My Event World - Amanda Ellis

Amanda Ellis, events business development manager at Newbury Racecourse, on earning her stripes in the sunny Algarve, her lack of racing knowledge and always having a positive outlook.

My Event World - Amanda Ellis
My Event World - Amanda Ellis

I got into the events industry because I worked at the Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort hotel in the Algarve in Portugal in my placement year at University. I got to experience all departments at the hotel, but my favourite role was being the Christmas co-ordinator taking bookings for parties and the New Year’s Eve gala dinner.

I have worked here since the beginning of December 2011 but have worked within the MICE sector for 12 years.

I was attracted to this particular role because I enjoy challenging myself. Newbury Racecourse is one of the most prestigious racecourses in the UK. We get a vast array of enquiries from dog shows, to pigeon racing, to trade exhibitions and award ceremonies.

Not many people know that even though I work at a racecourse, I know absolutely nothing about racing. Thankfully a lot of the event organisers who enquire about the venue and come in for site visits are in the same boat.

My worst experience at an event was when the guests arrived before the food at a wedding. Luckily it eventually turned up. While the team were anxious and nervous in awaiting it’s arrival, I think the guests were having such a great time in toasting the newlyweds they didn’t even notice.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s to never say never. I always like to have a can do attitude and will always look at ways around any obstacles. However, it is also necessary to sometimes take a step back and admit defeat – rather that than promise the world and then find you can’t deliver.

The best event I’ve been involved in was closing the sale on a Christmas Party for a well-known bank in my home town of Basingstoke. I was so excited when the enquiry came in for 600 people, but the venue I worked in at the time could only accommodate up to 250. I don’t like to say no to anything and so we put our thinking caps on and worked with an events company to put on the best party ever. We erected a huge marquee within the grounds with a star lit ceiling. It just looked absolutely stunning.

If I could do it all over again I wouldn’t change anything. I love my job and its challenges, the people you get to meet and the teams of people you get to work with.

The one thing I can’t stand is being disorganised. I like to be on the ball and try and think ahead and plan things with as much time as possible. However, more often than not in the events industry this is not always possible. There are often a lot of things and people involved in pulling an event together and sometimes, things are still being organised right up to the last minute. It can be very pressurising but also a very rewarding industry to be in.

Outside of work I spend my time with my family, organising ways of entertaining my two and a half year old daughter, 11-month-old son, and occasionally my stepchildren of 14 and 11. We like the outdoors and getting out with our black Labrador, for coastal walks and forest nature trails. Family time is very important, and although it is not wind down time at all at the weekend, it is important that we have that quality time together.

If money were no object I would take a year or two out and travel the world with my family. This was something I wanted to do when I left university but never managed to pull it off. I love experiencing new cultures, visiting new places, and meeting new people.

The one thing I can’t do my job without is my phone and the Internet. How did we function without these before? Yes they can mean holidays are never your escape from the office anymore, but on the positive side, if you are let down at the last minute by a supplier, or forgot to confirm the DJ for that wedding on Saturday, there is always an alternative option within easy reach.  

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would not be with any particular person, but I always wondered what it would be like to be on the other side of selling a venue. So perhaps a PA or event manager from a corporate company. It would be great to be given a budget for a conference, exhibition, away day or an awards ceremony, look at the objectives and then get on and plan.

If I ruled the event industry I would stop people from asking for quotes when they know they don’t want to host an event somewhere, they just need a certain number to send back to a client. To me, we should treat every enquiry the same but there are some that we know will never convert, and there just isn’t enough hours in the day to deal with the time wasters.

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