Q&A with Alarna Jones, Crewe Hall’s events coordinator

Alarna Jones gives us an insight into what it's like to be an events coordinator at our Jacobean mansion, Crewe Hall. Alarna has been an events coordinator at Crewe Hall for nine months and before this she gained six years' experience in events operations at another of the group's properties, the Telford Hotel & Golf Resort.    

The Grade I listed hotel has 117 bedrooms, a state-of-the-art, purpose-built conference and events centre, a fantastic health club and spa, and is set in stunning countryside.  

 

What do you like most about Crewe Hall?

The thing I love most is its period character; it's around 400 years old and has a number of features that have survived all this time, which is just incredible. It has a sense of grandeur when you approach and its history is something I find really interesting.

 

What are your clients looking for when they use your space?

Clients often come to me wanting to offer delegates more than 'just another conference'. We like to encourage out of the box ideas like adding singing waiters to corporate dinners, Pokémon Go-style treasure hunts to teambuilding events, and outdoor themed challenges to a conference. With the facilities here and the outdoor space, we can offer something different each time.

Our Old Hall, with its ornate design and historic charm, is also a favourite amongst our guests for dinner and drinks. It's perfect for hosting banquets with long tables, goblets and authentic entertainment - something that definitely provides the wow factor!

 

What does a typical day look like?  

I start my day at 9am, though I like to use the gym onsite before, so I'm usually around fairly early. On event days I can be in very early - any time from 6am onwards. 

When I'm in the office I spend my mornings putting together proposals for new enquiries as well as sending out final details to clients with events coming up. These are detailed plans covering everything including room layout, AV equipment required, event timings, numbers, dietary requirements, external supplier details and contact details. The document has to be absolutely perfect and can take a lot of time. Once these are done I make sure that all relevant teams in the hotel are informed.

In the afternoon I often have appointments with clients. I like to show potential clients round so I get to meet them face-to-face and help them envisage their event. It also gives me the opportunity to understand more about what they want to achieve.

In meetings with current clients we'll look at the space again, in more detail, and clients might take specific measurements and walk through the event from an attendee point of view. We've had some amazing events here like 'It's a Knockout', which had a lot of giant inflatable games, so the final touches are always fun.

By late afternoon I will round up my day by chasing up any information I'm waiting on, and plan for the next day, preparing for any appointments.  Doing this means I can indulge my other passions when I've finished for the day. I can usually be found playing tennis, spending time with my nieces and nephews, or searching for, and going on holidays. I went to Jamaica last year, and am off to Thailand this year, which I'm very excited about!

 

What's the magic formula for a successful event?

It's definitely organisation and communication before, during and after the event. It's key to make sure that all involved have the most up-to-date information, we use a central document to keep track of changes and requests to ensure all needs are being met and we all have the same information.

 

What's your favourite type of event to work on?

I really enjoy getting to know clients and building a relationship with them. Residential conferences are my favourite because with this type of event there's a real sense of achievement once it has taken place. When it comes to attending events, I always try to make the most of what's going on in the local community, so I go to festivals and music events in the area when I can to get inspiration.

 

How do you make sure your events are different from one another?

Each event is naturally different from the next but taking the time to really get under the skin of what the client wants to achieve gives you a good start. Combining that information with my knowledge of the facilities we have at Crewe Hall lets me suggest unique event ideas that set them apart from one another. Almost anything can be done here!

 

What's been your career highlight so far?

My time in operations was really enjoyable but I've always wanted to go into sales, so making the move and becoming events co-ordinator has definitely been my highlight so far.

 

Other than Crewe Hall, what's your favourite QHotels property and why?

I absolutely love Mottram Hall. It has an old house feel and the alfresco thermospace spa is amazing! 

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