Head of Events - Flying high

Katie Holt of Red Bull takes on the logistical challenges of her demanding role.

Red Bull is synonymous with adrenalin-fuelled events, which means that the organising team is constantly firing on all cylinders. This in turn keeps head of events Katie Holt very busy.

The team consists of Holt and two event managers, Ben Courtnell and Sue Gurner. Their work includes Red Bull's large branded events in London - the Red Bull Air Race in Greenwich and the Flugtag in Hyde Park - which took place in August and June respectively this year. Holt says the team realised after the debut London Air Race last year that it needed to bring in an external agency to help organise the complicated and high-profile event. "We have become more sophisticated over the past few years as the events have got bigger," she reveals. "Before we used freelancers, and now we do three-way agency pitches for a large event."

Building on the success of last year's Air Race, Holt called on the help of Innovision this time. "Innovision's knowledge and contacts through working with the major London stakeholders during the Tour de France last year was invaluable," she says.

Working a year in advance, Holt has to liaise with Visit London, the London Development Agency, London City Airport, the Port of London Authority, the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London. "We have nine event sites and we need planning permission and premises licences," she says. "We have to liaise with London City Airport to reschedule flights to clear airspace for our aircraft to fly, and speak to the Port of London to clear boats, relocate barges and close down ferry services. The event also covers three London boroughs."

The energy drink's two main events are so big that 220 Red Bull staff work on the Air Race and Flugtag. "It's an important part of our culture that everyone who works here can get involved in the event," Holt adds. This means staff give up their weekends to work on them, and after each event Red Bull throws a huge wrap party.

This year was the first time Flugtag has taken place since its 2003 debut. Holt contracted Mantaplan to help manage it because the agency organises a lot of events in the Royal Parks, and this time Flugtag was ticketed to ensure all 80,000 spectators had a good view.

"It's a brilliant combination to have the Air Race and Flugtag in the same year," Holt says. "The Air Race is a premium sporting event and costs £40 per ticket, then you have the complete opposite with the Flugtag - a charming free event that involves 40 people attempting to fly their machines over the Serpentine."

With the two now behind her, Holt is focusing her energy on Red Bull's smaller sporting campaigns, and although they may perhaps be less complex, she is sure to apply the same drive and enthusiasm that made the high-profile events such a success.

KATIE HOLT - IN BRIEF
2000: Sports Reports account executive
2001: Fingal account director
2006: Red Bull head of events


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