In the Hot Seat: Eventist Group’s Tim Stevens

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Tim Stevens MD of Eventist Group, which runs Best Parties Ever, Tapenade, Arribar and i.e.live, sits in CN‘s coveted warm chair.

What attracted you to the events industry?

The chance to take control of something I believed in – that and because I wanted to save people from cr*p food. It was 1998 when I started the company and the events and catering industry was growing but still a far cry from what it is now. I spotted an opportunity to grow the business, put my head down and got on with it.

What is your company’s USP?

Our expertise: we now operate fully across the catering, bars, sound/production and Christmas party sectors of the events industry, so there isn’t much we don’t know how to do. We delivered 237 parties in December 2016 for 174,000 guests, across 22 UK venues. It’s exhausting but worth it.

Are there other sectors the meetings industry can learn from?

I’m always impressed by the organisers of huge sporting events or concerts. It puts into stark perspective how communicative you need to be with your team across all the elements of an event – multiple nights, sites and functions. If you fail at that, you shouldn’t be in the business.

What can the catering industry do better?

I think it could be quicker to spot and follow food trends and I wish the catering industry was able to attract a better calibre of graduates.

What are your plans for developing the M&E business within Best Parties Ever?

Our current focus is on building on the contacts we have made in our work across all divisions.

Greatest achievement in your career?

Growing the company from a catering company to one that encompasses five brands. Eventist Group now owns and runs Best Parties Ever, our Christmas party brand; Tapenade – our year-round catering brand that looks after RIAT, Farnborough and Paris Airshows, Media 10 exhibitions, diverse corporate events and 60 weddings per year, Arribar! – our bars brand which oversees Glastonbury, smaller festivals, corporate bars, mixology and brand activations, Tobacco Dock Food – our in-house catering service at the unusual East London venue, and iELive, a full service lighting, sound and production brand, as well as a dry hire company for power distribution, light and sound hire.

What is your biggest weakness?

Probably not networking enough at the beginning of my business journey. I have always kept my head down, worked hard, and built these companies without getting to know many people in the industry. With the industry growing as it is, it’s important to make the most of the opportunities that are out there.

Best advice you received in your formative years at work?

Keep humble and work your nuts off.

What has been the most difficult situation you have dealt with?

Setting up my own business. I’m only half joking; the pressure of taking that leap and committing to making it work has been a massive challenge. Thankfully it’s paid off through sheer hard work, but there’s a reason not everybody sets up on their own.

Advice for those looking for a future career in the industry?

Don’t be precious about what you do to get started; everyone has to begin somewhere. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s such a social industry that you won’t get anywhere if you have too high an opinion of yourself.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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