Spotlight Blog Interview: Samme Allen, Chairman of Judges for CHS Awards 2018 - CHS Group UK

Spotlight Blog Interview: Samme Allen, Chairman of Judges for CHS Awards 2018

  • Jenna Potter
  • 23rd February 2018

We are counting down the days until the annual CHS Awards on the 31st of May in Manchester.

Now in its fourth year, the glittering awards ceremony is a fun-filled evening celebrating the best of the UK’s hotels, venues, and event suppliers.

The CHS Awards 2018 are judged by an independent panel of over 70 senior event professionals from leading agencies through the UK.

We are delighted to announce our Chairman of Judges this year is the wonderful Samme Allen, the Managing Director of Sequoia Venue Solutions The growth agency is now 2 years old and combines venue consultancy, a venue academy, and a venue associate program as well as supporting clients with outsourcing where needed.

Samme is a passionate event prof with an impressive background in the events industry focused in the areas of sales, marketing, PR, and event management.

We had a chat with Samme Allen about what she’s most looking forward to this year at the CHS Awards 2018 and she dishes the secrets on what she’s looking for when choosing the winners. Samme also gives her take on why every venue, hotel and event supplier will benefit from entering the awards.

Read on to hear what Samme Allen has to say. 

What is your background in the events industry?

I’m a sales person at heart and found the wonderful world of events back in 2000 when I worked as an event planner over in Hong Kong. I worked for an association called the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) and the British Chamber of Commerce of China. Returning to the UK in 2003, I worked for a travel management company and then moved to London in 2009 where I started working with unique, multi-priority venues.

I’ve been Head of Sales for the Barbican Centre in London and Twickenham Stadium. My last permanent role before I set up my business was Head of Corporate Business Development at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre which is now the SEC. I started my own venue management consultancy in April 2016.

How would you define your role as Chairman of the Judges for the 2018 CHS Awards?

I would define my role as being the external figurehead of the awards. I’m looking forward to championing the awards within my network of hotels and venues and helping to endorse the awards. I’m also looking forward to going through the submissions and selecting the biggest award of the night, ‘The Chairman’s Award’. It will be amazing to be able to present that award to the deserving hotel or venue on stage in Manchester.

What attracted you to judge at these awards?

My company works with venues that are often overlooked when it comes to the traditional awards programs. A couple of reasons why – often the categories either don’t quite fit, they’re quite costly to enter and might I say, sometimes there may be a situation where they believe that they don’t spend enough on advertising with certain organisations to merit an award nomination. I feel that in terms of some of the independent and unique venues that we work with, from a Sequoia Venue Solutions point of view, the CHS Awards are open for all.

Lots of venues that have marketing budget often use outside support, which is great to help write their submission. But I think that because of the type of submission that you [CHS Awards] do and the fact that’s it’s free, those venues that have the real passion and commitment to service their clients can be recognised and promoted at the CHS awards. This drives excellence and promotes these types of venues and organisations.

You and your fellow judges have the task of choosing the winners. What would be your top tips to potential awards entrants?

Number one – be concise. It’s important. Please don’t use jargon. Do not assume that all judges will understand or appreciate acronyms. We’ve got far too many acronyms in our industry so do not assume that we know what they are.  Especially with the variety of experiences in the CHS judging panel, we need to ensure that your application is clear and easy to read.

Number two – important that any awards entrants demonstrate return on investment from a client perspective. How did the venue or supplier support the client’s objectives in terms of that event? How did delegates think, feel, and behave after being in the venue and having the experience of the venue? Ensure that you have defined success in a measurable way. Please make sure you’ve got evidence that backs up your application too.

What advice would you give to any new judges joining us this year?

From all the judging that I have done, my advice would be to read all the submissions before you start judging because they will vary in how the content is written and how much content there is. I’ve found that in the past where I thought I could start judging on one first submission, I can’t. Read everything before beginning to think about judging and then read again with your judging criteria.

Make sure that you understand, and you’ve got those clear objectives for scoring and don’t be swayed by overproduced submissions. Lots of people can put lots of pretty things in but make sure that you’re looking for that real content and that return on investment for the venues and the organisations.

Things to think about include what is demonstrating success in that category? A good benchmark for any judge is, could you as a judge explain to somebody on the street why you chose that winner? If you could just go out and say the reason I chose this venue to Joe Bloggs on the street and you can demonstrate why then you’ve obviously got it right in terms of judging.

What do you think are the biggest benefits about entering the CHS awards for all the venues, hotels, and event suppliers out there?

Three things – number one is the variety of the categories for venues, hotels, and event suppliers. Very different types of venues, different types of spaces. I think that they’ve got something for everyone in these awards, which is something that I feel happy to promote to my venue clients.

Secondly, it’s free to apply. You’ve got nothing to lose for putting in a submission. Quite often people get swayed by the fact that it’s very costly or that there is a cost to writing an awards entry. Do it! You’ve the opportunity. Have a look at the categories and just do it.

And the last and probably the most important reason and the biggest benefit is the quality of judges. Small and large agents, corporates and event professionals who have expertise across the event planning spectrum. To put your organisation, whether you’re a hotel, venue, or events supplier in front of these people is an incredible opportunity. Look an awards submission from a business development point of view. You can try and get an appointment to present your product, your service, your venue with these agents and buyers, but you’d be spending a long time doing it and often without success, so I think it’s a huge opportunity for venues to be able to promote themselves with such a high calibre group of people.

If you are interested in entering, attending, or sponsoring the CHS Awards 2018, please visit: