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Meet Lisa Guastella, venue marketing manager at the British Museum.
I have been involved in events for about 28 years. I started off organising them, working with the likes of MTV and DC Comics. For the past eight or ten years, I’ve been on the flipside, hiring out venues.
I worked in marketing at MTV and a big part of that role was putting on events. Every job I’ve had since then has involved an element of event planning.
My first professional event was for Nickelodeon’s Nick at Nite. As the channel’s programming centred on the family, we decided to recreate a street in middle America, with house fronts and barbecues, and we had the Fred Astaire dance school teach everybody how to do the hustle.
My most memorable experience was trying to get Brian Blessed off the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe. He’d gone on for an hour longer than planned and said, ‘Hey, look everyone, there’s Lisa waving!’ Then he carried on for another 30 minutes.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that you have to roll with the punches. Events are very fluid and you have to be be flexible and ready to change your plans at the last minute.
I really like it when the museum is quiet and everything is empty, but it’s also great when we have parties around all of the amazing exhibits. Thousands of years ago, other civilisations – like the Egyptians – were doing the same thing.
I am motivated by seeing people walk away happy, be that the clients themselves or the guests. A hundred things can go wrong behind the scenes, but if everyone is happy, then you feel you have accomplished something.
The best advice I ever received was to be flexible and not take anything personally. By the time you get to the event itself, 60% of your original plans will have changed.
People probably don’t know that I used to work with Michael Jackson, and that I am credited on a Grammy-nominated album for singer-songwriter Maxwell.
This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events, autumn 2013.