Banqueting Managers can make or break a hotel’s reputation. This issue we look at some of Scotland’s elite – just some of the men and women who are responsible for 1,000’s of events every year from grand weddings to celebratory parties and much more.
Number of events a year: 1000 +
Managing: 4 full time and 70 casual staff
Largest event: 1200
9 years at this property but about 25 years in total.
I had an office job and worked part time in The Theatre Royal for Scottish Opera for their events and decided to make it my full time career. After that I went to Parklands, The Concert Hall, The RAC Club and The Hilton Glasgow. I joined The Thistle in 2008 and now that it has become a Hilton I’ve come full circle.
There have been so many but I will always remember serving Princess Diana at The RAC Club- she was a lovely person. We had Bill Clinton and Goldie Hawn at The Hilton. They were really good fun and spoke to all the staff.
Unusual requests are a normal thing but at one really posh event a guest asked if he could have egg and chips for his meal so I made sure he got it.
Every year we have over 1000 guests from the hospitality industry for The Benevolent Society Dinner. At the end I sand back with my staff and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved with such a huge number of people.
It can be hard keeping staff motivated and keeping the service fresh for every guest so I’m always interested to hear new ideas from staff particularly what the catering students are learning at college.
Work with your team and work with your guests to make sure you know what they really want. It takes a lot of planning to deliver great events.
Number of events a year: around 1,000
Manages: 12 contract permanent and 30 casual staff
Capacity of largest event: 300 dinner or 400 conference or 700 when we get a marquee for two weeks in October
2 years. In the last 10 years I worked up from supervisor to assistant manager.
I did a degree in Business Management at St Andrews University but felt I always wanted a job where I could take care of people so started with a catering job at St Andrews University. I worked at Norton House, Edinburgh University and The St Andrews Old Course before the Apex so I have had really varied experience of very different operations.
It would definitely be The Dundee Courier Business Awards. We normally have a capacity of 300 but this was for 700 so we had to get a marquee. It was months of organising, training and even sourcing equipment so the kitchen could deal with so many more than usual. We used staff from all different departments to help out. The preparation was like studying for an exam.
Special requests are just part of the job. I was once asked to make sure there was no tomato sauce at a wedding because the bride had a phobia. We had to say we’d run out so no one knew the real reason.
My proudest moment was becoming conference and banqueting manager at the Apex but I am also very proud of my team.
You have to sacrifice a lot in this job especially working Christmas and parties but I really love my job.
Be yourself and manage the way that suits you. I was told I was too accommodating to be a manager but that has helped me create a good team
Number of events a year: 250+
Manages: 5 full time and 15 casual staff
Capacity of largest event: 210
7 months. When I started working at Meldrum House in October 2015 I was taken on as an Assistant Banqueting Manager. It took me 12 months to get to the position I am today, which I absolutely love.
I studied International Tourism Management at Robert Gordon’s University while on the course I got the opportunity to go out on placement to The Marcliffe in Aberdeen. I then got a position there as Trainee Manager. It was a huge step in my career as I got to go around different departments for so many weeks.It developed me professionally too.
I would say the 2017 tourism conference. People think conferences can be boring, but they don’t have to be if you have the right breakdown of breaks, interactivity and also food! We even had three mascots at the event. At the tourism conference we also had local suppliers who came to the event to serve and basically showcase their food. It was such a different way of doing things but it was great as it allowed people to walk about the hotel and interact with the suppliers as well as other delegates.
I haven’t had anything too crazy, not yet anyway,
however there was one time a bridesmaid asked for something…(I’m not too sure if I can say)…let’s just say her request was granted.
My proudest moment would probably be Christmas Day when I was in charge of our very first carvery in our new ballroom. It can be quite daunting when you have new events, but it went so well, and not only was I proud of the flow of things but I was so proud of my team as they worked so well together. The style of service was slightly different to what they are normally used to.
The long hours. I do thoroughly enjoy my job but sometimes it can be hard to leave when you know you have guests in the hotel that need to be catered for.
Stay organised, be focused, eat properly and get rest!
Number of events: 140
I originally started as a server when I was 16 years old at one of SimpsInns’ other venues, The Gailes Hotel in Irvine, working events at weekends. I then moved to The Waterside shortly after it opened in 2011, which at the time only consisted of the one restaurant. Once here, I progressed through management levels from Supervisor to Trainee Duty Manager, to Duty Manager, to the position I now hold, Conference & Banqueting Manager.
The one that sticks out most has to be the McDowall Wedding. The groom, Lee, was a primary school teacher from Ayr. We had previously discussed the idea of bringing in his pupils during the speeches to sing for his bride Katy. I suggested that we hide them behind our sliding glass doors and that he give me the nod at the right moment. The doors were pulled back for the class to be unveiled, ready to sing. It was especially memorable for three reasons; the children were fantastic, it went so smoothly, and the video footage was shown on ‘This Morning’!
Being asked to be part of the ‘singing waiters’ routine during a wedding was a particular highlight for me. They told me that during the meal service, one of them would fall with a tray
of cutlery and make a big scene to attract all the guests’ attention. I was then to go over and
shout at this gent and make an even bigger scene before he then broke into song to everyone’s surprise. It couldn’t have gone better!
I don’t think there is ‘one’ particular moment. As a collective, I am extremely proud every time we receive glowing feedback from a married couple. Our wall in the office which is
covered in ‘Thank You’ cards is tribute to that.
Delegation. I strive to be involved in every part of the running of an event. However, this isn’t always feasible due to the size of some events. Luckily, I have a fantastic team around me who are there to help in every situation.
Try and truly experience every part of banqueting before looking at just the management side of it.
Events per year: 1000 +
Managing: 15 permanent and 100 casual staff
Largest event: 850
Nearly a year and a half at Hilton Glasgow and a year at Hilton Grosvenor Edinburgh before that.
I started waitressing at Dunfermline Athletics’ home ground East End Park. I then studied International Business and Hospitality Management at Strathclyde University before undertaking the Hilton UK and Ireland Management Development Program. I got to train in every department to gain well rounded experience- you really get to understand how the different departments work.
When Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy toured Hilton Hotels as Boyzlife it was great because I’m a big fan. It was really strange to be working so closely with them.
The bizarre does become normal but I did have a guy come in and ask ‘Where do you want the elephant?’ It was a full size inflatable elephant the client had arranged so a bit out of the ordinary.
It gives me great pride to execute a successful event for the client. We had 850 guests for a charity dinner and looking round the room at the end of a great night with my team I was so proud of them.
Because of the size and scale of the operation we have a big team of staff of all ages and experience which takes some managing.
It’s all about organisation and preparation because you have to be ready for surprises. Make a plan and execute it with a smile. You need to have great relationships with clients to get repeat business.
Number of events a year: around 1000+
Managing: 5 full time employees and
30 casual staff
Largest event: 500
I started as a breakfast waitress at 17 and I then worked at The Redcliff and Bowford (both in Inverness) before I came to The Kingsmill. I have been developed here at the Kingsmill over a period of time where I am now Conference and Banqueting Manager
There have been so many. We hosted the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards for over 300 guests and there was a great buzz about the whole hotel. It was a very involved event and it all came together really well.
We had a party say they weren’t bringing entertainment but could we leave the dance floor uncovered. Then they arrived with skateboards, laundry baskets and balloons and played a human version of Hungry Hippos.
Christmas day was a new experience for me and my team serving small family groups rather than a big event. It was lovely hearing the feedback from our guests about individual staff members and it was a great team effort.
I love that every event is different but that means you don’t know quite what to expect. Getting regular sleeping patterns can be difficult but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You get out of the job what you put in to it so take every chance to get new experiences. I’m always happy to get involved with training or new opportunities
Number of events a year: around 2000
Managing: 5 fulltime employees and 30 casual staff
Largest event: 460
I have recently transitioned to the role of Conference & Banqueting Manager, after leading the Events team in the hotel for the last 3 years
I did my school work experience in a small country house hotel and I fell in love with the fast paced lifestyle and variety of tasks and people that I meet and I haven’t looked back.
My most memorable event was for an international pharmaceutical company where we hosted more than 200 of their guests in the hotel. The full conference took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and the delegates stayed in nearly every hotel in the city. It was a great example of how we can all work together to host these international conferences. The hotel also acted as a host for their welcome buffet which was a Scottish Market for 800 guests.
We are always happy to assist with our guests requests when we can – we have had everything from our Edinburgh Suite playing host to a car for a European press launch for 15 days to one of our meeting rooms doubling up as a storage unit for cadavers (which we politely declined).
I’m very proud to have been part of the team that received the Award for “Banqueting team of the year 2017.
Keeping up our 5-star service even when we are at full capacity – we have the largest conference space in the city, and often our staff to work under time constraints to turn our space from a meeting set up theatre style for 500 to a banquet for 460.
Being flexible and adaptable is key. You also have to be a good networker in order to connect with both guests and staff in a professional manner during stressful situations.
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