A FRIDAY CHAT WITH 30 EUSTON SQUARE’S SENIOR EVENT MANAGER, NICOLA RAYNAL2 July 2021
Nicola is Searcys’ Senior Events Manager at 30 Euston Square, a crucial member in events of all shapes and sizes at the central London venue. The grade II listed building hosts everything from lavish dinners to exams, meetings to fun-filled rooftop BBQs. Nicola tells us about juggling the uncertainty of the ‘new normal’ to keep events operating where possible, and how things are looking increasingly bright for the future.
Tell us about yourself – how did you start your career in the hospitality and events industry?
I did a placement year as part of my university degree and worked as an event manager and fell in love with the industry. I am naturally very organised, so being able to put my skills to a job I am passionate about is great. I have always worked venue side as an event planner, and I love working with clients to make their vision a reality.
When did you join Searcys? What do you like most about your job?
I joined Searcys June 2017 as Event Manager and was then promoted to Senior Events Manager in March 2019, meaning I oversee every aspect of the event planning process for our clients. I love planning a variety of events – from medical exams to summer parties, no day is ever the same. Menu tastings are always a highlight!
Tell us your three things few people know about you?
I lived in Jamaica for 6 months and worked as a wedding planner, my family are fully Scottish, and… macaroni cheese is my favourite meal!
What is your favourite type of event and why?
I love summer party season at 30 Euston Square – the roof terrace is the perfect space for a proper BBQ in the heart of the city with roaming bands and delicious cocktails. It’s always used for fun occasions, so I like the process of planning these events with clients, especially this year everyone is looking forward to getting together so much!
What is the most popular menu/event type at your venue?
The famous 30 Euston Square chocolate brownie is a hit for both clients and the team and is often available at Café Caritas too!
Did you have to adapt to events in post-Covid? What changes or innovations have you introduced?
I have been fortunate enough to continue planning and delivering events throughout the pandemic, so yes, there’s been a lot of adapting in order to maintain our Covid Secure venue status and keep a safe environment for our clients each time new government guidance is made available.
For example, 30 Euston Square boasts of a fit for purpose exam and assessment centre which is used by a number of medical institutions. During the pandemic, we have been busy facilitating a number of these medical exams so doctors could achieve their qualifications to be on the front line.
We were very proud to be involved in this type of event. In addition to new processes to ensure our clients and team were in a safe environment, we have also developed new menu offers to cater to all their needs. These include Bento Lunch boxes and Room Service Breakfast to our overnight guests.
What about the customers? What is the most frequent request these days?
We’re getting lots of requests for video conferencing facilities in meeting rooms for upcoming events and ensuring MS Teams and Zoom is available readily available. We are also prepared to cater to hybrid events, however, we have few up-takes on that solution and most of our clients can’t wait to resume the face-to-face events.
What has been your most unusual customer request?
We are hosting a bespoke Wimbledon-themed business event this week with all catering themed including strawberries and cream. We also set up a game console for the guests to play tennis on their breaks, which was an extra surprise we organised for the clients, and was even more popular than we imagined. My most unusual request was when a client phoned and requested to bring a cadaver for use during medical exams… the event didn’t go ahead but that was certainly memorable!
What are you working on at the moment?
We’re continuing to have exams booked over the summer period, plus we have lots of summer party enquiries and bookings to plan for July and August.
What changes do you see in the events industry or customer requests taking shape in 2021 and beyond?
In the immediate future, I expect there will be a lot of short lead bookings due to the recent uncertainty, even for conferences and social events which would usually have a much longer lead time. However, we can see already that there is a huge demand for the return of face-to-face events, especially corporate companies wishing to bring people together to celebrate after such a hard year of working remotely. Technology and hybrid events will certainly play a part in bookings for the remainder of the year, particularly for international speakers, and we have upgraded our AV offerings to accommodate this.
What advice would you give an event organiser staging an event post-lockdown?
As the last year demonstrated, experience matters, especially when handling crises in an ever-changing landscape. We are very proud that during the pandemic we managed to find practical solutions to ensure our clients, some with complex requirements, could hold their events in a safe environment. My advice for events organisers is to get to know your preferred venue or venues really well. Don’t miss opportunities to attend showcase events when those come up – once you get to know the people behind the scenes, you will feel more confident that the venue will find a solution to any challenge whatever that is. Another piece of advice for this year is to start booking now. Secure great deals by booking early as venues still have key dates available. Help the industry to re-start and secure good rates while it lasts.