PANDORA is a favorite name in jewellery, and their event team works around the clock to create lavish events that match the beautiful designs. Martina Berlin, Senior Event Manager at PANDORA UK, shares an inside look at what it takes to stay on top of the luxury events world.
Hi Martina, tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Sweden and lived in Indonesia and Japan for 10 years before moving to England in 2008 to study Event Management at Bournemouth University. I’m generally speaking a very happy and positive person – something which I think everyone working in events needs in order to become successful and keep sane!
I started my event management career as Production Assistant at Quintessentially Events before working my up to become one of the company’s Event Managers. I have produced a range of luxury events from private parties, philanthropic fundraisers, corporate events and launches, both nationally and internationally, for clients including Relais & Chateaux, Elle Style Awards, Esentai Luxury Shopping Mall in Kazakhstan, Diesel, Veuve Clicquot, and various parties and weddings.
Today I’m an experienced Senior Event Manager at PANDORA UK with strong expertise in planning, organising and executing the creative and logistical elements of luxury events.
What’s the job of a Senior Event Manager at PANDORA UK? Tell us more about how the team is set up.
I mainly look after the company’s B2B events across our different departments: PR, Marketing, Online Marketing, Retail Development, Training and HR. This means that I organise a wide range of events from press and influencer events, to franchise partner and store manager conferences, to our staff parties. I recently started to become more involved in our B2C events as well, which is a new and exciting challenge for me.
I essentially work as a small in-house event agency, liaising closely with relevant “event owners” of each particular event brief. For example, if we are looking to host a collection launch for press/influencers, I will work together with the PR and Online Marketing departments to create their event.
What does creating an event at PANDORA UK look like?
The process usually starts with a short brief, which I then run with, putting together ideas and researching each area of the event (location, design, catering, entertainment, etc) and adding a creative spin on the brief. This is also where I start to evaluate and identify which suppliers we should be working with to achieve the best results for the event.
Once this has been approved and signed off by the relevant department, each team assists me with the practicalities of the event, such as guest list management, logistics, invitations, event promotion and marketing, and so forth. On-site, I work with the relevant department to execute the event.
Finally, the post-event analysis from an event management perspective consists of control checking that there are no outstanding costs and collating final guest list reports (where zkipster comes in really handy!). Each team uses various tools to measure the success of their events – say for a collection launch for press and influencers, the PR team would collate press coverage, online features, and social reports.
What drew you to event management in luxury events?
I was always the one to arrange parties and special occasions in my friendship group. As the years went on, I always wanted to improve the parties and ‘wow’ people – from hand-made invitations, bespoke welcome drinks to beautiful floral centrepieces.
I remember the first time I landed on Quintessentially Events’ website (a high-end event agency, where I ended up working for 3 ½ years), my eyes were opened to the luxury events sector. I felt something waken within me; there were companies out there producing these amazing events and occasions. I needed to get a piece of the action.
There is something special about the trust you build up with a client. It makes you, as an event organiser, feel solely responsible for the entire success of the event.
What’s a unique challenge of doing events in your industry that people might not realise?
With events, there is always something new to learn. One day you may be trying to source pink flamingos and the next you could be in an important and deal-breaking negotiation to secure hotel rates for a conference of 400 people. There is constant change and development in one direction or another. I think that in order to thrive in the events industry you need to be flexible and be able to find solutions on the spot. Nothing is a problem, only a challenge waiting to be resolved.
Working at PANDORA UK has taught me to think much more strategically, and developed my mindset to think from a brand point of view. For example, what value do our events add? Are they driving footfall and raising brand awareness? What messages are we sending out to our core customers? All while also attracting new customers and making sure our entire approach is aligned with our overall strategy.
What are your biggest events? What events are you most proud of in your career?
The biggest events I have organized are a private party for 700 guests for a Saudi Sultan and 400 guests at a Manager’s Conference for PANDORA UK. I am proud of every event I produce because so much work goes into each one, even if it’s just a small dinner for 15 guests. As soon as any of my colleagues talk about any of the events I organise, I feel a real sense of pride and get quite protective over them.
However, the private party for the Sultan has a special place in my heart because it was the first client I was entrusted to manage myself at Quintessentially Events. There is something special about the trust you build up with a client. It makes you, as an event organiser, feel solely responsible for the entire success of the event.
What attribute do you think is the mark of an outstanding event team?
As in every industry, this is one of the most important attributes a great team player can have. It means everything to an event organiser’s everyday job. From receiving the brief and asking the right follow-up questions, negotiating costs and added value with suppliers, liaising with guests and suppliers, running the event itself, ensuring every stakeholder knows exactly what is expected of them, and finally giving feedback to everyone involved post-event.
So you see, communication skills are key to succeed in this industry. Ultimately they’re what the entire job revolves around.
Once the event is live and running, it’s all about keeping the atmosphere vibrant, engaging, and building the event to its climax. This build up is so important and should be seen as the event organiser’s ace up their sleeve.
How do you think technology has changed an event planner’s ability over the past few years to provide a flawless experience for guests?
I can get very excited by new event technology! Anything that can facilitate the event organiser’s planning process is priceless. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that if the event organiser is able to spend their time efficiently and in the right areas, this ultimately means a better event experience for the guests. That’s what it’s all about – creating a flawless event experience from start to finish for the guests.
Event organisers often abide by the saying, “be like a swan, remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.” I think this can be applied to the use of event technology as well.
If a guest feels that the first impression they have of the event, the evite for example, is personable and slick, they will be left with a sense of professionalism and leave a good feeling with them, which zkipster helps us do very well. If guest communications are haphazard and feel like just another mass email, they won’t feel as special.
Describe the day-of for a big event – what do you do to ensure success?
I ensure that I am on-site before all suppliers arrive for install so I can control check that everything is set and ready for them to arrive. My suppliers are incredibly important to me and I always say that you are only as good as your suppliers. If they are happy, have everything they need and are looked after, I then base myself close to them so they always can ask me any questions.
I then generally work on my laptop catching up on any last minute changes, in particular with the guest list app, where there undoubtedly will be changes!
The install is one of my favorite event areas as this is when all the planning comes to the test. Have I pre-planned enough to ensure a smooth install process? It also lets me problem solve, which I enjoy and really gets your brain working. Again, this is where the gracious swan saying comes in handy! If I ever let stress get to me on-site, I feel an incredible amount of regret after the event, so I try my best to avoid that.
I always try to have the event set up at least 30-45 minutes prior to guest arrivals. I like to have this buffer allowed in case of any last minute situations. Once guests start arriving, I rely on zkipster to ensure a smooth check in process.
Once the event is live and running, it’s all about keeping the atmosphere vibrant and engaging and building the event to its climax. This build up is so important and should be seen as the event organiser’s ace up their sleeve.
As guests depart and perhaps collect some goody bags, it’s about keeping that happy exterior up, and sending them off with a lasting positive experience of the party or brand.
Thank you for the wonderful insights! Lastly, what do you love about your job?
Like I said before, I think what ultimately drives me is making people happy. I thrive on working hard to get that rewarding feeling of having delivered for the client. It’s an addictive feeling!
Interested in more inside looks at top event teams around the world? Check out the rest of our interviews with event professionals.