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Mad Hatter Front & Back of House Do's and Don'ts

Our General Manager at the London Mad Hatter’s Gin and Tea party experience has been working in the events and bar industry for seventeen years. There’s not a lot of issues that Vincent hasn’t seen but he says that this particular project offered some surreal challenges, some very funny moments and, as he puts in his most professional voice, “some unforeseen insights.” - The Mad Hatter's Gin Tea Experience is running up until April 2020.

Here are six of the best!

1). DO PRE-PLAN FOR ALL EVENTUALITIES. When working with creatives eg. actors expect challenges. A lot of the early issues which cropped up could have been averted by better pre-planning. Make sure they have suitable regularly cleaned changing facilities, clothes storage areas, tea and coffee making station and a person who is responsible for their ongoing safety and happiness – preferably a senior manager.

2). DON’T UNDER-ESTIMATE BESPOKE TRAINING REQUIREMENTS. On a project of this complexity, it was never going to be easy to find the right staff because every role was specialised and multi-faceted so most people had experience in one area, but perhaps not another. This meant that training was a ongoing process as each area had to have staff specifically trained on-the-job. Don’t underestimate the amount of training required for complex projects.

3). DO GET INTERNAL FEEDBACK REGULARLY. Feedback from staff and the creative team is vital. Although as a GM you are there daily for all shows, it’s easy to forget that their experience on “the floor” and in session differs from you own so put regular feedback arrangements in place eg. weekly meetings and nightly catch-ups.

4). DON’T IGNORE THE SMALL THINGS. In a set-up this intricate, small problems can soon grow if unchecked. A sound system which had a small crackle, and feedback on some of the mics, which we assumed were just general minor sound issues turned out to be a serious problem with the amplified and speaker system which needed replacing.

5). DO BRACE FOR THE UNEXPECTED. We offer six shows on a Saturday. Previously, we tried to re-set the individual stages for each show within a 30 minute window. That’s possible as long as nothing goes wrong. For instance if, say, a member of the public is unwell and is sick in all three main areas, they have to be shut down until they can be thoroughly cleaned. This had a knock-on effect on re-setting the whole venue causing the next show to be delayed We now have an hour to re-set between shows.

6). DON’T OVERWORK YOUR STAFF. This past winter has been tough in terms of sickness but our dedicated staff come in regardless, knowing that we don’t have a big team to fall back on. We schedule in downtime to give them as much rest as we can before the next busy shift. We also reward in small ways – but they work long hours and late nights – so keep an eye on their wellbeing at all times!

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