Kevan has a talent and passion for supporting developing businesses in the corporate hospitality industry. Kevan was born and bred in hospitality and never left, he currently owns the very successful and long standing Trident Hospitality consultancy business. We sat down with Kevan to get some insight on his experience in the industry, how the industry has evolved in the past 30 years and emerging trends. He even spilled the beans on his favourite thing about Off Limits Corporate Events director Martin Stephens. Here's what he had to say to us:
Tell us a little about your time in the events industry.
I started off by working in the pub and hotels industry, working in all departments such as kitchen, reception, housekeeping, and sales. However my passion was meetings and events - as conference and banqueting manager at Selsdon Park and the Metropole Hotels. Afterwards my career then took me to work for the Peter Rand Group, the UK’s first venue finding company. I still see Peter Rand as my inspiration – hard-working, honest, passionate and enthusiastic for the meetings industry. From there I went back into the hotels industry work in sales for the Forte and MacDonald’s Hotels before moving to independent venues Ashorne Hill and Eynsham Hall. It was at these venues that I became aware about the difficulties encountered by such venues and how badly they were treated by the larger agencies. I discovered agencies appeared to be more interested in profit than the customer experience, especially where meetings and events are concerned. This was my driving force behind the Trident business, attempting to develop a level playing field for independent and unusual venues against the branded hotels and venues.
What are your career highlights?
Definitely seeing the growth of Trident to a company that represents over 50 independent venues and hotels. Continually supporting these venues by gaining business and growth as respected meeting destinations. Of course it’s been a result of collaboration from friend and colleague Martin Dempster plus the relationship I have with Martin Stephens and the Off Limits team has been key to growth. Just to name a few.
You have over 30 years-experience in the field, how has the industry evolved in that time?
In the early days, it was about educating the hotels and venues on how to deliver a consistent service. The industry was very much about relationships, as it is now, but technology has become increasingly important and buyers are becoming a lot more “savvy”. However it can sometimes be misguided and to the detriment of the industry. The industry is more of a global community and the successful players are those that embrace change but have traditional service values. Clients that look after their teams and being honest in their dealings with customers and suppliers. Unfortunately the sad situation is the lack of development of “rising star” youngsters who will take the industry forward. This is one of the reasons I still get involved with delivering training for people who are just starting out in their careers. I recently delivered an MIA Training Course to the rising stars of the industry with like-minded colleague Rose McDonald. These days communication is immediate and an answer is needed or expected straight away, this is what technology has bought but this communication lacks “conversational” selling and development.
What is your favourite venue?
I have over fifty – all have something a little different to offer, take a look at our website tridenthospitality.co.uk
What changes do you expect to see in the industry in 2017?
The industry is going into a very interesting, transitional period. Globally we’ve had Brexit and now we have few all been Trumped too. I believe these will have an impact on the economies of the UK and most of the world’s leading economies. The next 12 months are a little uncertain but talking to venues and agents things are fairly buoyant, but is this a case of making hay while the sun shine! There needs to be an air of caution but I hope I’m wrong. I believe buyers will continue to be looking for something different in the way of venues. Agents may need to recognise that it’s not just about branded properties, venues will become a key part of the whole event experience. Technology will still play an important role in all aspects of meetings and events from booking through to feedback. Technologies driven by the likes of Venue Directory and ABC Connection are forever improving and changing the way in which we enquire and book events.
If you were having a dinner party who would you invite?
Sir Winston Churchill was a great statesman and great leader. Barry Sheene, the motorcycling legend, bad lad Billy Connelly for the humour and Burt Munro (look him up under the World’s Fastest Indian). All of these people were forthright, outspoken and didn’t really give a stuff about what people thought or what the establishment expected! A bit like me… Martin Dempster sees me as the most political correct he’s ever met! What is your most favourite place in the world to visit? I love the Isle of Man, hardly exotic but with their view on running the TT (the rest of the world and their tree hugging policies would have it banned) It has the history, the varied landscape and the local pride of where they have come from – that’s my take on it. But this may change after my motorcycle tour of New Zealand!
What is your favourite thing about Martin Stephens?
Is there one? Only kidding, I mentioned earlier few people come close to Peter Rand in their enthusiasm for what they do and the industry… Martin Stephens is one of them What is Martin Stephen’s worst habit? Filling his diary so full he forgets about his social life!
Kevan is certainly passionate about delivering the best to the industry and with a turbulent 2017 ahead we’re excited to see what Kevan Holland and his team will deliver. Watch this space.