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ZiaBia’s 2020 Rewind…

Introduction

2020 hosted a vast amount of change for ZiaBia – our business changed, our industry changed and the world changed. To round off this chapter of our ZiaBia story, we have tasked each of the team to sum up the last 12 months – personally and professionally – in one paragraph, as we head into the new year.

 

Debbie’s Rewind

Wow – 2020,what a Year! Who knew at the end of 2019, when we were looking to celebrate the start of a new decade, what would actually happen and for how long! We at ZiaBia had plenty to look forward to with a growing team, a year full of events to deliver, an awards nomination and ceremony in February amongst other things. I’m so proud of what we have achieved during the following months from March when everything changed!

We have provided a new product and service, learnt about new technology and platforms, worked out what works and what doesn’t. One of the first events we attended was nearly 4 hours with a 5 minute break! We were encouraged by this and knew we could do better!! And most importantly we have helped a variety of our clients old and new, understand what needs to be considered and how to deliver their online events. Vicky Gardner was tenacious, determined, and of course fab (as always but things like this make you realise more!) and kept me sane throughout, well sort of! And the team have worked so hard and been completely understanding and supportive.

Personally, I have found a love of the things around me. Suddenly with less travel (who knew!) and spending more time in our local environment, it has made me appreciate nature and wildlife and it has fuelled my love of taking photos. We have been able to appreciate what we have in the UK and what fab times can be had – it’s not where you go, it is who you go with. My family and my husband are the most precious people, as a family we have always seen each other regularly, and not been able to do this has been hard and I have missed Auntie Debbie cuddles and kisses, but we have taken every chance to meet we can whether face to face when allowed for the day or virtually and treasured every moment!

I am very much looking forward to Christmas and a little break to recharge, have a digital detox and then kick 2021 off with a bang!! 

 

Vicky’s Rewind

I started 2020 in St Ives surrounded by people, with my partner, laughing and looking forward to what the new year would bring. It wasn’t quite what I or anyone else expected to say the least! I have learnt so much personally and professionally this year and have to remind myself now of the huge amount that has been achieved and let go of what could have been.

Personally, I am grateful for my family, partner, and friends, I appreciate my time even more with them and am learning to live in the moment. I also got my fitness back in lockdown 1.0! Professionally, this year has tested us to the core of what we do, a rollercoaster of emotions and sheer determination, innovation and creativity to come through the other side. We have dug deep and delivered for existing clients and many new ones as well! I am very grateful to Debbie Bell and the team and look forward to what 2021 will throw at us…. We are ready!

 

Paola’s Rewind

I started 2020 gearing up to a big event in Berlin – logistically challenging, lots of moving parts and a foreign country – which I was really excited about. Then Covid started to tighten its grip on Europe and all the plans, and Europe, came to a crashing halt!

Then from working full time at full pelt I was suddenly home-schooling and homemaking – both with equally dubious levels of success. But what a 3 months lockdown 1.0 was as I truly saw how wonderful my community was. I helped shop for the vulnerable and shielding, managed ‘mission control’ for the This Mum Runs initiative co-ordinating drug running from local pharmacies to shielding patients, and clapped for carers with my most amazing neighbours. The kids survived me as a teacher, we completed a multitude of jigsaws and went on miles of walks as a family.

During all of this Debbie and Vicky ensured ZiaBia continued – they worked tirelessly to keep us going, kept us connected and really and truly led from the front. They have been nothing short of inspirational! We are now working on some super exciting online projects that we wouldn’t have ever been involved in before and, as a team, are stronger than ever ready for the new year.

 

Charlotte’s Rewind

There’s no one way to describe 2020 - I have so many mixed emotions when I look back on the last 12 months. I  am grateful to be surrounded by my family and friends. I was fortunate to celebrate my 21st birthday, go on a holiday of a lifetime and deliver one live event before the world went into a standstill.

The events industry was hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions. Vicky and Debbie took a completely new approach to delivering events, and the team had to get on board - learn and diversify our skillsets to match the new environment we have been introduced to. It’s been the craziest, toughest year of my life so far – but here I am, off of the back of delivering a 12 event virtual conference roadshow and hosting a virtual Christmas quiz (which I NEVER thought I would do!) Although it is hard to do so, I think it is incredibly important to recognise those little nuggets of positivity and happiness throughout a very much bleak year.

 

Leaving 2020 and Heading into the New Year...

So heading into the New Year, ZiaBia won't be taking a 'New Year, New Me' approach. We'll continue to do what we do best, and deliver memorable events for our clients - just in a virtual environment! And when we finally come to a time of in person events again, we'll welcome them with open arms. Thank you to our friends, family, clients and to our team for helping us to get through this year - your continued support drives us to push ourselves further and further each day.

 

Merry Christmas all, and a Happy New Year!

2018: Year In Review

Wow… what an amazing year 2018 has been for Team ZiaBia. We have delivered many amazing and memorable events with existing and new clients! From Barcelona to Tower Bridge in London. We can’t say which was our favourite, there are too many to choose from! We feel very lucky to work with such great clients from a variety of industries and charities.

Our team has grown this year which is fantastic and we are starting 2019 with the team growing again and moving into a second office location too. We have also created some trusted partnerships and have had the opportunity to meet and work alongside these teams to help us grow.

What we are saying is that we love what we do and this year has been a celebration of that. So here is onto our next year and all it will bring.

Wishing everyone a very happy and successful 2019!

Site Inspection Tips For Your Next Event

When you are designing an event, the venue is a make or break component. From the most basic requirements of capacity and facilities, to the more specific needs relating to the flow and feel of the space.

You may only get the opportunity to visit your shortlisted venues once. If that is the case, it is imperative that you get all the information you need at that site inspection to make an informed decision about which venue to contract.

Here are some of the top tips we have selected for you to remember for your next site inspections.

WiFi

Always check the WiFi and phone signal at the venue as you walk around to make sure it is sufficient for the event. Check if it is complimentary for delegates and if there are any access codes required. More often than not your attendees will need access to emails during breaks, not to mention your own needs as the co-ordinator. If you are using any technology for your event that relies on internet access checking WiFi is an absolute must and you should be sure to have a hard line back up or have an additional router.

Photographs

Take photos of the rooms and spaces you have on hold, so you can refer to them after you have left and are comparing your venue options. They will be different to the photos on the hotel websites as those are for sales purposes. You will often find that questions crop up after your visit that your photos will help answer. Plasma screen locations, windows, blinds etc.

Directions

Check sat-nav directions using the postcode to ensure it is accurate. Unfortunately, although its not common, some postcodes direct you to the wrong location. Always check.

Floor plans

Make sure you have floor plans to check flow of space for the event. This will help you to ensure the event runs to time. For example, if you have high numbers of attendees moving from one space to another you need to understand if the connecting areas are large enough to move through freely. How close are the areas to each other? How long will it take people to get from one place to another? The floor plans will allow you to sense check all of that when you are arranging your timings and comparing venues.

Checklist! 

Finally, always prepare a checklist to log the things you need to see and the questions you would like to ask about the venue and space you are holding. Document all the answers and make note of any further information that you gain at the site inspection. Some information you will be able to confirm by phone or email after your visit, but the look and feel of the space and how your event will work there can only be done in person.

Good luck! 

 

New to Corporate Events? What to expect

Plan for every eventuality

There is a huge amount of planning that goes into a corporate event. As well as planning everything you have envisaged for the event also consider what could happen in the event of X, Y or Z. You have to consider the weather for example. Even at in indoor event, extreme weather can affect people’s travel to your destination, location and venue. If you are organising an event in central London for example, public transport can be an issue for those travelling to the event with Tube strikes.

We mentioned in our last article when you do your venue site visits to check for the WIFI. You could find on the day that there is an issue with the WIFI signal. Be prepared with a back-up solution should your expected plan fail. As a corporate event planner/co-ordinator/manager you need to think out the plan from start to finish and consider all the variables, so you can be prepared and one step ahead.

Attention to detail is critical

Your client will be relying on you to think for them. You are the expert and you must be sure that you keep focused on the details. There is an incredible amount of information that is gathered during the planning of a corporate event. EVERY detail counts. Even the smallest thing that gets missed can have a huge impact on the day and cause a lot of stress and look very bad to your client and their customers or internal team.

It is the most rewarding job

You get to work with so many different people, join their teams and invest yourself in these projects. You form wonderful bonds during the planning process that can last well beyond the lifetime of an event, and the sense of achievement once you have successfully delivered the project is fantastic.

You have the pleasure of seeing projects from start to finish on a regular basis and have the opportunity to work on a vast array of different events. Who knows what the next event will be!

You need to be able to think on your feet

If you are good at creative problem solving, that’s great. You’ve got a head start and this might be the role for you! Add a stop watch to that problem solving and you are in training for working in corporate events. Especially when you are onsite! You will need to able to think fast and resolve any manner of issues that come up calmly, quickly and effectively. A swan gliding across the water in the eyes of the client with your legs madly peddling under the surface. You begin to trust your instincts and make quick decisions to ensure successful delivery.

Delegate journey – don’t presume anyone knows anything or everything

Always assume that the delegates know nothing, so be sure to provide full and clear information. Some delegates won’t read everything (or anything) properly, so plan how to manage that. You need to consider all the questions they may have and all the mistakes they may make. Then move on to the ones who don’t want to do it quite the same as everyone else and ‘could you just make an exception for me’.

Have clear processes and rules about registration and payment. Make it as simple as possible to understand. When onsite, make sure signage is clear, so they know what to do and where to go. Provide all the information you can to assist them along the way. Remember you know the event inside out they know only what you tell them.

Expect the unexpected!

The thing you least expected to happen will inevitably crop up, big or small. If you are ready to think on your feet as we mentioned above, then you have an advantage. However sometimes you just have to accept you can’t control everything. Good humour and flexibility with get you a long way in the industry.

Travelling... Event Style

You may have some opportunities to travel to amazing locations and you may even get a chance to look around those places but be mindful that you will be entirely focused on the event and the client, so you may find that it isn’t as glamorous as you’d imagined. Be as time efficient as you can be - on a flight or a train journey use the time wisely and work or take the opportunity to rest while you can!

You will have some incredible experiences but travelling can also be tiring and living out of a suitcase can be hard after a time. Make sure you have realistic expectations and always enjoy the ride!

Top 5 Things I Learnt Being Onsite In Barcelona

I had my first big event to be onsite for just two months into my apprenticeship. I witnessed the event being tied together and my hopes of delivering an incredible conference for over 150 people did not slightly prepare me for what it would actually be like whilst being on site.

The facts of the event

1. The importance of having Events Managers onsite

Prior to being onsite, I was not fully aware of how crucial it is to have events managers onsite, and essentially, how important we are in ensuring an event of this size is delivered in the best possible way. From my first day onsite I had people asking me questions, checking in with me that everything was going correctly and that we were on track. For my first on site experience this was terrifying. Whilst shadowing Vicky and Debbie across the  three days of the conference, I witnessed them find solutions to problems that no one else could’ve without having the in depth knowledge that comes with being totally involved in the pre-event planning, raising the question- why wouldn’t you have your events team onsite?

2. Make a to-do list

Sitting down and writing a to-do list is a day to day essential on my job. A list of what needs to get done whilst onsite simplifies and condenses the buzz of everything going on. I focussed on certain tasks, ticking them off before moving onto the next. This increased the efficiency at which I was working and I stayed on track without getting lost or overwhelmed by everything going on.

3. At which point a DMC is necessary

I was initially introduced to the concept of a DMC in the first week of my apprenticeship. However it was not until I was onsite in Barcelona that I really understood their cruciality when delivering an event overseas. Tasked with the language barrier, communicating with the suppliers based in Barcelona was more difficult. Luckily Vicky and Debbie used a previous DMC contact, which made communicating with the offsite dinner venues easier. However, the presence of a DMC would have definitely sped up some processes of communication, which would have reduced the extra work we had to do as a company to contact all of the suppliers individually that were based in Barcelona.

4. Asking questions is ok!

This seems like a simple concept, however, being new to an event of this size, asking questions was intimidating. I was concerned that my questions wouldn’t necessarily be relevant or that there were a million other things everyone could be doing instead; I was quickly reassured that every question is relevant. Without asking all of my questions, I wouldn’t have been able to carry out my tasks effectively and efficiently. I also wouldn’t have learnt from the experience.

5. A logistics agenda is essential

I have never been as reliant upon a pack of paper as I was upon our logistics agenda! Every aspect of the event was captured in great detail. This allowed me to confidently answer the majority of delegates' questions plus questions from the senior team. Furthermore, having the agenda simply meant I was prepared: if I had a spare 5 minutes I would read it through and check where we were up too. This meant that I could be two steps ahead of the actual event.

Part Time Event Consultant – Full Time Mum

How does that work?

I had made the decision not to return to work after having children even before I got pregnant with my first child. It was a personal choice because I couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on anything as my children grew up. As it turned out this was easier said than done. I had my first child in 2014 and my partner and I moved out of London in order to afford me not going back to work. That was hard for both of us as we had family, friends and a life there. None the less it was the practical option. My next challenge as a new mum was one I never saw coming. I was bored.

I had my first job at 14 waitressing in a local pub at the weekends and I worked part time from that point on throughout my education, including University. Since being a ‘grown-up’ I’ve worked abroad, I’ve worked in small offices, global head offices and even on Super Yachts. I had always worked! When I discovered I was pregnant I thought not working and cuddling a baby all day would be the dream. I had no idea that I would miss working.

So my bundle of joy arrived and I set about my new job, which was the hardest job I have EVER had. I loved my son (still do most days!), marvelled at his cuteness and all the milestones he reached, but I missed my independence and the stimulation of working. I felt pretty down about it. So, I started back to work when my son was 9 months old. I found the perfect job role working evenings at the nearby hospital on a reception desk. It was ideal - my partner came home from work at 4.30pm and I went to work for 3 hours every week night. At the end of the shift everything was complete, no handovers, no work sharing and no stress. More importantly no childcare bills!

After my daughter arrived two years later, I was already starting to think about where I might go next. I wanted more of a challenge and to start making a plan for eventually working full time again. However, as I had originally not planned to work, I had no clue how to do that and look after my children. Childcare is expensive and we couldn’t afford it. Enter ZiaBia!

I first worked with Vicky back in 2007. Vicky worked at the agency managing the first Global Sales conference of the FMCG where I was a PA. It was a fantastic experience and we kept in touch over the years. Just before I left to have my son, I met Vicky and Debbie and heard all about their new business. In 2016 I decided to see if they used freelance staff and to my delight they said yes. A few months later I started doing ad hoc freelance work for them. As a PA, I had organised many conferences and meetings in the corporate world and enjoyed that part of my role the most.

My new ‘side hustle’ worked out so well. I worked from home and they accommodated my situation to allow me to set out on my next journey. In March 2018 I joined ZiaBia as a permanent employee working 15 hours a week. Throughout the whole process Vicky and Debbie kept my family priorities in mind. They are always flexible and considerate about finding a way to work that benefits all of us. I started working one full day a week and spread my other hours out over the evenings and weekends.

Since starting at ZiaBia I have always felt supported, even when I have needed to change my working hours or days. Vicky and Debbie fully appreciate my priorities and that makes balancing my job as a parent with working much easier. I feel valued and in turn I work hard. Being present for my children means I can be dedicated to my working hours without feeling distracted. This makes me a loyal employee, fully invested in ZiaBia, which is a win win situation. I feel very lucky to have found myself in this position.

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