Event Sales Coordinator and Venue Hire Content Producer at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2017
What does your role involve? How did you find it?
As Event Sales Coordinator and Venue Hire Content Producer at Kew Gardens, I am in charge of selling beautiful spaces for private and corporate events, mainly weddings. This involves picking up telephone and email enquiries, formatting proposals, promoting our venue on Instagram, conducting client show rounds, raising contracts and invoices and then planning and managing events. It also includes a lot of work with contractors and suppliers – the goal is to bring all the disparate elements together in order to produce a cohesive and unforgettable event!
After graduating from the University of Birmingham, I moved to London and worked as a Retail and Admissions Assistant at the Imperial War Museum. It was there, working on the information desk that I spotted the venue hire team and decided that events looked really fun and so I decided to pursue this particular career path. My manager kindly set up a meeting with the events team for me and after discussing their roles in more detail, I knew this was my dream job. I spent the next month or so applying for at least two jobs a night after work until I stumbled across the Kew Gardens job and was lucky enough to be offered it – the rest is history!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My favourite part about my job is how different each and every day is. While I do typically follow a 9 to 5 pattern, my weeks revolve around meetings with clients and events, which changes things up! I love getting to meet lots of clients and helping newly engaged couples make their dream wedding a reality. I would say my job is split 70% being at my desk and 30% being away from it, which I really enjoy as it does break the day up.
My team are all wonderful and I truly do care about Kew Gardens and its invaluable scientific research. I love being surrounded by such natural beauty (particularly as I live right in the centre of London) and knowing that what I am doing is making a difference to saving the planet.
Above all, I just live for the buzz around events, when you are rushing around on a golf buggy with the radio going off in your ear and suppliers transforming a blank canvas into a fairy-tale venue – there really is nothing quite like it.
What is most challenging?
I would say the most challenging part of my job is the pressure. A lot of the events I arrange are weddings which basically means you are responsible for the biggest day of someone’s life and if something does crop up; which let’s face it, it always does; it’s about thinking creatively on your feet and keeping a calm face – not letting the client know what is going on.
You also get quite a few bridezellas (and groom-zellas for that matter!) which can sometimes be difficult to handle. My role definitely has taught me a lot about being more assertive but also about choosing your battles.
The other challenging part is balancing my everyday duties – responding to email and phone enquiries, processing invoices and contracts and generating reports – with the operations side of events which takes longer and involves a lot of paperwork including floor plans, function sheets and garden-wide emails. It is easy to forget something so it really is about organisation, time management, prioritising and staying as focussed as you can.
How did your time at Birmingham help prepare you for this role?
Studying Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham prepared me for a job in events more than I could ever have known. The amount of team-based work and working across fields and years prepared me for communication with endless suppliers and contractors and the realisation that everyone has their different priorities. The Stage Management and Creative Industries modules in particular prepared me for my role as they involved organisation, paperwork, budgeting, thinking outside of the box and always being that one step ahead, which is the golden rule of working in events.
It was not just my studies, however, that prepared me for my role. During my time at university, I worked as a Student Experience Ambassador for EDACS and performed campus tours for prospective applicants, encouraging them to choose Birmingham – just like I now convince couples to get married at Kew Gardens! This role also taught me how to maintain professionalism and calm in challenging circumstances and how to deal with the public, who are not always polite.
In that role, I also created the EDACS Instagram page and started to develop it which provided me with my love for social media which, despite not being my primary role at work, I still maintain and manage. I think it is very important to remember that university is not just all about your studies and that every bit of experience you gain is a transferrable skill that will help you in your career.
What advice would you give to students interested in getting into your industry or role?
My main advice for any students looking to get into the events industry is don’t give up! The events industry is a competitive one, but once you have broken into it, it is quite a small one and the opportunities are endless. If you feel like you don’t have enough experience to go into events straight away, the Event Academy offer great online diplomas or foundation courses to provide you with that extra set of skills.
However, I would not say that it is necessary to have events experience to get into events, so long as you can show that you have transferrable skills and how you would apply them. I was having a chat with my manager the other day about why she gave someone with no events background a role and she said that it was because I had shown how I would use the experience that I did have and that I had drawn parallels between my past roles and this one.
My last piece of advice about getting into events is that you need to make sure it is the right industry for you before you dive straight in! It is demanding and the hours are long and irregular so you have to make sure you love and enjoy it. My partner also works in events which makes it a lot easier as we both understand the demands of each other’s career. The events industry is an absolute whirlwind, but so worth it!