This week we caught up with one of the longest standing employees at the QEII, Stuart Drummond, to find out what advice he had for event organisers, how his role has changed in the past couple of years and how he’s dealt with the challenges he has faced.
Hi Stuart, how long have you worked at the QEII?
I’ve been here 20 years, starting in 1994 as an event manager for Leith’s, before becoming an event manager for QEII.
How do you feel about the new refurbishments?
They will definitely have a big effect on event planners’ experience. The venue will feel much more up-to-date and modern, like a brand new canvas. Registration will be far easier for delegates because the reception area is being expanded, increasing from 20 registration desks to 26, making the journey from the reception to the event space much quicker. The new QEII Sanctuary cafe will also provide somewhere to relax prior to, during or after an event.
What advice would you give to event organisers?
Gain your clients trust. Approximately 70% of my clients come back again as they have had an enjoyable and beneficial experience with us and found myself and my colleagues are dependable and go out of their way to help.
My advice is always informed by my experience and knowledge of the venue. I always attempt to offer solutions and avoid saying no unless there is a really valid reason.
How has your role changed as an event manager over the past couple of years?
The main issue over the last few years has been restraints on client budgets and us wanting to provide the same quality of service without cutting corners. To ensure client satisfaction we have found ourselves being challenged to think outside the box and to come up with some creative and cost-effective solutions.
Short lead times have also proved challenging, so I have had to adapt how I work with clients to deal with these late requests. Having our in-house caterers, Leith’s, means we can guarantee the same quality of food and service, event with shorter lead times, which is highly beneficial.
Previously, back-to-back events have proven logistically challenging with the restricted reception area and loading bay, but these are being expanded with the new refurbishment which will make things a lot easier.
What challenge are you faced with by event planners most repeatedly and what is your solution?
I find dealing with different cultures can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with their method of working and communicating. It is important I remain calm and adapt my approach whilst being a positive ambassador of the QEII at the same time. Working with Government departments can also prove tricky as decision making can take longer, but we anticipate this during the planning, allowing us to alter our approach.
What do you think going above and beyond entails at QEII?
Exceeding expectations. This can happen in many ways but I know that I have gone above and beyond when I receive a thank you after the event – be it a bottle of wine or a nice email – it really makes it all worthwhile.