Stuart McNeil is our spotlight interviewee for October. We asked him a variety of questions about his professional career and his thoughts on the industry today. He shares with us his professional experiences as well as his dream holiday destination. Read below to find out more:
1. How did you find your way into the industry?
I have been in and around the hospitality industry from a young age through part time jobs here and there. Whilst at University I worked in student bars averaging about 40 hours a week. After University I was offered a job managing a bar for an events centre owned by Birmingham City University. From there I moved into independent hotels and worked my way up to where I am today.
2. Tell us about your professional experience within the industry so far?
I have been in the events and hospitality industry for over 20 years now. Through the years I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic managers. They have helped me to develop my own style of management by cherry picking the best qualities from each of them. I worked predominantly front of house roles meeting guests and clients from a range of backgrounds and job roles. The experience garnered from delivering large scale events has put me in good stead for the role I am currently in as General Manager.
3. What have been your highlights and most proud moments so far in your professional career?
I have been lucky enough to run events varying from large charity dinners, strictly come dancing galas to open air ballet evenings. I always feel a sense of pride when an event or project has been delivered successfully and on time. Becoming a GM has always been an important goal for me and I am very proud of the product and team that I have assembled.
4. What in your experience, has been the biggest change in the industry over the last few years?
In terms of running a large conference and events centre in the Midlands I have seen a decline in business relating directly to the ongoing Brexit saga. We rely on manufacturing companies and car firms for regular business. The current uncertainty has seen these industries spending less on training and meetings, with some using their own in house facilities to accommodate these types of meetings. We have had to adapt to these circumstances and offer alternatives utilising our fantastic grounds and open space.
5. Do you see any trends emerging within the industry?
Over the last few years I have seen a particular increase in clients wishing to add a leisure element to their meetings – even more so than before. We have adapted to this by working closely with Off Limits to formulise a list of events which can be offered to our clients. Each element has been devised to deliver a result that the client is looking to achieve with their employees - whether this is employee development, management cohesion or simply a bit of fun!
6. What is it that you most love about the events industry?
When an event has been meticulously planned there is always a nervous buzz just before the event is about to start. I relish this feeling and the sense of satisfaction once the event has been delivered to perfection is the icing on the cake! It is always a pleasure to create a fantastic team of people who can focus on the end result and input all of their experience to help each other and the client.
7. What does your ideal weekend look like?
Ideally, my perfect weekend would be a lazy Sunday morning with my family.
8. Where is your dream holiday destination and why?
As long as I can remember I have always wanted to visit Iceland. The scenery, culture and people have always fascinated me. I was lucky enough to make the trip a few years ago. (I am not one to spend two weeks lying on a beach in the pursuit of the perfect tan). When I visit anywhere I always feel the need to explore and discover new things. The epic landscape and wonders of Iceland allowed me to do this fully and the memories made there will stay with me forever.
9. Do you have a favourite inspirational quote, if so, what is it?
“There is no try, only do” Yoda.