Caterina has been at RIBA at 66 Portland Place for almost five years, joining as Venues Manager and just two years later taking over as Head of Venues.
We spoke with Caterina this month to find out how her role has changed over the past year and what it means to finally be planning a return to live events.
How has your role had to adapt over the past 12 months?
The biggest change has been working remotely – our job is centred around 66 Portland Place and working together as a team, so it has been an adjustment not being in the building every day or seeing my team in-person. As such, I’ve had to learn how to manage the team remotely, implementing regular virtual meetings, as well as team activities to keep morale high.
Not only have we had to adapt to new ways of working, but also new ways of selling our venue to clients with virtual tours, video content and zoom calls replacing physical show-rounds. We’ve had to demonstrate a new level of flexibility over the last year, particularly when it came to postponing and rescheduling client events, as well as adapting our own marketing strategies in response to changing government guidelines.
What have you found most rewarding about working during the pandemic?
For me, it is tricky to find many rewarding things about working remotely during lockdown as I’m all about being around people and collaborating in-person, so it’s been quite lonely and isolating. I think I have even missed the commute!
Obviously, technology has been a saviour whilst working remotely, so I am thankful I’ve been able to liaise with the team so effectively despite not seeing them in-person, as well as keeping in regular contact with clients.
As we’ve not been able to organise or host any events during the pandemic, we have had some extra time to do things such as improve and clean our database, collaborate with our catering partner CH&CO on new menus, and spend time coming up with exciting and innovative new campaigns for when we reopen.
What have you found most challenging about working during the pandemic?
The biggest challenge for me has been not being around my team, our fantastic clients and suppliers, and not being able to host events at 66 Portland Place. I love the hustle and bustle of my job and working with FOH, CH&CO, and constantly having people in and out of the building. It has also been challenging not being able to confidently put a plan in place and see it through – for anyone who works in the events industry, planning is our top priority, and going in and out of lockdown and the frequent changes to what is allowed and when has made it impossible to plan too far ahead.
What type of event are you most looking forward to hosting again?
I can’t wait to start hosting award ceremonies again – I really do love watching people get recognition for the hard work that they do. As RIBA at 66 Portland Place is a prestigious venue with a remarkable history in the heart of central London, we have held some very esteemed awards ceremonies with attendees who are at the top of their game, and it’s exciting to see their achievements being acknowledged and celebrated.
When are you reopening for events?
We will be reopening in June and we cannot wait! We have lots of new ‘build your own’ packages ready for our clients, including a special summer reunion!
We’ve seen a considerable uplift in enquiries since the roadmap out of lockdown was announced and in March we confirmed nine bookings for events due to take place later this year and in 2022, which is an incredibly positive sign.
What’s your favourite thing about Westminster as a destination?
Its heart and soul! I love the history, the buildings, and the atmosphere!
To find out about hosting your next event at 66 Portland Place, get in touch at [email protected].