A Day In The Life Of... Event Manager Hannah Phillips

15 April 2015

5.00am  An early alarm call for a busy main day of conference ahead! Quick breakfast before the 30-minute drive from my home in Cardiff to Celtic Manor.

6.15am  Arrive at Celtic Manor and check emails.

6.30am  Meet the conference’s production team . Give them access to our biggest conference room, the Caernarfon Suite, to begin their set-up.

7.20am  Check the breakfast provision for the crew.

8.00am  Pre-conference meeting with the client event organiser. As event manager, I’ll lead the run-through of the entire conference day with contributions from our operations team. We go through the function sheets, menus, rooming lists, agendas, meeting room set-ups and any special requests, consulting with the client on any changes required.

8:30am  Return to office or use Convention Centre office to make the adjustments from pre-conference meeting. Update function sheets and distribute to relevant teams. Follow-up phone calls to ensure updates have been received. Ensure chefs have any updates on menus, dietary requirements and catering numbers.

9.00am  Attend the Morning Meeting where I present the event to the resort’s directors and senior managers.  I detail the full agenda for the day and highlight any changes and key timings so the teams are all fully aware of what is happening. 

9.15am  Go to lobby to ensure check-in registration is progressing smoothly. Help manage queues with Front of House teams.

9.30am  Walk-through check of all areas and rooms being used by the conference. Check all set-ups match the client requirements and that our highest standards are maintained throughout.

10.00am  Main conference session starts in Caernarfon Suite. Check with event organiser that everything is to their satisfaction. Regular checks of this kind on hourly basis throughout day.

10.10am  First breather of the day! With delegates in conference, chance to check voicemails and emails, and make a few calls regarding my next event.

10.50am  Check refreshment stations are ready for first tea and coffee break.

11.00am  Ensure refreshments run smoothly, directing delegates to alternative stations where necessary. As it’s usually only a 15-minute break we have to turn around a lot of drinks quickly.

11.15am  Return to office to do more planning for future events.

12.15pm  Check lunch stations and ensure every single food item matches the menu. Check all details of the lunch provision including presentation, labelling and serving implements.

12.30pm  Supervise lunch being served. We normally open one station at a time to assist queue flow and replenishing of food.

1.00pm  Check syndicate rooms which will be used for breakout meetings in the afternoon. This might be the time when we’re sprung a big change like changing a room set-up from theatre to cabaret style and we’ll have to work quickly to bring in tables and switch things. The Conference and Banqueting team are very good at dealing with these late amends.

1.20pm  Tannoy announcements will be made calling delegates to their breakout sessions. I’ll act as point of contact for anyone who needs information.

1.30pm  Breakout sessions commence. Another office catch-up for me.

2.30pm  Conference afternoon break, which is normally more time-pressed than the morning. Often we do grab and go drinks in paper cups so delegates can get straight to next breakout session.

3.00pm  Check with concierge that guests’ luggage drops are completed.

4.30pm  Conference back in Caernarfon Suite for closing session. Return to lobby to check room key collection for delegates is set up and ready.

5.30pm  Conference ends and delegates arrive at lobby to collect keys for a designated Key Collection Desk. Assist with queue management.

5.45pm  Busiest time of day for our teams, transforming Caernarfon Suite from conference theatre into gala dinner ballroom. It’s something we do a lot so everyone is well drilled but it’s still frantic with less than two hours to make the change. Porters bring the tables in and cover chairs.

6.00pm  Conference and banqueting teams lay the tables, working with outside contractors who bring in and set the centrepieces.

6.15pm  Dancefloor goes in. Liaise with DJ who arrives and sets up.

6.30pm  Bar staff prepare for drinks reception and lay out table drinks in the Caernarfon Suite.

6.45pm  Check with client for any late changes to table plan and dietary requirements. We can print new table plans right up to the last minute if necessary - and often have to!

6.50pm  Go to kitchen to check chef has the latest information and everything is on schedule.

7.30pm  Pre-dinner drinks reception in bar areas outside Caernarfon Suite. Typically means tray serving of champagne or sparkling wine, bottled beer and soft drinks.

7.50pm  First call to dinner. Open room for guests to be seated.

8.00pm  Final call to dinner. Welcome speeches.

8.05pm  This can be the most challenging part of the evening, especially for our chefs! Welcome speeches are usually planned to last 10 minutes at the start of dinner but often take double that time. If they really go over, we sometimes have to warn the client that the quality of the food could suffer because the serving times have to be fairly rigid when you’re delivering a dinner for several hundred guests. If it’s an awards dinner with separate breaks for awards between all courses, the problem can escalate! Once again, though, it’s a variable our teams are used to dealing with.

8.10pm  Starters are served. Check with event organiser throughout meal that everything meets expectations. Or hopefully exceeds them!

10.30pm  Dinner ends. After a final check with the client organiser, this is usually the point where I can leave and handover the late night revelry to the supervision of the floor manager and our Conference and Banqueting team. If there’s a special post-dinner event like a themed space in the Exhibition Hall, I would check that is up and running smoothly before I go.

Chance to get home and grab a few hours’ sleep before another early start for the final day of conference.

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