I’ve been part of the GL events UK commercial team for five years now and joined the organisation as a junior account manager. It’s a diverse role and there have been many opportunities to progress, as well as to travel. One of my most memorable projects was the 2014 G20 event in Brisbane, Australia, where GL events UK delivered a £12m overlay solution; including structures, branding and furniture for the leaders’ summit.
I’ve since worked my way up to the position of account manager with responsibility for projects including the British Grand Prix at Silverstone as well as events at Cheltenham Racecourse, a venue which has become close to my heart. GL events’ partnership with Jockey Club Racecourses at Cheltenham has grown significantly since we started working together in 2014, supplying the Open. The account has now doubled and is one of GL UKs largest projects, both in terms of value and the impressive volume of kit supplied.
My contribution to the event is quite diverse: We start planning for the next Festival while the current event is in full swing! From the discussion of initial concepts, and ideas through to costings, delivery, clear and post-event analysis, I’m always thinking of ways to develop GL events’ customer service. This year’s Cheltenham Festival was the final phase in a vast, 22,000sqm project for GL events, that started out among the rolling Cotswolds hills in the autumn of 2016. The site enjoyed by thousands of event-goers is created in three phases, with phase one – our build in preparation for Cheltenham’s October Showcase event, starting in September.
Then comes phase two: building of further temporary structures and event infrastructure in preparation for the second largest event in Cheltenham’s racing calendar, The Open. This is where Cheltenham Racecourses’ tented village starts to take shape. The layout of our temporary structures cleverly encircles the champagne bar, coffee station, wet weather cover and top-end hospitality pavilion, with 10, 15, and 25m Absolute equipment making up the hospitality offering in the shape of a horse shoe. There’s also a giant, 30m structure, which houses 70 trade stands and a coffee bar to make up Cheltenham’s retail village; not to mention the famous Final Flight bar, a 25m temporary structure, complete with dance-floor, where event-goers party all day.
As you’d imagine, having a great team in place is absolutely key to bringing all of this together, both in the office and on-site, and I’m lucky enough to have just that! At peak, the GL events project team is made up of more than 50 people, who clocked up more than 15,000 working hours throughout this project. Along with our support team at GL events HQ, the project team is made up of a myself, overseeing the project as a whole; Emily, who this year took the lead on furniture; Kenny, our Site Manager, who oversees day-to-day site operations; two site supervisors, Ian and Danny, and crew members working across the site.
We’re a close-knit team and our passion for the project is highly valued by the client as well as by other suppliers. This year, we delivered a one-stop, total overlay solution; including everything from scaffolding and temporary structures to heating, lighting, flooring, furniture, washrooms and interior design and fit-out. All of this adds up to 3km of lighting cable, 700 florescent lights, 1,000 plugs and sockets, 155 climate control units, 2,200sqm of painted MDF walling and 120 toilet units across 14 zones.
As you’d imagine, this calls for a particularly collaborative partnership with the client, and the benefits are far-reaching. For example, we work closely with Jockey Club Racecourses’ catering team, which puts furniture into place each day, re-configuring each hospitality suite in readiness to accommodate groups of guests arriving to enjoy VIP hospitality every day. These guys set up more than 800 tables, along with 6,100 dining chairs. As you’d imagine, the timescales for these in-event operations are tight – and our project team is glad to lend a hand wherever possible.
After many months of planning and hard work, Cheltenham Festival 2017 was a great success, with daily crowds of up to 65,000 people enjoying four gloriously sunny days of socialising, fashion, the best hospitality, and exciting jump-race action. Our product looked and felt world-class, and played a large part in enhancing customers’ excellent experience of a fantastic and memorable event.
Tom Alldread, Account Manager at GL events UK