Party Clinic: Q&A - Ask Arthur

RSVP brings your queries to the attention of industry expert Arthur Somerset.

Q: How do I get around the issue of poor badging at events and do you have any suggestions for tracking and managing guest registration to my parties?

There is no excuse for poor badging and spelling the name of the company and guest correctly is crucial. It's all about the wonderful technology but also who is inputting the information. We use Claire Graham at Outstand (020) 7684 5192 or Event Management Systems (01462) 420780. They will be explaining their value at the Mask Event Talks at RSVP 05 on Wednesday 6 April at Olympia. Otherwise you can use online registration for this task.

Q: I have a budget of £40k to stage an annual event for a high-profile consumer magazine brand. We have secured a trendy venue but do you have any suggestions how I can spend the rest of this budget?

The most important task is to get the best guests to your party, which means a beautifully designed invitation that creates anticipation. Send a car for the important guests and ensure an efficient cloakroom.

You need to look and be different. I do believe all events need a feature everyone will talk about or photograph. Great food and drinks need to be sophisticated with a high level of service from attentive staff.

The music should be different, at the right volume and mixed by an interesting DJ. Finally, keep it personal. The publisher and editor should be greeting the guests and the staff should be enthusing about their work.

Q: I understand that as president of ISES you lobbied the Government to increase the tax allowance for employees. How does that affect the industry and what does it mean for our clients?

Before 2003, if a company spent more than £75 including VAT the Government would not allow the company to get the VAT back and also tax the employee on this as a benefit. In truth, the taxman accepted a lump sum from the big companies so they did not have to work out every drink at All Bar One bought by a manager, or how many people turned up to the summer party.

A: company can now spend £150 including VAT per annum per person, claim the VAT back and not be taxed as a benefit. For this part of the events industry it has meant that the level has caught up with inflation and has given a real boost to the quality of events and employment in the sector. However, recently I met with Paul Boateng, chief secretary to the Treasury, to thank him and his team for raising the limit and to remind him that a further raise would benefit all concerned.


Proprietor of health and safety consultancy Stagesafe Chris Hannam talks us through the new Working Time Regulations and how they apply to the events industry.

The Working Time Regulations have set limits on the number of hours people over school-leaving age can work. The regulations are difficult to understand but it is vital to keep proper written records of hours worked per week, breaks, night workers, work patterns, annual leave and compensatory rest periods.

All workers are subject to a maximum working week not exceeding 48 hours.

Workers and employers can agree to dis-apply this maximum, but must specify the number of hours the employee is agreeing to work. Employees are also entitled to 11 hours' rest in every 24-hour working period and 20 minutes' rest after working for six hours.

For further information please visit or telephone the Health and Safety Executive Information line on 08701 545500.

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