Here at Perception HQ, we’re a sociable bunch, so we don’t need too much excuse to have a coffee and a catch up with our lovely clients. We enjoyed a latte and a spot of breakfast with Julia Cook, Director of Sales at Jurys Inns Oxford Hotel and Conference Venue.
With a varied background in the meetings and events sector, Julia has coached and developed sales teams within some of the UK’s leading high growth venues. It’s a varied and exciting role, which Julia tells us keeps her on her toes with daily challenges, and she loves meeting new people to develop ideas and build relationships.
Julia has travelled all over the world , however in her opinion, nothing beats the Gower Peninsula which is known to be like San Diego (also close to her heart as her son lives there). Another favourite is Sam Lords Castle in Barbados which sadly was destroyed in a fire, though Julia still considers it her happy place, even in the ruins.
Amongst the many highlights of her career, Julia was a fundamental part in the opening of the Millenium stadium ready for the World Cup. She also co-ordinated a wedding for 3,000 at Lords and secured numerous million pound IBM contracts.
What’s happening in the MICE industry right now Julia?
“The industry has changed a lot. The competition for venues is high. Old clichés like ‘the price is right’ just aren’t for me. It’s more about building relationships, maintaining connections, being transparent and honest. Loyalty will follow.”
Julia says that tough competition, unscruperless people and increasing rates are current challenges for event planners when searchinmg for venues. The focus should be on the experience as opposed to closing the sale.
“Get the basics right, get the tea and coffee on time… hot and tasty, good quality and be imaginative when it comes to the breaks. Be visible , meet and greet and get the client to tell you what’s important to them.”
A fan of the less is more approach, Julia says an event space can be transformed through fine detail and simple tweaks.
“It can be the simple things, it’s not about all singing and dancing decor, but a space that is high in quality, clean, bright and fit for purpose.”
What does the future hold for Jurys Inn Oxford Hotel following its transformation?
“We’re planning for stability in the market place, we have delivered what we promised so lets get all these conference rooms full . It’s such a great event space, where else in Oxford do you get 250 free parking spaces?
Jurys Inn Oxford completed the first stage of a £10.8M investment this year. During 2016, a full refurbishment took place of the 168 existing bedrooms, with an additional 72 bedrooms launched in December 2016. The hotel has a new Conference Centre, with a fresh new look and a significant investment in technology throughout the meeting rooms. The Centre includes 15 meeting and event spaces encompassing a dedicated boardroom with integrated power sockets for wireless meetings and new breakout areas with refrigerated drinks dispensers for refreshment breaks. The largest meeting room, the University Suite, accommodates 300 guests.
If you weren’t sat here chatting with us Julia, who would you love to share a coffee with?
“I have met many famous people even Michael Jackson who I was in awe of for weeks, but I would love to meet Winston Churchill just because I love him.”
*Thanks to Julia for taking time out to chat with us.
Wordsmithery by Siân | We Are Perception