This week I attended the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. It was a great event (despite the best efforts of the turbulent July weather!) and I came away with lots of photos, inspiration for my own small garden and having spent two days with my Mum. What I also came away with was a reminder of how deeply entrenched the events industry is in my mind and heart. In fact, last week I met a client who said she knew that event work ‘ran in my blood’ and it was this phrase that kept coming back to me as I encountered various moments in the show.
Firstly I noticed the car park signage – not very good on Day 1 but by Day 2 it was much clearer, almost as if the team are out of practice of this well worn route. Then the car park attendants: some, understandably grumpy from the mud and rain; some overly officious in their high viz jackets as they barked into their radios; and some (the ones I want on my events) who, despite it all greeted every car with a smile and enthusiasm. They knew that they were the first people we saw at the event and the last we saw as we left. Their enthusiasm was infectious and they certainly got a wide smile and thank you from me.
Once inside the stall holders were battling the weather while the guests stubbornly sat under their umbrellas with their fish and chip wrappers surrounding Laurent Perrier bottles. The current climate meant that the sit down eating locations were run in a different way this year and staff never seemed to tire of patiently explaining to guests that there was a need to pre-book and no they could not fit another table in. In one of the toilet marquees were leaking water and a wonderfully comic pair of ladies were sweeping out the pooling water as guests came and went from each cubicle. I was there as a guest, not working at all but I could feel the adrenalin starting to pump around my body and the buzz of that ‘onsite’ feeling.
On Day 2 we sat down to lunch and it became clear that the guests at the next table were unhappy with the speed of service. They complained to each other in loud voices but it took them at least 30 minutes to let any member of staff know. The manageress dealt with it at once, found their order, expediated their food and gave a complimentary glass of champagne to apologise. They were calmed but continued to be very abrupt with all staff. We had a completely different experience and chatted to the staff and pointed out that we had not been charged for our meal. As we left I felt it was important to go to the manageress and let her know how impressed we were with the staff we had met. She thanked us profusely and explained that none of the staff had worked in this environment before, the new COVID rules had made training difficult and that we were the first to stop and give positive feedback.
… do you know what? All I wanted to do was roll up my sleeves and help. Perhaps events are in my blood after all.