Written by Katie Chan
Entrepreneur of luxury event management company Etincelle Bespoke Events and managing director of bespoke concierge service AskMosamba International (AMS), Lifestyle Director Jennifer Chaibet plans and executes personalised luxury event experiences both in the UK and internationally. With over 20 years of experience working in the events management and hospitality industry, Jennifer strives to deliver the “crème de la crème” of the hospitality sector, providing memorable experiences for clients and their guests, anywhere in the world. In this article, she shares with us her journey, challenges she has faced and how her personal experiences motivate her to deliver the best to clients today.
“The most important aspect of my work is delivering excellence in what I have achieved or will continue to achieve to clients.”
What attracted you to becoming an entrepreneur and running your own company on top of what you were already doing?
Balancing a full-time job and being a mother of two, Jennifer found herself struggling to handle the shifts required from a ‘normal job’ as well as maintaining familial responsibilities. Working in the hospitality sector requires committing to long shifts, and due to prolonged lack of sleep and an unhealthy schedule, she realised this was not sustainable. Jennifer’s entrepreneurial journey began when she was given the opportunity to take on a role at AMS International, by her current business partner Mo Samba. She continued her part-time job at the Beaumont Hotel as well as managing full-time motherhood, to test out whether she enjoyed it. Attracted to the flexibility she immediately had to choose to work in the office but also working from home, Jennifer was given several opportunities and responsibility early on, which helped her to realise that it was time to take the big leap and commit full-time.
“I was given many opportunities. One event that I loved planning was an Asian wedding for 650 people at the Natural History Museum. During my career, I have been exposed to many high-end and celebrity clients, but planning this event stood out to me; it was phenomenal. I worked under a short timeframe of a few months. For these clients, I had to familiarise myself with the clients’ culture and traditions, which I really enjoyed.”
“It enables me to be as creative as, I want as long as I still create their vision”
Following this, Jennifer decided to resign and move onto working full-time with her business partner. She then decided to split the concierge service from the event planning and started her own personalised events planning company. Jennifer currently runs both AMS concierge and Etincelle Bespoke Events and believes that being involved in both is useful as the two services complement each other well.
What attracts you to working in bespoke events management, and from that, guest experience?
“I love the outcome of it – bringing a client’s vision to life and seeing all the different facial expressions, emotions and reactions, is breath-taking. The moment when I see their eyes light up is when I know I have done an excellent job.”
For Jennifer, client satisfaction and the exclusive experience that a client receives in planning an event is what she is most passionate about. Jennifer believes she has always carried an entrepreneurial spirit. With her parents running their own restaurants, she has grown up within the customer service industry, where it was normal for her to regularly help out. She thrives in helping, advising and providing recommendations to people – with a focus on bringing genuine in all that she does.
“Authenticity is everything.”
Honesty can be easily perceived the wrong way, and some people don’t like to hear the truth so it has not always been easy, particularly when you have to manage people. Being creative, entrepreneurial and attentive to detail has always been in me. 10 years ago, my husband and I decided to get married last-minute. I was given the news that my father was not well and wanted to share my big day with him. So, I managed to plan my wedding for 250 people from London for the ceremony to take place in Paris – the location, decorations, flower arrangements – to accomplish this in just 4 months! I didn’t think of hiring an event planner at the time as I had enough experience to execute it myself, but if I had the chance to do it again, I would have to save the stress and above all; to be able to fully enjoy the moment.
In today’s society we are heavily reliant on technology and often prefer to look online to get things done. The rise in using artificial intelligence (AI) technology has seen a rise in AI event concierge services and AI-powered event chatbots, which can be seen to have gained popularity in usage from both the customer and the organiser.
What are your thoughts on this – do you feel that this increase may make personalised event services less preferable?
I think it’s great. The world evolves, and you have to evolve with the world.
Given the technological advancements nowadays, as an event organiser, I still prefer one-to-one work with a client rather than computerised conversations. Through digitalised conversations, we cannot read feelings, emotions and empathy.
Nevertheless, Chatbots can be very helpful for organising large events such as festivals and big conferences, as it helps the event run smoother. For instance, when you train temporary staff in a short amount of time, they might not have experience in event planning and hospitality, therefore are not the best option when trying to deliver excellent customer service. Chatbots and AI concierge services wouldn’t be a complete replacement for front of house staff, but they could be a great complement to interact with audiences. In addition to this, at the end of the event, you can review these chats and use this information to create resources with your team or feedback forms.
Due to the nature of your work, you must deal with a variety of clients on a personal level. Can you describe some daily challenges you face?
Absolutely. One of the biggest challenges we face is communication. Slow communication with clients or suppliers, in responding or changes of opinion can be frustrating and slows our planning process. Logistics are always a big challenge due to the nature of our work. It also takes physically working at a venue to realise what is right and what needs improvement. Thanks to my experience, I have come together and creates links with the best venues and suppliers but just in the UK but internationally. The financial side has been tricky too. Sometimes clients can take time with the payment, which impacts our supplier’s pricing. The closer we come to an event, the more difficult it becomes for us to negotiate prices.
When you are as passionate about your job as I am, you can become demanding towards others and expect people to consistently give 150%, as I always do. This has brought with it challenges throughout my career, for example when I was given the nickname Napoleon! Rather than upset me, it made me laugh!
“Nothing gives me greater joy than when the quality of a project meets or exceeds the expectations of clients.”
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