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“Events, the view from the clouds”

As I wandered through the misty clouds of our conference and event management services ( i.e. the accounts department) over the last seventeen years in my minds “hot air balloon” where I watched from the safety of my wicker basket as our team dealt with all aspects of planning to the running of an event. The safe, secure and somewhat isolated little sanctuary has been a great refuge which kept me out of the mainstream of our events where I could observe the team both here in the office and then off site as required. I have been rambling along providing administrative support and on occasions was promoted to the “tea, coffee & pastry” person in order that everyone working on an event for us were kept nourished and hydrated.

Watching the sheer will and determination of our guys as they start with a blank sheet of paper and come out at the other side of a successful event is very rewarding and a little scary as nothing at times will interfere with their desire to ensure the event is completed in line with the plans. At times you can be treated as the “new kid on the block” when drafted in to assist at an event due to the need for extra bodies pre event. Whatever you might think of your standing in the company when you turn up in your team tee shirt you can expect to be told in no uncertain terms to move quicker and if necessary “lug” boxes from our van into the venue.

When you come from an era when life and business moved at a gentler pace and you might actually be uncontactable as you didn’t have a smart phone you could in theory “go missing” for 5 minutes in order to regroup your thoughts and simply “chill”. The activities which now surround any event means that your phone is nearly always in your hand for emails or to your ear for conversations, I am impressed by the team’s ability to multitask and do crave for a forgotten time and a slower world. As I see my little balloon starting to slowly descend into the real world of event management I know that sometime in the near future I will be grounded permanently and become more actively involved in this fast & furious world.

Moving into this area from my previously mentioned safe zone is something of an eye opener as this brave new world which I am heading towards will take adjustment and a great deal of patience from my co-workers. I see this interesting change of direction at my age as both an exciting new focus for me as well as the trepidation of embracing social media and all the attendant technology that will accompany it. They say life begins at 40 so I don’t know where the mid-50’s stand in the normal scale of life experiences as I move into another of our departments which places me in the front line and more visible and initially out of my comfort zone.

Throughout my previous years of hiding in the office shrubbery and not in the clear line of sight of the rest of the team, all of whom are actively involved on a daily basis in the events world I have lived in splendid isolation happy amongst the numbers of our accounts department. The sanctuary this provided has now been removed from me and with some trepidation I venture like a polar bear cub emerging from winter hibernation into the full glare of the daylight.

All experiences in both personal and work life make you a stronger and better person, so learning new skills even later in life is a positive thing as it can be easy to simply plod along and not embrace change. Looking into the future I will be “upskilled” and “social media savvy “and better able to tackle the brave new world.

So in conclusion I may be sighted at certain points in the future staring wistfully up at the clouds wondering if I will ever get back to my little hot air balloon drifting along far above the busy world below. But I think now that in my case “down is up”. Here I go so wish me luck as my balloon slowly drifts down to earth.

by Jeff Thornton, Director of Hotel Solutions DMC

Stuart Thornton