My Event World - Joe Carter, Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square

Joe Carter, director of event operations at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, spoke to Event about weddings, his work with Panasonic during the London Olympics, and love of Come Dine With Me.

Joe Carter is director of event operations at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
Joe Carter is director of event operations at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square

I got into the event industry because The gratitude expressed from the happy couples involved in the weddings I oversaw in the early years of my career justified the tired feet and long shifts.  

I have worked here since September 2015.

I was attracted to this particular role because London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square is Marriott’s flagship conference and events property. The team at the hotel also have a great focus for creating exciting customer experiences and are extremely talented at creating unique events.

Not many people know that I have been labelled the ‘King of Christmas’ in all of the hotels I have worked in. This is usually because my Christmas preparations starting in July, when I choose crackers and table decorations, as well as host regular Christmas meetings.

I also spearhead the Christmas decoration committee. We create our own decorations and normally have to work through the night and end up covered in glitter, but it has always been worth it.   

The best event I’ve been involved was... It’s hard to choose as three events stand out as career highlights. These include Miss World in 2011 and 2014, the ATP Tennis World Finals from 2008 to 2014, and the London 2012 Olympics where we worked with Panasonic as its premier hospitality hotel. It meant the entire hotel worked nights as all the guests departed by 9am and were not back until 9pm.

If I could do it all over again I would make all of the same decisions again. I know it sounds corny, but I am a big believer in fate and I have been very happy with each move in my career and have learned something different at each hotel.

The one thing I can’t stand is... It is important to always label boxes or props appropriately when sending to the event venue, to save time searching for boxes at a later point. Ensure the hotel’s contact name and not your own is labelled and that the box states the date and name of the conference.

Outside of work I spend my time… Working in hospitality is a lifestyle rather than a career, so on my rest days I catch up with old colleagues who have become close friends. I also have a secret addiction to watching Come Dine with Me.

If money were no object I would open my own event management company. It would specialise in organising multiple events for the same client, as this builds a strong relationship and rapport with both client and third-party suppliers.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be Karen Naughton, director of event management at Orlando World Centre Marriott, as she manages the largest pillar free ballroom in the world.

It would be a challenge, as at capacity the Cypress Ballroom can seat 10,452 people for dinner, plus a further three ballrooms can collectively seat 11,952 guests. I had the pleasure five years ago, whilst on holiday, to shadow the banqueting manager for a day and it was the highlight of my vacation.

If I ruled the event industry I would be much firmer with clients on deadlines for decisions, as last minute changes puts the planning and operations teams into reactive mode. When we’re given the time to plan and prepare we can ensure an enhanced service level. I believe this is embodied by a famous Abraham Lincoln quote: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

More: My Event World - Neil Mortimer

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