PP002 | Corporate Event Planning | Chris Turner | The Appointment Group

    Chris Turner plannerspod

    PP002 | Corporate Event Planning | Chris Turner | The Appointment Group

    Chris Turner - The Appointment GroupChris Turner is a highly experienced corporate event planner and manager who works for the global events company The Appointment Group. With over 12 years of experience in the corporate market, he discusses everything from how he started in the industry, maintaining client relationships, and his work with international rock stars…

    In this episode you will discover:

    • How to retain your valuable clients.
    • Top tips on how to keep a team motivated when in a pressure situation.
    • Chris’ valuable insights into developing real friendships whilst maintaining a professional relationship with clients.

    You can find more out about The Appointment Group here and if you’ve got any questions for Chris and corporate event planning email him at chris.turner@appointmentgroup.com

    For Audio Transcript click here

    [music playing]


    ANNOUNCER: Toby and James are involved in amazing events all over the world. You’re listening to the Planner’s Planner Podcast. Where top event professionals share real-world experiences and cutting-edge ideas. Sponsored by metropolisproductions.co.uk.

    TOBY: Hello! And, welcome to this episode of the Planner’s Planner. I’m Toby and I’m here with James. Hello James, how are you mate?

    JAMES: I’m good. How are you doing mate?

    TOBY: I’m very well. So, we’ve had great feedback on the first podcast we did with a top wedding planner: Louise Perry. So, if you haven’t heard that please check it out. It’s on Itunes and It’s also on our website: plannerspod.com. This episode is completely different. James makes his interviewing debut, and talks with Chris Turner from The Appointment Group. If you don’t know who they are – The Appointment Group are an award winning global, independent travel and event management company. James, I say they’re international and they’re really are… Where are they based?

    JAMES: Well, as you hear Chris say: They’ve got offices in London, Sydney, New York, L.A., and plenty of others… And I believe, Manchester too.

    TOBY: Excellent! As you hear, Chris is a multi-skilled events specialist. He talks about from everything: from how he got started with his training, and all the things that he did in between. All the way up until, booking private jets for international rock stars. So yeah, he’s done some pretty serious things and continues to do so. How did this conversation come about James?

    JAMES: We worked with Chris at the end of last year on a Christmas party. He took London Hotel of Lancaster, London; and we got talking in the bar – a lot of great conversations happen in the bar after events. And, we hit the idea of doing this podcast.

    TOBY: Excellent. Well look, I really enjoyed this chat from you – you’re interviewing debut. Chris is clearly, a very knowledgeable man. I think he’s concise, full of value to our listeners for all sorts of reasons. So here’s Chris Turner from The Appointment Group, chatting with James. Enjoy it, and we’ll see you at the end.


    [music playing]


    ANNOUNCER: The Planner’s Planner Podcast is sponsored by metropolisproductions.co.uk and metropolis-live.com.

    JAMES: Hi Chris, how are you doing?

    CHRIS: I’m okay, how are you?

    JAMES: I’m really, really good. Look, I don’t want to mess around too much. I just want to jump straight into this interview with you. Can you first of all, give me just a little bit of you back story please.

    CHRIS: Yeah, sure. So, my name’s Chris Turner. I’m the group event and technology specialist for The Appointment Group Global Events. I started twelve years ago. I went to University of Greenwich, studied Event Management. Finished the course, and was lucky enough to get straight into a company called: Olive 360. And, It was then got taken over by BSI. And then, it was taken over by Qatar Events. Shortly after that, I left and went to The Ultimate Event Company – which was taken over by The Appointment Group. And, I’ve been here now for three years.

    JAMES: Fantastic! Now, you’ve got a pretty interesting job at The Appointment Group… It’s from what I understand, it is a mixture of sort of fairly, corporate events. But, it also goes into the world of Rock ’n’ Roll a little bit. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about that.

    CHRIS: Yes, The Appointment Group is the main name for the group. And then, we’ve got The Appointment Group Global Travel – which is looking after hedge funds companies. We do flights for corporate travel. We then have, The Appointment Group Global Touring – which looks after artists and music artists around the world. We look after the appointment of jets: the transfers, the planes for the bands, and hotels – book all the hotels in as well and get the best rates for them.

    JAMES: Can you sort of tell me roughly, what your split is between doing event work and – for lack of a better word – the Rock “n” Roll work?

    CHRIS: Yeah. No, the corporate’s the main revenue for the vast events here. We’re 95% for the – well actually, to be honest with you… Probably, 90% is more corporate. We then, got a music side. Which, there’s two divisions we look after on the music side… Personally, I look after bands. And, go on tour with them and make sure that everything is in place with the hotel… Make sure the private jets’ in the airport at the right time as well. And also, look after the wives and the children as well for the band, which is quite important. The bands do go to the gig, and their wives do stay and need a nice restaurant to go with the children – and that’s part of my role as well.

    JAMES: That’s fantastic. I mean, we can’t mention the name. But needless to say, we’re talking of absolutely household names here… Which is absolutely fascinating, I think. Let’s sort of, move in to the realm of how we met, a little bit. We met on a corporate event, a month or two ago. And basically, we got talking after the event – it was pretty successful, I think – about the events industry in general. Some of the stories that you told me really resonated… There was one, I think about a client who you worked with, I think two or three years ago… I can’t remember the exact situation, but she was quite reticent to work with you – wanting to do it all herself. By the end of it, she just said: “Chris, you’re lifesaver. I couldn’t have done this without you.” Can you explain to me a little bit about what you did? How that relationship came about in that situation?

    CHRIS: Yeah, sure. So, different clients have different approaches… We would have a client working for a company whose role is an event manager as well, and have a back round as a client event manager. Some companies might be… The event that we worked on was a Christmas party. And so, with that company – every year, people are nominated to look after the event. Certain people, need help and would like their hands held throughout the event. Some people may have a little bit of experience with events as well. With that particular client: I found that right from the start, she was a bit hesitant of using an event management company and what we’re the benefits of using one. And by the end of it, I think she found that with her own role – that she had within the company as well – this was just a side project. She didn’t have the actual amount of time to look after it. And so, I took that burden off her and that amount of time. So, we’ve started the relationship not icy, but as you’ve said, a bit wary. I proposed some venues to her – she loved one of them, we went on the site with her. And then, it was just during the site visit… I proposed even ideas of entertainment that she could do. And, things that she didn’t actually think of. And then, went down the road. And then, we’re able to secure the business again for another year – and we’ve been with that client, fifteen years. So, and then, yeah. We just then carried on with the entertainment ideas I’ve provided, and the event was a great success. And, yeah. I think there was quite a lot of drunk people at that party. But it was a very good, successful event. And, we have been introduced by that client to the people this year who have been nominated. And, we’re looking at venues for this year already.

    JAMES: That’s brilliant. So that’s quite interesting that a company will nominate someone – who doesn’t necessarily have any experience in the events world – to actually run and put together a Christmas party. Am I right in saying that?

    CHRIS: Yes.

    JAMES: Okay.

    CHRIS: It’s very much within this company: the apprentice, you know, the internships, or the new starters. Where: “We should just give them a little challenge to see how they cope with those certain things.”

    JAMES: So, in a funny kind of way… You’re almost sort of, mentoring them a little bit through this process. Am I right there?

    CHRIS: Definitely.

    JAMES: Right. Do you have any… I guess, tips of how you manage that relationship to get the best out of the situation?

    CHRIS: I’ve always been proactive. Always have, you know, ammo for any situation that might come up. With that particular client… I knew that there was going to be certain things that she would want for me, like for instance, the entertainment ideas. So when I turned up on the surface, I had visuals and ideas already. So that I can give something to her straight away, which builds confidence.

    JAMES: Right. So, I’m guessing, a lot of your role is inspiring confidence? Is that right?

    CHRIS: Yes, definitely.

    JAMES: Absolutely. This was quite a long conversation, and I think this is where our idea to do this podcast came out from. But, you also told me you’ve met another client… I remember, you’re having me absolutely roaring with laughter at the time.

    CHRIS: [laughing]

    JAMES: Do you remember this conversation?

    CHRIS: Yeah.

    JAMES: And, it was a client which… Completely different, absolutely no reticence at all working with you. Who I think, just relied on you completely. And, you we’re just like an absolute “go to” to make sure the event happen seamlessly. Can you talk to me a little bit about that one?

    CHRIS: Yes. That was a conference in Birmingham… The budget was quite tight. They needed Ideas which could be a bit cheaper – for instance, the venue. So, I found a venue called The Custard Factory in Birmingham.

    JAMES: Uh, huh.

    CHRIS: And, for the transfers from the hotels to the venue – they couldn’t really afford the actual coaches. With the timing-wise, I was able to find a school bus. They wanted it a little bit different, a little bit quirky as well. So, the school bus was the “old-style buses” really old-school ones. And, I booked all the times in when the conference was going to finish… The client didn’t really communicate much to me during the event. And, I did ask them that I needed to know if their conference is going to finish earlier so I could get the transfers in place. They finished – I was thinking fifteen minutes, twenty minutes earlier. It was actually, two and a half hours earlier. And so, of course, the buses were not in place. And that, it was actually the starting of the school run. So, I called to the company; I asked what they could do. And, they said they could get a coach to me within half an hour. I waited outside for the bus. And people were just inside, just having a coffee. And, when I got outside, the client followed me and realized that it’s started to rain…

    JAMES: [laughing]

    CHRIS: And, he looked at me… I looked. With hand out, looking up to the sky and went: “Chris, it’s raining.” And, I’ve just realized that I’m not God – I can’t call God and stop the rain. [laughing]

    JAMES: [laughing]

    CHRIS: But, he wanted me to be out to give him an answer of why it was raining. And, the only answer that I could say was: “I’m afraid you booked a conference in November in Birmingham. And, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about this.” [laughing]

    JAMES: [laughing]

    CHRIS: And luckily, the coach turned up in twenty minutes… And, we’re able to get the majority of people on there. And the rest of the other buses were going to take far too long, because they were still doing school run. And, I was able to get taxis quite soon. So, it’s just thinking on your feet and trying not to panic. Because if you panic, the client then panics. And, it’s just trying to have a front where you’re not panicking. You could be panicking inside, but try not to show it on the outside.

    JAMES: Yeah. I think you’re hitting on some just absolutely amazing gold here. I’ve just written a note, saying about thinking on your feet – which was exactly what you’ve just said. Have you got any tips for anybody listening – while you started elaborating on that, really – about how to think on your feet, and the sort of the characteristics that the best event managers have?

    CHRIS: Yeah. I mean, not everyone can think on their feet unfortunately. It is skill. And, if you can’t do it straight away then… I little tip maybe, just say to the client: “Okay, leave this with me. I’ll just get it sorted.” And then, not run off but walk somewhere and find a room where you can then just find a space to think; and try to come up with a scenario of how to get out of a problem that you’re in or an issue that you’re in. Just have that quiet space to be able to go away. “This has happened, is there a way I can get this sorted and in the quickest possible time?”

    JAMES: That strikes me, that it’s something which comes from a certain degree of experience in the business. Just having done it before. Do you remember when you sort of came across that technique – that way of thinking – to deal with events?

    CHRIS: Ahhh… Oh.

    JAMES: Or, was it just something which came naturally?

    CHRIS: It has come naturally to a point. I think it’s just being on site, it’s getting the experience on site. You can plan and plan and plan an event, and you can come up with every scenario. And think, “If that happens, I will do this.” But, you always find on an event that some gaffes will happen. And, you just couldn’t think of. And, that’s when you really need to… You know, it’s that experience of events going forward… That, may the same scenario will come up, and it’s just finding the best way of dealing with that.

    JAMES: Yeah. We suddenly get that a lot in band work that we… That no two events are ever the same, really. We get through different challenges on every event. And, we just have to find ourselves working in a completely adaptable way. We can’t be divas, or anything like that. And so, it’s just about reacting and being calm and taking it in your stride.

    CHRIS: It is. And, it’s also having a good relationship with your suppliers. You know, I’ve met quite a few event managers… Well, not quite few. I can think of a couple which don’t seem to give the respect to their suppliers. And, if you can give respect to your suppliers – they will go to the end of the earth to try and make something work for you. You know, different scenarios I’ve had where: “I can’t do anything about this. What can I do?” Especially on the technical side of a production company. I can tell you a little story… On a conference, where we had a bit like Skype… It was a bit like Skype in Russia that the client wanted to do. It was their new product, a bit like Skype. But, they need it’s… For the woman to be able to talk to the presenter on stage, and for himself to talk into the mic on stage to talk back we needed a certain piece of equipment. Now, we thought the client was going to bring this equipment but it turned out the day before we’re without it. We were in Monte Carlo at the time. So, we had to try and find a number of production… Our production company were English. We had find no production company within the area, in the local area. It turned out that the equipment was going to cost too much and our client couldn’t afford it. And so, the relationship I’ve got with our production company… To try and to: Is there another solution? Can we get out of this? And, the way that I’ve done it was to force a pair headphones – which cost fifteen pounds – and place that over a mic, and build a wooden box and put that on top. It wasn’t as good as having, spending a fortune on the other equipment, but it worked. And, it was a solution that which the client was happy with. If you have a good relationship with your suppliers, that really, really does help.

    JAMES: Do you have any advice for anything like that one? How to keep good relationships with suppliers? We know that just doing simple things like keeping our crew fed and watered and happy, and all that kind of thing will make them go the extra mile. And, when there’s a tricky situation to negotiate, you can do it. So…

    CHRIS: Yeah. Two things I would say. You know, food-wise, definitely for production companies… Especially, if they’re building big sets – they need a lot of storage. [laughing]

    JAMES: [laughing]

    CHRIS: Would you like another story on that?

    JAMES: Yeah. I’d love another story. Keep going, it’s brilliant.

    CHRIS: So, yeah. We did a road show years back. And, the production company were building a huge, huge set – which would take a day to build. And, the road show lasted for two and a half weeks around England and Ireland. And halfway through, we’ve provided the food for the production company. But we were doing it from the, say: the hotel, or the venue… And, provide them sandwiches, and so forth. And, I walked in one morning and found the production company… One of the guys, one of the builders were shouting at my colleague about food. And, he just said: “This isn’t substantial for us. We’re working hours and hours, we need something more substantial.” And so, I just jumped in and said: “No problem! We get pizza.” And so, we ordered like… Boxes and boxes of pizzas for them. And the morale, you could tell, just grew. Everyone was happy with what they’re having. We had a nice lunch break together, enjoyed the pizza. And, then the guys went on and cranked on.

    JAMES: Absolutely.

    CHRIS: The second thing as well, it’s safe payments as well. Definitely payments. It’s the ethics of it, you know. Personally for me, we’ve been in our company a lot longer than management companies, it’s the same… That we can’t make payments until the clients paid us. And so, that is a thing that we need to be proactive in getting the money from the client in time so we can pay our suppliers in time. Because, they have the same policies as well – that they may not come on site without payment. And so, that’s always a relationship building tool to have the payments done… And, they feel more confident with you beforehand, before the event.

    JAMES: Is that something – the payment side of things – that you actively manage as an event? Do you tell your accounts department what to do? Or, do they just tell you: “Well, this is how we work.” And you have to negotiate around that?

    CHRIS: You know, every company is different. We have the payment schedules, and so forth. But, that’s part of the event manager role. You need to manage the payment side and the finance side. Yet, a lot of time spent as an event manager is account managing as well. It’s looking after the money side, and making sure that everything has been paid in time, everything’s coming in, as well. That when the event is finished, that everything is already paid for. And, you can rest all the event. And, that’s closed and you can move on to the next event.

    JAMES: Absolutely. So, this is making me think… Do you have a team that you work with? Or, you’re just managing this – all this kind of thing – yourself?

    CHRIS: No, we have a team of twelve here. So, I’ll just give you an outline as well, of The Appointment Group. We have offices in London, and Manchester – where we have two member staff in Manchester. We also have offices in Sydney, and Melbourne. We also have L.A., and New York. So, we’re almost dominating the world. [laughing]

    JAMES: So, do you get to do a lot of travel with that?

    CHRIS: Well, the benefits of having people in different offices is for example: A client who’s based in UK needed to do… Just to see what venues like in New York. And, we can just send one of our colleagues there, and take some pictures to see if it would work with what they’re after. You know, you save the client’s money by not flying out there. And, when we came back and said: It’s actually perfect for what you need… They felt more positive to be able to spend the money, to fly out and see it for themselves.

    JAMES: That’s really, really interesting. How many people do the appointment group employ?

    CHRIS: Well, we are absolutely almost a hundred and fifty now. And, I’ll say we got twelve in the team in UK. We’ve got two in Manchester, and we’ve got three in Australia… And, we’ve got a couple in the States. So, it’s building and getting bigger and bigger.

    JAMES: Apart from the… I guess, the more event management roles and to sort of the Rock ‘n’ Roll concierge, I guess almost that you do… Do you have any roles that you fulfill within the appointment group?

    CHRIS: Yes. My role, as I’ve said before is Group Event Technology Specialist. It’s what most roles have, to be called a technology specialist. It’s more of the fun that I’ve worked with a lot of production companies over the years. I know a bit more on the A/V side of things. Not huge, like I couldn’t get into working for a production company, I don’t believe. But, it’s speaking the lingo and getting an understanding of – if there’s an issue, the production company can talk to me and I can then relay that in more often times, the client – what has actually gone wrong. Or, you know, what we’re now doing, and so forth. The other side of it, is I build websites for our clients as well. Registration sites – which has started three years ago when I started with the appointment group. A client of ours needed a site where they could take payment for attendance of their events. And also, have a system where, reporting systems – so they could see every day who had registered, who paid, and how they paid: credit card, or invoice, or check, and so forth. And, it’s gone from strength to strength every year. And, a lot of our clients rely on websites now. So, I use the tool from Eventsforce. I build websites for majority of our clients now.

    JAMES: I’m sorry to interrupt you there… Are you actually doing hands on coding there? Or, you’re just more managing a project?

    CHRIS: The Eventsforce is for event managers. It’s very much a registration form which you can build. And, you know… first name, last name, email address, dietary requirements, and so forth. There’s a little bit of coding within it… There’s some HTML which you can manipulate. And, it’s just creatively making sure that the site matches the client’s brand as well. So, they can have a link within their website, or within an email that will be sent out. An invitation will be sent out to their delegates. Where their delegates could be their customers, could be their employees. Click on that link – they go to a site where they trust it because it’s the brand of their company. And then, they could register their attendance to the events.

    JAMES: Great! That’s brilliant. My next question, you’ve actually kind of already half-answered, but I’m going to ask it to you anyway. [laughing] So, I remember when we were working together last month that you took me on one side and asked me some questions about some up-lighting that we’re putting in… You asked me some pretty detailed, technical questions about those. Can you just sort of let me know…? How much technical knowledge do you feel you need to have to work with your production companies, and design the events, and all that kind of thing?

    CHRIS: I think, there’s another experience element to it. When I started, I have no knowledge of what VGA cable was, or anything like that. But, it’s just things that you learn as you go on really. What technology is out there? It’s very good to look at: now it’s about 3D mapping, you can get holograms… There’s all sorts of things. And it’s basically, when a client sends you a brief – and, it could be a good budget to it… And, they just say: “Oh, we just want Powerpoint.” And, just to go to them and say: “You can have this, but there’s this technology out there where you can have a screen within a screen… You can bend the screen now.” You know, all sorts of things which gets the client more excited. And also, it’s more of an impact to an event when people remember the event… Because, you can spend so much money on events and the delegates will attend. But, they want to remember it, in a few weeks’ time. And, it’s just giving the impact where people got: “Oh! Do you remember that event last year?” And, the message that was portrayed in the meeting.

    JAMES: Yeah. I mean, that’s really interesting. And, you’re sort of feeding into yet again… My next question of: Do you get involved in the creative and the design side of the events from the ground, upwards?

    CHRIS: Not as such. A lot of companies do have their own creative in house… Some of our clients do have very strong brand guidelines. And however, if they do need us to design something for them… Then I’ll just ask for their brand guidelines document, and make sure that everything matches to that guideline. We have Photoshop in house, so I can design things within house as well also. On the creative side, just trying to… As I’ve said before, just coming up with things that are a little bit different. And, working with production companies, just say: “That’s good! That’s outstanding.” But, if we spend just a little bit more… What can we get?

    JAMES: Uh, huh. Absolutely. I guess, it’s kind of taking it to the next level and just adding that extra little bit of value for the customer?

    CHRIS: Exactly!

    JAMES: That’s absolutely brilliant. So, just quickly… What is the sort of the split of, say, conference work you do to parties, etc., like that?

    CHRIS: I would say… Christmas parties – 25%. I would say, the rest is corporate: conference, incentive trips… Yeah, we do quite a few incentive trips as well. They could be, to go to a big exhibition, and to capture all the customers all around the world.

    JAMES: I mean, just going to you on a personal level… What’s your most favorite part of the job?

    CHRIS: My favorite part of the job… One, [unintelligible] [laughing]

    JAMES: Yeah.

    CHRIS: It’s the challenge. I don’t think I could do a job where it’s the same every day… You know, “That goes there, that goes there.” It’s coming up with, “Can you do this?” And, I love the challenge side of things. Sometimes you get sleepless nights from it, but it keeps you alive. And yeah, that’s my favorite part of the job.

    JAMES: I think there’s a thing that I love about events and things we do as a band: – it’s that you just never know quite what’s going to come in. No two events are the same. Do you find that one?

    CHRIS: Oh yeah, definitely.

    JAMES: Really?

    CHRIS: You could have the same brief from a client… But the brief always changes. And then, something else comes up. People have more ideas, and people put that in as well. And then, the event completely changes. But yeah, no two events are the same.

    JAMES: Does that ever make it stressful trying to manage that? When you’ve got lots of people putting input into it, and just trying to keep it all under control?

    CHRIS: It can do. You know, I think three is the magic number – to have three clients as total. But sometimes, I’ve gone to meetings and there’s been ten people in a meeting… And, they’re all flying questions and coming up with new ideas. It’s really good! You come up with things – better ideas, and so forth. But, you know, it’s trying to manage so many people.

    JAMES: Yeah.

    CHRIS: You know, it’s trying to be able to do that.

    JAMES: We had an experience with a private client a couple of months ago where, that exact thing happened… We have up to ten people around a table, except they were having a party at the same time. It turned into… And, the wine was all flowing. And, we were actually trying to get proper answers from them – about how their event was going to run. [laughing] That was a management situation which I really do…

    CHRIS: The whole [unintelligible] and… [laughing]

    JAMES: Yeah, indeed. Certainly, that’s a little bit about that one.

    CHRIS: That’s something you need to do for meetings as well… If you’re doing a planning meeting, try best to keep it very corporate, in a boardroom and sit down and come up with ideas. But then, you can take the clients out afterwards for a drink. And, maybe then come up with some other ideas. And, people are relaxed a little bit more, and then they think: “Oh yeah! What about if we did this? What about if we did that?” But, you know, the initial meetings should always be in a boardroom. Where you can outline what the clients actually needs, and what’s to achieve from an event.

    JAMES: So, do you like to get to know the client – obviously, with the boundaries of being professional – but on a social level too? Do you find that helps things?

    CHRIS: Yeah, it builds relationship of client much, much better. It builds confidence as well. You know, many times you have a relationship with a client which is very corporate… You got out for a drink, and something might happen. You know, it’s just a funny scenario that might happen in that night. And then, suddenly it’s… In the years to come it’s: “I do remember that night.” We went out and this happens. And, it’s just building relationships. All events, it’s a big part of it – it’s building relationships. And, you need to be a very sociable person to be able to do this kind of role.

    JAMES: Absolutely. Is there anything that – you’re now obviously, you’re pretty experienced by the sound of things, you worked for quite a few different companies – that you wished you’d knew when you started in the events industry?

    CHRIS: I’m sorry. Can you repeat the question?

    JAMES: Yeah, of course, okay. Is there anything that you know now that you wished you’d known when you started?

    CHRIS: Oh, yeah. The budgeting side of things… I’ve said before when I started… I went to a university, Greenwich University. And, they teach you certain elements. I also had a new course at the university. And then, when I jumped into an actual role… Excel spreadsheets – Ahhh! You know, I just didn’t know as much before I did. And, it’s just managing your budgets and making sure everything is correct there.

    JAMES: I mean, that made me just think of an interesting question, kind of “on the fly.” I mean, with degrees and that kind of thing in event management… I mean, if someone’s listening to this podcast and they’re thinking of going and studying event management. What sort of things can you recall that you studied which were helpful?

    CHRIS: Well, we did certain projects like: doing our own events as well, and managing the budget on our own events – which was helpful, and gave us confidence. Actually, starting from the beginning and all the way through… I’ve said before, the course was quite new at Greenwich. It’s very, very good now. Very, very good. But, were as “guinea pigs” shall we say, on the course. But, it was helpful. It was a helpful course. And, I wouldn’t have been able to get the role afterwards without it.

    JAMES: I mean, that’s fascinating in itself… Why do you think you wouldn’t have been able to get that role?

    CHRIS: Ah, well… [laughing] It was just the night on our graduation that I spoke to someone else on the course with. And, they said: “Oh! We’ve got a role going.” So like, in the end, I got in that way. I was very, very lucky.

    JAMES: Yes, that’s the interesting thing. I’m actually thinking, going through some of your subjects… Obviously, Greenwich. Studying at music college, our campus was actually, I think, might have been on the same site as that. But, it’s much the same that you can do a certain amount of study just on the job. But, what going to college and that does – is it produces the network of people that you know. That you can then sort of, start to draw on actually in your career.

    CHRIS: Yes, definitely.

    JAMES: Well, I guess if you can answer this… What does the future hold for you?

    CHRIS: Well, it’s getting bigger and bigger as a corporation. We’re finding that since the recession that businesses are coming back – which is great. I believe, the future is very bright for The Appointment Group. And, global events is stronger and stronger, and I can only see positive things at the moment.

    JAMES: And, where do you see yourself going within that? Is there any particular, any sort of challenges ahead that you want to tackle? Or, anything like that?

    CHRIS: Well, I want to try and make the websites much better for the clients as well. And, try to learn different skills in maybe, different software… Actually go down the coding route to be able to provide better service for the client. Because, certain times clients need something particular… Which, there’s boundaries that you can do – so, we would like to do that. Have the opportunity again to work with the band who I spoke about before this year. So, I’m looking forward to that and the challenges that will bring. And all the new events that’s coming in the pipeline at the moment.

    JAMES: Brilliant, brilliant. I mean, is there anything else that you want to mention at this point?

    CHRIS: I think I’m…

    JAMES: You think you’re done are you? [laughing]

    CHRIS: I think I’m done. [laughing]

    JAMES: Brilliant, brilliant! That’s great. I mean, do you have any sort of social media links? Anything like that that the people can catch you on if they want to ask any questions?

    CHRIS: Yes. For the website: it’s the appointmentgroup.com. And, we are also on Facebook and also Twitter – which just, placing The Appointment Group. And, you go straight to us and like us and follow us. And, we’ll show you all the events that we’re doing at the moment.

    JAMES: Brilliant. And, I mean, do you personally Tweet yourself? Or, anything like that?

    CHRIS: I don’t Tweet, I Facebook. Because, I can’t get my head around Twitter. [laughing]

    JAMES: Really? I’m not sure I’m happy with it either, but we still do it as a business. [laughing] So, if anybody wants to drop you a line, are you happy to talk to them?

    CHRIS: Yeah, of course. Yeah, if anyone have any briefs or just want to have a chat… Then, yeah of course. Would you like my telephone number and email?

    JAMES: Perhaps, we won’t broadcast that. I tell you what, on this post we’ll put up some details. We’ll put your email in a box at the bottom, and people can get in touch with you that way. But Chris, I think we’re done. It’s been absolutely great talking to you, thank you for your time.

    CHRIS: Thank you very much.

    JAMES: Brilliant. I hope to speak to you soon, and I hope to see you on an event soon.

    CHRIS: You will indeed.

    JAMES: Cheers. Buh bye.


    ANNOUNCER: You’re listening to the Planner’s Planner Podcast.

    JAMES: So Toby, we made it towards the end of my first interview. How do you find it?

    TOBY: I thought, it was great. I never would’ve imagined two men bonding over up like this. It was absolutely beautiful. How did I find it though? Yeah, I mean… Obviously, he’s a very diverse man. He’s got tact as well. You know, he’s obviously dealing with people in some massive range of situations… You have to be tactful about certain things. And, he’s obviously a master at reading client’s needs, client’s fears to the point where he’ll get them to trust him. And obviously, when people trusts you… You can get on with your job without being interrupted. And I think, he’s obviously, totally on top of that.

    JAMES: Absolutely. I mean, one thing that I found really interesting on that one was how he went into meetings with “ammo.” So, he’d always got ideas to keep the client comfortable. So, I think that just creates that confidence, doesn’t it? The next thing that we touched on – which I guess, I wasn’t quite expecting but it’s just another really interesting facet to the events business – is the education. He came out of the University of Greenwich. What did you make of that one, Toby?

    TOBY: Yeah. I thought it was really interesting. You and I have had some time at education as well. And, we both had very different experiences, I think. But, looking at what Greenwich is doing… You know, Chris has said, that he was a guinea pig. And, they’ve honed that course. And, if you go on to – it’s a slightly strange website, but – ww2.gre.ac.uk. If you’re in a position and you want to look at studying events management and hospitality – you’ll find some stuff there… University of Greenwich, which is just south of the river in London, in the southeast. Beautiful place to study. And, they seem to have got the balance right… You can watch a great video that they’ve done. And, they’ve obviously got people that are serious about education, but are still currently working and doing stuff in the industry. And obviously, that is absolutely key because, then people walk out with real skills and real abilities to apply what they’ve learned. So, I’m really impressed with them. And, it seems like a great course.

    JAMES: I watched that video too and we mustn’t forget with the plannerspod… Whilst, we are based in the UK, we are available across the whole world on Itunes. And, they draw pretty on the fact that have an international student base there too, don’t they?

    TOBY: Yeah, they do. I mean, I’m on faculty somewhere else as well. And, we again have a lot of international students where I teach. And yeah, and again we’ve got an international client base as well. So, I think this is going to start really opening up quite quickly. You’ll soon realize, it’s not going to be all about UK weddings. So, this is great. What else I was going to say… Yeah, you can find out more about the vast range of things that Chris gets up to at The Appointment Group – who are obviously, and amazing company. And, their website is: appointmentgroup.com. I think also, Chris kind of happily invited people to email him about things.

    JAMES: Yeah, he’s a very generous, giving guy. We’re going to stick his email up on the planner-pod page… On the post with the link to this episode. Where else can people find out about plannerspod, Toby?

    TOBY: Well, it’s quite simple. Plannerspod.com is the website. So, you can check out more about who we are, what we get up to. And also, you’ll find this podcast on Itunes. So, please rate it and please give us feedback. We really want to make this really useful for everyone, and a good way to spend an hour of your potentially dead time doing something interesting.

    JAMES: Interesting indeed. While we’re recording new episodes, they can fast at the moment. Please join our mailing list. You’d be the first to find out about them there. I think, let’s wrap it up for now and my interviewing debut… So, please Toby will be back next time. And so, please check it out. I think we’re done. So, see you next time.

    TOBY: Cheers guys. See you next time. Bye James.

    JAMES: Bye.


    [music playing]


    ANNOUNCER: You’re listening to the Planner’s Planner Podcast. With Toby Goodman and James Eager. Visit plannerspod.com.

    [music ends]

    Download the PDF Transcript

    Show Notes

    2:50 – Chris’ quick CV
    3:48 – The various things that Appointment Group covers and how the company is segmented.
    4:40 – The % split between corporate and rock star work.
    5:25 – What Chris does for Rockstars.
    6:20 – How Chris earns trust and cultivates relationships even when people are wary of working with an external event management company.
    7:00 – How to retain clients.
    9:20 – How to get the best out of situations by using your ammo and inspiring confidence.
    10:20 – What happens when budgets are too tight and you can’t change the weather!
    12:50 – How to cope with panic and how to think on your feet.
    13:45 – Chris’s top tip to problem solve in a pressurised situation.
    15:50 – Why respecting suppliers can make or break an event.
    18:20 – The 2 things that will keep on a suppliers good side.
    21:50 – How big the team at TAG is and where it’s based globally!
    22:30 – How being global can save money.
    23:10 – Chris’s involvement in technology and where his specialism lies.
    24:15 – Translating technical language to clients.
    24:50 – Why Events Force web building tools are great for business.
    26:30 – James and Chris bond over uplighting.
    27:30 – Why knowing technology adds value to events.
    28:50 – Brand guidlines.
    30:20 – Why Chris loves his job.
    31:30 – Chris’s favourite amount of people to work with.
    32:20 – How to draw professional lines whilst keeping the personal touch.
    35:00 – What to expect from a top event course.
    36:35 – What the future holds.
    37:30 – How Chris would like to add more value.
    38:20 – Where to find more about Chris and The Appointment Group.
    39:50 – Closing comments with Toby and James.

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