Jo Wilson, Director of ACE Bookings, talks about her recent wins at the Famtastic awards and the benefits of being a family run business.
With not one but two wins at the recent Famtastic awards: Agent of the Year for Jo Wilson, and New Talent of the Year for her daughter Ella, it’s clear that ACE Bookings has something special going on behind the scenes. Director of the company, Jo, believes that this is due to the approachable nature of the business: “We celebrated 10 years in the industry this year. We’re a family business and everyone knows us as a family. My two daughters and my sister work with me. I think we’re all very approachable and friendly. We also have a really good response time when it comes to clients and work really closely with our suppliers.” Having a close relationship with both suppliers and clients flows naturally from working in a family setting, where everything is personal.
Working with family has a reputation for being difficult, but that isn’t the case at ACE Bookings: “I’m really proud of the business and the family that work for me. People often ask us, as a family: ‘Do you get on? Does it work?’ and it does for us! We all get to have a good work/family balance, which I think is important. I didn’t get to have that when my kids were young. It was a challenging start with the business, but it’s paid off all the way.” It’s even not uncommon to see a furry companion in the office, as many of the team members have dogs which they bring to work with them.
It isn’t only clients that Jo goes above and beyond for, she is also very community- minded and committed to helping out other agents: “I also run a Facebook group for agents, which has 170 small agencies in it. I set this up about nine years ago, just after I started my business. It’s like a self help group really. I run it, and agents can post when they have a query or question, whether it be commission related, or new openings, or a referral or contact. Everyone is very willing to help and with agents, we all work closely together. We’re all small independent agents, but I feel like we work together as one big agency, which is lovely.”
The sense of community and helping each other out is an area in which the events industry thrives, especially since the pandemic, which challenged the industry in a way few other things have: “Community is especially important since COVID, because quite a few agents didn’t make it through, which is a shame. All through COVID I ran Zooms for the agents and suppliers, we had 60 to 70 calls throughout the pandemic. They worked a treat, and it kept people sane. It gave them a bit of a purpose even if at that point they had no bookings.” The pandemic might have been a difficult time for the industry, but it also highlighted the ways in which event profs were willing to help each other tackle adversity.
Jo is also in the process of building a system to make agents’ lives easier when coordinating bookings: “I’ve had my own system for nine years now, and it’s worked so well for us that I think a lot of people could benefit from it. It’s not a venue search system, it’s a system which creates your bookings and your invoicing. It can also form reports and store all of your bookings in an individual online system. I just have the test site up and running now, and then we need to get paperwork up with costs and other information, hopefully I’ll launch the system in the new year.”