Many event organisers have a varied career history, but few can be as diverse as the event director at The Savoy, Joseph Coté. Born in Quebec, Coté first studied journalism in the United States. He then obtained a Masters degree in clinical psychology and worked in marketing before becoming a professional actor.
"At the age of 33 I decided I didn't want to live to 90 with any regrets," he explains. "But you are always on the verge of being unemployed as an actor and actually it was working in theatre for five years that got me into event planning. Every event is a show." It's not every party planner who can list Clint Eastwood, Joan Collins and Antonio Banderas among their first clients. Alongside this, during the past 20 years Coté has worked in prestigious hotels across the globe. Most recently he was director of private parties at Claridge's before moving to Istanbul to set up a party-planning division at another five-star hotel.
Since returning to the UK in April, Coté has overseen the merger of The Savoy's three event-planning teams to create Events at The Savoy. "You'll notice very few people use the term banqueting any more. It's all about events these days," he notes.
Coté modestly attributes his success in the events industry to two things: his ability to listen and his ability to laugh. "I'll ask clients 100 questions, such as 'what does your event smell like?', and by the time they have given me answers they will have designed their party themselves. It's not brain surgery but you would be amazed how many event planners don't listen," he says.
Coté's main ambition now is to alter organisers' perceptions that The Savoy is not a venue for creative events. "My goal is to entice people to come to The Savoy and do something unexpected," he explains.
"On New Year's Eve, for example, we created Casablanca, complete with sand and palm trees here in one of our traditional Victorian rooms." With the creative force of Coté, whose dedication to hosting the perfect event has even seen him running behind a bride armed with an emergency sewing kit after her dress split, The Savoy looks set to host some spectacular parties for the foreseeable future.