Pathways: Emma Jones, venue sales director of eve and Venues by CH&Co

13 April 2022 by
Pathways: Emma Jones, venue sales director of eve and Venues by CH&Co

The venue sales director of eve and Venues by CH&Co talks to Lisa Jenkins about her recent promotion and how to develop in your career

Did you study a hospitality-related course at college or university?

No, I didn't. I graduated university with a dual honours degree in history and sociology. I worked part-time during the holidays in bars, restaurants and hotels, and this is what sparked my interest in the industry and inspired my career.

What was your first job?

When I left university, I was still unsure about what I wanted to do as a long-term career. My new flatmate at the time had just started on the Marriott Hotels' Graduate Scheme and she told me about some of the opportunities available at the hotel she was based at in Cardiff.

Within days I had secured a role as part of the reception team and I immediately felt at home. I've always loved delivering fantastic service and finding solutions to challenging situations and, thanks to the hotel's location in the centre of a bustling city and its busy calendar of sport, there was never a dull moment.

Personal career development is an ongoing process – every role enables you to develop"

How did you decide on your career direction? My initial hotel experience could have taken me down several pathways. This is what I love about our industry; the opportunity to develop and learn new skills is always there, no matter what stage your career is at. However, the buzz I got from selling ‘the dream' to event bookers, securing a contract and seeing it all come to life, confirmed that event sales was the pathway I was destined to follow.

Could you talk me through the other steps in your career?

After becoming a sales executive with the event sales team in Cardiff, I then transferred to one of Marriott's properties in Hampshire to be closer to my family. Keen to make the move to London, I landed my next role as business development executive at the London Eye, working as part of the event sales team.

The opportunity to work as business development manager at Ascot Racecourse then presented itself and I took it. With two Royal Ascots under my belt, I was ready to move back to London and I returned to the London Eye when the role of event sales manager came up, and with it the opportunity to lead the sales team and collaborate with some amazing brands such as Sipsmith, Red Bull and Hotel Chocolat.

In 2015, I joined Harbour & Jones as sales and marketing manager at RSA House, and after two years, with Harbour & Jones now part of CH&Co, I was promoted to head of venue sales.

In January of this year, I was promoted to venue sales director of Venues by CH&Co.

Have you embarked on any additional personal career development that has supported your progression?

I joined the Elevate Mentoring programme in 2021 as a mentor. As well as giving me the opportunity to mentor someone from another part of the industry, it really helped me assess my own areas of strength and identify those for development. It was also a great networking opportunity for me.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced working in hospitality?

Without a doubt it's been these past couple of years. Keeping a brand alive, active and engaging, and upholding excellent service standards, all with a reduced team and constant changes to guidelines to contend with.

It's been a very challenging time, but we have come out of it so much stronger and more focused. One of the great initiatives born out of this time is our Sales and Marketing Academy by eve: a bespoke training plan focused on the development of our venue sales team across eve and [CH&Co's event platform] Venues by CH&Co. We are so proud to be investing in the formal development of our sales teams.

Do you have any regrets or things you wish you'd done differently?

While working with Marriott I had the opportunity to be promoted and I turned it down because I thought I wasn't ready for it. The fact that someone very senior, with all their years of experience, saw something in me at that time and thought I could do it should have dispelled any hesitation on my part. I should have gone for it, but we live and learn…

What advice would you give someone starting in the industry?

Be open to every opportunity that comes your way. The best companies will always offer personal learning and development. Some roles may not seem right at the time and, of course, that could be for the best, but consider the bigger picture and how you want to shape your career. The fuller your experience (learning as well as work experience), the wider you can cast your net in the future.

What are your future career goals?

Having just been promoted, I'm really excited for what the future holds for eve and for Venues by CH&Co. All the signs are there for a great year and beyond. I'm looking forward to our business growing and, with that, my role too.

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