So no, I’m not writing from the jungle and thank goodness not drinking or eating revolting animal parts or freaking out with Huntsman spiders and snakes! However, I’m a big fan of the show and the title got me thinking about my job as an Event Manager. The Confessions and trials of being an Event Planner is to be kept for a book another time, but it has made me reflect my career with a theme of being in the jungle! Oh and a plug, we offer a homage of I’m a Celebrity in our events folio!
Events/Hospitality – a fabulous industry where so many people and even some of the students that I meet under another hat, say “oh it must be so glamorous, fun and exciting!”
Of course, my peers will know that yes, it has its moments of sheer joy and can be very glamorous but in the most, it’s hard work, long hours, time-consuming, thought-provoking, can be small margins and leaves you constantly spinning saucers and keeping a firm and pleasant “Event Smile” even when you feel like bursting into tears or telling someone exactly what you think of them!
When I look back over the years the negatives and stories are far too long to put in one blog but from having fingers snapped at me for attention, clearing up sick, stopping drunken fall outs, mopping up tears, dealing with tantrums, terror attack threats on the Thames, running out last minute to buy 20 tracksuits despite telling and writing joining instructions to clients that they will need them but they forgot or didn’t read it, suppliers not turning up, flight delays, snowstorms, motorways being shut, staff being sick, coaches full of clients that are delayed for hours and turn up tipsy for their event and upsetting Chef, 500 table centres that keep changing colour from what they are set at are just a small list of things that spring to mind.
As event managers you learn all the time, there are many things you can plan for, have backs ups, reserves, be the biggest control freak, work with the best of the best but weather and forces of nature and everyday things do happen completely out of your control and you often have to have a plan B C D and just get on with things whilst staying calm and smiling. In early meetings with clients, it’s always something we like to emphasise and guide them with. The “What ifs to worry about” or learning the polite “no” that won’t work because……
In a market that is so competitive, although I always believe there is space for everyone, you realise there are still underhand practices sadly, even in this day and age but again resilience and integrity is key. I have always wanted to put my head on the pillow at night knowing I’m genuine, rather than be involved in foul play or bribery. Emails where your clients have forgotten to edit the loop and you read “whatever they offer take 15% off”, or “we can match that proposal ours won’t be any different so we will just give you the price” to name but a few things I have seen glaring back at me on my screen! Trying to avoid the snakes and nasty stinging beasties in the corporate world, you would think that you were back in the 1980s but obviously it isn’t. Even when employed and having the comfort of a monthly salary never did I resort to these tactics. Just the same as not using a venue over commission wars, vouchers or a nice weekend away. Your reputation and clients come first right? Working with a team that are the same way minded, let alone suppliers, venues and clients is key for us at Magnifisense. When writing our business plan and setting agendas and mission statements this was very high up. I recently had been approached by another larger agency that was interested in working with us but only if I was willing to pass on information on a previous job role I had to give their clients/inside knowledge. Yuck! Here comes the slime again from the jungle!
So, turning the big 50 last year and reflecting on my life, work and of late answering questions about my career as a volunteer/facilitator for Worktree. They provide charity career workout for schools and rely on workers of all careers Blue Chip/SME/Freelances, all ages, retired, all trades and industries to give an hour a month to sit in a facilitated carousel with other volunteers whilst the students that move around for 6-minute intervals to ask you questions. Picture it as speed networking! These are some of the of the questions:
- Q: What did you want to do when left school? A: Nurse in the RAF or Midwife or wasn’t really sure.
- Q:What was your first job, how did you apply and are you doing the same job? A: Receptionist after leaving college, an advert said Receptionist no experience required in the newspaper, as there was no internet! I had done 2 years at college NNEB and wanted to earn money to go skiing! I sheepishly said “average” on the typewriter and got the job. It was a commercial photographers, I still went skiing but instead of having a gap year I stayed nearly 3 years and fell in love with marketing/advertising and then my career went from sales/marketing/management/ with 5 redundancies thrown in and taking all sorts of jobs quickly to pay the mortgage! I’ve become quite resourceful, humble, learned different skills before getting into full Event Management years ago. The best of the best jobs by far!
So the charity has made me and others reflect on our career paths, again how you plan, get disappointed, how you recover from things out of your control, find out your dream job isn’t, retrain or end up being in jobs that pay well but hate every minute of it or love a job but it doesn’t pay well……………….the list is endless! Another trip through the jungle of unknown territory, bullying bosses, falling from great heights or having to hit the ground running or overcoming challenges and insecurities for your dingo dollars!
I know in the programme they say they love the experience, some got bored, some wouldn’t repeat it, or others would. Some get over phobias and challenged themselves, grew in confidence, found a new person. Again, I relate this to the career path I have led. But now the pure joy of the events industry, the creativity, the challenges, meeting wonderful people in general and now running our own business is the best of the best to date!
SO I AM an Event Planner and I DON’T want out of here!