My Event World - Jenny Bones

Jenny Bones, head of commercial events for 195 Piccadilly (home of BAFTA) tells us about her love of baking, working in windowless rooms, and her hope to be invited to the Royal Wedding.

Jenny Bones, Head of Commercial Events for 195 Piccadilly (home of BAFTA)
Jenny Bones, Head of Commercial Events for 195 Piccadilly (home of BAFTA)
I got into the events industry because of a natural progression through various hospitality avenues. Through school and university I worked for a variety of venues, catering companies and at big sporting events like Queens and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. It was through these experiences that I decided to study International Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey. The initial intention was to train as a hotel manager but as the course continued I streamed more into events. I did a year’s industrial placement at Reed & Mackay in the events team and from there I got some invaluable experience that set me up for the journey ahead.

I have worked here at 195 Piccadilly, BAFTA since October 2007 when I was poached from Claridges Hotel to be the events coordinator here.

I was attracted to this particular role because I was really eager to progress within the company. The role is challenging and demanding and uses many different skills. No day is ever the same. I get to deal with clients daily and use my sales skills, along with managing a team and creatively thinking up ways to promote the space. It really covers all areas of the skills spectrum.

Not many people know that I am a budding cake decorator and spend night classes learning the art of sugar craft. I have discovered a hidden talent that now extends to baking and decorating cakes for friends weddings, christenings and birthdays and is now expanding to paying clients too.

My worst experience at an event was when I was working in a ski resort and we were cooking a huge roast dinner on Christmas Day and the gas run out. We had to run to nearby chalets to use their ovens instead; all whilst the guests remained blissfully ignorant of the chaos behind the scenes.

If there's one thing I've learnt it's that communication is everything. If you don’t talk to all the parties involved then problems really start. Since being in a management position I have discovered this is definitely the key to success.

The best events I've been involved in are the high profile ones where you see coverage of your events in the press. It’s a real buzz when you read about something you’ve worked so hard and are able to say ‘I did that!’.

If I could do it all over again I would go back to the week my sister got married abroad in Santorini. It was a magical week with all our family and friends hanging out on the beach, in bars and restaurants together and everyone was so relaxed and happy. The wedding took place on a stunning cliff top overlooking the Caldera as the sun was setting. It was an amazing week and something I would love to relive.

The one thing I can't stand is my office as it has no windows. We work in such a glamorous venue but as it is with all events departments – they are always in the least desirable parts. I have a great team that luckily make up for it.

Outside of work I spend my time on a ski slope as much of the winter as I can. I also now spend a great deal of time baking and creating intricate sugar paste flowers. I love eating out and seeing friends and watching films either at work, at the cinema or on Love Film.

If money were no object I would pay off all my families’ debts, buy a big house for us all to stay in regularly in the UK (and in Sydney, Australia), travel the world. I would then dedicate my time and money to charity.

The one event I will never miss is seeing my little sister get married one day.

The recession has meant that clients have been empowered to barter more than ever before and change their spending habits to appear less frivolous. We have really noticed a more confident buyer in recent months with longer lead times and better budgets.

The next 12 months will be very exciting for 195 Piccadilly, BAFTA. We have seen vast improvements in sales since this time last year and have some fantastic events confirmed up until December.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be my big sister Petra Bones, (who is head of events at Somerset House) but currently on a six month sabbatical travelling the world.

If I ruled the event industry I would expect a ticket to the biggest event of the year – the Royal Wedding.

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