Spotlight on: James Charnock, Manchester Metropolitan University

Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?

My role is to market the Universities Conference and Residential facilities to the external world. Our Halls of Residence are available in late June, July and August every year, and it’s my job to shout about how good they and our other facilities are!

Right now for instance, I’m VERY excited about our new vegetarian café, GROW, which does some of the most amazing salads I’ve ever eaten!

I am also in charge of sales for our office, so it’s my job to develop business once our clients know what we can do!

What has been your career highlight to date?

I actually think my career highlight has been during COVID-19! We managed to accommodate 250 keyworkers who were training with us in our en-suite halls of residence this summer. Managing to do that during a global pandemic really feels like we achieved something amazing, and I’m really proud of the team I work with.

If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?

I’m in a VERY part time wedding band, so I guess it would be that, though I doubt we’d be any more successful if we had more time to pursue it, so maybe: Failed Musician.

What are the emerging trends within your sector?

I think making our clients and guests feel safe when they’re with us will clearly form a huge part of the next few months, along with the need to open participation up to the wider world via hybrid / virtual events.

What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?

At the moment it’s difficult to tell! We’ve got some big sporting events hopefully on the horizon, quite a few travel groups and some residential conferences, so we’ll hopefully be nice and busy!

We’ve also got a new self-contained halls of residence opening next year, which will boost our ensuite capabilities by nearly 500 beds – very exciting!

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?

The circumstances of COVID-19 have meant that everyone is in their own unique situation, and so listening and adapting to their needs is key. We are all in this together, so let’s help each other out of it compassionately.

As we head towards recovery what do you think the challenges and opportunities are for our sector?

The challenge is the international nature of a lot of our business – overseas visitors play a key part in our events and residential stays, so working with Manchester and the wider world to ensure we can still do that is key.  The huge opportunity is in having chance to refocus our ideas, giving us space to look at best practice and implement change where perhaps we wouldn’t have had time to in the past.

How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?

I think it should make us even more customer focused. We’ve got a real opportunity now from both a life balance and sustainability focus to say: If you’re going to travel, let’s make sure that it’s as meaningful and life changing as it can be. We’re not saying DON’T travel, we’re saying, if you get one chance to travel, here’s why we should be part of that trip, both as a University and a destination.

Name three positives to come out of lockdown
  • I think lockdown has opened up a lot of conversations about why we do things, given people some perspective.
  • It’s also put customer comfort and safety even more firmly at the forefront of our business.
  • I’ve also taught the kids to play poker, which has really perked up my Sunday afternoons.

Find out more about BETA Member Manchester Metropolitan University Conference & Events here

Published 01 December 2020