‘Tis the season to be … well, rushed off your feet if you’re working in events and hospitality. With last month’s thought-provoking Topic of the Month based around food allergies, this month Claire Derrick, Principal of Event Academy, shares her insights not only on how to survive this busy time of year, but also on ensuring due diligence when it comes to reducing risk and keeping logistics in line with legislation.
As both an events professional and Principal of the Event Academy, with hundreds of people working on our courses across the years, I’ve seen time and again just how stressful this time of year can be. Even if you’re used to being busy in the run up to an event, the additional challenges which arise over the festive period take the demands on you to a whole new level.
If you’re not careful, these extra demands can affect not just the smooth running, but the due diligence of every event and task you’re juggling. Be it a Christmas hospitality event, a New Year’s extravaganza or a festive fundraiser, surviving the storms that come with the time of year – when everyone’s overstretched – can be helped if you remember five ways to stay on top.
1. Be physically prepared
As the link person managing an event, there’s unlikely to be anyone who can step in if you become ill. So, remember those flight safety instructions? Where you’re recommended to put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else? That’s also true for when events are up in the air at this busy time of year: prioritise your health so that you’ll have the energy your events demand. Quite simply, you have to look after your own body so you can look after your guests.
Our Postgraduate students are almost always involved in one of their final assessment events around this time of year, and my advice to them is always to make sure you are fit and healthy by:
- Getting as much sleep as you can in between work shifts and events.
- Staying hydrated with plenty of water.
- Taking time-out at least once a day – whether to grab just five minutes of fresh air, call a loved one or do a 5-minute mindful meditation. This isn’t an early Christmas present to yourself, it’s a must.
2. Be mentally prepared
Taking it as given that this busy season means stressful times ahead can actually be a form of positive thinking, because it allows you to be prepared.
Once you adjust to this as a ‘realistic’ expectation, you should also focus on the fact that it’s not forever, it will come to an end. So, mark your calendar accordingly and book some time in just for yourself – perhaps a massage, time spent on a hobby, or a well deserved lazy day at home – so you’ll have something to look forward to after the event.
And if your seasonal stress is going to be ongoing across both Christmas and New Year, it’s doubly important to schedule in some dedicated down-time between events, to help make sure you recover in time for the New Year events season!
3. Be logistically prepared
Events expertise is all about attention to detail and being 100% on top of the logistics. This is something which underpins all of our teaching at Event Academy, as we want our would-be event professionals to understand that legislative and permissions logistics aren’t there to catch you out. In reality, getting them in place can actually give you a good foundation for planning, and in ensuring that every event is permitted and risk-managed appropriately.
Seasonal events are often lively, loud and involve large numbers of guests and alcohol. Alongside this, and the need to manage service teams and contractors, logistics and legislative safety are especially important.
And a word of caution here, just because a festive event was held at the same venue last year, doesn’t mean an old plan can be used, or even that the plan was adequate. Use the previous plan as a starting point by all means, but bring it right up to date by checking updates to safe practice in the key areas of:
- Health and Safety
Adhering to health and safety guidance is crucial for reducing ‘what if …’ planning stress and for surviving issues arising at this busy time. The Health and Safety Executive(HSE) publishes regular updates to existing codes of practice and guidelines, so take a moment to review codes of practice and guidelines relevant to the event. As the HSE states: “ If you follow the advice you will be doing enough to comply with the law in respect of those specific matters on which the Code gives advice.” Following this advice could be the very thing to help you survive any problems arising.
- Catering and food
Being aware of responsibilities relating to food and dietary legislation is essential. The Institute of Hospitality’s Management Guide ‘Catering for Special Diets’ is highly relevant reading for up to date knowledge of the legislation involved and helps you not only to be aware of what you need to know and do, but also supports you in being able to guide the event teams working with you.
Headaches aren’t just associated with the after-effects of too much alcohol, they can also arise as a result of too little planning around licensing. Another go-to publication to help identify what the current UK licensing legislation is and whether it applies to your event is the VisitBritain Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Guide.
One of the key signs of the season is the music … a must at any Christmas or New Year event. But providing music correctly, i.e. having the permission to do so and being aware of what restrictions may apply, involves elements which can be easily overlooked. PPL’s and their codes of conduct contains details and useful updates to help you ensure you’re hitting the right notes when organising the music.
4. Be knowledgeable
Did you spot a common theme across #3? As well as all of those elements being essential to events, what they all have in common is the need to put them into action in compliance with the law, and in the context of the exacting standards of the client commissioning the event.
As the Institute of Hospitality, HSE and Visit Britain’s regular updates show, changes to legislation can be relied upon. So whether you’re new to event management, want to improve your knowledge on any aspects, or even extend your hospitality skills into a new events niche with a relevant course, taking charge of your own CPD is essential. At Event Academy, we’re the only UK providers of event management courses accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a great starting point for improving event management skills, knowledge and practice.
5. Remember it is the season to be jolly
One thing many of our students, and event professional colleagues agree on is that ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ Seriously, events and hospitality really is the best industry to be working in at Christmastime – it’s fun, lively, engaging and there is so much going on.
Because once permissions have been gained, risks identified, risk management strategies put into place, due diligence is evidenced throughout your event planning and preparation, it’s then time to get on with enjoying the event. And don’t forget to take a moment to feel proud of having survived a truly magical time of year, in one of the most exciting but demanding industries there is.
If you would like access to further useful resources to support your business requirements this season visit the Knowledge Library. If you are not a member, find out how to join and gain full access to these exclusive resources.
About Claire Derrick
Claire is the Principal of the Event Academy. An experienced event management and charity fundraising professional, Claire is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Claire has extensive experience in the events sector and has worked in an event management / consultancy capacity for clients in the USA, UK, Europe, China, Peru, Israel, Nepal and Vietnam. Claire lectures on a number of postgraduate and event diploma courses and has designed and led many bespoke training courses within organisations.
Programmes offered by the Event Academy have been endorsed by the Institute of Hospitality since June 2015.
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