to deliver the technology. The tender was won against the perceived industry leader and the current supplier on the basis, amongst other issues, of the flexibility of the Free Rein system to deliver exactly what was required rather than an adapted, off-the-shelf product.

A retrospective view from SERCO and BIS was to ask Free Rein to deliver 3 weeks early as a reflection of the confidence in the design and build. Thomson Reuters stepped back during the specification and build stages to let Free Rein lead. The SERCO project leader since commented on the success of the site, their confidence and recognition of strong value for money.

The system drew on much of the Free Rein core content management system with a number of bespoke modules to extend the user control.

Follow up:

  • First update release was in April 2012 with some new features
  • Sites have remained 100% available from launch and delivering pages with an average response time of just over 200ms


With the migration of the Dept BIS website into the main www.gov.uk site, Free Rein were asked by Government Digital Services, part of the Cabinet Office, to move the hosting onto the Free Rein maidenhead data centre. They also asked Free Rein to set up and take over the on boarding, user training and moderation of the entire systems. Naturally when the Welsh Government joined us they required a multi-lingual adaptation (we don't moderate the Welsh version though) and UKTI required changes to allow international events. The England variant is now a service from WENTA, one of the southern England enterprise agencies who are now looking to expand the systems capabilities.

"I hope that you are well.  I would first like to thank you for all your support in getting the nibusinessinfo.co.uk version of the Events Finder up and running.  Your support and flexibility to meet our requirements was refreshing and much appreciated.  We are really pleased with the final product and could not praise Free Rein highly enough. Thank you."

Invest Northern Ireland