Behind the scenes: organising events at hotels

Deborah Barnes can usually be found juggling events and managing clients across two highly acclaimed venues – The Elvetham Hotel in Hampshire and The Petersham in Richmond-on-Thames. We interrupted her usual whirlwind of activity to take a sneak peak behind the scenes and get the low-down on how to run a successful event… Deborah began […]

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Deborah Barnes can usually be found juggling events and managing clients across two highly acclaimed venues – The Elvetham Hotel in Hampshire and The Petersham in Richmond-on-Thames. We interrupted her usual whirlwind of activity to take a sneak peak behind the scenes and get the low-down on how to run a successful event…

Deborah began her career as a sales executive for a hotel in Heathrow in the early 90s and fell in love with the fast paced nature of the role and the consultative approach to relationship building with clients. Now Deborah is head of sales for vast, stunning venues The Elvetham and The Petersham and has extensive experience planning events, dealing with clients and making sure that even the most complex of events runs smoothly.

How did you get into the hotel industry?

“I started as a sales executive for a hotel at Heathrow in the early 1990s, and I loved the fast pace and the consultative approach to relationship building with my clients.”

What did you learn from the first conference you ever organised?

“Over the years I’ve overseen a number of key events for some very high profile customers. I vividly remember the attention to detail that went into an event for a pharma company near the start of my career, especially as the clients are still with me today.”

behind the scenes

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

“No two things in my job are ever the same, each client has different needs and I have to tailor to them accordingly. Luckily both of my venues have experienced meetings and events professionals, which helps to ensure that everything runs smoothly. I’m also fortunate that our portfolio includes The Petersham, which oozes elegance, and The Elvetham, which is beautifully historic.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to plan his or her first event or conference?

“Share your objective with your chosen venue. In the case of The Elvetham, we have an historic house in 35 acres of stunning grounds that are perfect for team building. As long as we know what you need to get out of the event, we can make sure you achieve it.”

What qualities do you think a great organiser possesses?

“For such a busy profession, where you are often managing different things and different people’s need you need to keep your cool, pay attention to the details and focus.”

What brings you the most excitement in planning and organising an event?

“The feedback from a customer at the end of an event can be inspiring. Knowing that we did a good job for a client is hugely motivating for the whole team.”

How do you multitask prior to and on the day of a busy conference or event?

“A venue such as The Elvetham has 72 bedrooms and 21 meeting spaces, plus 25 acres of grounds, so we’re always multitasking. The trick is to make every guest feel like they’re the most important, and that’s achieved through years of experience and dedication.”

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