Interview with an #Eventprof - Edgar King, Trinity House

The meetings and events industry is full of people who are truly knowledgeable about what they do! They are founts of information and are more often than not, more than happy to help new customers, or new industry event professionals understand the complexities and intricacies of their particular sphere of expertise.

Edgar King, Event Manager at Trinity House, London, is a case in point. We spoke to Edgar to find out more.

Lime Venue Portfolio: Morning Edgar, Great to meet you again and thanks for agreeing to talk to us. Can we start with a quick introduction about yourself and what you do?

Edgar King: After graduating from The Birmingham College of Food and Domestic Arts in 1973, I began my career working at seasonal hotels in Norway, (mountain hotels in the Winter and fjord hotels in the summer) before working for two years on an expeditionary cruise ship which explored the Antarctic and Arctic, the South Pacific and sailed 3,000 miles up the Amazon.

After this superb experience, I joined Trust House Forte group of hotels within food and beverage, hotel management and marketing operations sectors over a period of eight years. In 1991 I was appointed Hotel Manager of the new cross channel luxury ferry Stena Normandy where I supervised a staff of 120 and successfully launched the service.

I've now been Events Manager at Trinity House since 1995 overseeing the management of a diverse range of private events including exhibitions, corporate meetings, formal banquets and weddings. 22 years in, I still love it!

LVP: Thanks. And, please can you give us an introduction about Trinity House?

EK: Trinity House is the working home of the General Lighthouse Authority located on Tower Hill with direct views of the Tower of London. The House has the ambience of a grand private residence and behind the Georgian exterior are five rooms varying in size and capacity (up to 180 standing/130 seated) - it is available for hire on an exclusive use basis. The House has a long history, so I'll send you some more information about that.*

LVP: I'll be careful with how I phrase this, but with great service to the industry, how do you remain passionate about what you do?

EK: It's easy because every day is different. Different events, meetings, lunches, receptions, dinners, weddings. You always meet new interesting people, and they are always interested in Trinity House as it is such a fascinating building.

LVP: You obviously love Trinity House but which area of the house is your favourite for events?

EK: That's very difficult to decide but it's between The Library, with its minstrels’ gallery and historic stained glass windows and The Court Room with its breath-taking tromp l’oeil ceilings and high sash windows – both very different rooms with a light intimate ambience.

LVP: What are your 3 top tips to anyone who needs to work with venues within their role?

EK: Be prepared for hard work, long days, always smile, even if you don’t feel like smiling. Think on your feet and use your initiative.

LVP: It's great to have Trinity House as part of our portfolio. For those that don't know, that's because Payne and Gunter are listed caterers at the venue. What do you look forward to when working with Payne and Gunter?

EK: Efficiency! And a professional attitude. We decided a while ago to only work with selected ‘preferred’ caterers because it is imperative for the clients’ sake – and the House – that there is a degree of familiarity with the venue. It is also a joy to work with Payne & Gunter for these reasons.

LVP: That's great to know. So, last question Edgar. We know that venue choice can make the difference between an event being memorable or forgettable, but what are the 3 most important things you think a venue should offer?

EK: Over the 21 years that I've been organising business meetings and events here, many corporate bookers and clients have offered why they prefer to stage these occasions in an historic venue – as opposed to a contemporary space.  Regular clients suggest that a venue with an illustrious pedigree and a reputation for service is an address which doesn’t require much persuading to the client.  In addition, an historic venue will invariably have an interesting story to tell which is a great conversation starter, especially with delegates unfamiliar with each other. But for me, the top 3 are...

  1. Experiential: - is the buzz word in the MICE industry with bookers looking for comprehensive programmes to ensure delegates receive value and the legacy inherent in an historic building often builds anticipation.

  2. Tech-ambient: historic interiors are enhanced with the use of modern technology (when used in harmony with the surroundings) but in many modern venues there is only the technology to recommend. Use of subtle sound, lighting and wi-fi throughout is a given in this day and age, and in an historic venue these elements are sensitively incorporated to support client requirements as well as enhance the ambience.

  3. Bonus points: heritage venues will often offer clients free use of, or access to, associated treasures and artefacts – which at Trinity House might be to ring the bell of the Royal Yacht Britannia or use of a ceremonial sword. Crested crockery, cutlery, glassware, presentation table silver, menus, napkins, chairs etc all serve to impress and engage guests - and validates the judgement of the corporate booker or meeting planner.

 

*The Unique History of Trinity House

The history of the House is omnipresent and throughout the building, valuable paintings and antiques bear out the nation’s remarkable nautical heritage.  This chronicle began in 1514 when a young Henry VIII granted the charitable guild of mariners a Royal Charter to regulate the water traffic on the River Thames, their powers later extended by Elizabeth 1 to include the sea-markers around the English coastline.

In its 200 year history, the building has welcomed royalty, prime ministers and Lords of the Admiralty and is today managed by Deputy Master, Captain Ian McNaught.  Reflecting the on-going patronage of the Crown, the current Master of the Corporation is HRH The Princess Royal, filling a role held in former centuries by, amongst others, the diarist Samuel Pepys, the Duke of Wellington, William Pitt the Younger and, more recently, The Duke of Edinburgh.

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