Through the keyhole with Celtic Manor’s Rachel Phillips

The head of event sales talks about lessons learnt in her 15-year career and what makes Celtic Manor, in South Wales, a unique venue for conferences and events

Rachel Phillips Celtic Manor

I have worked in the events industry for 15 years. It’s my job to manage a team of 20 people and to sell the facilities that Celtic Manor has to offer. My team focuses on groups of 10 or more people for events including conferences, meetings, product launches, residential conferences and team-building days.

Celtic Manor was once a maternity hospital. In 1860 the manor was home to Thomas Powell Junior – the son of a leading figure in the coal and iron trade. In 1940 the house was
given to the local authority and became the Lydia Beynon Maternity Hospital (it’s where the current owner, Sir Terry Matthews, was born). In 1982 Celtic Inns bought the property, which had been boarded up since 1975, and in 1999 the resort opened.

celtic manor exterior

We are a unique destination and that makes us special. Celtic Manor is not part of a chain and we can offer everything on site, whether that’s a residential conference or an activity day. The resort is set in 2,000 acres and because everything is in one place it makes it easy to mix business and pleasure.

Trying to say yes to everybody is the biggest challenge of my job. We have huge demand for conferences and events at Celtic Manor and we have to be extremely mindful of managing the clients’ expectations. It can be tricky.

No two days are ever the same. I could have a plan for the day but then a client could call with a brief for a glamping event with catering and a fairground and my plan will go out the window. But that’s what I find exciting!

Communicating with your event manager is crucial to success. One of the biggest mistakes event planners make is failing to provide all the details of their event to the venue manager. We have a dedicated team who work with the clients to guide them through the organising process – they are also there on the day of delivery – but it’s crucial our managers are provided with details, even if the event booker doesn’t think it’s important.

interior celtic manor

A retail client once hosted a winter event at Celtic Manor in the middle of summer. It was highly memorable! The client was launching their winter-season collection and it was a boiling hot day. It was strange seeing Christmas trees and decorations in the summer, but it was a really fantastic event.

Not every event will work the same in different venues. A business might have been organising an event for 15 or 20 years and then move it to a new venue. It’s important to remember that it won’t necessarily work exactly the same. It means being flexible, thinking about logistics and taking the event team’s advice on board.

Remember who you are organising the event for. Keep in mind people’s expectations. What’s important to your business? Remember why you are holding  the conference or event and don’t let go of that.

golf range celtic manor

Celtic Manor Resort is one of Europe’s finest conference venues and offers an extensive range of facilities for events of all sizes. For more information, visit   •   •   @TheCelticManor

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