An Interview with Off To Work

An Interview with Off To Work

Off to Work is the UK’s leading hospitality recruitment, staffing, training and consultancy company. Here, at Ministry Venues, we worked continuously with them to support our events at numerous events. We sat down with the team to ask them all about the business.

What is the history of Off To Work, how did it all start?

Our story began when our founder Philip Atkins recognised a gap in the hospitality industry. After working at exceptional venues including Madame Tussauds & The Natural History Museum, he saw that something better could be done to enhance the quality of staff being brought into the industry and the way they are treated.

In 1999, he founded Off To Work with a mission to challenge perceptions and raise the bar in service standards. We’ve since grown into the UK’s premier hospitality staffing solutions company supporting clients across all regions of the United Kingdom and internationally. We are committed to enabling amazing experiences for our clients and helping our staff flourish in their careers. At the heart of our business is the desire to continually promote the exceptional career opportunities the industry has to offer.

Off To Work is also the founder of the Event Photography Awards. Going into its 10th year in 2023, the awards champion images which capture the emotive power of events and showcase the exceptional creativity and attention to detail in the industry.

What are your strengths as a company?

As many of our office team originally come from hospitality roles, we have a unique understanding of the needs of our clients and aim to support them with the highest calibre of staff and customer service. To ensure that team members meet the highest standards, our recruitment process begins with a telephone interview where we look for an outgoing and friendly personality, a “can-do” attitude, and the ability to communicate clearly.

All candidates then attend an in-person interview and assessment day at our training academies where they are assessed on key hospitality skills and customer service. At this stage, our trainers introduce candidates to the Level 2 Food Safety and Level 2 Health & Safety eLearning modules which are mandatory for all team members.

Our classroom courses focus on practical elements, with bartenders assessed on their ability to master skills such as pouring the perfect pint, and baristas trained on a 6-Porta Filter Barista Machine. We regularly create client-specific training courses based on the unique requirements of our clients. To ensure that these standards are met in the field, our office management team regularly visits the site to assist with the sign-in process for larger events. In fact, you’ll sometimes see us working as part of the team on-site to build a fantastic team spirit and true first-hand knowledge of our client’s operation.

Within our team are talented individuals with specific specialisms within the industry, including our Platinum division of event hosts, which means we’re able to offer support coverage for all skill levels.

Our aim is for our team members to become an integral part of our client’s operations and our bespoke, multifaceted, user-friendly website allows managers to create their own list of “hero” team members which are then prioritised for shifts at the venue.

Our clients can manage all aspects of their bookings via bespoke, multifaceted, user-friendly website and app. As well as being able to add bookings, and view timesheets and invoices, there is the ability to create your own list of “hero” team members which are then prioritised for shifts at your venue.

What are trends you’re seeing at the moment, what types of services are more needed?

We are seeing an increase in awareness around issues regarding sustainability. We’ve long held the belief that you can run events in an efficient and non-wasteful manner, and launched our Sustainability in Catering eLearning course to help those in the industry plan their events in an ethical manner.

Post-pandemic there is a real trend towards roles which can enhance experiential events. Customers want an exceptional experience that they just can’t replicate at home. Due to this we’re seeing an increase in requests for premium event hosts and specialisms like flair cocktail bartenders.

What is the most popular type of event for you?

The thing I love about working in this industry is that you get an opportunity to work across such a wide range of events. Speaking to team members in our casual pool of event staff, they also love the variety in work opportunities.

One day you might be doing silver service at a banquet, and the next you could be slinging burgers from a street food truck or running a corporate event in a boardroom!

What are the challenges you face in this industry?

There is still a lot of work to be done around the perception of hospitality. Many people see it as just a “stepping stone” to other things or write it off as not a proper job.

In reality, this could not be further from the truth! Hospitality requires incredible communication skills, attention to detail, and the ability to prioritise multiple tasks. Through our training programmes, campaigns with industry colleagues, and work with the Event Photography Awards, we’re constantly trying to shift the narrative around hospitality and showcase the wonderful and varied career options it can provide.

What does the future hold for you?

We have many exciting events already booked for later in the year, and we have also started preparing for B Corp certification in 2024.

As a company, we’ve long understood the importance of Environmental, Social and Governance policies to ensure that businesses are operating in the right way. In making a commitment to consistently operate in the right way we’re aligning ourselves clearly with the values of our clients and team members and sending a clear message on our business ethos.

Any other comments you’d like to leave?

We’re passionate about helping people fulfil their potential within the hospitality industry. If you’re interested in learning more about support staff within the events industry, take a look at Off To Work.

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