Making a career out of pleasing the customer

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 August, 2006, 12:00am

EVENTS PLANNERS with the contacts and know-how to organise a wedding for several hundred guests, a gala charity ball or even a private dinner for six, are truly worth their weight in gold.

They attend to the details and ensure everything runs like clockwork so the guests and the host can enjoy a stress-free occasion to remember.

As executive director of events for the InterContinental Hong Kong, Lucia Shum puts on more than 1,000 functions a year.

'I have more than 12 years' experience in events planning and feel lucky to be doing this type of work,' she said. 'Every event is unique and it is really rewarding when all your hard work comes together successfully.'

The hotel takes advantage of having the largest ballroom in Hong Kong and a specially designed two-level function venue. The events typically include weddings, birthday celebrations, banquets, private balls, meetings, conferences and exhibitions.

'Weddings account for more than 50 per cent of our events,' Ms Shum said. She added that the hotel had also built a reputation for hosting events and meetings in great style.

'We provide creative, personalised one-of-a-kind functions,' she said.

Ms Shum is also responsible for organising events that the hotel runs at external locations. One recent example was an exclusive dinner for 16 arranged for a well-known jewellery company at the home of a local celebrity.

'After meeting the client I got together with the chef and we came up with an innovative concept,' she said.

'We decided to replicate items of jewellery with food colouring, and to use a different one to decorate the plates for each course. The course itself was also named after and inspired by the item of jewellery.'

External events like this one account for about 8 per cent of all events organised by the hotel. Ms Shum expects the number to increase in view of growing demand for innovative VIP functions.

'When we put on a VIP event, we have to work extra hard to achieve the expected results,' she said. 'It is a great feeling when we exceed expectations.'

Ms Shum manages a team of more than 30 staff and must also liaise with other departments to ensure that monthly and annual sales targets are achieved.

Anyone considering a career in events planning should enjoy interacting with people, have the ability to foresee potential crises and be sensitive to market trends, Ms Shum said.