HEAD TO HEAD WITH BILLIE MOORE
Tell us a little bit about McCullough Moore and what do you do
McCullough Moore is a full-service event planning company that manages business to business events. We support clients from both the private and public sectors across a variety of different industries including healthcare, foodservice, pharmaceutical, medical technology and renewable energy, which gives us versatility to deliver outstanding solutions for clients in any business sector.
The company’s ethos is to provide clients with a professional and flexible event management service at an affordable price. We offer a full event planning service, including venue finding, logistics staging, marketing, delegate management, delegate and exhibitor sales and budget management. We also offer a pick ‘n’ mix approach. For example, for some clients we will take care of the pre-, during- and post-event logistics and sell everything from exhibitor stands to delegates. Whereas for others we may only be responsible for looking after the exhibitors – whatever fits their requirements.
The team has planned business to business events of all sizes – from small seminars and meetings to large-scale conferences and ‘expos’ throughout the UK, Europe and USA.
Our offices are based on a little farm in Faygate, West Sussex. We are known to some of our clients as the welly brigade, as at lunchtime we are often walking one of the office dogs in the fields and woods behind us.
The McCullough Moore team is experienced, passionate, fun to work with and totally customer focused. Our unwavering determination and achievement of excellent results mean that we have formed long-term working partnerships with many of our clients.
We know there’s no such thing as a standard day in the event industry – what’s your number one tip for anyone looking to plan a cracking event?
It’s all about making your event different from the rest. There’s so much competition out there and, for either monetary or resource reasons, it’s hard to entice people out of their workplace.
When we launched the Universal Cookery and Food Festival in conjunction with the Craft Guild of Chefs we knew it couldn’t be in a standard venue or with a standard format. It had to be edgy, forward thinking, challenging, trendy (a bit mad and daring in places… who would fly a full Kangaroo carcass from Australia and get it stripped down on stage?) and unlike any other event. And, that’s exactly what it is. That’s why at UCFF you meet delegates you’d never see at any other trade event.
There must be a considerable amount of pressure with putting on an event in the hospitality sector. What’s the biggest challenge you find when event planning?
Getting the food right! For every event, whether you’re catering for chefs or manufacturers of catering equipment, they are all foodies and know how great food should be cooked, presented, served and, above all, how it should taste! Expectations are always so much higher – and you don’t get away with anything.
So, making the menu choice is always challenging. But saying that, you can always be more adventurous with a group of guests from the hospitality sector.If we’re not inspired by the menu choice we’ll work with the chef and go for good quality, regional produce.
We always inform the venue caterers who the audience is, so then it’s also up to the head chef to make sure his team do him proud on the day/night.
McCullough Moore has been established for over a decade, what changes have you seen in the event industry?
Wow tough question – too many things… but here are a couple:
Technology is a key one – the systems we now use in the office are amazing, way beyond me and the era of the excel spreadsheet! And, gone are the days of the good old paper booking form… it’s now online, e-commerce and ‘smart form’ technology… preferably mobile friendly. Everything has to be instant and paperless.
Event promotion is another – social media has created a completely new chapter in event promotion and if you don’t get on the band wagon and learn to use it effectively you’ll be dead in the water… Each event uses Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and email.
In your opinion, which McCullough Moore event are you most proud of?
In 2009, I saw an opportunity to launch a renewable energy show with a friend who published a magazine called Energy Now, which profiled renewable energy aimed specifically for farmers and landowners. In 2010 we launched our first Energy Now Expo in the sleepy Malvern Hills at the Three Counties Showground, which was an agricultural venue. Nine years later, the event takes place at the Telford International Centre, attracts 200 exhibitors, 4000 visitors and has multi-streamed conference sessions. It’s the biggest event we run and because we conceived it and own it, it’s the one I’m most proud of.
Do your family and friends ask you for party planning advice?
Yep – always. I can’t tell you how many parties and anniversaries I’ve assisted with, or lent chair covers and sashes or centre pieces to. From a gay wedding, traditional in all aspects apart from having a marvel comic theme and the best man being a dog, to a midsummer’s evening 40th birthday party full of fairies (well quite pickled fairies actually) - I’ve helped with them all. Mainly, it’s advice about the venue and costs though because it’s hard to know what is a fair price per head. I don’t mind, it’s nice to be able to help.
If you had to host your dream event, who would be there, and where would it be?
OK, so I know you’re going to cringe, but actually it would be my wedding. It’s always a girl’s dream event, and I’m no different!
It wouldn’t be big, but I’d choose an amazing outside space – something with beautiful architecture like Rome or with a breath-taking view – perhaps Puglia in Italy, or by a lakeside on Lake Como. It would be an early evening event, possibly as the sun set. It would be black tie and evening dresses for close friends and family … and I’d have the most amazing regional food paired with local wines. Colours would be classic – cream and white flowers with lots of green foliage. I’d carry red roses – as mum carried red roses on her wedding day to Dad. Classical acapella singers would accompany the ceremony and dinner and, if money was no option, Ed Sheeran would serenade us late into the evening.