Event career progression: Insights from a millennial event professional

By IMEX Group

1 min

Insights from a millennial event professional on career progression in the meetings and events industry

In this interview we talk to Tanya Billey, Sales & Events Manager at Enhanced Hospitality, as she shares her tips on career progression, event venue trends and work/life balance.

The world of an event professional is varied and exciting, and there are many different paths you can take when pursuing it as a career. 

Q. How did you start your career in the events industry?

A. My career began when I started working for Dirty Martini where I gained my first insight into the world of events. I had the most incredible time with the company and really grew. I gained enough experience to move to a 5-star hotel in the heart of London and now I have reached an amazing point of my career working for four spectacular venues in Camden; Shaka Zulu, Fest, Gabeto, Dingwalls and our latest addition a private members club in Soho called Blacks.

Q. Were there any barriers you faced?

A. There were no barriers as such as I was keen to learn about the industry and hungry to gain knowledge of the business. There have been some challenges along the way, such as Brexit, tightened budgets, compliance laws, attendee engagement, the arrival of GDPR. But I have been extremely lucky to have worked with some incredible managers who have taught me all I know and helped me overcome these challenges.

Q. For anyone that’s starting out in the events industry what advice would you give them?

A. Don’t put pressure on yourself to learn everything all at once. It takes time. Ease into it at your own pace. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the more you ask the more you learn. Be prepared for hard work and always keep an email trail. Always bring the sunshine in to work with you!

Q. Are there any trends you’ve seen over the last five years in events?

A. Absolutely – everyone has come away from the standard drinks’ receptions. I have noticed that people are really looking for something different! Bars which have something going on such as gaming, beer pong, live music, ball pits, theme bars like Alcatraz or escape rooms. They are looking for fun venues that have something for their guests to enjoy, mix mingle and bond over. There’s a real trend with theme rooftop venues like FEST or entertainment dining experiences.

Skyfall lounge

Q. What are event planners looking for when they contact you about your venues?

A. When event planners contact us, they’re looking for somewhere that their guests can have the full ultimate experience. We build a package around the client’s budget. When they contact me, they look for value for money, quality food and drinks and want to create a memorable evening.

Q. Have there been challenges when dealing with new clients? If, so what were they?

A. There have been challenges on the day of the event’s where things have gone wrong. There was occasion where I had booked and event in July last year. It was a corporate client celebrating their 20-year anniversary party. The theme was a tropical beach party. During the day the weather was touch-and-go, but shortly before guests were due to arrive the rain came down and the heavens opened. The winds picked up, floors were slippery, furniture was wet and it wasn’t safe for the staff.

I called the client and we both made the call to go to our plan B and re-locate the event to another space inside. The bar, all drinks, basically the entire set up to another space within the hour. My clients arrived and would you believe it? The clouds had cleared, rain had stopped, wind eased, and it was beaming hot sunshine. We then moved everything back to the original outside space as planned with moments to spare! The team and I were running around carrying inflatable pink flamingos, palm trees, uplighters all back upstairs. It was one of those moments where if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry! Lucky for us the weather held out for the event and my client was so grateful and over the moon we managed to get everything ready in such a quick turnaround time - and the main thing is they had the best time and everything ran smoothly.

Q. What’s the reality vs the perception of working in the events industry?

A. Most people think we like a glam party life. The reality is there’s a lot of planning, organization and hard work in the build-up to an event. But is all pays off on the night.

Attendees at IMEX America

Q. What’s your work life balance like? How do you balance your personal and professional life?

A. To be honest my work life balance is pretty good. You need to be prepared to put the hours in to get the results you want and exceed your client’s expectations. I treat every client like it is my own event. You really have to care, have a passion and truly love what you do to be in the hospitality industry. There are times where you work long hours but you have to learn to switch off in your personal life or you could spend the whole time in work mode. Sometimes I’ll be laying there in bed and remember to order a canape!

Q. Anything else you’d like to add about working in the events industry?

A. Never give up. Work beside your ops team as they really do make the magic happen on the night. Believe in your product and put your heart into everything you do. Oh, and be prepared if storm Harrold decides to appear!

About the author

IMEX brings the global meetings and events community together to power profitable connections, foster innovation, spark inspiration, and propel purposeful progress at two world-leading trade shows, IMEX Frankfurt and IMEX America.

We use our influence to unite, advance and promote a thriving global industry focused on positive change.

IMEX Group