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The Christmas Issue Venues, catering, themes and more! Plus top tips from the pros

PA PROFILE Clarion Events’ Corina Dumitrascu HOW TO GUIDES Advice on themes and catering ideas for the office Christmas party MAGIC MERLIN The entertainment venue giant on ‘dos’ with a difference PLUS… A PA Life roundtable on corporate travel with Uber Checking In: A review of Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa in Surrey

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WELCOME... It is a balmy 24 degrees Celsius outside so shouldn’t we be enjoying everything that the early summer has to offer – BBQs, picnics in the park or a day by the sea? All sound very tempting but, like me, I am sure your inboxes (although meticulously well-ordered) are full to the brim with invitations to events celebrating the joys of Christmas. Hold the hotdogs and ice creams, it’s time for mince pies and mulled wine. And that’s why we’re bringing you an entire issue dedicated to the very best venues, caterers and entertainers who are there to help, inspire and guide you, to ensure your end-of-year celebrations hit the mark. Turn to page 14 and let the party planning begin. Page 20 sees the second installment of our series of features about the projects PAs are tasked with. We speak to Jo Parkin from Alpro UK about her experiences of organising the Christmas party. From the highs to the lows, she covers it all. Now, our magazine wouldn’t be complete without the compelling PA Profile interview, starting on page 9. Not only did we get to meet Corina Dumitrascu, PA & Head of the PA team at Clarion Events, but for the first time ever, we were lucky enough to have the interview setting styled with signature pieces courtesy of Europa, the events industry furniture hire firm. One thing Dumitrascu is clearly passionate about is gender equality and the need for balance in the industry. So, it is pleasing to see this view being

“I’m sure your inboxes are full of invitations to events celebrating Xmas. Hold the hotdogs and ice cream. Pass the mince pies!” supported by Bain and Gray, secretarial and PA recruiters, on page 41. Co-Founder Claire Gray celebrates the increase in male candidates applying for roles in this profession. Our resident hotel reviewer Hamish Kilburn visits a country gem on page 44. Read his summary on why Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa is the perfect booking for anyone seeking a corporate away day, extended business trip or weekend retreat. We end, as usual, by paying homage to our loyal PA Life Club members. From page 49 you can see the very best highlights they’ve been treated to recently. From a lavish river tour aboard Thames Luxury Charters to cocktails & canapes at Buddha-bar, a historical trip and tour aboard HMS Belfast and a fun-filled FAM trip to Malmaison Oxford – we have done it all. And, in case you missed the news in your inbox or on our website, we have just launched a range of new member options. So, if you are not a member, now is the time to sign up. As the saying goes, it’s the most wonderful time of year. Time to dust off the Christmas jumper and get the party started. Katy Phillips, Publisher





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PA Profile Corina Dumitrascu is a senior PA at Clarion Events. She tells us about moving to the UK, her background in Law and how she came to this profession.


PA Projects: The Christmas party Jo Parkin, a senior PA at Alpro UK provides some top tips on creating the perfect company festive party – taking us through some of her previous challenges, and her celebrated achievements.



How many sleeps...? If you organise the Christmas party, you’ll no doubt be about to start planning. We have 18 pages of spotlights on venues, catering, entertainment, event agencies and more. You’re welcome.


Make merry with Merlin It’s renowned for some of London’s biggest tourist attractions, including Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE and the London Dungeons. Find out about their unusual party options.


Uber great ground travel We partnered with tech travel giant Uber and convened a roundtable of PA Life readers to discuss ground travel planning and how technology plus automation can make things easier.


PA Life Club member interview Suzy Mudd is a freelance PA who fell into her career by accident when looking for job to fit around her family. She is now a PA to two clients. She tells us all.



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Are you already planning the office Christmas party? Tweet us @PALifeMag

The necessary evil Is Christmas party planning getting earlier? It’s crazy that we’re already running around finding venues and crafting the seating plan, says Declan HaltonWoodward, EA at Handelsbanken Wealth/Heartwood

Cover all eventualities, including ‘idiot’s guide’ directions, schedule of events, example outfits if themed, local hotels and taxis. Ensure everyone knows the itinerary.


My unpopular opinion is that Christmas parties are a bit of a scam; it’s astounding the premium we pay for events in December and there’s the ever expanding expectation of clients, executives and staff. Alas, needs must. I know there are some great tips and ideas covered in this issue but a few come to my mind based on past experience. Normally I would say the top of every list is planning, but you already know that. So first things first: think impact. How can you make people go ‘wow’ this year. Every firm can do a sit-down dinner and disco, but how might you do things a little different? This could be some games (casino or team-based games), personalised gifts or everyone’s favourite drink on arrival. And you’d be surprised by how well received a card invitation delivered to home addresses is (and at such a small cost). Second: get buy-in and drive excitement. Executive buy-in to the idea and the party as a whole is key to ensuring a success in both attendance and morale. If execs buy into the idea then talk soon spreads. Try different ideas to create anticipation – maybe you have a colour theme so everyone talks about clothing, or maybe you have a location that is secret until the day before. Third: communication. I have found that the more communication before, during and after the event, the better. Cover all eventualities including ‘idiots guide’ directions, schedule of events, example outfits if themed, local hotels and taxis, etc. On the night, ensure everyone knows the order of events and a few awards (long service, special recognition etc.) from the CEO make it a little more special. Post event, getting the pictures out and thanking everybody for their attendance as soon as possible is important. If your event is on a weekday, budget for some bacon/sausage rolls in the office the following morning. Finally and, perhaps more importantly, have fun! The venue makes a difference but it doesn’t make the night, and the same goes with food. Allow as many people to get involved as possible and enjoy the process. Let the night flow and make sure you add some things in which show the business doesn’t take itself too seriously. Can I be perhaps the first in 2019 to say: Merry Christmas….?


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Corina Dumitrascu Corina Dumitrascu had ďŹ nished studying Law in her home country of Romania when she made the snap decision to follow some of her family to the UK. Using many transferable skills (organisation and diplomacy, for starters), she has forged a career as a PA, rising to her current role as Senior PA & Head of the PA team at Clarion Events Photography: Dave Willis Room styled by: Europa International



WITH THANKS TO EUROPA INTERNATIONAL FOR STYLING THIS PHOTO SHOOT! Creatively Crackers Customer Service Connoisseurs = the Europa International team. The ‘go to’ events industry furniture hire firm of choice since 1961; with 30,000 items in stock, they can deliver what you want, whenever and wherever you need it! Europainternational.com 03454 303015


I initially wanted to go into Law, having studied it for four years. However, when I became a PA I realised I got on well with people and that I was adept at organising, as well as juggling multiple activities. How did you come to be a Personal Assistant? After obtaining a Law degree I was not able to get into that profession due to nepotism / corruption in my home country and I drifted into administrative / secretarial then support work for the local authority director. I found the work pleasant enough and when I relocated to the UK, I was fortunate to pick up a PA role for two lovely directors in a facilities maintenance company and progressed over the years to where I am now. Was it something you had always wanted to do? I initially wanted to naturally go into the arena of Law, having studied it for four years. However when I became a PA I realised that I got on well with people and I was adept at organising and juggling multiple activities. What advice would you give to someone looking to forge a career as a PA or EA? Have the beliefs and aspirations that you will succeed and start somewhere on the ladder so you can begin climbing to your chosen path. No matter who you meet on that path, be content in the knowledge that you won’t always be with them as you move on. What do you think are the peculiarities of working as a PA for an events company? Whilst we work in events, the tasks are very varied - as it is with any other PAs working at this level. My role includes arranging meetings with Clarion’s Board, and high profile individuals, sellers and brokers - plus complex and extensive worldwide travel. There is, however, a benefit to working at an events company - that we can visit our own shows and events. The London International Horse Show is a fantastic example of us at our best.

Describe a typical day for you. I am up early and scan my messages for anything urgent that has arisen overnight. I prep myself and start my commute, planning my activities and what the team has on the agenda. Working for Simon Kimble, the Executive Chairman who is leading Clarion’s business development, my day can change as easy as the flick of a switch – where I have to leave the traditional work and turn my attention to letters of intent, non-disclosure agreements and bid deadlines. What are the most challenging aspects of your job? At times there are so many demands coming in on my Directors time, coupled with confirming global travel, only for another priority to arise - and I have to re-do the jigsaw and get everything meshed again. And what are the most enjoyable aspects? Once your Directors have confidence in you and your decision-making process, and you have established a good working relationship, you are generally free to manage your workload. It also helps having a great boss and company too, which in 2017 was voted ‘the most respected company of the year’ and in 2018 ‘the most influential company over the last 25 years’ by the Association of Events Organisers. What piece of technology, or service, could you not live without? Technology has evolved greatly and I’m like many people, I’m sure, who would say that their smartphone is the one thing that they would miss the most. It’s a direct communication device, a camera, diary, and access to knowledge available on the worldwide web. Plus it’s pretty handy for checking out your next pair of heels!



The industry is heavily weighted in favour of the female gender and we should be opening up the area to men too – similar to how air cabin crew have changed.

If you weren’t a PA, what would you be? When I was young I thought about being an air hostess then I realised I did not like flying, so I guess I would have been a lawyer or something in the legal field. Not as exciting as my current life. Are you a member of the PA Life Club and/or any other PA groups? And if so, what are the benefits, in your opinion? Yes, I’m a proud member of the PA Life Club and getting to meet other PAs gives me an insight of the work required in different sectors, widening my horizons and learning industry best practices. What do you think the PA community needs to do more of as a collective? The industry is heavily weighted in favour of the female gender and we should be opening up this area to the male sector too - similar to how air cabin crew have changed. In this issue of PA Life, we’re looking at all things to do with Christmas. Give us your top three tips for organising the office Xmas party. • The venue and entertainment are the key here, as a place without any soul does not get the party off to a good start. • Timely notice for everyone to make their arrangements as it is always a very busy period. • What food and drink is there and what space is there for mingling? How do you relax after a busy day in the office? I like to listen to a bit of music to clear my mind as I jog around the lake, followed by browsing and catching up with the world news before finally falling asleep with a good book.


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Looking for food inspiration? Tweet us @PALifeMag

Creating a more informal and interactive experience will help everyone relax and have fun – and that’s what Xmas is about Mark Field, Victory Services Club

How to ditch the turkey Maybe it’s time to ditch the turkey and pigs-inblankets when it comes to the office party, says Mark Field, Operations Director at the Victory Services Club. Why not try bringing the flavours of European Christmas markets to your event?


The working environment has changed and many of us now work in a more flexible and informal way. Not many wear a suit and tie to work and we are all embracing flexible hours and remote working. As our business culture evolves, so does what we expect from the company Christmas party. There is still a demand for the formal traditional Christmas dinner - after all Christmas is a time for tradition! But now many companies look for a more informal and flexible approach. Having a diverse range of staff will impact on the type of Christmas party you hold, too. One option to consider is the Christmas Market. It’s easier than ever to travel and the European Christmas markets have never been so popular. We are an adventurous bunch so these offer us an accessible way to experience Christmas, but with a twist. The ambience, the tastes and the smells of the European Christmas market can be brought to life for your Christmas party. Imagine being able to sample freshly made French crêpes and Baeckeoffe (a classic

French stew) or enjoy the traditional Bavarian Christmas specialities of Bratwurst with Curry Sauce or Pork Schnitzel with Jaeger Sauce. Having stalls of food dotted around your party room will enable your team to choose the things they like the look of, and to sample some new flavours. Guests can be as adventurous as they dare, and if something isn’t quite to their taste they can move onto the next stall. Chefs can be on hand to bring an element of theatre to the proceedings. Your guests will be able to mingle and talk to everyone as they move around the room, and the different food on offer is a perfect conversation starter. Food is a great leveller and talking about it can help bridge the gap between the CEO and the most junior staffer. You may wish to have some occasional tables in the room, or a few tables for the team to sit down at, but removing the formal dinner tables gives you more room for dancing and then enables you to create a better party atmosphere. Creating a more informal and interactive experience will help everyone relax and have fun – because after all, that’s what a Christmas party is all about.



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Corporate Christmas Party 2019 A unique event space in the heart of the City Embracing the architecture of this Grad ii listed building, this stunningly refurbished church provides dramatically high ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows providing the ideal backdrop for this years theme “a traditional Christmas with a contemporary twist“ The venue has a full AV & production installation during the December period embracing the features of the venues drastic architecture. The all inclusive packages offer AV & Production, stylish theming, food and beverages, service, security and DJ & Disco. There is a range of options available to add more elements to the venue and clients can fully customise their event with specific theming and entertainment as desired. CAPACITY: MAIN HALL Standing – 380 Seated Dinner 180 Standing Parties 550 across both event spaces Packages from £135 + VAT CONTACT DETAILS For further information : Telephone: +44 20 3859 3265 Email: dutchhall@christmasevents.co.uk Web: www.christmasevents.co.uk Location: 7 Austin Friars, London , EC2N 2HA



Do you organise formal business events? Tweet us @PALifeMag

When an event adopts the business model approach, creative thinking is encouraged, aligned to objectives. Martin Richardson, Ten Thousand Hours

How to host events with a business approach Creativity is important, but corporate events need to be managed with a more businesscentric approach, argues Martin Richardson, Managing Director at Ten Thousand Hours. And maybe it’s time to quit doing the same thing…?

The creation of impactful and meaningful events is becoming increasingly important to PAs, but how often do you get the full and detailed brief that’s needed to really make an impact? Most event briefs are focused on delivery tactics (location, dates, meeting space) and not strategy. But there is much more involved in putting an event together - no matter what size, scale or shape it takes. Key messaging, identity, engagement, feedback, measurement, etc. And all of these areas should be questioned and explored to create an event that stakeholders value. So how can you steer the conversation, and command the time and effort from your stakeholders, to really understand how the event will align with the business strategy? How can you can add value at every stage, and in turn gain recognition? It is no longer acceptable to produce events because ‘we hold one every year’, and the mantra that ’no one ever got fired for doing the same thing’ is an approach that will only get one thing; the same as before.

The most successful events we have ever produced on behalf of clients have been when in the initial set-up stages, the event adopts a business model approach. It’s about looking at the event as if it were a business: • What is the event’s unique proposition? • Where are your attendees/customers? • How do you market to them? • What are your objectives for the event? • Set-up costs vs return? Partnerships? • Can every objective be achieved in one event or is a longer term series required? • Resources required? When event organisers are asked to deliver based on a tactical brief they are open to critique based on matters out of their control (venue service, room quality etc.) and this can fill an event organiser with dread. However, when an event adopts the business model approach, creative thinking is encouraged, aligned to objectives. Evaluation is based on outcomes. And when this happens, gone is the dread associated with cold coffee; replaced by the joy of delivering an event that will gain personal recognition from stakeholders.



Christmas may be a time for tradition, but the theme of your office party doesn’t have to follow suit. Michael Charles, Julia Charles Event Management

How to create a theme for your party Don’t go down a rabbit hole thinking about themes for your Christmas party, says Michael Charles, Creative Director at Julia Charles Event Management (although Alice in Wonderland is a great option...)


Christmas parties are often created around a theme, with PAs having the tiresome task of assuming that they have to think of a new one each year. But really effective events look beyond traditional theming ideas, beyond the simple list of props available and what’s trending, and instead fully explore a theme and create a fully immersive experience. You don’t have to think of a new theme each year – some themes can offer you almost endless opportunities to exploit. Take ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – that’s literally a whole world of ideas for you to explore. We once ran an Alice-themed event, but it was focused solely on the white rabbit. We created a whole experience that transported guests ‘down the rabbit hole’ - with doors and rabbit holes around the venue for the guests to explore, upside down props suspended from the ceiling to create a topsy-turvy underground world, high-end costumes and professional movie standard make-up for the senior management team and performers in costume who interacted

with the guests to make the whole experience more immersive. If approached creatively, every theme can offer you nuances and twists that can be expanded into entire events. A tiny spark of an idea can be expanded, explored, and taken on a journey of creativity. Think of your company’s brand and culture plus the people who are part of your team. A tech start-up may be able to be more creative than a financial provider – but then again, the financial provider may want more creativity and spark to relay a more exciting employer. Think of how you can shake up the traditional party format and do things differently – for example, instead of booking entertainment to perform just for a section of your party, why not approach your acts and see if they would work with your guests, to interact, to sit with them and create an immersive experience – and a lot of fun! Rethink your traditional approach to theming, let your imagination run wild, stir up some creativity and take an alternative approach. Christmas may be a time of tradition, but your theming doesn’t have to follow suit.

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The office Christmas party As part of our new series of features taking a look at the projects that PAs and EAs are tackling, we speak to Jo Parkin, Assistant to the VP of Customer Development at Alpro UK about organising the annual company shindig


Tell us about a brief you were given for a company Christmas party (number of guests, what you needed to find in a venue, theme, etc). My brief for our Christmas Party is usually a private party within one hour travelling time for 65-70 people, including one night’s accommodation. Speeches and an introduction need to be facilitated at the beginning and require a memorable location to celebrate a great year. This is one opportunity to say thank you to the staff for their contribution to the success of the company. In the past we have had some very special black tie evenings and the girls in evening dresses, but this particular year they wanted something different – but were unsure what.

venues so I create connections with venues directly, as well as using a venue finding agency to assist where needed. I had been contacted by Warwick Castle earlier in the year and had already saved the idea as a future option. I was also looking for two venues – one for the party and one for accommodation. And how did you come up with the theme? Once the location had been agreed, as distance was my first priority, I then looked into how we could theme it. Once we decided on a full medieval banquet in a castle I chose to run with a full medieval theme.

When did you start planning the event? Summer – the earlier you start, the easier it is. You have a full choice of venues and more options available, as well as being able to allocate more time to the event over six months rather than panicking at the last minute.

What were your objectives in terms of entertainment and catering? Requirements are always: Reception drinks for staff to mingle; a good quality three-course dinner, and entertainment had to be fun to get everyone involved. I went for a medieval banquet on long tables with medieval entertainment.

How did you find the venue? I am always on the look-out for new

What were the main challenges you faced?


It is always hard to please all invitees and you will always have a minority that will ask for changes. Some staff were wary of doing fancy dress. However, as the event became closer, more and more staff bought into the idea and enthusiasm increased. I also had to plan departure coaches at various times to ferry staff back to the hotel. In the past I had chosen one venue for the party and accommodation. Planning the schedule of the evening so you have a good balance of professional gathering and a great party

seen the venue and are one of the best to advise on a theme. Promoting the evening several months before really helps get everyone motivated and excited before your event has even started. Tell us about the suppliers you chose to work with to tackle the project? I used a venue finding company to organise the payment and major details, which then saves time to plan the finer details in the months prior to the party. I also used a fancy dress costume

Have fun choosing and planning the event! Remember you have to be excited about the location, theme, food etc, before you can expect your staff to feel the same.

for all staff is important. Remember, they will talk to friends and family after the event and if you create a special evening this will last in their memory for the rest of the year. What did you learn during the project? If you feel a theme will really work for your party, then stick to your plan and fully promote the reasons why this will be a fantastic night. Remember you have

company to assist the invitees with hire of costumes What feedback did you get from your bosses and colleagues? They loved the location and everyone was able to have a fantastic party in our own private space. What are the biggest pitfalls one can face when planning an office party?

Drink availability and management of an open bar. If you start serving lots of alcohol before dinner, attendees will get very tipsy early on, so you need to pace the evening out. I have wine and beer on the tables, but only half during dinner, and then I add a second round of bottles during the main course. If you have a bar account set up this needs to be monitored regularly and a rules set in place on which drinks are not allowed on account. For example, I avoid £10 cocktails or lots of shots going on the account. What advice would you give to a PA/EA who is planning an office party for the first time this year? Have fun choosing and planning the event! Remember you have to be excited about the location, theme, food etc before your staff can. Confirm the budget in advance and what is the company policy for allocation of drinks, free bar, etc. Send out a hold date invite in all expected invitees’ diaries four months before – this helps get full attendance for the event. Challenge the price if you feel the price per person is too much. If you are doing early bookings then this is much easier than a last minute request.



Christmas crackers How many sleeps now...? If you’re a PA or EA, you’ll already be thinking about the festive period. So over the next 18 pages, we have a round-up of top ideas for venues, catering options, entertainment and more. Get ready for the party season right now... >>> VIRGIN TRAINS Travel to your Christmas party in style. Hire an entire train coach in Standard or First Class with Virgin Trains and get the party started early. The Red Carpet package lets you personalise your coach and tailor your experience, so you’ll have a journey to remember. Enjoy complimentary food and drink and select your own special event, from wine tasting and pub quizzes to onboard games and bespoke treats. Rather keep it classy? Create your own menu or treat your group to a luxury champagne service. It’s completely up to you. You can book across some of the best spots in Britain, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London. Prices start from £850. virgintrains.com/redcarpet


BENARES RESTAURANT & BAR Michelin-Star Benares Restaurant and Bar is home to fine-dining modern Indian cuisine. Boasting four private dining rooms, as well as an intimate lounge, Benares is able to accommodate all celebrations, whether corporate or personal, and is available for exclusive hire for larger functions. The main restaurant features hand-crafted Indian furniture with splashes of warm, rich colours that create an inviting and cosy dining experience. Its striking and spacious lounge is the perfect setting for pre or post dinner drinks. Enjoy an evening spent in elegant and relaxed surroundings. www.benaresrestaurant.com


Looking for an award-winning London event and entertainment agency to help with entertainment for your event? Just say Yes! Yes Entertainment has been running Christmas parties and booking Christmas party entertainment and options for all other types of events across London for over 12 years. In that time it has built up a very large network of talented and dedicated people with a huge range of skills and talents. If you simply need a DJ who will get your guests on the dancefloor, or you are planning a fully themed, multi-act event, Yes has the team and expertise to get the right acts for you. www.yesentertainment.co.uk


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>>> MARRIOTT Planning your work’s Christmas party is fun, but the team at Marriott understands it can be demanding. That’s why it has created allencompassing, customisable packages to make planning your party effortless. Wow your colleagues with hand-crafted food inspired by seasonal flavours, and transform your party from the ordinary to the extraordinary with event extras from gin bars to donut walls, centrepieces to guest giveaways. So whether you’re planning a cosy get-together or a sparkling spectacular, book now at your choice of over 55 Marriott hotels across the UK. MemoriesMadeMarriott.co.uk/ Christmas <<< GOODWOOD Make this year’s office Christmas party exceptional. There are three exciting venues to choose from, each providing menus inspired by delicious Goodwood organic produce, a warm welcome and good-old fashioned service, all wrapped up with the famous Goodwood twist! With its beautiful Georgian architecture and roaring log fires, The Kennels is ideal for a relaxed, intimate Christmas celebration. The 91-bedroom Goodwood Hotel is the perfect host for a jovial party with a DJ. Exclusive use of the Cedar Suite with its own private entrance, lounge and bar ensures your celebrations are uninterrupted. If you wish to truly impress, there is no grander setting than the splendour of Goodwood House. With exclusive use of the State Apartments, talented in-house chefs and your own team of butlers, it will certainly deliver the ‘wow factor’. 01243 520195

ALL STAR LANES All Star Lanes is the ultimate Christmas party destination where you can drink, dine and bowl in style. Its private event spaces offer a truly unique experience. Enjoy unlimited bowling on your own retro lanes, cocktails from dedicated mixologists, American style festive eats and karaoke to get you in the holiday spirit. Whether you’re after a fun night out with your team, or a unique venue to host your corporate Christmas party, All Star Lanes’ event organisers will help create the perfect celebration for your group. With festive food and drink packages starting from £55 per person, throw the party of the year at All Star Lanes. Allstarlanes.co.uk



>>> TOBACCO DOCK What’ll it be? Elephants and magic? Or igloos and ice skating? This Christmas Tobacco Dock is offering two festive celebration options. Whether you’re looking for a banquet, chic drinks reception or something active, Tobacco Dock has the answer. The team will be encouraging you to run away with the circus, transforming the main venue into a big top. With exclusive and mixed nights available, treat your team to a night at the Dream Circus, complete with award-winning catering, world-class entertainment and spectacular theming. Alternatively, take the party to the roof. Boasting Europe’s only rooftop ice rink, 360-degree views of the city and delicious food and drinks options, Skylight is the perfect spot for a stylish and fun Christmas party. Its neon-lit frosty wonderland is available for both partial and exclusive hire for up to 600 guests and, with cosy igloos and plenty of covered space, everyone can keep toasty whatever the barometer says. Tobaccodocklondon.com


DUTCH HALL This stunning refurbished church boasts beautiful stained-glass windows and vast ceiling heights, which create an elegant atmosphere, perfect for this year’s Christmas celebrations. Embracing the architecture of this Grade II listed building, the theme is a ‘traditional Christmas with a contemporary twist’. The venue comprises two event spaces: The Van Gogh Room, ideal for pre-dinner drinks and canapé receptions, followed by a seated dinner in The Main Hall. The venue has a maximum capacity for 180 guests for a seated dinner or up to 600 for a standing party. www.christmasevents.co.uk


Feast It is the UK’s leading event catering agency where you can book the perfect supplier for your event. Whether it’s a company launch, staff party or intimate investor dinner, you’re in good company – the firm has worked with Disney, PwC, Virgin Sport, Facebook, Amazon and Deloitte. For up to 20,000 guests, the team will curate the food and drink from start to finish and are on hand to ensure your event is on-brand, unique and memorable. Team It has partnered with over 650 of the country’s most delicious and unique street food suppliers, restaurant caterers and mobile bars, to guarantee a perfect event menu tailored to your brief. Looking to have a sit-down meal as part of the event for something a little extra special? You can now choose from the curated selection of Michelin-starred restaurants, major brands and private chefs, including Nobu, Pied à Terre and BAO. Feast-it.com

EAT DRINK ‘Tis the season to celebrate! So whether you’re planning a quiet, intimate gathering or a sparkling spectacular, we have fantastically festive food and entertainment wrapped up in our customisable Christmas party packages. Available at over 55 hotels located in great town, city and countryside locations throughout the UK, get the party started this festive season with Marriott. At Marriott we don’t just host events, we make memories. MemoriesM Mad deMa Marrio ott.co.u uk/Chrisstmas


>>> EAST WINTERGARDEN East Wintergarden is a blank canvas space in the heart of Canary Wharf that offers a modern and contemporary backdrop to any Christmas celebration. The venue’s mezzanine Gallery offers guests an elevated view over Jubilee Park, an ideal spot to experience a dazzling drinks reception or enjoy pre-dinner canapés before dinner and dancing! The Main Hall’s 27m high glass atrium is transformed into a spectacular vision of festive magic – with over 50,000 twinkling pea-lights creating an illuminating blanket under which 450 banqueting guests or 1,000 standing can enjoy party bowl food, a gourmet buffet or a decadent seated dinner curated by our in-house specialist caterers. East Wintergarden also boasts The Promenade Room, adjacent to The Main Hall and adaptable as a VIP room, event organiser’s office or can even be transformed into a Santa’s Grotto for younger guests! Create lasting memories that keeps the office reminiscing long into the New Year. 020 7418 2725 <<< THE LENSBURY

The Lensbury is well known for putting on a Christmas party. Its beautiful location, excellent food, wine and service makes for a memorable night. At The Lensbury the team knows a great party doesn’t just happen, which is why its experienced event organisers make sure no small detail is left to chance. The popular Shared Party Nights are a great way to celebrate the season. The Lensbury Party Night Package includes: • A glass of Prosecco on arrival • Three course Christmas Festive Menu with coffee and mince pies • Half a bottle of wine • Live disco until 1.00am • Special accommodation rates available Prices range from £59.75 per person (Tuesday to Thursday) to £66.50 per person (Friday and Saturday) 020 8614 6500

TRAVELODGE Travelodge is the ideal choice whether your business is large or small, offering a great way to manage your expenditure and make savings. With over 560 hotels and 42,000 bedrooms - of which over 1,700 are SuperRooms™, designed with the business traveller in mind - you’ll find these hotels in the centre of major cities and towns, as well as at airports and on major roads. More than 400 of the hotels have on-site parking, 190 have fully licensed Bar Cafés open 24 hours a day and all are located close to other restaurants, making Travelodge the ideal base for travel and party night accommodation. The chain continues to expand, opening 17 new hotels in 2018, including its new flagship Travelodge PLUS hotel in the heart of London’s business district which features new look standard rooms, SuperRooms™ and its new stylish Bar Café. In 2019 Travelodge hopes to open a further 20 brand new Travelodges. Perfect accommodation options for the festive party. Travelodge.co.uk


020 8614 6500

To celebrate with us call on: or email: c h r i s t m a s p a r t y @ l e n s b u r y . c o m T h e L e n s b u r y , B r o o m R o a d , Te d d i n g t o n T W11 9 N U

w w w . l e n s b u r y . c o m

THE PERFECT SPACE TO H OST YOU R SUMMER EVENT You couldn’t wish for a finer setting than the iconic surrounds of one of the world’s best-loved racecourses. Celebrate at Ascot this summer and curate the perfect day for you and your guests with a BBQ alongside your conference, exhibition or team building day within our historic buildings and beautiful grounds.

Summer Sizzler BBQ package from £65 + VAT* To discuss your requirements or to view any of our facilities, please call 0844 346 3611 or email conferenceandevents@ascot.co.uk *Minimum 100 covers. Price per person includes complimentary grounds hire, welcome drink, BBQ, cash bar and free parking.

Quote PALIFE when booking to receive two complimentary tickets to an Ascot Raceday** **Offer includes two Queen Anne Enclosure tickets for any Ascot Raceday in 2019, excluding Royal Ascot and QIPCO British Champions Day. Complimentary tickets issued upon payment. Subject to availability.


>>> INSPIRATIONAL VENUES & EVENTS This specialist agency is highly experienced and well connected. The team’s passion for seamless events and dedication to service resonates with its relentless quest to be London’s leading full-service event management agency. The company is proud of its venue finding service and successfully sources venues in ideal locations at the best negotiated rates, whilst exceeding expectations in terms of value, time, service and innovation. Where its team of event specialists add value: • Global Venue Sourcing • Event Management • Private Dining Reservations • Group Accommodation • Incentive Travel & Hospitality • Enterprise wide Meetings Management 0203 015 7581 <<< VICTORY SERVICES CLUB Christmas is the time of giving and companies are now very conscious of their corporate social responsibility when booking their Christmas party. As a registered military charity, the Victory Services Club finds that its clients are attracted and enthralled by its story; by booking a Christmas party, you are directly contributing to the delivery of one of VSC’s charitable objectives. This enables them to fund free weekend breaks in London at the Club for injured members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families. The venue’s Christmas Market party option has proven to be extremely popular this year as it brings to life the ambience, the tastes and the smells of the European Christmas markets. Vsc.co.uk

INDIAN ACCENT Take a break from turkey this festive season and celebrate Christmas at critically-acclaimed Indian Accent in Mayfair. The elegant restaurant is spread over two floors and can host parties for up to 70 guests for lunch, dinner, or a cocktail and canapés reception. The lower ground floor is ideal for private parties whilst the entire restaurant is available for exclusive hire. Executive Chef Manish Mehrotra has created exciting and innovative festive menus, offering a unique way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Delicious choices include patridge musallam with almond korma, and caramelised pecan rasmalai. www.indianaccent.com


Make this year’s office Christmas party exceptional O N LY AT

GOODWOOD goodwood.com

Let the Jingle Bell Rock at Wyboston Lakes Resort

Time to start planning the biggest event of the year! We have a great selection of party nights to suit parties of all sizes and needs..

Woodland Party Nights Holly Jolly Disco Nights Winter Wonderland Nights From £39.95 per person 0333 7007 667 www.wybostonlakes.co.uk christmas@wybostonlakes.co.uk All parties are for over 18’s only. Terms and conditions apply. See website for more details

Wyboston Lakes Resort, Great North Road, Wyboston, Bedfordshire, MK44 3AL


>>> WYBOSTON LAKES From parties to banquets, there is a great range of exciting ways to celebrate the end of the year at Wyboston Lakes Resort. Those who love to party can choose from three sparkling options: Woodland Party Nights in the newly transformed Woodlands Event Centre, Holly Jolly Disco Nights at The Willows and Winter Wonderland Nights at The Waterfront Hotel. All nights feature a three-course meal with wine followed by a DJ until 1am. Prices start from £39.99 per person with overnight accommodation and spa access all available at an additional cost. Private parties are also available for party sizes 2-300+ at multiple venues across the site with entertainment and finishing touches all provided as part of the service. wybostonlakes.co.uk

<<< BATEAUX LONDON Do something different this Christmas and celebrate the season of goodwill with a trip down the Thames with Glass Room and River Room, the luxury dining destinations on the Thames. On offer is a modern and stylish dining experience that features exquisite seasonal food and fine wines, coupled with a trip down the river that takes in the capital’s most iconic landmarks. Indulge in fabulously festive lunch or set sail at night for a truly magical experience that takes in the twinkling lights of London. Throughout December enjoy three courses that come complete with a seasonal welcome drink, wine, Christmas crackers and live entertainment, starting from £69 per person (minimum booking of 10 people on the River Room). Dishes on the Christmas menu include maple roast parsnip velouté with blue cheese and candied walnuts; game terrine with pickled pear chutney; and roast turkey ballotine wrapped in bacon, and accompanied by duck fat potatoes, heritage carrots, braised red cabbage, apricot stuffing and redcurrant gravy. Bateauxlondon.com

OFFICE CHRISTMAS As a Christmas party agency, Office Christmas suggests all of the best venues based on your requirements. The company offers the same rates as the venue directly and you have one point of contact, which saves you hours of time talking to each venue directly. The company compiles all of the options in one place and you simply pick your favourite. Site visits, catering, venue hire and entertainment are all managed in one place. Get a free Hotel Chocolat gift when you book by quoting CHOXMAS19 when enquiring. 0203 967 69 67



43 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London E14 5NX T: 020 7418 2725 E: eastwintergarden@canarywharf.com W: canarywharf.com/eastwintergarden EWG_CanaryWharf


>>> ASCOT RACECOURSE Enjoy one of Ascot’s superb fine dining spaces for your exclusive use this festive season, with the ability to tailor menus, décor and entertainment to your exact requirements. The Pavilion, Parade Ring and ON 5 Restaurants are available throughout November and December for parties of over 100 guests, from £80 + VAT per person. Smaller groups can enjoy the Shared Party evenings – a perfect way to celebrate together – which include a drinks reception, a threecourse dinner, half a bottle of wine and the chance to dance the night away to the popular resident DJ. Selected dates in December, from £67.50 + VAT per person. Ascot station is less than 40 mins by direct train from Reading and under an hour by direct train from London Waterloo. Extensive on-site free parking for both cars and coaches. 0344 346 3611

<<< MANCHESTER METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY Offering a range of innovative and flexible spaces with integrated technology, the University is located in the city centre with easy transport connections make travelling options easy. Multiple meeting rooms, informal breakout areas and residential accommodation in close proximity provide an ideal environment for a range of events. Commended by Allergen Awareness, menus can be designed specifically for an event, using the fantastic range of local produce from the region. Budget friendly campus accommodation, with eco townhouses and four-star accreditation from Visit England, is available during the summer. Recognised for its contribution and commitment to sustainability, the Conference and Events team will ensure your event receives the best customer service providing an enjoyable inclusive experience for everyone. 0161 247 2000

EMIRATES OLD TRAFFORD Choose from one of Emirates Old Trafford’s three shared party packages, or let them help create your private party vision. Prices start from £42 per person. The shared party nights combine delicious food and first class entertainment to ensure that you and your guests have a festive experience like no other. For 2019, the shared party nights bring you brand new vocalists and interactive features, so there’s something for everyone. Looking for an exclusive private party night? Let Emirates Old Trafford’s expert teams take the reins to create a unique festive celebration that encapsulates your brand values, so your team feel part of something special and meaningful. 0161 282 4020





CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS ON BOARD THE SHIP THAT CHANGED THE WORLD. Host a private party on board the SS Great Britain and enjoy exclusive use of the whole ship. With private drink receptions and festive lunches also available, groups of all sizes can join in the festivities.

Contact our Events team now on 0117 926 0680 to find out more. events@ssgreatbritain.org


>>> MERLIN EVENTS Merlin Events organises some of the most exclusive and unique Christmas parties in the country. Its portfolio of venues includes such iconic attractions as Madame Tussauds London, SEA LIFE Aquarium London, the London Dungeons, the Coca-Cola London Eye and Shrek’s Adventure London. They are a seriously stand-out choice for corporate and office Christmas parties. The dedicated event management team holds an unrivalled amount of experience and passion, ensuring that every event goes off without a hitch. So, whether it’s a festive dinner for 50 or Christmassy cocktails for 1,000, Merlin Events know exactly how to deliver a merry evening for guests one and all. merlineventslondon.com

<<< HAMPTON COURT PALACE – THE GARDEN ROOM There are few venues that embody the tradition and nostalgia of Christmas more than Hampton Court Palace, offering guests the chance to celebrate the festive season in a truly one-of-a-kind setting steeped in history. Parties of 50 and above can enjoy a Christmas lunch in the elegant Garden Room, with a glass of sparkling on arrival, sumptuous three-course menu, wine and petit fours. After lunch, guests are granted entry into the palace for a unique and memorable experience retracing the steps of some of Britain’s most famous monarchs. Larger groups of 80 and above can enjoy dinner in the Garden Room, entering through a decorated archway to enjoy a three-course menu and drinks before taking to the dance floor to the sounds of a DJ until the early hours. For a more informal celebration, opt for The Fork Buffet experience which accommodates groups of 80 and above for lunch or dinner, who can enjoy a selection of smaller dishes and a DJ for evening bookings. Prices start from £77+VAT per person 020 3166 6507

SS GREAT BRITAIN The Victorians engineered Christmas as we know it today, so where better to celebrate than at Bristol’s unique and breath-taking venue? No matter the size of your group, SS Great Britain has options to cater for all festivities. The exclusive Christmas parties include whole hire of the ship, an arrival drink, a three-course festive dinner followed by historic and exciting tales before guests end their night dancing away to the on-board DJ. Private lunches on board the ship and exclusive drinks receptions in the Being Brunel Museum can also be arranged. Prices for exclusive evening parties start at £60 per person, private lunches start at £45 per person and evening drinks receptions from £32 per person (all including VAT). Ssgreatbritain.org



Make merry with Merlin Fancy raising a toast with the turtles at the SEA LIFE Aquarium? Or how about hob-nobbing with the royal family at Madame Tussauds? The team at Merlin Events discusses some of its options for Christmas parties that will appeal to even your most party-pooper guests


Nothing gets the team at Merlin Events quite as excited as the most wonderful time of the year. As the festive season approaches, we see our iconic attractions filled with guests ready to eat, drink and be merry. While the opportunity for show-stopping events is there all year round, no time is more fitting than Christmas to truly push the boat out and get imaginative. There are few limits on what we can achieve at corporate or office Christmas parties with Merlin. The team has vast experience producing events in unique and unusual environments from working with such a diverse and exciting venue portfolio. Our iconic spaces for Christmas parties include Madame Tussauds London, SEA LIFE Aquarium London and the London Dungeons. Each has its own choice of packages available, created with guests in mind to make sure the experience is perfect. Madame Tussauds can host between 50 and 1,000 guests for Christmas parties, dinner dances or bespoke festive events. The world-famous venue

provides in-house catering, top-of-therange disco and DJ facilities and even a full, unlimited bar. A dedicated event manager is also there to make sure each merry celebration is one for guests to remember. For the same exciting atmosphere at a smaller dinner or mid-sized Christmas party, then Movies at Madame Tussauds is the perfect option. Our futuristic and superhero-inspired spaces give new dimensions to any festive celebration. There’s plenty of entertainment to enjoy and activities for guests to partake in, from putting on Iron Man’s suit to visiting Jedi Master Yoda in the Swamps of Dagobah. Our 4D cinema is always a hit for guests too, with interactive seats, back pokes and leg ticklers for a truly immersive cinema experience. The SEA LIFE London Aquarium is a venue for Christmas parties like no other and a fantastic place to host a festive bash with a twist. There’s nowhere else you can celebrate with the sharks or tuck into a turkey dinner by turtles! An interactive diver session is a delightful

way to make guests jolly and the venue’s high-quality AV means the space can be customised for a thoroughly festive feel. A choice of venue that’s a little less traditional is the notorious London Dungeons. Up to 120 guests can enjoy a standout evening sipping frosty cocktails and interacting with the venue’s cast of talented actors. It might not be known for its merriment and cheer but the Dungeons are well-equipped to put on festive events. While the main event is still months away, we started reminiscing about some of the fantastic festive parties we’ve organised over time. There have been so many spectacular evenings but looking back we were reminded of our favourite one from last year: Danone’s annual office Christmas party. The guests were treated to an unforgettable night at Madame Tussauds where they got to rub shoulders with the stars. Danone told us they wanted to surprise their staff with a unique venue to ensure the evening would be unforgettable, and the celebration certainly wasn’t short of action. Guests were treated to a festive welcome with champagne, canapés, a brass band and a chance to ride on the Spirit of London, a

Merlin’s iconic spaces for Christmas parties include Madame Tussauds London, SEA LIFE Aquarium London and the London Dungeons.

fairground-style, storytelling experience of London’s history. The main part of the evening went down on the World Stage alongside a well-stocked bar and top A-List celebrity wax figures. Attendees were served an extensive, innovative menu of bowl foods followed by dessert canapés. Then, with sprits high, the lights went down and the World Stage swapped the DJ for a dancefloor. A second band came to perform and kept guests dancing until the wee hours of the morning! There are so many reasons our venues lend themselves so well to hosting corporate and office Christmas parties. Using one of Merlin’s unique event spaces is a superb way to make sure your next festive bash is one every guest will remember and enjoy. Whether it’s a festive dinner for 50 or Christmassy cocktails for 1,000, the Merlin events team know exactly what it takes to deliver a merry evening for one and all.





The rise of the male PA It’s time for more men to consider taking a role as a PA or EA, says Claire Gray, co-founder of Bain and Gray. Change is happening – but slowly... Long gone are the days where job roles were stereotypically matched to a certain gender. For example, more women are starting to embrace a career in tech, which was traditionally seen as a male-dominated industry. And today more men are now choosing a job role as an executive assistant. Sadly, the uptake is still quite slow. In 2017, the UK Office for National Statistics reported that women accounted for 94 per cent of personal assistant and secretarial roles in the UK, but this is starting to change. Bain and Gray has seen a distinct increase in the number of male candidates applying for executive support roles. In 2015, less than one per cent of candidates were male, but last year this rose to upwards of six per cent and we expect the figure to continue to grow in 2019. We currently work with the Oxford Media and Business School whose PA Diploma is being renamed as the Professional Business Diploma to more accurately reflect the course content (which is not changing). Graduates pay around £15,000 to train up in this field knowing the investment in this type of role has the potential to pay back - as

In 2015 less than one per cent of candidates for PA roles were male, but last year this rose to upwards of six per cent and we expect this figure to continue to grow in 2019.

top EAs can earn up to £100,000. The increase in the number of male candidates on our books reflects the rise of the career PA. Whereas once the job of the PA consisted of typing at a desk and taking minutes, the role has changed beyond recognition. An executive assistant acts as the primary point of contact for an organisation, internal manager of the business’ budget and is in charge of internal and external events. It’s due to these evolving responsibilities that men too are carving out a name for themselves within the industry. Mo Mohsenin is a private PA for two different bosses, and came to us as an owner of his own company within the events/fashion industry. He decided to take a completely different career track and become an executive assistant. He explained: “A lot of people were initially surprised to hear I am a PA, as it is often a role associated with females. Many people don’t really understand what today’s PA actually undertakes apart from taking notes, making the tea and organising someone’s calendar. This perception is thankfully changing and I have met quite a few other male PAs in the last few months.” Mohsenin was recently tasked with relocating an entire office with 15 staff from one side of London to another, which demonstrates how far the role of a PA has evolved. It’s more about making a difference and implementing change as a senior member of staff. As the role of the executive assistant has changed, the perception of it is starting to shift too, for both employers and employees. Mohsenin added: “In this day and age, I don’t believe that men or women should be defined by what job they do.”



Taking the pain out of We partnered with Uber and convened a roundtable of PA Life Club Members to discuss ground travel planning and how technology and automation can make things easier Tell us about your current ground travel arrangements and processes. LM: It very much depends on location - a lot of our offices have local arrangements with a specific taxi firm. But when staff are out, they tend to use Uber personal accounts, with everything going back through expenses after the trip. It’s like a two-tier system depending on the circumstances. AJ: For me it’s a mix of policy and personality. If I’m booking for trips in London, I have to use a specific provider. But if staff are overseas or in a city where that partner doesn’t operate they will default to Uber on personal accounts and expense back. SK: The same - I’ll use our mandated provider for longer journeys and then Uber locally if required. This is mainly due to historical working practices combined with personal preference. OO: We have a preferred provider that the execs like to use, particularly for pre-arranged meetings, and then everyone else uses Uber for Business. We use our preferred provider for historical reasons – the execs haven’t figured out that they can get nice cars with Uber as well! SC: We have lots of accounts with different companies. We used two of the big providers for historical reasons, then switched to an eco-friendly partner. However, the cars are only available during business hours, so staff started using Uber and claim expenses back. It’s very convenient for evening networking events and puts them in control. We also do a lot of US travel and the feedback was that they would prefer to use Uber when abroad. AK: Our team uses a mixture too. I use a particular partner as I’ve had a lot of dealings with them from previous roles, so it’s a habit, really. Cost is important, which has seen us leave some providers. I didn’t actually realise that Uber had a


business service and wasn’t aware I could book Uber cars for my exec without access to his app. Do these scenarios reflect what Uber sees in the market for business users? CB: Absolutely. We hear a lot that people know Uber as a consumer app, but not so much on the business side, which is interesting. There are obviously some big private ground travel providers inside London, but outside the capital is not so much within their scope. This is where our global footprint becomes compelling for people.

We absolutely have a duty of care, particularly when it comes to our female travellers, and technology can really help with that. Christine Harris, Lazard

MM: We also hear a lot of stories from people with multiple ground travel suppliers – it tends to be a very fragmented environment, which obviously isn’t great for cost or consolidation purposes. AJ: Time is also a factor. If my exec lands in Paris, then I might need to find his favourite driver that he had there five years ago! He will use a pre-booked taxi, but if there’s a delay he might not wait for it, which means I’ve doubled my workload unnecessarily. Post-trip admin is also a pain point – with black cabs I get a paper receipt usually with nothing written on it, which isn’t ideal. CB: At Uber for Business we have an integration with Concur, this means that when someone takes a trip, the receipt is automatically linked into the expenses system and coded – all the trip details are recorded in there. Would it be fair to say there’s a lot of admin headache in your ground travel set ups?

CH: It’s quite arduous sometimes! AJ: In general terms I actually find a lot of what slows me down is working with my TMC for overall trip planning – they might get things wrong or don’t respond quickly enough. All the tech and the apps are great, but it’s the human element that often lets things down. So account management is important? AJ: In business it can be hard because when you first meet with any potential partner, they promise you the world – then they can let you down. Account manager words and actions don’t match up, which leads to frustration and, ultimately, a toxic relationship. OO: In fact, when it comes to booking ground travel, you’ll often see the account manager when you’re setting things up, but you don’t ever see them again. And that’s actually okay as you only really need them if there’s a problem - you’re booking everything else yourself.

ground travel

What is the Uber approach? MM: My team takes on the account for six months and then it’s passed to a Client Success manager. We also have a business support channel in the Uber for Business back-end – if someone loses a coat in the back of one of our cars, it’s easier to get it back than calling around a lot of cab firms. When and how do you decide to switch ground travel partners? CH: For our TMCs we have a review every two or three years. To some extent it’s down to the length of the contract we have with them. But with ground travel we’re far more flexible in terms of who we can use and when we switch. There’s a change management consideration, but the number one factor is always cost, followed by convenience and reliability. LM: Sometimes it’s also influenced by internal systems for invoicing, expenses or approvals. For example, we use Concur when booking flights, but we use Oracle for expenses.

What are the risk management factors with booking ground travel? LM: It’s an important point, especially when you consider how crucial safety is when it comes to flights and other parts of a trip. TMCs often have links with travel safety companies, but what about taxis? Until now, it’s just not been visible, so technology is really changing that. CH: We absolutely have a duty of care, particularly when it comes to our female travellers, and technology can really help with that. A lot of what we’re talking about in terms of tech is transparency… CH: Anything that cuts our workload down is a good thing. Ground travel platforms that link into other systems for expenses is a huge convenience. AK: Until recently I would get travel receipts sent to me via email, that I’d then copy and paste into a Word doc to pass on to Concur, which is just so time consuming. Having a direct integration via Uber is amazing – I wish everything could be like that.

PARTICIPANTS Abigail Jones, GHD Alexandra Kaye, Quantcast Christine Harris, Lazard Claudia Budianto, Uber Linda Moss, CSGI Matthew Mintram, Uber Orlaith O’Brien, Endava Sandra Cybaite, Taylor Vinters Sarah Kingdom, GHD

ABOUT UBER FOR BUSINESS Uber For Business handles all your Uber trips in one place. You can choose the payment method that works best for your business, and you’ll never need to deal with a pile of Uber receipts again. Review individual trip times, locations, vehicle classes and your total Uber expenses. Plus, you can generate reports and review a summary of all your trip activity from a single dashboard. For staff, it’s the ondemand trip they expect, but without having to worry about expenses. www.uber.com/business If your business would like to take part in a PA Life roundtable, contact charlotte.russell@palife.co.uk



Checking in:

Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa Nestled in the Surrey countryside, on the fringes of London, Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa, offers an unforgettable setting for business meetings and corporate days of all sizes. Hamish Kilburn checks in to the 19th Century venue to find out more… 44

Contact: 01737 824400 | handpickedhotels.co.uk/NutfieldPriory Good for: Corporate days, extended business trips, day meetings, incentives, die-hard Londoners up for an adventure

London is overrated, is the audacious conclusion I have made following a recent trip to the stunning Surrey countryside. There are few – if any – destinations within 20 miles of London that can frame the same picturesque, unspoiled views of the rural backdrop that Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa does so effortlessly. Set within 12 acres of greenery in the South Downs, the original Neo-Gothic Victorian mansion straddles the UK ‘bleisure’ market - and here’s why. Upon arrival, guests can park for free within steps of the hotel, a novelty that London venues can only dream of offering. On entering, an understated check-in desk creates a comfortable home-from-home first impression and the large lobby/lounge area is both calming and stylish. Reference of the property’s former existence as the 19th Century home of Thomas Fowler Wood is quite literally written on the walls. Mr Wood’s struggles and triumphs of being one of the few northerners to settle socially into the Surrey hills is carved out in satirical engravings around features such as fireplaces and archways. After I had managed to read up on the history of what is now the hotel and spa, using the fast wi-fi, I became intrigued to understand how the hotel has transformed itself into a venue that is reserved for more than romantic couples seeking weekend escapes. With a total of nine flexible meeting rooms and three seminar rooms to choose from, the venue is designed to welcome entourages of all sizes. The event space includes the Fielden Suite, which is the

largest function room at the hotel with plenty of natural light and the Gibson Suite, complete with intricate detailed ceilings and wood panelling. In addition, the welcoming Library is used for guests to relax in during break times. Complete with carefully considered break-out areas, the venue’s corporate facilities can be flexible to suit specific needs, proving further that corporate events don’t have to lack personality. For example, on request, I was told that the venue can even provide a BBQ and casual setting (weather dependent). Meanwhile, during the summer months, expansive

staying at the hotel takes place in the intimate Cloisters Restaurant. The permanent dining setting has been created within original corridors, adding to the historic experience but also using the original architecture to keep the layout of covers to two rows of tables, preventing overcrowding. Despite being a solo traveler, the waiters and bar staff gave me just enough attention. And everything on the menu – from the Creamed Vintage Lincolnshire Poacher to the Cheek and Halibut – was explained clearly and confidently. The hotel has 60 individually designed

Whether you are looking for a venue for a corporate day, or you’re reading this in search of a more personal trip, Nutfield Priory is an ideal home-from-home country escape.

lawns make Nutfield an impressive space for team building events. Guests checking in are automatically granted access to the Elemis Spa and leisure facilities. In addition to the property being fully equipped to host almost any style of business meeting and/or corporate day, the hotel and spa also prides itself on what I consider ‘unstuffy luxury’. During the day, the main bar provides a quintessentially British experience, allowing one to enjoy a G&T or afternoon tea while taking in the views of Surrey’s rolling hills. By night, however, the area transforms into a tranquil yet social hub for guests to enjoy aperitifs. Dinner for guests

bedrooms and suites, which all vary in size, style and personality. Aside from the laid-back luxury facilities that the hotel and spa offers, perhaps the most impressive fact is the venue’s location. Redhill station is located just two miles from the hotel, and the trip into Central London is just a 45-minute train journey away. So whether you are looking for a venue for a corporate day, or you are quietly reading this entry in search of a more personal escape – or indeed both - Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa is an ideal home-from-home country escape that’s architecture, facilities and luxury status will appeal to almost all who check in under its grand yet inviting entrance.


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Festive food & drink packages from £55 per person


Quote ‘PA Life’ for a free Prosecco reception


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T&Cs apply: Quote ‘PA Life’ when booking. Offer is confirmed once deposit has been paid. To redeem the offer, bookings must be confirmed by 30th September 2019. Offer available for private room Christmas parties only when you book our Silver or Gold Package between 25th November and 30th December 2019. Offer available for new bookings only. Pre-booking required. Minimum spend and room hire will apply to all private room bookings. Subject to availability.

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11/06/2019 15:27


Glorious Gloria If you follow news of restaurant openings, you surely won’t have missed the extensive coverage of Shoreditch’s latest venue, Gloria. It’s been reviewed and commented on by pretty much all of the top restaurant critics – PA Life went along to find out what all the fuss is about Gloria is the latest opening fron the celebrated French restaurant group Big Mamma – and the first of its venues to open overseas (although a Fitzrovia site has already been announced). And it is truly glorious. As other – far more respected – restaurant critics have pointed out, Gloria is quite outstanding in terms of its decor and ambience. As you walk through the doors of its Great Eastern Street entrance, you enter another dimension – the 1960s and 1970s of Med chic. Louder-than-normal music (but not so loud that it affected conversation), transports the diner to a bygone era where snappily-dressed men with names like Paolo entertained beautiful, Hepburn-esque women over a glass of red, seriously good pasta dishes and multiple cigarettes..

Gloria is bonkers and chic, but still remains contempory and cool. It’s a rare accomplishment in a restaraunt and one that the owners and designers should be applauded for. Anyway, enough has been said about the decor and ambience of Gloria. We’re here (and so seems

were prepared to perfection and brought out with smiles by the young, mostly Italian staff. The food and drinks menu all feature quirky prose, such as Fillipo’s Big Balls meatball feast and (our favourite) wine descriptions – “guaranteed to get your Tinder date drunk”. Needless to say,

Gloria is bonkers and chic. It isn’t your ‘let’s crunch numbers’ venue, but if you’re looking for somewhere memorable, Gloria definitely delivers on all counts.

pretty much half of London’s ‘in crowd’) to eat the food, and it didn’t dissapoint. Starters of burreta and San Daniele ham, followed by spicy pizza and big ravioli with polenta and bone marrow heart

we had a bottle of that... Situated over two floors, Gloria isn’t your ‘let’s crunch numbers’ venue, but if you’re looking for somewhere very memorable, Gloria definitely delivers.


3 & 4 July 2019, Victoria Warehouse Manchester

Enhance your career at The PA Show, Manchester Dedicated to the personal development of PAs, EAs, VAs, and Office Managers. •

Two days of CPD Accredited training specifically for support professionals

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Full day passes to a choice of four seminars for just £99.00 (ex vat)

Inspiration and innovation on display from leading industry suppliers and service providers

To find out more visit www.thepashow.com



All the latest member news and gossip

All aboard the PA Life Club! Find out what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re missing! Proudly sponsored by



PA Life readers made their way to Oxfordshire for a FAM trip networking event at the unique Malmaison Oxford, sponsored by Corporate Traveller. A former prison, the building is rich in atmosphere and history – originally built as Oxford Castle in 1071 by William The Conqueror.

The historic HMS Belfast on the Thames played host to PA Life Club members on a sunny evening in May. The Second World War Royal Navy battleship, part of Lime Venue Portfolio, is moored next to the iconic Tower Bridge.

PA Life readers gathered for an amazing ‘Havana Nights’ themed Meet Up networking event with Thames Luxury Charters, complete with Caribbean-themed menu, drinks, Latin music and dancers. The event took place at a tropically-dressed Butler’s Wharf Pier, located right by Tower Bridge, where the similarly exotic host vessel, Elizabethan, and sister boats Dixie Queen and Edwardian, showcased the Thames Luxury Charters event experience.

… D E S S I M U WHAT YO HMS es Luxury Charter and am Th ith w er riv e th ar. made two trips to living it up at Buddha-B d PA Life Club members an rd xfo O on ais e’ at Malm Belfast, before doing ‘tim

CELEBRATE WITH STYLE! Christmas at Woodland Grange Our full party package for just £41.00 per person

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The first Buddha-Bar opened in Paris in 1996 and PA Life Club members experienced the London venue with canapés and a variety of house drinks and Buddha creations, plus a full tour. 0DNHDQLJKWRILW DQGVWD\RYHU

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WELCOME TO THE CLUB In this issue we’d like to welcome Penny Markham from Cincinnati Global Underwriting, Cheryl Millar from Gordan Dadds, Julie Wood from, China Construction Bank, Stephanie Sheargold from Timpi Virtual Assistants, Therese Williams from CAN Mezzanine, Nina Saumtally from the NHS, Lauren Adams from Investec Bank, Valentina Andrejic from Novus Finitor UK, Mya Banasik from Palatinate Group, Natalie Conlon from Beringea, Kelly Ann Pignatelli from National Grid Trustee Executive, Lorna Ramsay from LR PA Services & Events, Vanessa Grainger from ITV, Hannah Bryant from BWP Group, Claudine Martin from the Ministry of Defence, Sarah McLachlin from NSDA and Marie Subaran from Saudi Aramco.

3 – 4 July 2019, Victoria Warehouse Manchester

Dedicated to the personal development of PAs, EAs, VAs, and Office Managers. Calling all Office Professionals, Event Planners, Executives and Assistants, The PA Show is coming to Victoria Warehouse, Manchester this July 3 & 4. Not only is The PA Show an opportunity to form new business relationships with the exhibitors and visitors at the show, there Is also a wealth of CPD accredited courses to attend, administered by experts in the field. 2QFH\RX·YHUHJLVWHUHG\RXULQWHUHVWDWwww.thepashow.com you can build your own personalised seminar programme from the variety on offer which are detailed below We look forward to welcoming you in July

Day One

Day One


Shelley Fishel

Create Excel-lent Spreadsheets


Paula Harding

The EA as Coach


Paul Pennant

Magic Moments with Microsoft


Andrew Jardine

Conflict at Work


Monica Seeley

Taking control of your inbox


Paul Pennant

Gaining Confidence at work by being more assertive


Joanne Gutmann

Mattter of Minutes


Nick Bishop

Understand your mind to achieve your peak performance

Day Two

Day Two


Shelley Fishel

Create Excel-lent Spreadsheets


Andrew Jardine

The Challenges of Being a Part Time Project Manager


Diana Brandl

The future of work: A modern workplace in the world of AI and technology


Paul Pennant

Managing Your Manager, Interruptions and Stress


Diana Brandl

Rock your profile: Personal Branding for Management Assistants


Nick Bishop

What behaviours do great leaders display and what do you need to develop?


Paul Pennant

Save 90 minutes a day using outlook


Yvette Pearson

Transferable Skills for a PA

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Richmond Harbour Hotel PA Life are delighted to announce a fun-filled Meet Up networking event at the Richmond Harbour Hotel on the evening of Thursday June 20th, 2019. Located in the very desirable area of Richmond, the landmark eighteenth century property has an abundance of character. More at palifeclub.co.uk

FIVE THINGS TO DO Networking, learning and things to keep in mind

2. The Meetings Show Taking place over a two-day period on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th June at Olympia London, the event brings together more than 4,500 industry professionals for a serious of networking events and seminars. Join us on stand J700!

Glaziers Hall


Glaziers Hall is one of the most individual and exciting venues in London, located on the banks of the River Thames in the vibrant London Bridge/South Bank area, with spectacular views across the river towards the City of London. Join us for a Meet Up on Tuesday July 2nd, 2019. More at palifeclub.co.uk


The Park Tower Knightsbridge

The Park Tower Knightsbridge is a five-star luxury hotel in London that encapsulates the spirit of its refined location and offers a residence for global explorers to experience the authenticity of one of the city’s most distinguished districts. For more details of our Meet Up on Tuesday, June 11th visit palifeclub.co.uk.



I fell into this career by accident. I needed a job that could fit around my family – the conventional 9-5 wasn’t for me...

Work & life Suzy Mudd is a freelance PA who fell into her career by accident. She now works for execs at strategy and technology specialist Dent Global, plus tech-for-good outfit Gyrogear. Our PA Life Club member talks to us about her worklife and how she got here What inspired you to start a career as a PA/Assistant? I fell into it by accident. I needed a job that could fit around my family - the 9-5 wasn’t for me. I was good at organising and juggling tasks, so I started to PA for a friend and it went from there. How did you get to your current job? I work with two main clients – Daniel Priestley at Dent Global and Faii Ong at Gyrogear. I found them on freelance job platforms. They both allow me to work remotely, choosing the hours that work for me. Every week we have a face-toface catch-up, or I spend time in the office with the team.

What’s the best thing about your job? Work/life balance. I am very fortunate that I can work from wherever I have internet access. And the most challenging? Effective communication, especially when working remotely/across multiple time zones. You have to extract the right information in the shortest amount of time, or messages, as possible. What does the PA/EA community need to change, in your opinion? I wouldn’t say that there is anything the community needs to change in particular. It is very inclusive, has

fabulous networking and training events, and you get to meet a very diverse range of PA/EAs. Being a PA/EA, I feel that it is important to build your own network outside of your place of work where you can bounce ideas off each other, pick up tips and suggestions and speak with people who understand what your job entails. What is having the biggest impact on your job or on PAs/EAs in general? Technology! There are so many apps/ programs out there designed to make our lives easier. It’s keeping myself up to date and finding what works the best for me and my client.

Creating relationships between PAs and their industry suppliers Forum Events Media Forum House , 71 Mead Lane, Hertford, Hertfordshire, SG13 7AX

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