If there is one major perk to working in the event industry it's being hosted by amazing venues and tourist bureau’s on FAM (familiarisation) trips. As an in-house corporate event professional, FAM trips are not something that make up our weekly schedule as much as those at an agency. That is where groups like EventProfsLive and being part of an association come in handy, they offer corporate event planners access to the world of FAMs.
In the last 3 months I have been lucky enough to experience the Belmond British Pullman, Lainston House in Winchester, The Curtain Hotel & Alexander House Hotel and Utopia Spa. All of which have provided me with insight and experience of high class venues to potentially use for clients whether its now or in the future. It is invaluable to experience what your delegate will experience on an event, viewing the venue is one thing but you don’t know how the staff will treat you or how seamless checkin/ checkout could be. Access to these for corporate event professionals are just as important for agencies, many corporate companies have high spending power and use in-house events teams in both business development and marketing.
The most recent FAM I attended was Alexander House Hotel and Utopia Spa in West Sussex, it is a short journey from Gatwick airport so a great location if you have delegates coming into the country and are looking for a 5star hotel to host them close the London. The train station is only a 15 minute drive from the hotel and will take you into London. For the FAM’s we attend we get to the closest train station and then often have taxi’s arranged to pick us up and take us to the venue, the hotel sent a car and the driver was waiting on arrival with a sign so we knew what car was arranged for us. Once at the venue we are checked in and taken to our rooms, we get a room each usually a suit to experience what those C-suite clients will require.
After some time to unwind and enjoy our rooms we have a show around of the venue and then spa treatments. Following the massage and facial workshop at the Utopia Spa both of which I would highly recommend. It was then time to head back to our rooms and relax/ get ready for dinner. Dinner was at Langshott Manor a smaller hotel by the same owners as Alexander House, it is a Tudor style building with its own moat and beautiful gardens. Canapés and Champagne where followed by a show around of the venue and then private dining before heading back to Alexander House for a nightcap and bed. The following day we had a lovely breakfast and then relaxed and enjoyed the spa facilities before checking out and heading back to London.
May was also the launch of the Fast Forward 15 2019-2020 programme, for those that have not heard of it Fast Forward 15 is a mentoring initiative set up by Fay Sharpe the co founder of Zibrant now BCD Meetings and Events. Which takes 15 women from the events, travel, hospitality industry each year from hundreds of applicants and matches them to a mentor for a year long programme to help them grow in their careers and personally. I was over the moon to be accepted onto the programme this year and loved attending the graduation/ launch event, listening to last years class share their journey on the programme and all the amazing things they have accomplished from being part of it. It is true once you surround yourself with other strong likeminded women who are there to support you, we can accomplish amazing things together. I am very excited for what the year ahead will hold with my Mentor Lucy Anstie, Head of Client Engagement at London Business Forum and a Fast Forward 15 alumni herself.
If one mentor wasn’t enough, through the amazing networking group EventProfsLive I now have another mentor, Nel Flint, Director of Operations at Capita Events and Travel. This programme is open to any member of the group for free and at a small cost for those not part of the group and will last until December. Being able to speak to and be advised from experience professionals in the industry at any stage in your career is important but at the start it can really help you focus your goals and build your network to get those ever important promotions and new jobs. I feel having mentors is a fantastic guide to different parts of the industry and to hear from their experience, I really hope once I have gathered my own experience I can become a mentor to someone thats in the same boat as I am now.