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The Corporate Away Day – review by Gemma Williams, Cluster Sales Manager at Jurys Inn Swindon & Cheltenham Apprentice Review Ep.8

This show was all about creating a corporate away day on the famous Belmond British Pullman Train, one of the most stately of trains.

Being based in Swindon, we certainly know a thing or two about trains!

At 4am the candidates get the call that they are off to the next task and to their delight they all get very excited dressing in their high vis jackets….they have to create an on-train corporate away day experience. 

This task is all about profit, which when listening to the two PMs appointed by Lord Sugar himself, you wonder if this is actually in their minds; both teams seem to pluck a number out of their head with no apparent discussion of costings and no understanding to what their clients actually need or want. 

Both teams meet their clients with a preconceived idea of what is required. While it is good to have ideas to offer you need to be fully flexible and understand what the client actually wants and then what budget they have to achieve this. Neither teams really asked enough questions. 

Team Unison: Lottie the self-confessed ‘I bring ‘class’ to everything and ensure nothing I do is half-standard or tacky’ - over promised, under achieved and blamed her team for over spending. She promised bottomless drinks which the team didn’t deliver and then she back tracked to her team. She also fired her sub-team leader Carina for not ‘obeying’ her instructions. She was willing to throw her team under the train and guess who would have been first!

EM Power: Ryan-Mark, who sees himself as the epitome of luxury, let his self-importance take over, disregarding what the client actually wanted. He also ignored his team’s suggestions and continued to lead with his original idea of a quintessential England theme when the client actually wanted a party atmosphere. His team failed to ask about any guests with dietary needs which led to one guest who was a coeliac having effectively a £200 fruit salad. Pamela saved the day a little by ordering some last minute veggie meals to ensure at least two other guests didn’t end up eating the curtains. 

To be fair, both teams did not fully engage with their clients and did not clarify all the final details of their events. This led to over spending on entertainment and some guests asking for refunds.

Team Unison: Spent £871.75 with refunds of 10%, equating to £300.00, leading to a profit off £1828.25.  

Team EM Power: Spent £980.25 with refunds of £200.00, making a profit £1812.75

This meant Team EM power lost by around £15.00.

Ryan-Mark decided that Pamela and Marianne should join him back in the boardroom, much to Thomas’ annoyance. In fact Thomas volunteered to take Pamela’s space because he felt so strongly that it was unfair for her to be singled out. This act did not go unnoticed – in fact I’ve never seen this before on The Apprentice. 

Sir Alan Sugar decided Ryan-Mark should be fired and from the outset of this episode he portrayed total arrogance and was not in touch with what the client wanted. He was quick to blame others for his short comings and, as Lord Sugar, said would get ten out of ten for the excuses he came up with. 

The only benefit of this task is that all profit goes to charity! 

Lessons from this week’s episode:

  • Listen to the client – the client has an idea of what they want, listen and ask questions. 
  • Ask the client what their ideal budget is – then negotiate. If you concentrate on providing them with a great experience they may be willing to pay a little more.
  • Don’t ever over promise – it’s much better to under promise and over deliver. 
  • Any task which involves a meal leads to some very basic questions – does anyone have special dietary requirements? Not asking this is a basic error. 
  • Go over details with the client prior to the event so simple errors or omissions don’t trip you up on the day (eg. gluten free or veggie meals) – then if you’ve done all that you can, unpredictable problems are less likely to generate complaints.
  • If something goes wrong, acknowledge it at the time and offer compensation appropriate to the error. 
Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

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