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A Day in the Life - Jemma Johnston

Posted on: 2017-09-07 11:13:20Staff
Jemma Johnston Events Manager at Ballygally Castle

Jemma Johnston is the Events Manager at Ballygally Castle and here she gives us a run down on her duties and responsibilities.


Jemma Johnston

Role at Hastings Hotels?

Events Manager at Ballygally Castle.

How did you get into your current position?

I started my hospitality journey with the Culloden Estate and Spa 11 years ago as Christmas Co-ordinator and since then I have developed my sales/events experience in a number of different venues.

How would you describe your typical working day?

I don’t think I would describe any days at Ballygally Castle as ‘typical’! But generally, I meet with Brides and Grooms to show them around the Castle as a possible wedding venue or chat through wedding day details once they are booked. Then it is looking ahead to business booked for the days and weeks ahead to ensure the relevant hotel departments are aware of upcoming business.

What skills do you need for your job?

Organisation, effective communication, and flexibility are key. As the hotel departments are operational at all times, it is important to be concise. It is also important to be flexible as business levels change throughout the year.

What is most rewarding about your job?

It is so rewarding to see events from inception to completion, especially weddings and family celebrations.

What have been the highlights from your time at the hotel?

I have really enjoyed being a small part in couples wedding days, it is really lovely to see them on their big day after all the planning. I was lucky enough to be part of the team while a previous colleague of mine from the Culloden had her wedding with us. It was so lovely to catch up and see some old friends. Also, as a massive Game of Thrones fan, it was great to recently meet the actual Dire Wolves from the show when they visited the Castle as a surprise for the guests on our Game of Thrones tour!

What are the greatest challenges/pressures of the job? 

Adapting to different types of business throughout the course of the year can be challenging, but luckily the team are great and well experienced.

What was the best piece of advice given to you, or what advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in hospitality?

Hospitality is a fast paced environment and people can move around a bit within the profession, so I would advise keeping in contact with people you have worked with as it can open doors in the future.

What are the questions that you are most commonly asked when people find out what you do? 

Two questions I get a lot are ‘what did you study to get into this type of job?’ and ‘Tell me about the craziest/biggest wedding you’ve seen!’

If you could do any other job what would that be? 

I like the idea of being an Island Caretaker somewhere in the Caribbean or a backing singer for Taylor Swift. Unfortunately I can’t sing, so it will have to be the Caribbean Island.

How do you relax outside of work?

I’m quite a big tv fan, so I enjoy catching up with boxsets, and I have been to known to enjoy the odd sociable drink from time to time …