Event of the month – Aviation Club UK lunch
Every month some of the most influential figures in the aviation industry, including CEOs and Secretaries of State, attend the Aviation Club UK lunches at 116 Pall Mall.
Previous guest speakers have included former EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall, Lord Adonis, and current Virgin Atlantic chief Craig Kreeger.
Philippa Ewart is the club’s Executive Secretary. Here, Philippa gives us the lowdown on how she collaborates with the on-site team at 116 to produce the key ingredients for a successful lunch…
Who we are…
“The Aviation Club of the UK was founded in February 1990 to create a networking forum for its members and a vehicle for promoting and developing all aspects of civil aviation. The Club has a membership of more than 500 individuals from a broad cross-section of the civil aviation community. Membership is open to individuals with a business interest in the civil aviation industry and is drawn from airlines, airports, finance houses, manufacturers, regulators, and the media.”
“I arrange a programme of networking events for members and their guests comprising of seven lunches, an annual reception and quarterly evening events for the Young Aviation Professionals’ Group.”
Why we use 116 Pall Mall…
“The Aviation Club UK has been holding its lunch events at that location for the past 28 years. In fact, it has almost become our informal clubhouse! 116 Pall Mall works well for us because it offers everything the Club needs – it is centrally located in a beautifully maintained building that is full of character and steeped in history. It combines heritage with cutting-edge business and offers a venue where members, guests and speakers feel comfortable.”
It’s all about the details…
“Because we have an open flow of conversation with the team at 116, we are always talking and looking at ways to make things run that little bit better, ease a bit of admin or enhance the visitor experience. It would be very easy to become complacent, especially with repeat events like ours, but we don’t let that happen.
“We are always discussing value for money. It’s something that the on-site team are well aware of and work to deliver. A slightly larger meat portion, room for a speaker to prepare in, or last-minute vegetarian wine requests are all accommodated.
“I feedback our members’ comments and they pass on ideas to me, so it’s a two-way street. For example, the chocolates were changed about four months ago. I received comments from a number of lunch attendees noting they were not to the usual standard and why they didn’t like them. They took the comments on board and made a change. We wouldn’t have thought an after dinner chocolate could cause such a stir, but it did.”
How we work with the team at 116…
“I work very closely with everyone from the senior management teams through to the service staff on the day. We negotiate prices and set dates over a year in advance. The Club takes four rooms on the second floor for the whole day and, on occasion, seat maximum numbers of 250 in the Nash Room for lunch. The format of our event days does not change and standardly we hold a boardroom style meeting before lunch followed immediately by a pre-drinks reception and three-course lunch with high-level guest speaker. The management team have taken the time to get to know our requirements and I feel very confident in their care.
“We hold quarterly menu tastings to ensure that the food is maintained at a consistently high standard and run through different ideas to keep the menus fresh and relevant. Photographs for each of the selected dishes are taken at the tasting, with the Head Chef and his team making sure that each plate is finished and served to a high standard. Also, because the staff turnover is so low across the building, as a frequent visitor I know most of the reception team, food and beverage team, and the regular waiting staff. This consistency really helps with repeat events and means it’s a very friendly place to work. They all make me feel extremely comfortable.”
What makes an event a success…
“Summing up a successful event is so very difficult because it means different things to different people. The client and guests are happy if they have been able to achieve their objectives for attending the lunch.
As an event organiser, I am happy if the client is satisfied and the event has run with no issues that they have to be made aware of. From my perspective, the success comes from engaging with a professional venue team with a can-do attitude. 116 Pall Mall will work alongside me to deliver a smoothly run event and take whatever action is required to make that event happen.
Neither the event organiser or the venue can ever become complacent. After all, you’re only ever as good as your last event!”
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