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24 April 2014

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Venue Vendor - Hamish Reid

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Jersey Royalty - Hamish Reid, GM of Jersey Conference Bureau, on his battle to persuade business tourists that the island isn’t just about Bergerac and banking


hamish reid 2010 - Hamish-12_copy_copy.jpgIsland life – well, flitting between one and London – seems to suit Hamish Reid, Jersey Conference Bureau’s ebullient general manager. But Reid’s relaxed demeanour – he’s chatty, casually dressed and not afraid of a strong opinion – belies a prodigious work ethic. 

Reid’s stint promoting Jersey as a business destination has been a dynamic one and he’s got the plaudits to prove it. Having just served two years on the board of Eventia, and scooped Best UK Convention Bureau 2009 and Industry Personality of the Year 2009 at the Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT) Awards, he is the youngest person ever to have been so recognised. When pressed, he admits: ‘I was chuffed about that. There are some seriously good people who have won the award, and to be included among them is really an honour.’ 
It was, in fact, his work driving the merger of the British Association of Conference Destinations with the old Incentive Travel & Meetings Association – now Eventia – that led to his stellar 2009 showing at the M&IT Awards. The rebranded, bigger and stronger Eventia is now one of the most important organisations in the UK events industry.
Reid started off his 11 years at Jersey Conference Bureau as sales manager and was promoted to general manager in 2003. As he points out, ‘quality has immeasurably improved on Jersey over the past 12 years’. He has played no small part in encouraging and promoting this. ‘Overcoming perceptions based on experiences 10 or 20 years ago is not without its problems,’ he says. ‘The product can – and has – changed in a short period, seemingly overnight, but to change perceptions takes a little longer.’ He is particularly proud of last year’s car launch with General Motors and Jack Morton, the events marketing agency. ‘It really showed what the island was capable of – entertaining a discerning clientele to a high level,’ says Reid. 
It’s the breadth of the business and conference offering that has kept him loyal to the Bureau for such a long time. ‘What appeals to me about Jersey is that I’ve always got something to sell,’ he explains. ‘Selling a multi-faceted product is great fun – with a destination, there is always an angle we can offer.’ Be it 
a foodie one – Jersey’s restaurants are going from strength to strength – a music festival, ever-expanding conferencing capabilities or inventive team building. And the events industry still fills him with enthusiasm. ‘It is, by its very nature, creative and energetic,’ he says. ‘It’s good to be part of that.’ 
But Reid isn’t afraid to vent his irritation at certain aspects of his job, citing ‘the vast array of rubbish trade shows, online listings, so-called magazines and non-ABC audited events or publications, all promising to be the best and never taking no for an answer. Ditto for some trade associations. Why can’t they merge?’ 
To relax (after a traumatic trade show perhaps?) Reid enjoys a spot of golf. ‘We don’t promote Jersey as a “golf destination”, but there are some fantastic courses,’ he enthuses. Among them are the island’s three PGA courses: Royal Jersey, La Moye and Les Mielles. His dream fourball would consist of ‘me, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicholson and Alice Cooper – with a News of the World reporter as my caddie’. What on earth would the Screws headlines say the next day?
Jersey Conference Bureau, Liberation Place, St Helier, Jersey JE1 1BB. 01534 448855, squaremeal.co.uk/jcb

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