As part of Project Confidence with Association of Event Venues (AEV), we are discussing what team have been up to during lockdown and how we are working towards instilling confidence in the events industry!
Name: Stephen Kearney
Venue: Eikon Exhibition Centre, Northern Ireland
Role: Venue Manager
Tell us a little bit about your time at the Eikon: I have worked as Venue Manager for the Eikon Exhibition Centre since it first opened in 2015, having worked at our former home, King’s Hall, Belfast for 25 years.
In my time as a Venue Manager, I have worked at various types of events, including B2C exhibitions, B2B exhibitions, trade shows, product launches, agri-events, sporting events and international summits. My favourite events through the years have always been the dog shows, I have two Jack Russells at home and it was always like Christmas for them after the dog show – they get spoiled!
The highlight of my time has to be the day the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the Eikon Exhibition Centre for a youth conference – well, if it’s good enough for royalty!
What are some of the things that you have been working on at your venue during the COVID-19 lockdown?: I undertook a diverse range of jobs during the lockdown, including managing the daily running of our events office whilst some of the team were on furlough– who knew Sage accounting was so challenging? I have a newfound appreciation for our accounts team! As well as that, I worked alongside our Operations Manager to ensure the venue was maintained.
Here at the Eikon, we are fortunate to sit on 55 acres of outdoor event space, and so we were able to host some drive-in conferences and a drive-in cinema during lockdown, for which I was on site. I also conducted virtual site visits for any organisers who weren’t able to visit the venue in person.
How are you and your team working towards instilling confidence in events in the future? As a venue manager, myself and the team are working on how best to keep the public safe during events in the future, and have been updating our risk assessments in line with government procedure. I work very closely with our approved contractors for security, first aid and housekeeping and I have been working on what way their roles will adapt to reflect the current event safety guidance to not only keep the public safe, but our contractors too. We work closely with the Association of Event Venues (AEV), and keeping in communication with them has been beneficial during this time to see what other venues are doing, and consulting with each other as an industry.
Tell us one thing you enjoyed about lockdown? I very much enjoyed the slower pace of life, online shopping and going on lots of long walks with my dogs… however I am very glad that Marks & Spencers café is now reopened to get a proper coffee! Instant coffee is not the same!