It always seems impossible until it’s done – timeline of an unprecedented 24 hours
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
David Tremmil of InLoco Events shares details of a very different day in the life of an events organiser.
Timeline of events: Thursday 8th September 2022
18.30 the news broke that Queen Elizabeth II had died. I, like the rest of the nation, felt overwhelming grief for myself and the royal family.
19.36 My client called me while I was at the gym. I remember looking at my phone screen and thinking “I know what’s happened”. The ramifications of the monarch’s death were already beginning to manifest.
My fears were confirmed when Clare told me, during my run, that their Awards Dinner planned for the following evening, may have to be cancelled as it was being held in a venue with connections with the Queen. Clare asked if I could perform a miracle and find an alternative venue for Friday night for 550 people with room for a set, space for drinks, plus making arrangements for the menus and drinks package, as well as sorting out space for all the audio/visual needs. The list of requirements appeared daunting, if not insurmountable. Luckily Clare couldn’t see my face! Challenge set, it was time to leave the gym, get home and start making calls.
This was never going to be an easy task as it was now 19.55 in the evening and sales offices would be closed and all the contacts I knew would either be out or on the sofa, like most people, still digesting the news.
Where to start? LinkedIn was my first port of call, but how many people would answer so late in the day? One by one, the venues I knew that would be able to hold such a big event either didn’t answer, did not have space, or rejected the notion of moving an event at such short notice. It looked like there was no option left but to cancel. Just as I was about to break the bad news to Clare, Lisbeth (Director of Business Development Hilton Bankside London) called me back. She had spoken to her General Manager James Clarke with our predicament and knew they had the space.
The Bankside is a large hotel with the capacity and the operational knowledge to run an Awards Dinner, indeed, they hold several a week. But, and this was a big but, would we be able to organise a dinner in one day?
20.10 After several frenetic phone calls with Lisbeth a plan was generated. I called the client to let them know what we needed to agree, in order to make this event happen. The Pie swung straight into action and communicated with all their suppliers to get agreements in place too.
20.17 The deal had been struck, at least in principle. Clare asked me whether they could now let guests know the event was moving? “YES, YES, YES, let’s do this!” I replied.
20.45 Over the next hour, via Google Meet, we held a virtual meeting with all the key players: Clare Gossage COO & Co-Founder, Rachel Donnellan event manager, hotel manager, hotel operations manager and obviously myself, going over the event details, logistics. We talked through what was needed to make the venue transition, and to ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible. Several unorthodox suggestions were thrashed out and agreed - unusual times, unusual solutions. Now the deal was done and within 24 hours we would know if we could collectively pull this off!
21.55 Train tickets booked; hotel accommodation organised. I was now ready to make my way to London to help facilitate the smooth transfer of the event and to support the client.
Friday 9th September 2022
10.55 Arrival at Hilton Bankside London - full of trepidation and anxiety. To my amazement, the main room was already set out with tables, chairs, crockery and cutlery. The AV was in and they were already testing the sound and visuals. I just had time to settle a few issues that had occurred to me in the interim, and my confidence grew as every problem was met with a solution by the hotel team. Apart from the occasional question and amendment to the newly formed Banqueting Event Order, all seemed to be going well.
12.30 It was hugs all around as I met the client. The enormity of such a daunting transition must have been weighing heavy on their minds, but you would never have guessed. Amy, Clare, Jane and Rachel looked excited and were eagerly anticipating another amazing awards dinner. Their input was invaluable, and their expectations succinctly made to both the hotel and myself. The finer details were finalised.
16.45 Apart from a few last-minute checks, with both the client and the hotel, all that was left was for me to get changed, as everyone was due to arrive at 18:00.
Needless to say, the evening was a complete success. Not everything went exactly to plan but any minor faults were imperceptible to the guests who - judging by the favourable compliments - thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. Everyone supped what they were supposed to drink, sat where they were supposed to sit and eat what they were supposed to eat, and all in the right order! The A/V worked, the staging was effective and the staff attentive.
A move of this magnitude could only be achieved through teamwork. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the following people – Lisbeth Gernow, Raoul De Souza, Stephen Atkinson, James Clarke and not forgetting Amy Baker, Clare Gossage and Jane Gilham for believing and trusting in me. THANK YOU.
‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’ – Nelson Mandela