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Agency pitch: ‘Venue finding is a crucial part of the creation’ says Eventful

From South Africa to SW19, Eventful founder and creative director Caroline Lumgair has had, well, an eventful journey. Paul Harvey reports.

It was while working as an event planner in the luxury hotel market that Caroline Lumgair realised that she wanted to start an events agency.

“I loved working with both corporates and agencies,” she says. “I felt an affinity with agents and I thought ‘one day I’d like to run my own agency’.”

In particular, her time as event co-ordinator at The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne was formative for the South African, who moved to Sussex at the age of 15. “I was so proud to work at such an iconic hotel,” she reveals. “The Grand was a true five-star hotel – it was traditional and formal, my experience there taught me absolute excellence in terms of service. For clients, I believe that’s what sets Eventful apart as an agency.”

And so, in 2002, at just 24, Lumgair took the plunge and started Eventful in the Sussex village of Newick. “I could see the opportunity,” she says. “Many corporate clients were looking for a more personalised event planning service. Despite being young, I felt that I had the right experience to deliver what those corporates were looking for.”

Since forming, the team at Eventful have booked and planned more than 4,000 events, with its high-touch personal service helping it to immediately develop a loyal portfolio. “From the outset, I was fortunate to work with several blue-chip corporate clients, one of whom is still one of our biggest clients today,” says Lumgair. “Since then our portfolio has grown organically. We have worked hard to build these rare, longstanding relationships with our key corporate clients and to establish ourselves as their go-to agency.”

Eventful

Caroline Lumgair

The agency moved to Wimbledon in 2007, with the capital providing another boost. “We have found that our clients like to work with London-based people with their ear to the ground,” says Lumgair. “We spend a lot of time with our clients in strategy meetings and on-site inspections which has been key to building strong relationships.”

Lumgair is passionate about the importance of sourcing the right venue (and destination) for her clients, saying: “Venue finding is a crucial part of the creation and delivery of an event. We strive to provide clients with destination and venue solutions that are brand-appropriate, within budget, and also incredibly memorable for their participants.”

Lumgair also credits her loyal team of colleagues for the company’s success. It speaks volumes that two members of the team have been with the company for nine years.

“We have always offered flexible working and our staff really value the work-life balance that this provides,” she says. “Being a new mother, I now truly understand and appreciate how imperative it is to have that flexibility. This business is like a family to me and I want to ensure that our people – and their families – are priority.

“I am also immensely proud of our client relationships. As a small business, we are able to be agile, to move quickly – adapt, change and respond. Our clients are large global clients who can’t be as nimble due to their sheer scale – so the support we can provide them with as an SME supplier is invaluable.”

With client event spend up to £5.9m this year from £4.5m in 2018, it’s a busy time at Eventful, but Lumgair still has her eye on the wider industry. “The market is consolidating,” she says. “I think there will be more acquisitions to come. However, as more of the larger agencies consolidate, the requirement will increase for high-touch service SME agencies. We are excited about the opportunities that this trend will bring.”

Eventful

2017/18                2018/19

Turnover             £478k                    £594k

Profit                     £159k                    £210k