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I joined BMG in the summer of 2017, working on the new Compassion Experience. Sadly this has now come to an end as a direct result of Covid-19, but it’s got me thinking about the amazing experiences we had on the road and in particular the big lessons that I’ve learned.
Here’s a few of them:
My career has been varied, ranging from spending time in the military to running an estate agency; owning a wedding planning business, and driving a truck! I can say that I developed a lot of different skills and I’ve used many of them whilst working on the Compassion Experience!
Resilience and resourcefulness are two of the characteristics that are needed to work in experiential events, but I’ve found that when you have a team of like-minded people who work well together and are willing to do whatever it takes to make things happen, there are always solutions.
No matter what was thrown at us (everything including the ‘Beast from the East’) we always found solutions. When needed, we adapted and changed plans so that we could open to the public. Behind our smiles, there were some very inventive solutions and we were definitely paddling like mad underneath at times! But as a team, we always managed to come up with what was needed.
BMG is built on the values of working in partnership with our clients and going above and beyond to make campaigns work. As a Tour Manager, my role was key to this at times. Whenever we start to work with a new client we always tell them that 'they will need us and we will need them'. It’s a mutual relationship. Delivering roadshows can be complex and getting good results isn't guaranteed. It takes us and the client to understand and support each other, to really make things work.
Before we started working with Compassion our team visited their offices for a couple of days and got to know them and their work. This helped us massively in terms of establishing the relationship, knowing what their expectations would be, and enabling us to surpass them.
Our company ethos is very much about supporting each other to get the job done. We have a great management structure that puts a lot of faith in us and allows us to grow in our roles, whilst at the same time supporting us and ensuring we keep on track. I’ve always tried to model this with my team (and the volunteers that I managed on the Compassion Experience).
As a company, we’ve also worked hard to build relationships with some trusted suppliers that know us, understand what we do, and can help us at short notice. This has made all the difference when we’ve been up against it.
You can split what we do into two categories. There are the people skills that we need to deal with clients, represent brands, and work with the general public. Then there’s set up, pack down, maintenance, and everything that goes into building the physical environment.
This second category is very physical; working at height, lifting, moving heavy pieces of equipment, making sure that cameras or lighting are hung correctly, not to mention guiding trucks in and out of venues.
As the Tour Manager, I’ve always prioritised safety training, keeping up to date with health and safety guidelines, and other best practices. It’s led to an environment where there have been very few incidents and where I, as the team leader, can have confidence that my team is operating safely, even if my back is turned.
It’s one thing recruiting staff to work in a regular job but recruiting them to work on the road is entirely different. Then there are the challenges of managing a team that’s travelling, working, and living together. We put a lot of effort into recruiting the right people and matching them to the right campaign, and this is a good start.
I’ve also found that having regular team meetings, as well as 'one to ones' with each team member, helps to deal with problems before they get started. For the almost three years that the Compassion Experience was on the road, we worked together, shared accommodation, and socialised together; so there were plenty of times that things could have got difficult. By keeping communication open, and giving people the chance to be honest about their frustrations, difficulties, and aspirations, we were able to deal with most situations before they became a problem.