Party-planning, travel, relationships with some of the world’s most renowned concierge departments. Sounds like a modern day blockbuster doesn’t it? The reality is so much more interesting.
Because behind some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs and investors, often lies an experienced personal assistant. Someone who is familiar with such an array of activities that they become the “go to” trusted person for anything from gift-sourcing to travel arrangements and appointment management.
Curious about what the personal assistant role entails? We thought we’d give you a glimpse #InsideibLE to when Co-Founder Emma Hatto tasked one of our ibLE PAs with organising her 30th birthday party in Ibiza.
Note: our ibLE PA’s name has been hidden to protect their anonymity and their clients.
How did organising Emma’s birthday party become one of your first tasks with ibLE?
It happened by accident. When Emma and I were doing catch up calls (ibLE’s Co-Founders get to know all of the ibLE PAs so they can be matched to clients effectively) she was talking about having about her birthday in Ibiza. At the time I was looking after another client and overseeing their property in Ibiza so I asked if I could help with anything because I had started to build up quite a good contact base there.
Had you organised events before?
My family started an events business and I had always wanted to do events so I was desperate to go and work there. There was only a small team and I was responsible for everything from finding the business, to pitching ideas and budgeting, to the implementation and the execution. It was a lot of high end parties, incentive trips for top achievers and various finance firms and that type of thing, but it was always at the HNW end of the market.
Did you have much experience of Ibiza already?
As I mentioned earlier, I already had a client based out there whose property I had renovated so my contact book was very up to date and very current. I’d heard a few horror stories so I learnt quite quickly with Ibiza that you want to work with the ones that are going to work the way you want to work. There are a lot that are very “mañana” (which means “tomorrow”), which is fine but when you’re only flying in for a few days for a birthday you don’t have the luxury of “oh yes, we will do that for you and organise that private event but you will have to have it in a couple of weeks time”. It doesn’t work like that as the birthday would have been and gone.
What kind of things were you in charge of organising for the party?
It varied, so for instance logistics is quite often an issue especially out there in terms of transporting people from A to B. So I worked with a contact that I use and we organised a minibus to ferry all of Emma’s head group around. The hardest thing was trying to find someone who would be flexible in their timings because quite often when you’re partying you don’t always want to leave when you think you’re going to want to. So that’s something that people often don’t contemplate and it’s trying to find companies that can be slightly flexible without it impacting their business at the other end. Then I was sourcing things like recommendations for restaurants, various different activities and party nights where we looked at DJs over there and the cost of hiring sound systems while also trying to get Emma the best value for money.
Did you have to be cost-conscious or was it quite an open budget?
Definitely and with anyone, just because they have got the money to spend, they still want to spend it wisely. Sometimes you need to find the balance because when you try and cost save you can end up shooting yourself in the foot because you have gone to the lowest end and you don’t get the service that you need. It’s a question of finding the middle ground and that again comes down to relationships and contacts. Obviously you don’t always get it right but 9 times out of 10 you do and this worked really well for Emma’s party.
I know a lot of clients call you “The Fixer”. Were there any problems on this occasion that you had to solve?
Once example was that Emma needed access to a club she had already bought tickets for. I had a contact there whereby we could have got her VIP treatment and a table which actually worked out more cost effective. It also meant Emma and her friends wouldn’t have to queue, they would get fast tracked, they would get VIP service and they wouldn’t have to go to the bar so the whole experience would be much better. So the next challenge was to get all the original tickets refunded and it wasn’t one person that had bought the whole lot, even the couples had bought theirs individually, so it was a question of contacting each one and making sure everyone got their refunds. It all got sorted in the end and so even paying for my time to do that was still more cost effective and they would have had a much better experience than had they gone down the general admission route with their original tickets. It would have been fine but it was more to add that edge to their evening and make it that bit more special.
Do you usually attend the parties or events you organise?
I’m always on the end of my phone. I literally have to surgically remove it from me unless I’m on a plane and there’s no reception, I’m always there on hand. Depending on the nature of what I’ve organised, or if it had been on a larger scale I would have insisted that I attend the event or the pre planning for it because the hardest thing sometimes is to try and act as a third person when you’re virtual. Quite often it’s better for the client if you’re there to deal with the situation there and then on site.
Do you always tend to have a face-to-face relationship with clients?
Initially always. I think it’s important for me especially when you’re taking on new clients and you’re doing a lot of ad hoc work it’s quite hard to develop the relationship in terms of really getting to know how they tick, what they want and what they are about so meeting them to begin with is invaluable really. I think the piece that makes you better at your job than maybe others is that initial analysis and trying to learn very quickly in a short space of time how they work. Some people love communicating on Whatsapp, others will only ever pick up the phone, some are visual, others like a spreadsheet and numbers. The more information you have the better you can be.
What was the feedback from the party in Ibiza, was Emma pleased with the result?
Emma was really, really pleased she was thrilled with the way it had all gone. I think it had gone much better than she anticipated and the biggest thing for her was the ease with which everything had come together. Because she is so busy it was something she couldn’t allocate enough time to, but in reality when it came to her birthday it is a really important part of her life so she was able to get the best of both worlds. Continuing to run her business and actually still have a piece of personal time and it not be detrimental in any way.
“Planning a birthday in a different country for you and 20 of your friends whilst trying to run a business is not an easy task. I honestly couldn’t have done it without my ibLE PA or if I had it would have been nowhere near as good. I find it hard to delegate these tasks because I love them and because I want everything to be perfect but my ibLE PA made it more than perfect, it was better than I could have ever expected. It really does pay to have someone doing this stuff in the background. Bring on the next big birthday!”
If you’re interested in working with an ibLE PA, you can register here.