I absolutely love the events industry.
What’s not to love?
It makes my heart sing to witness the conception of an idea through to the final delivery of an engaging, creative masterpiece. So much talent, so much collaboration……fun, laughter, endless spreadsheets, never ending days, alcohol, sweat, stress and tears (or should that be tiers now!)
Ultimately though, before the creativity and heavy lifting begins, the process generally starts its journey with the need for a perfect venue – delivering facilities fit for purpose, flexibility, collaboration, an understanding of client goals and all that goes with supporting the end game…… and that is where my story begins!
Not many people know this, but a long long time ago I left school to study Hotel and Catering Operations and ended up training to be a Chef. As every Chef will tell you, the first thing you learn is to cut an onion. I digress! Fast forward a few years and I realised I was never going to achieve the dizzy heights of kitchen stardom, so went on to Business Studies.
Little did I know that a chance encounter with a chap during a pub quiz would change the course of my life in a way that, to this day I remain thankful for. That was the night I first heard the words ‘Venue Finding Agency’. It was 32 years ago and I am still hooked.
I cut my teeth in Venue Finding with a small agency. I remember thinking quite clearly just how brilliant the concept was. A three party relationship between client, venue finder and venue. This was a no cost service to the client (back then!) for receiving the expertise and guidance of a venue expert, whilst offering venues the opportunity to enter into a ‘remunerate on results’ extension to their sales efforts. Genius!
It was not long before I opened my first agency back in 1990. I was so excited to have the chance to share my expertise and passion for venues with new clients. Don’t forget, back then we had no internet, no email and no computers as such – just word processors. Expertise had to be learned the hard way! I remember all the filing cabinets in my office with brochures from just about every hotel and venue in the country bursting out of the drawers. Endless trips up and down the country to see the hotels and venues (not an online floorplan or virtual walk through to be had!) A regular trip to the post office each day to get my proposals and brochures posted. Picking up the phone to talk to clients and venues. Learning how to negotiate on rates and contracts. Some things have changed, others not so much.
Between then and now, the industry has evolved and matured. Mine has been a rather wonderful, and many times challenging, journey with many pivotal moments along the way. During those initial 10 years I built my first team – many of whom now run their own successful agencies. I have had the privilege to work alongside and employ (and learn from) many wonderful people. It did occur to me that maybe I taught them too well as so many progressed to run their own businesses – but that is the price a good mentor pays I suppose – or put another way, that is the reward a good mentor enjoys, seeing her prodigies fly off to their own successes.
My World was turned upside down upon the death of my dear friend Tim Gasson in May 2007. Tim was not only one of my closest friends but also a successful events industry leader. He offered total inspiration on elegance, tenacity, perfection, creativity and how to be a proper human being. He was admired by all that knew him and met him. It seemed only right that his legacy would be to continue to help improve the way we conduct ourselves in the industry today and to produce memorable events – and so my life with Absolute Corporate Events began. All the qualities Tim had, to this day continue within ACE.
Absolute Corporate Events remains one of my life’s great passions and something I am so proud of. A meeting with Chris Parnham in 2012 saw another transition, with him taking over to deliver an ambitious plan to quadruple growth and evolve the company into a full-service agency. Me? I took on the role of Chairman, mentor and coach, following my continuing desire to build teams to be the best they can be, work well, achieve their personal life goals.
The last year has seen the events industry on its’ knees and that devastates me. It is heart breaking to see so many talented people struggle to hold onto their jobs and their businesses. Having been through three previous recessions (which we all thought were more challenging than the last) the events industry always recovered albeit with a few modifications along the way. I have no doubt that we will recover again – but there will be new ways of working, new demands and new skills to learn.
It is at this point in my story that we go back to the beginning and say that ‘before the creativity and heavy lifting begins, the process generally starts its journey with the need for a perfect venue’ and I believe this will always be the case.
My dream came true many years ago with the opportunity to run my own venue finding business – employing my own very high standards and having the chance to be master of my own destiny. My journey continues, and I am excited to be focusing on creating new opportunities for others with Meeting Allstars whilst also offering consultancy and coaching services – my first appointment being as Consultant Director with ACE.
My belief is that if I can share my passion for great service, personal development and letting people reach their full potential then the world will be a better place. I continue to work hard in the industry to develop best practise guidelines and support young talent.
I remain totally in love with the people, the fun, the challenges and the satisfaction of doing a job to the very best of my ability and helping others to do the same.
I am proud of my achievements and I would love to see others have that feeling for themselves.
Allstars Director & Co-founder