We have decades of experience under our belt, and with a core team of 14 no event is too much of a challenge. Whilst everything is going smoothly, don’t be fooled into thinking running events is an easy task. Here’s a snapshot of one of the days during the summer season (and a few behind the scenes shots from Team UE) – welcome to the world of an event manager.
My alarm goes off and the first thing I do is make a coffee. During the Ultimate Experience summer season, if you’re running events two days on the trot, you don’t usually get a quiet evening the night before, so caffeine is my best friend. Last night wasn’t too late as the event was at The Pavilion at the Tower of London and tonight’s event is at The Artillery Garden at the HAC, so there’s no 4am hoovering going on! While I drink my coffee, I check the weather for this evening, fingers crossed for sunny skies so the guests can make the most of the fun fair in the private gardens.
I arrive at The Artillery Garden. The crew are already onsite, cleaning and prepping the venue – these guys really transform the space from a blank canvas to a functioning venue. They’re cleaning every nook and cranny, and lugging 800 chairs and 80 round tables! I’m on walkie talkie duty and check all of handsets are working for the event team this evening – it is key that we are all in the loop.
The client arrives and we go over this evening’s schedule, checking all the details. It’s inevitable there will be last minute changes, whether it’s a week before, a day before, or in this briefing! Even though it’s a huge cliché, we always try and think outside of the box so we can resolve issues as quickly and efficiently as possible, if not pre-empt them altogether!
Over the next few hours all the suppliers will arrive. The team has actually been storing various bits and pieces for tonight’s event and managed to fill up the whole dance floor. It’s going to be all hands on deck to clear the dance floor and get the sponsor production set up in the right place.
One of the features this evening is a raffle to win a Vauxhall Viva… and the client asked for the car on site for the guests to see. This isn’t as straight forward as you would think; the marquee team were drafted to make a larger entrance through the fun fair doors, by removing them completely! They then used spreaders to distribute the weight of the car so it could be positioned safely on the marquee floor.
As the afternoon continues, waiting staff arrive and prep the tables, the Create team set up in the kitchen for service; the production team take care of sound and lighting, and the last of the suppliers finish setting up their stalls in reception. At this point I try and have one final briefing, confirming all bases are covered.
We are event ready, and the welcome reception team are ready for any early arrivals. I grab a pink lemonade to bring my sugar levels up to guarantee I can keep going into the early hours! You’re on your feet constantly so whenever you can grab an energy booster you do.
The event is officially open, and as guests start to filter through the main doors into the reception area and the fun fair, I’m pleased with how The Artillery Garden looks – it’s been an incredibly busy day but worth it to get to this stage. But it’s not over yet, as anything and everything could happen… including the 15 extra starters I’ve just been told about! Off to the kitchens to see what the Create team can do for me!
All the guests have arrived; the glitter artist, caricaturist and the fun fair are big hits. Unfortunately for guests the call for dinner is made, so now I have to encourage guests to leave the dodgems, which is no mean feat! All the while a few more table plan changes are made; (whatever event it is, there are continuous table plan changes from a month before, until the moment guests are sat down eating!) so there’s some very last minute name place swaps.
The Create team take the reins and begin serving the three course meal. At this point I have a quick sweep of the reception area and the toilets to see if they’re clean. The events team and I then head to the kitchens checking that the plates are presented as per the client tasting session we had months ago. I don’t eat until later in the night, sometimes it’s little bits here and there or if I’m lucky I can sample the guest menu and then get a second round with the crew’s food!
After the dinner service, guests venture back to the sponsor stalls in the reception area, to the fun fair or head to the dancefloor. Trevor Nelson arrives for his DJ set, but before he begins he announces the winner of the car.
I’m on standby for a smooth transition; we have to ensure the switch from house DJ to Trevor Nelson goes without a hitch. I check in with the client and keep an eye on left over glasses building up in reception.
A final last minute request: give departing guests a little tub of Jude’s Ice Cream! I become a temporary member of serving staff and hand out these tasty little tubs of ice cream (…and may have had a test pot!). Then I move to back of house to brief the events team on de-rig. I usually get a quiet 10 minutes, so I can plan ahead for the next event tomorrow!
After the last guests have departed, we begin the long task of packing up suppliers and clearing glassware. The crew begin the big clean; it’s going to be a very long night ahead for Henry Hoover!
The final suppliers have left the venue and I can hand over to the crew to lock up. One last check that the Vauxhall Viva is secure and I have the keys. I’ll have to return the venue tomorrow morning to organise car collection (and extraction from the venue!). I call my taxi, so I know I’m finally on my way home to bed!
We love what we do (as you can see by the photos!), but an being an event manager isn’t all plain sailing – it’s full on! It can be tiring, challenging and frustrating, but when you work with an amazing team and have great feedback from the client and guests, it makes it all worthwhile! Roll on next season!