A day in the life of an #eventprof: Project Manager

Our new series of Day in the Life blogs are here to give you an idea if you would like to become an event professional (commonly known as an #eventprof) either with us at Sleek Events or with another company.

Venue Kings Place London

Client Okta

Event name Okta Forum

Date 27 June 2018

Okta help companies do 3 things: modernise their IT, build customer experience and prevent data breaches. Their 2-day forum brings together hundreds of IT leaders for an interactive learning experience to narrow the innovation gap at their businesses.

Okta’s executives, product leaders, key partners and customers showcase their integrated identity, mobility and security products, and forward-thinking IT leaders share their experiences in implementing best-of-breed technologies.

We were hired to make sure the whole event ran smoothly – and this included building on the morning and the evening of the first day, with very close timings to the live event. Here’s our Project Manager, Erin Corrigan’s walk (and sometimes run) through the day.

The night before the day in the life

This is a day in the life but it’s important to say that getting quality rest before an event is absolutely key – sounds obvious, I know, but for this event, I choose to stay close to the venue the night before at The California.

Just a quick ramble off the path before we get back to the event… if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced guest house in the city then The California is perfect – and this is by no means a bog-standard guest house so expect to be hit directly between the eyes by their personal touches. You get the best room rate by booking direct through their website.

The morning shift

We are due onsite at 7am so it’s an early start – I’ll be wearing an Okta-branded t shirt so I need to wear smart yet functional clothing with comfortable shoes to see me through the whole day.

We’ve already had a team briefing in the office the day before, so I conduct the morning briefing with two other full-timers from our Sleek Events team and two of our regular hostesses. Once I’ve gone through the running order with them, I move on to a meeting with 10 of the venue’s team assigned to us and go through the function sheet with them. The venue will be supporting the event with audio visual equipment and the catering, as well as the space itself.

In addition to them, we have a range of suppliers on site to make the event come to life. Onward Display has provided the branded elements, Conference Expo brings the sponsor stands, Clarkes Coaches is on stand-by to collect the delegates at the end of the day to take them on to a networking evening (which we have also organised!). Then we have Conference Badges covering the registration desk, whilst YR takes care of the giveaway station.

The client relationship is paramount and they have to trust us to manage the event so they can feel comfortable to spend time rehearsing for the next day. I report to them that the first day’s sessions are running smoothly, that the delegates are happy and the suppliers are on course to install on time.

Keeping up with my to-do list

Once I’m sure everything is set up correctly for the day, I can spend some time on other client projects that are in the pipeline. At this point, I’m working on five other projects with delivery dates ranging from mid-July to October.

You may notice, I didn’t mention what I had for breakfast earlier in my blog. That’s because

7am is too early for me to eat breakfast! We don’t get regular mealtimes during events – in this case, I eat lunch once all the attendees are happy and in post-lunch sessions.

The evening shift

The second day of this event includes a small exhibition with 10 sponsors’ stands as well as Okta-branded build items and a giveaway supplier. Once the first day’s programme is finished, our second shift begins at 6pm. Some of the team go on to manage the networking reception evening, some stay behind with me at the venue and the hostesses head home.

The install takes 4 hours, my job is to oversee it rather than get stuck in with the heavy lifting. I check the artwork on the stands to ensure they are all correct. Whilst the stand builds go without a hitch, I notice a few glitches with some of the client’s artwork and there’s some feedback from today about the room set-ups from my team, so I’m the one who must provide the solutions. I get the artwork reprinted, confirm room set-ups for tomorrow with the venue’s team and when the giveaway supplier gets stuck in traffic, I change our install timings to accommodate them.

I go for dinner with our MD, Jennifer, while the install is completed and then I pop back to the venue for a final check to be sure everything is in place for the next day. We stay at the same hotel tonight and can sleep easy knowing we’ve prepared well.

Combating stress – a follow-up to our ‘day in the life’ from Jennifer Davidson…

If you read some of our other blogs, you’ll notice that we take wellness extremely seriously at Sleek Events. As this event was in June when we were enjoying some impressively sunny weather, we decided to take a long evening walk the night before the event before we headed into the city. Richmond Park is on the doorstep of our office so we take every opportunity to ramp up our steps each day!

Erin talks in this blog about missing out on meals when an event goes live. We really don’t like our team to go hungry but it is often the case that when the adrenaline kicks in, we forget about food! I would always recommend keeping a snack to hand to keep you going in between meal times – you need to feed the energy in to your body to perform to your best.

Heard of “to fail to plan is to plan to fail”? Being an #eventprof can be made more stressful by poor planning. Successful event management is 80% planning and 20% execution and ensuring thorough planning can significantly reduce stress levels when it comes to event day.

Erin says, “Ultimately, I’m an #eventprof because I love what I do – the variety in my job keeps it exciting and the challenges mean I’m constantly learning.”

Think you’d like to become an event prof with Sleek Events? Keep an eye out on our social media for new job opportunities.

sleeping images

Sleeping beauties

In the second of our series on how to combat the stresses and strains of working in events, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, talks to us about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.

 

Sleeping Beauties… don’t make sleep a fairy tale

How many of us have fallen for the common myth of “Busy, productive people need less sleep” ? I certainly had! I’m wonder woman, aren’t’ I?

I hacked my sleeping pattern and, for years, I tried to survive on 5/6 hours of sleep a night so I had time for my morning rituals and fitting everything I had to do in a day.

As we know, events life can be super crazy and our phone can easily take over our lives… “What? Are you not on your emails 24/7?” “Does this mean you are actually off on a weekend?”

Most of us are getting far less sleep than we actually need and lack of sleep is affecting us in so many harmful ways.

Here are 5 simple examples on how lack of sleep can affect our system:

  1. Weight Gain – the less you sleep, the more your hormones will have fun increasing and decreasing as they please. Cortisol (the stress hormone), insulin and the appetite hormone are directly linked with the lack of sleep and they increase exponentially when you haven’t had enough rest. The hormones’ rollercoaster can affect your metabolism, increase risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.
  2. Concentration & Productivity – let’s imagine your body requires an average of 8 hours of sleep and you only sleep 6. This means you are forcing your body and your brain to skip 2 hours of beauty sleep! According to a couple of studies this leads to a one-third reduction in your cognitive abilities… it’s pretty much like showing up to work after having downed a pint of beer and pretending to have a super-productive day!
  3. Mood – lack of sleep impacts your mood, increasing anger, anxiety and depression. It also decreases your ability to empathise with others and makes you less able to calm your mind when needed. A study on over 10,000 people, showed that insomnia sufferers are 500% more likely to develop depression.
  4. Learning Abilities – did you know that if you study something before going to bed, you are increasing your probabilities to learn it faster? It is called the ‘consolidation’ method. Also, a rested brain will thank you at work and it will be your ally even on your most difficult day!
  5. Immune System – a healthy sleeping pattern will help your immune system to heal you faster, to fight colds and to naturally protect your body. For those who care, lack of sleep also ruins your skin! When you do not get enough sleep, your body releases cortisol, the famous stress hormone, and also the cause of breaking down skin collagen. Lack of sleep increases the C-Reactive Protein, the ‘inflammation’ protein, and can increase chronic inflammation in the body.

I’ve now made sleeping an essential part of my life, both in the working and personal-growth realm. How have I done that? Here are a few tips I hope you can adopt in your life.

  1. Discover your OAS (Optimal Amount of Sleep)

We all have different sleeping needs. Generally it varies between 7 and 9 hours. Whenever you can, try not to set any alarm for a few of days and see at what time you naturally wake up. Check how many hours that is and get an app on your phone so that you can time your sleep until you get the hang of it and become a master at allowing yourself to sleep

  1. Routine your sleep

Try to get a super simple routine before you go to bed. It can be as straightforward as: brushing teeth, reading, snoozing; or more detailed such as night yoga, stretching, meditation, etc. Whatever works and can be applied daily so that your body knows that it’s time to go to bed!

  1. Can I have a nap?

In Asia, napping is compulsory! To increase productivity, Chinese workplaces include a 15-20 minutes nap during lunch break. In western culture napping is for kids but why not try a nap yourself? Imagine what you could do with the energy of a toddler every afternoon! Here’s one method to ensure you power nap and not sleep the whole day – hold an object (it needs to make a lot of noise when it hits the floor!!) in your hand and start napping. Once you start getting into deep sleep, your muscles will release and the object will fall. The noise will wake you up and you will be power napped!

And, the obvious:

  • Avoid coffee after 2pm
  • Use the bed for sleeping only (do not work/eat/watch TV/play, etc)
  • Avoid sleeping pills, all they do is get you hooked so you believe you will never be able to sleep without them
  • Do not eat right before going to bed.

After reading this post you might get a sense of denial and still think that this is all BS and that you can easily make it with 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Do yourself a favour, do some reading on the subject – there are so many interesting resources available online.

P.S. For the event leaders of the world – I know how we love to rock in our job and I completely understand how difficult it can be to actually find time to sleep. However, please allow yourself to rest whenever you are not physically on an event, switch off the phone when you get home at night and enjoy some “you” time.

Happy dreams everyone!

Keep up with Francesca on Facebook and Instagram.

meditation pose in Iceland

Enjoy a Happy, Balanced Life

Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, works mainly in the events industry and through years of personal study, she is also an inspiring Healing Coach. Her coaching aims to help people find their way to a perfect and ideal self, whilst exploring the power of mindfulness.

Francesca Garola sat on steps

We’re really pleased to bring a regular blog from Francesca where she’ll address her expertise to help us mitigate the stresses and strains of working in events…

Being in a world of Doing

I’m curious, what does BEING mean to you?

We generally say “I am” to define a part of ourselves: our name, our job, our background, etc. This is how society defines “Being”… and it is so much more than that!

We live in a world where Doing has taken over Being; where Doing is the primary concern of our everyday existence. We live in TO-DO lists and we get trapped into “The Spinning Wheel of Doing”. The result is often what I call “The Claustro-Doing” which is nothing more than an increased anxiety due to over-doing.

Have you ever wondered why we do so much? Have you ever wondered why we tend to put so much on our plates that we are drawn into doing and clog up our mind, soul and spirit?

Doing can easily become an addiction and it works as a sort of patch so that we do not have to deal with our emotions, with our thoughts and with our subconscious.

Can we really stop doing? Of course not! And there is no need to. The idea here is to find a functional way of Doing without forgetting your Being.

sunset beach with lady stretching

Are you ready to step into the world knowing how to BE YOU rather than being a doing machine?

  1. Become aware of your language

How do you speak to yourself? How many times a day do you tell yourself “I have to”? And what would it take to replace it with “I choose to”? The way you talk to yourself creates the imprint of the way you treat yourself and how much you value self-respect. Would you be ok to start treating yourself with kindness and compassion? Talk to yourself as you would have wanted your inner child to be talked to.

  1. Be You as soon as you wake up

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you look at your phone? Have a coffee? Listen to the news?

Would it be ok to pause the doing and allow yourself to just be for a minute? Before you get up, take 3 big breaths to really feel your presence and wake up all of your muscles and organs. Get up, gently wash your face, smile at yourself and make the following statement: “I allow myself to be me and respect me today.”

When you step into the shower, would it be ok to use it as a cleansing ritual where you actually clear out from your body, mind and soul anything that is no longer necessary; anything that you no longer need to hold on to or any emotion that is ready to be released. I think this is something that can easily be integrated into your daily life. And if you rather shower at night, use this cleansing ritual before going to bed – what a great way to end the day and get a great night’s sleep!

  1. Be mindful of what you read and listen to

Reading or listening to dreadful news early in the morning can be pretty unsettling for the subconscious. If you can, choose to fill yourself up with good vibrations, comforting words and good intentions for the day. Whether it is vibrational music, your favourite podcast, a meditation or your favourite audiobook, remember that the morning can set your foundations for a successful day!

  1. Check-in with yourself

Are you willing to ask yourself “how am I doing?” every now and then? Is it ok to let your subconscious know you are there for you? Being You means you know you are there for yourself, it means that you do what you say and say what you do. It means increasing awareness of whatever goes on within and without. It means starting a brand new, beautiful, functional and life-long relationship with yourself.

With love and laughter,

Francesca

You can get more tips from Francesca by liking her Facebook page or following her on Instagram.

northern light over Reykjavik

48 hours in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is not only difficult to spell but it’s also crazy to get to grips with its extended hours of daylight or lack of it depending on what time of year you visit.

Located just two degrees south of the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Its location means that during the winter months the city only gets four hours of sunlight on the shortest day. However, during the longest day in the summer months, when we were visiting, Reykjavik sees almost 24 hours of daylight!

sunset

We had almost 48 hours of daylight to research the best of Reykjavik and the surrounding area for our incentive travel programme, having wrapped up another successful client event in the city.

Here are our top tips to make the most out of a city break in Reykjavik…

ONE

Absolutely hire yourself a car. You’ll find a theme running through this blog – Iceland is expensive. Getting the cheapest travel option from the airport to the city is by bus but, if you value your time, the 1 ½ hour ride is pretty unbearable whilst a taxi will cost you at least €100 – and so your wallet starts to become a lot lighter before you’ve even reached your hotel! Having a car not only gives you the obvious flexibility for sightseeing but it works out significantly cheaper when there is more than one of you travelling together.

TWO

Eating and drinking (and doing most other things) in Iceland is expensive and even more so in the city. Your concierge is likely to offer you the chance to buy a voucher booklet when you check-in – our advice is to go for it! In 48 hours we managed to work our way through our favourite restaurants and bars using these discount vouchers saving us in excess of €200. If you’re with a larger party than just our two average-size tummies, you will save a fortune. We love sushi and didn’t find a bad sushi bar in the whole of our trip.

Discount vouchers

Read more about the voucher booklets on Reykjavik’s Grapevine

Alcohol is so expensive here that we were willing to give it up for the weekend, that’s right, tea-totalling event profs! Of course, that didn’t last for long and here are our two favourite bars we stumbled across. Slippbarinn is part of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina near Old Harbour, Reykjavik’s first ever cocktail bar and because imported beer is so expensive Kaldi Bar is a great option as they serve several of their own locally-brewed lighter beers.

THREE

The hotels in the city centre are fantastic and great if you’re planning to just spend time walking through the city but, if you plan to go farther afield, we found choosing a hotel on the outskirts much more convenient – and it meant we could park our hire car for free.

Reykjavik Lights hotel

FOUR

If you like horses, this is the destination for you. Did you know there are around 80,000 horses in Iceland with a total population of just over 330,000 people – one horse for nearly one third of the people in Iceland! Whilst the Icelandic horse is a prized breed, don’t be surprised to see horse on the menu in some restaurants.

Icelandic horses

FIVE

Do plenty of research if you’re not visiting via one of our organised, luxury incentive travel programmes. We wanted to fit a couple of tourist destinations into our short visit and were given some great advice by Guide to Iceland. We’d recommend browsing their website before you go to plan in your excursions.

We love a spa like any girl, so were intrigued by the Blue Lagoon tour – apparently one of the 25 wonders of the world. This famous geothermal spa has silica mud under your feet which is said to have healing properties so we smothered it all over us – we have not included a photo for that! You can choose all sorts of premium spa packages but, as this was Erin’s favourite tour she says, “Be aware that you’ll be sharing the facilities with people who don’t mind picking up the bathing robe you’ve paid for!”

You might have noticed our love for a bit of Richmond’s nature on our Instagram so we couldn’t miss out on the whale watching tour run by family-owned tour operator, Elding. We chose to get as close as possible to the action and took a rib tour – this is also the fastest way to get to any wildlife activity. Just bear in mind that it’s extremely chilly, even in the summer months so dress appropriately.

Whale watching tour

SIX

From horses to cats… if you’re more of a cat person then Reykjavik has the country’s first cat cafe – Kattakaffihusid. This isn’t just a cafe where you can take your cat for a saucer of milk, this cafe now hosts 3 homeless cats at a time from the organisation Villikettir and approved guests can give them a forever home. Visit their Facebook page to find out more about their range of tasty cakes and cute kitties looking for a home.

 

SEVEN

We actually found the cat cafe whilst walking in the city to find one of its most well-known landmarks and possibly the most funky church we’ve ever come across, Hallgrímskirkja. Named after the 17th-century clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of Hymns of the Passion, the church’s impressive stepped, concrete facade is an ode to modernism and a reminder of the Icelandic landscape. It’s well worth a visit and they have a varied programme of concerts on throughout the year.

STUNNING REYKJAVIK

We packed in quite a lot in 48 hours but we also got some time to stop and reflect. My absolute favourite moment of the whole trip was driving round the Golden Circle Tour.

Golden circle tour map

We came round a bend in the road and the landscape opened up in front of us to show the bluest sky I have ever seen. The beautiful scenery around Reykjavik is enough to make anyone stop and feel grounded to the Earth and all of its natural wonders. Definitely worth a place on our incentive travel list.

As experiences top the list of must-haves over the latest tech, Sleek Events test out Mauritius as a luxury incentive destination as part of their new service launch

There’s no doubt that Mauritius is a fantastic destination for couples who want a luxury, romantic break. As Sleek Events launches their luxury incentive travel service, this wasn’t a holiday but an opportunity to find out if Mauritius could also be a great incentives destination too.

Jennifer Davison, Founder & MD at Sleek Events shares her view on Mauritius

Managed by Emotions DMC, a unique concierge service driven through elegance and style, and organised by Pearl Representation Ltd, with over 18 years’ experience in the travel and service industry, I was promised an itinerary full of excellent service and new experiences. All event profs will know how precious time out of the office is – this trip was an opportunity to network, relax and share industry perspectives in beautiful surroundings whilst checking out the destination for our clients.

Left to right: William and Annick from Emotions DMC and Wayne from Pearl Representation

So much was fabulous but I’m going to mention the standout moments on each day… hold on for this whistle stop tour!

ARRIVAL

On arrival with the Air Mauritius flight, a private Audi awaited me as I stepped off the plane and I was whizzed over to the YU Lounge at the airport for a 12.30 meet & greet by Annik from the Emotions Team. The same chauffeur service took me on to the Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort.

DAY ONE

After about as quiet an evening you can possibly have with a group of event profs, I woke up to the sound of the Indian Ocean lapping against the shore, breathing in the scent of the gentle sea breeze and listening to the peaceful melody of tropical birds singing after a blissful night’s sleep – exactly what the resort hopes for every guest. Every element of Heritage Le Telfair, from the four poster bed, to the wooden floors and freestanding bath, the accommodation is designed for the utmost in luxury and comfort. It’s everything you expect from a resort in Mauritius and the private villas are ideal for group incentive trips.

Want to see what could be the world’s longest sushi platter? Go for cocktails and dinner at Gin’Ja. Set on a stretch of white sand, overlooking the lagoon, Gin’Ja is one of the most desirable dinner locations in Mauritius at the moment. I love sushi and if it’s your thing too, make sure you put this place on your itinerary.

DAY TWO

Domaine de Bel Ombre was set to give us an insight to traditional Mauritius. The full estate is 2,500 hectares in the south-west of Mauritius, stretching from the mountains to a turquoise lagoon on the coast. For the past century, Domaine de Bel Ombre was an agricultural business with its main focus on sugar cane cultivation and production. Following the closure of the sugar factory, a complete reengineering of the business environment in Bel Ombre was initiated and set the vision to transform the region into a quality hospitality and leisure zone. One of the houses which is part of the estate, Le Chateau, is available to hire in its entirety and makes a stunning and unique venue for group entertainment.

DAY THREE

Mauritius might be one of your bucket list destinations but it could also tick off some activities on your bucket list too. For me, one of those things is swimming with dolphins and that’s what I did when we jumped into the sea off the back of a boat. Happy, wild dolphins paid us attention without any coaxing from the guides and I can imagine this experience would be much more enticing than the latest iPhone or other gadgets offered as an incentive at work.

Having worked up a healthy appetite, we had lunch laid out for us under a canopy at La Prairie. This public beach venue had a relaxing vibe, only improved by the acoustic music played by locals.

Could the day have got any better? You’d think not but then I hadn’t expected a helicopter transfer to our second hotel of the trip – the Four Seasons Resort at Anahita. After landing, an executive car took me to a 5-bedroom villa with a refreshing plunge pool to use during some leisure time.

I took my personalised dressing gown past the welcome message written in golf balls surrounded by dancers and musicians, picked up my cocktail and boarded a golf buggy to take me for a relaxing massage.

Feeling revitalised, I met up with seven event profs to do what we do best – eat, drink and make merry! Overlooking the lagoon, we enjoyed the live music at O’Bar with a great casual-dining menu.

DAY FOUR

If you have budding chefs on your team, they will love the lunch challenge put on by Vacoas Terrace. After putting on our personalised aprons, we were given one minute to grab ingredients from the pantry. Our food was judged by the restaurant chef – he said that mine was the worst food he’s ever tried in his life which probably wasn’t an exaggeration. Luckily, they cooked a local-style BBQ for us all instead!

After lunch, a speed boat excursion took us to the Eastern islands and in the national reserve, a bar was set up for us in the sea. We sat in the warm water sipping on coconut water and cocktails wondering which corporate job would offer a reward programme like this because we’d consider taking a job there!

Our last dinner in Mauritius was Creole style. I knew things were going to be special when drums sounded outside the villa and we were paraded down the street with firelight and people in traditional dress. We were treated to an atmospheric site visit of a candlelit villa, with staff playing the roles of a bygone era in Mauritius. Serving a variety of dishes including lamb curry and chapatis, the team did their best to entice us to stay for another 5 days!

Not tired yet?  

If you’d like to fill each day with heart-pounding adventure, Mauritius has so much to offer – these are two of our favourite locations.

Domaine de L’Etoile is the biggest natural and private reserve in Mauritius and is a beautiful setting for quad biking and the longest zipline course in the world – a breathtaking ride of 3,500 metres through the air.

Ile aux Cerfs is a privately-owned island near the east coast of Mauritius. Besides the Ile Aux Cerfs Golf Club, there are three beach restaurants and a host of water sports to enjoy.

Fancy Mauritius for your next incentive trip?

Event profs are the hardest people to please when it comes to venues and delegate activities. If they wow us then we know they will wow our incentive clients. Mauritius has ‘wow’ written right through the heart of it like a stick of rock. It’s almost impossible to put this type of trip into words that give it justice – the only way to really understand it is to get your next incentive booked up and take a bite of the ‘wow rock’ yourself.

When costing out a 4-night incentive trip for 60 people at either the Heritage Le Telfair or the Four Seasons with a host of activities included but not your air travel, you’re looking at a little over £1,000 per person – now that’s what I call a sensational reward experience for less than the cost of the laptop you’ll use to sort the hundreds of photos you’ll take!

Click here to find out about how Sleek Events can create luxury incentives tailored to you.

wellbeing word cloud

Why Wellbeing is the hot topic in 2018

Missed our blog in Conference News? Here’s the full blog from our Founder, Jennifer Davidson…

Why Wellbeing is the hot topic in 2018 for the events industry

The mental health charity Mind completed research last year finding that one in six workers experience anxiety and depression. Work is becoming the number one stress over financial worries. It’s no wonder that wellbeing is businesses’ hot topic for 2018.

As an employer in the events industry, I find it can often be easier to discuss wellbeing rather than health or mental health as issues. In fact, with my team, by concentrating on wellbeing I find those issues rarely occur because individuals feel valued, relaxed and positive. Of course, we work in a stressful environment having to deliver fantastic experiences for our clients and their guests but giving my team the tools to cope with times of heightened activity means that they don’t experience burn out.

So, why should venues follow the wellbeing trend?

Whereas it once may have been a point of difference for venues to offer a varied menu, quiet zones and relaxation packages, it’s becoming expected from many corporate bookers. Guests expect to have their wellbeing considered on a whole new level nowadays.

It’s your staff’s wellbeing which should really now be the focus. Imagine the reduction in sick days, the customer service satisfaction rating soaring and improved team environment if you invested just a little time in to wellbeing at work. I can tell you from experience that the results are phenomenal.

Here’s a few simple ways to engage staff

  • Complete one regular task when you first get up that makes you feel good – make the bed, spend 5 minutes reflecting on all the good things in life, run up and down the stairs 10 times. Completing a daily goal first thing in the morning gives you a sense of achievement to carry throughout the day.
  • Keep a note pad and pen handy at all times – once you’ve written something down, your mind will be clear to concentrate on the most immediate need. It’s amazing how this can improve work rate!
  • Download a calming app – the sound of waves on a beach or birds in the countryside – whatever will create a calming oasis for a timeout. Every person is due breaks at work so make sure you take them and do something to switch off for 5 minutes.

And don’t forget to do these yourself – it’s transformed my daily work life and transferred into my personal life too!

The habits that’ll make 2018 run smoothly for event profs

Jennifer Davidson, founder & MD of Sleek Events, tells us how event professionals can win in 2018 by forming positive habits. This article was recently published in Conference & Incentive Travel magazine.

Have you broken your new year’s resolutions already? Have you already lost that buzz for life just a few weeks into the year you planned to be your best yet? I’ve spent the last couple of years ensuring my team at Sleek Events enjoy a wellbeing at work which can often evade people working in our busy industry.

The early bird…

Start as you mean to go on because we all know we can easily be distracted by emails and phone calls throughout the day. I read Hal Elrod’s book ‘The miracle morning’ which focuses on ‘Live S.A.V.E.R.S’ that will transform your life all before 8am. Things like committing to make your bed each morning or starting your day with a short yoga routine all contribute to creating positive habits which put you in an organised, productive frame of mind before you even reach your workplace. I really recommend you read the book and not only carry out the ‘Life S.A.V.E.R.S’ but also add a few of your own habits you have been meaning to start. Even on a morning when you have a lie in, you’ll find you’ll want to keep to your habits but maybe before 10am!

What are my morning habits? As well as Hal’s Life S.A.V.E.R.S – silence, affirmations, visualisation, exercise, reading and scribing – I have also added a couple of my own – gratitude and dreams. All-in-all they can take as little as 8 minutes to complete if you choose yoga as your exercise but I often extend that to around 20 minutes with something a bit more high tempo. Taking 5 minutes to sit in silence, clearing my thoughts, I then move on to reciting some affirmations which could be about my personal life or work goals. Finally, I visualise those goals as complete, consider who I have to thank and what further dreams I might have. I then take 15 minutes to get my body moving and my blood pumping, often choosing a HIIT workout from Kayla Itsines. Now is a great time to cool off and read a chapter of the latest book on my hitlist ‘Work Smarter: Live Better’ by Cyril Peupion for professional development which sets my mind into work mode. I’ll often implement what I’ve read if the opportunity arises during the day ahead.

Sharing good habits

My team at work have a wide range of habits to fit their own goals and personalities. Wellbeing of the mind, body and spirit are all just as important as each other and, I think, even more important in such a stressful career as an event professional. A survey in the USA put event coordinators as having the 5th most stressful job after the military, firefighters, pilots and police officers! The list, by US recruitment site CareerCast, states that whilst those working in our industry aren’t at risk of death or physical injury, they must adhere to strict deadlines and pressures to perform which go beyond even those in top corporate positions.

I’ve not been able to find the same survey in the UK but I’m happy to put my reputation on the line and say that I doubt our results would be too dissimilar here – I think most people who go into a career in events are motivated to deliver and, usually, exceed expectations. My team here certainly strives for exceptional experiences for our clients.

Forming habits

I love exercise and I know that in the first two weeks of January, my gym will be crammed with new members but they soon disappear because they haven’t gone about forming the good habit of attending the gym in the right way. They key to making something a part of your routine is to start small. If these new gym members had committed to just 30 minutes of exercise twice a week instead of an hour every day, they may have managed to make it fit into their lifestyle – and then slowly worked up to more. You’ll notice my 8 habits before 8am tie in nicely with each other and they work for me – but I appreciate spiritual affirmations aren’t everyone’s cup of tea so do what works for you!

As you experience the results of the small habits you start, you’ll be motivated to do more – essentially, your willpower grows with positive endorsement. And why did I introduce my team to the idea of forming good habits? Well there are two reasons. I knew it would improve their wellbeing, creating a happy and more effective workforce (my dream team) but it’s also much easier to stick to your good habits if you surround yourself with people doing the same!

And the results? My team are achieving great things in both their personal and work lives and, importantly to my business, resulting in 100% staff retention where the average for agencies in general is 85%. Sleek Events has grown to £3million turnover in two years with a team of 6 who are a pleasure to work with.

I’ve always said that if you have to go to work every day, why not do something you love with clients who appreciate you. Wellbeing is a large part of that and forming good habits impacts greatly on your wellbeing. Are you ready to make a lifestyle change which will improve your life forever? You’re the most important person on your to do list so make sure you put yourself first.

2 weeks and 2 fantastic trips to Spain

Talk about cramming it in before winding down for the festive season! We visited both Barcelona and Seville just before we could kick back and enjoy our Christmas party in Richmond.

Stand out Sitges

IBTM Barcelona was hosted at Melia Hotels in Sitges, a short taxi ride from the centre of Barcelona and a sense of calm compared to the hustle and bustle of the nearby city. The compact old town and surrounding streets are filled with charming shops and restaurants. Famed for its film festival and carnival, you can either spend time soaking up its artistic culture or visit the beach and promenade to soak up the sun!

The hotel itself, Melia Sitges, has terraces overlooking the Mediterranean sea and is ideal to combine leisure and corporate events with an auditorium which can seat up to 1,380 guests. Add a fully-equipped gym and a wellness spa including a turkish bath and you have a fantastic venue to keep everyone entertained from dusk until dawn.

Meetings galore

Fira Barcelona, a 240,000 sqm convention centre was the venue for the large networking element of our visit to Barcelona – three days of IBTM World 2017 – nearly 40 pre-booked meetings and many more informal chats over coffee!

Time to unwind

Whether we were munching in a mansion at Finca Mas Solers or styling it out for dinner at Soho Barcelona, we were treated to fantastic service and delectable dishes at both locations.

So far, so good and on we went to Seville for our second taster of Spain…

We were welcomed to the Hotel Silken Al Andalus Palace with a dinner hosted by Manuel Macias, the Director of the Congress and Convention Bureau in Seville. He let us know what to expect on our familiarisation visit to Seville – whetting our appetites for a good few days.

Getting to know the locals

A surprise operatic performance by Mundo Lirico kicked off our first full day and set the tone fantastically. A local walked us around the city including the Real Alcázar palace and it was brilliant not to need to look at a map or our phones once. They certainly know the best places to show us and a coffee break on the roof terrace of boutique hotel, Doña María, where you could almost touch the neighbouring cathedral. Lunch followed at Las Casas Rey de la Baeza with our small group containing meat eaters, veggies, vegan and some with allergies, the menu was perfect in catering for everything and the staff were really attentive. We would definitely recommend this boutique hotel for a small incentive group or even somewhere to stay after a conference and enjoy the city.

Mushrooms, light shows & Flamenco

We were shown round the new controversial piece of architecture, locally known as The Mushrooms, Metropol Parasol is a popular tourist attraction allowing visitors to walk across the top of the structure or dine in many of the cafes and bars beneath. There is a great events space available for private hire where the large room can be split into two spaces and is perfect for a gala dinner or a cocktail reception. The terrace can also be used for private functions allowing guests to not only enjoy the view of the entire city but walk on top of the mushrooms.

Our city walk continued into the evening so we could get the best view of their Christmas light show and a quick cerveza stop! We then headed to El Arenal for a Flamenco performance and dinner. The three-course dinner is served during a performance of some of the best flamenco dancers in the region.

Seville’s top picks from #SleekHQ

  • Hacienda San Miguel de Montelirio – this family-owned hacienda hosts the largest collection of horse-drawn carriages in the world.
  • Pabellón de la Navegación – this building was built for the Expo in 1992 and the attached tower can also be used for small drinks receptions with a great view of the city.
  • Hacienda el Vizir – this hacienda is owned by a retired bull fighter and whilst the ring is not used for bullfights, it can be used for any type of event and shows. All the food is cooked onsite by the owner’s son, the Head Chef, and his team.
  • Mercado Lonja del Barranco – is ‘food market’ restaurant with many different food stores inside, ranging from traditional spanish dishes and tapas to pizza, mexican and sushi.

We were lucky to visit Seville just as the Christmas festivities kicked off, yet it didn’t feel overcrowded. Over the three full days in Seville, we covered over 25km according to our health app, so a comfy pair of shoes is a must if you want to see all this fabulous city has to offer!  

Feliz Navidad!

Happy Christmas!

Stressed lady

The top 5 most stressful things in events and how to combat them

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of organising your mum’s 60th birthday party or your best mate’s hen do, you’ll know that event management comes a close second to the stress of moving home or shopping on Christmas Eve.

We’ve compiled our top 5 most stressful things when it comes to events and how you can deal with them and sometimes completely avoid them altogether.

1) Shoe-string budget

We would all love a luxury lifestyle on pocket change but let’s go back to the real world. If you’ve got a shoe-string budget then you’re going to need to set expectations and plan your event in minute detail. You’ll need to spend a lot of time researching best deals and negotiate every item on your plan.

At Sleek Events, we’re lucky to benefit from bulk-buying discounts and preferred-client prices. Using an agency will come with a management fee but the savings you make elsewhere could make the fee pay for itself several times over.

2) Setting a date

People have such busy lives, one of the most challenging elements of an event project is getting agreement on the date. Your best bet is to set a date as early as possible and come to terms with the fact that not everyone will be able to attend.

We recommend sending regular event reminders including a physical “save the date” promotional item to ensure a good level of attendance.

3) Changing minds

When someone has an idea for an event and you know that they love the idea but their guests won’t, it can be a tricky conversation. Conducting research to back up the popularity of other options is a sure-fire way of convincing someone to reconsider – how great would it be to throw the event of the year?

Events usually have a desired outcome, more than just an objective to hold the event itself – generate enquiries for a product or become the favourite granddaughter. If you can prove your ideas will address these goals, you can influence change.

4) Last-minute requests

Whether the whole event is late in its inception or just one part of an event is changed at the eleventh hour, accommodating last-minute changes can throw you off balance. You can be the most organised person on the planet and the ideal choice to manage an event but there are plenty of people who are not!

If you take on an event, you need to be a ‘yes’ person with a little black book full of useful contacts to make things happen.

5) Supplier slip-ups

Ever got to the point where you think everything is on track and then something goes wrong and it’s completely out of your control? Technical issues are a common bug bear when one wire is plugged into the wrong socket or the electricity is cut off to fix something down the road.

At Sleek Events, we have spent the last few years assembling a core team of dependable suppliers. From lighting and sound specialists to freelance hostesses, our team are loyal to us because we are loyal to them. And in our time as event professionals, we’ve faced many situations which our suppliers have stepped up to provide a sensible alternative such as a vegan cupcake or a power generator!

Our top stressbusters

During an event project, our “must have” list will save you:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day exercising – your mind may be exhausted but if your body isn’t tired then you may find it difficult to…
  • Get a full night’s sleep, every night
  • Keep a note pad and pen handy at all times – once you’ve written something down, your mind will be clear to concentrate on the most immediate need
  • Download a calming app – the sound of waves on a beach or birds in the countryside – whatever will create a calming oasis for a timeout. We like Headspace for meditation made simple.
  • Make sure you have a friend on speed dial to vent your frustrations – and ideally, they will be someone who can offer suggestions to help
  • Don’t let an event overtake your personal downtime – if events isn’t your full-time job, use a local coffee shop as an office space and keep home for home life.

Luxury life, luxury events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Last week our Senior Events Manager, Rebecca Dare, was lucky enough to be invited to a Private MICE to Dubai and familiarisation visit in Abu Dhabi by Meetings & Incentive Forums. A week of luxury interspersed with networking and team building events helped Rebecca to compile the best of the best in luxury event opportunities to share with you.

First stop – Al Habtoor City

Al Habtoor City is Dubai’s first-ever integrated urban resort. Having left a somewhat cold and drizzly London, the sunshine reminded me why Dubai is such a popular resort all year round and has grown year-on-year in popularity as a corporate event destination too.

The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City hosted two mornings of networking and was our base in Dubai. The 1,425 sqm Al Joud Ballroom is great for both work and private functions and the hotel can accommodate 1,200 guests within a range of meeting spaces including the ballroom.

You have no option but to eat well at the Westin Dubai with six dining options to choose from. The Seasonal Tastes restaurant was our favourite with a choice of international cuisines served buffet-style and so many stations there was never a need to queue – impressive considering the number of guests to cater for at breakfast!

An evening at the beach

Nikki Beach Dubai boasts panoramic views of Downtown Dubai and the cityscape, including the Burj Khalifa. Stunning enough in the day, this amazing venue is also open two nights a week – Thursdays and Fridays – and that’s when we were taken for dinner.

There’s an oversized leisure pool, swim-up bar, ultimate VIP cabanas, 4-tier shisha terrace and Nikki Privé, a lounge on the first floor. If you want to throw a lavish party, this venue should be on your go-to list.

A hard day’s networking… sort of

After our second morning of networking we visited the St. Regis Dubai for lunch in their ballroom. The hotel’s interiors are influenced by the beaux-arts architecture of the original St. Regis in New York, and accentuated by bespoke elements such as the grand staircase and carefully selected artworks dotted across the hotel. Yet another luxury venue to impress clients or private party guests, this hotel’s maximum group capacity for functions is 1,000.

The networking continued through to the evening at another St. Regis location, the St. Regis Dubai Polo Resort & Club, the brand’s first ever equestrian-inspired resort. This beautiful, Andalusian-style site has everything you’d expect – 800 sqm of banqueting space, meeting rooms, a ballroom for 220 guests, and spa – plus 25 residential villas and a polo academy. Our dinner and staff service was exceptional – something we had come to expect from the venues in Dubai.

Abu Dhabi beckons

Overlooking the Arabian Gulf and with breathtaking views of the cityscape, we based ourselves at the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island. All their function rooms and two ballrooms have been thoughtfully designed to bring in natural light and are open to the waterfront. If we thought the service levels were impressive in Dubai, the Four Seasons’ service took an unbelievable step up!

If you’re looking for the ultimate in corporate events and team-building activities, then Abu Dhabi gives you the opportunity to work hard and play hard! We recommend the rock climbing and world’s fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World, and the driving experiences at Yas Marina Circuit – the final circuit of the Grand Prix season. 

Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Resort and Emirates Palace can cater for groups of up to 1,000 making them ideal for large-scale luxury conventions. At the Yas Viceroy, you can watch races and practices on a daily basis whereas the Emirates Palace is the place to stay if you want to stay in the same hotel as many of the world’s royal families!

And, if you want to take some time out from the excitement, Saadiyat Beach Club, nestled away on the island of Saadiyat, celebrates health and wellness in natural surroundings. Although, don’t stay too late unless you are feeling revitalised, the relaxing beach club transforms into a lively club venue.

Our final evening saved the best cultural experience until last. The Arabian Nights Village is in the heart of the Abu Dhabi desert. A must-see for intrepid travellers, family visitors and corporate guests alike, the traditional welcome of fresh cardamom-spiced Arabic coffee, dates and the fragrance of Bakhoor is blended seamlessly with the modern convenience of a concierge and Abu Dhabi-level service. We recommend a traditional camel trek or the more up-to-date quad biking experience through the desert dunes.

Be sure to behave yourself

Both locations have strict laws and crime levels are minimal, this does also mean that visitors must mind their behaviour – no lager louts and definitely no heavy (or even light) petting in public. This does mean you can put your bag down in a hotel without the fear of it being stolen – in fact, at the Four Seasons, our bags were given their own stools!