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11 Oct 2019

#CheckInWith: Gemma Ashton

This month, we #CheckInWith Gemma Ashton, part of our Conference and Events Team here at Emirates Old Trafford.

What is your job title?

I’m Conference and Events Sales Manager.

How long have you been at Emirates Old Trafford?

I started as an Events Sales Agent in April 2018, so just over 18 months now. I’m extremely proud to say that I’m now the Conference and Events Sales Manager.

What does your day-to-day role include?

I look after the team that handles all inbound enquiries, whether it’s for a small meeting or multi-day conference.

It’s our job to make sure that every event enquiry (no matter how weird and wonderful), that comes through to us is given the time and attention it deserves. Our aim is to find the best space within the venue for each new event and get relevant information across to the client quickly – and then in turn, arrange a site visit too.

Day to day, my team and I speak to agencies across the UK, clients and companies directly, as well as the stadium’s partners and sponsors. We have fantastic state of the art facilities that are capable of hosting all types of events including; large exhibitions, trade shows, charity events, corporate dinners, weddings, birthday parties, conferences…the list is endless. We don’t really have any idea what to expect each time we answer the phone, and that’s what makes the role so great.

How do you manage an event enquiry?

There’s no real method on how an event enquiry comes in – we can receive them via online agency portals, direct emails to our events inbox, calls to the main conference number or us individually, LinkedIn… the list goes on.

Once we have the enquiry, we look at the size and style of space that the client needs and check our diary to see if something suitable is available. Then, we’ll look at putting together a proposal which includes what we’re able to offer, images of the event space, pricing, menus, AV and bedroom availability at our on-site Hilton Garden Inn.

How do you work with clients to support their brief?

We like to paint a clear view of how a client’s event would work with us. As we’re very transparent, we can better understand their event needs, what they wish to achieve and how it’s been run in the past if it’s an existing event. Once we’re comfortable we have all the information we need, we’ll draw up floor plans to make sure that the flow of delegates around the venue fits with the client’s brief.

We can easily put our clients in touch with our suppliers, as we have a great relationship with them and we can trust them to do a fantastic job. For example, our in-house AV suppliers MCL Create are available to speak to our clients on show rounds to advise the best way to give your event that wow factor.

How do you work with the event coordinators to support the client?

The sales team and event coordinators work incredibly closely together. We can tell the client the capabilities of the space and what will fit into each of the rooms, but it’s our coordinators who draw up the floor plans and really bring the event to life.

Once each booking is confirmed, we’ll introduce the client to their dedicated coordinator moving forwards, and they’re the experts in getting all the finer details into the weeks leading up to the event.

We have a fantastic relationship with the ladies in the coordination team and I think this is down to trusting each other to do a brilliant job and excellent communication.

How do you work with the hotel team? I.e. with multi-day enquiries, referrals etc.

We work closely with the hotel on most of our event enquiries. As we host delegates from not only across the UK but internationally too, we need to make sure that they have accommodation. Having the hotel on-site means that we can include bedroom rates in our proposals which makes every organisers job a little bit easier. It works both ways too, as the hotel often has clients that need event space, so it’s important we have a great relationship with the reservations team.

Hilton Garden Inn at Emirates Old Trafford

What does a typical event show round include?

We invite our clients in to the view the space and talk through their requirements, as this gives them the chance to get to know us and the space a little bit better. We show them the guests’ journey; from where they park, which entrance they use and the walk they’ll take to the main event space, and any syndicate space they use.

We’ll also discuss any digital or physical signage they’d like, accessibility, registration or drinks reception locations, as well as cloakroom facilities. Once we’re in the main event space, we’ll guide the client through everything they’ll need to make their event a success – whether this is where stage sets may go or how our in-built AV can work.

Finally, what is your guilty pleasure?

Online shopping – I have so many parcels delivered. In fact, on my third day here, a company wide email went round asking who I was because I’d already ordered a clothes delivery… oops!

If you’d like to find out more about hosting an event at Emirates Old Trafford, Gemma and the team would love to hear from you. Give the team a call on 0161 282 4020, email or fill out our events enquiry form.