EVENTS organiser Karen Lindsey, whose clients include Hollywood movie giants Universal Pictures, is now operating from the A&T’s IncuHive New Milton.
For 30 years, Karen has been planning conferences, fun days, team building, launches and parties for top-level companies like Coca-Cola, Fitness First, KFC and Lloyds TSB. Universal Pictures have been clients of hers for over 20 years.
Her company KLC– Karen Lindsey Consultancy – also provides a specialist venue-finding service across the globe.
Karen, who recently moved from Ringwood to Barton, said: “Our new home literally had nothing, no broadband, no phone line, not even a study.
“I was in a panic and googled office space rental. It brought up IncuHive, which has been a complete godsend to me.
“I just turned up, plugged my computer in and I was ready to go.”
Another reason for Karen choosing IncuHive was that she was able to bring her dog Basil. An Australian Labradoodle, he is not only a beloved pet but also a business in his own right.
Travel with Basil is a website and blog Karen runs in which she details all the dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, cafes and pubs they visit.
She said: “Many places claim to be dog friendly then make you freeze to death outside in the garden because they don’t actually allow dogs inside. I feature places that actually welcome dogs wholeheartedly.
“Basil has his own Facebook page and Twitter account! Having him with me at the office was an absolute must – the thought of having to leave him at home was heart-breaking.”
She puts her talents for planning brilliant events down to her time working as a PA to the managing director of the music agency Value Added Talent, which handled Depeche Mode and Erasure.
“Part of my role was to help co-ordinate the tours by putting together the itineraries which featured all logistical aspects of the tour, including restrictions, timings and accommodation details,” she said.
Her break into the event planning industry was, to say the least, slightly unconventional. During the 90s she was running a modelling industry in London above the offices of Original Entertainment which was, at the time, the only one of its kind in the city.
“I used to go down there to chat to the people who worked there,” she said “One day when I was there, the phones were going mad, so I picked one up and it was someone wanting a themed Christmas party for his advertising agency.
“He said: ‘If you can get over here in an hour and take the brief you’ve got the contract.’ The lady running Original Entertainment didn’t have anyone to go. I was worried I didn’t have the relevant experience. She simply said to me, ‘You like parties don’t you? Off you go!’
“So I did, and that was that.”
She went onto launch her own company, Leaps & Bounds, when she moved from London to the south coast, before setting up KLC in 2005.
Karen, now limits herself to working on three fully organised ‘mega’ events a year. The rest of the time she specialises in sourcing venues – a free service for which she is paid commission by the chosen premises. Among the venues she uses are Kensington Palace, Lime Wood Hotel in Lyndhurst, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and even the Tower of London.
“I keep in touch with any new hotels, or restaurants opening, and I stay aware of the latest trends to catering etc,” said Karen.
“It’s important to clients that I’m at the forefront of what’s new.
“Everything has to be perfect from the beginning to the end.”
She added: “If I am just sourcing a venue, it has to be the absolute right place for the event, which can be a dinner party for ten high end clients, or a party for thousands.”
Karen’s book, Planning and Managing A Corporate Event, is now used as a text book for event management marketing degree courses at universities. She also lectures on the subject.
One of the most important factors when planning an event is health and safety which she has learnt the hard way.
As a young events planner she was involved in a launch in which a health and safety situation nearly ended in disaster.
She said: “Even now it makes me feel physically sick talking about it. Everything for the event was fantastic but the night before a fire broke out in a room.
“I can still remember getting the call about it. It was just devastating but I managed to get about 20 people into help and by the time we finished, you would never have had known anything had happened.
“It really taught me how crucial health safety is and I am an absolutely stickler for it now.”
Karen explained the growth of the internet and social media has really helped her industry.
“Can you imagine what it was like 30 years ago when someone asked for a chocolate fountain,” she said “I had to go through the phone book and ring loads of people up. Now if I don’t have a specific source within my files I just Google it.
“It’s made my life a lot easier but I still like to go out and see venues for myself and meet suppliers. I like to think people trust me because I go out of my way to make sure I know them and they know me.”
Her venue-sourcing service is heavily used by PAs of top companies who are tasked with organising events.
“Googling places is one thing, but knowing exactly what they are like and what is possible there is what you really need to know,” said Karen, “That’s where I come in.”