How can assistants stay on top of the scene?
So you’ve written the minutes from last week’s board meeting, you’ve researched all of the delegates attending your manager’s next networking event, you’ve formatted a dozen reports, filed a handful of invoices, contacted suppliers for your next stationery order, sent fifty emails, updated your manager’s diary for the week ahead oh and of course arranged their travel for a trip to the States… All of this in a day and then your manager asks if you know any good restaurants in the new trendy part of town. Humph!!
What is your answer going to be? Will you be able to reel off a list of the best restaurants in that part of town? Will you do some research and get back to your manager with an answer? Will you ask your much younger and cooler receptionist? Do you even know what part of town they are talking about?
Along with everything else that is asked of assistants we do have to possess some sort of encyclopaedic knowledge of the world’s best restaurants and hotels. We also have to know what cultural events are taking place that might impress a visiting client, great team building locations for our executives and all of those hidden gem venues that can host the perfect parties and conferences.
So… how the heck are we supposed to know all of this stuff!!??
I have definitely felt the pressure over the years to find my managers the perfect place, especially as I like to think, although I may be living in denial, that I’m quite … eerrrrmmmm…. current?! So… anyway… my point is that I did want to find the cool and unusual places for my boss to visit so that they could impress the clients they were entertaining. I spent a lot of time researching great venues, restaurants, hotels and suppliers and I really enjoyed it. So here are a few websites and other bits and bobs that will help assistants stay on top of the scene (sorry the list is a bit London-centric).
But first, some general rules that will help you stay current and still be productive:
- There are so many websites, blogs and articles that you could read to keep up to date but that is a problem in itself! Try to filter your reading as much as possible so that you are only reading what is relevant for you.
- Try to automat as much information as you can. If you come across a website you like that is relevant sign up for their newsletter or RSS feed so that you get their latest updates in your inbox. This will save you time looking for the website again or reminding yourself to check it once a week.
- Luckily for us we don’t have to remember everything we read so find somewhere to store the information you receive. Keep a list of great restaurants and add to it whenever you come across a new suggestion. I have a great app for this which I will come back to later.
- I love, love, love Time Out. During my years working in London I subscribed to the magazine so that I could keep up with all of the weekly goings on. I also found their ‘cheap eat’ and ‘top 100 restaurant’ lists really handy as they are divided by areas. I still refer to it constantly in Barcelona.
- Square Meals is good for an overall search website. They provide information on restaurants, venues and bars along with news and updates on the London and UK scene.
- Funky Venues is a great website to use for any event that requires a slightly more unusual venue search.
- Londonist is full of all sorts of features about London and what is happening each week. It is well worth signing up to their newsletter which does literally list everything that is happening in London that week, always good for any visiting colleagues or clients!
- London & Partners is well worth checking for events when you have clients over
- Elite Meetings is a worldwide hotel and venue search site. It is free to use and can really help when looking for a venue with a real wow factor.
- I really like the Afar website and email updates for overall travel news and ideas for any trips colleagues or clients may want my advise on.
- The same goes for CN Traveller which is good for general travel updates but also luxury hotel reviews.
- Business Traveller is useful for specific business travel updates, new hotels and travel guides.
- Unique Venues of London is brilliant for venue searches, I always use it when I am starting my research for events.
- The Stylist website travel section is full of great travel, hotel and restaurant tips. They also have a good list of travel apps that might come in handy
Not surprisingly I read a lot of blogs, and there are a number of great restaurant review and travel blogs that I would recommend specially for assistants (sorry again, most are for London and the UK).
Here are 10 blogs I like:
- Cheese and Biscuits is a great restaurant review blog but even more amazing is their London underground / best restaurant in that area map, which you can download here
- i-escape is a good blog to follow for those that book boutique hotels
- Event Manager Blog is great for those that do spend a lot of time working on events
- London Hotels Insights has all the information you will need to keep up to date with London hotels
- Smith Travel Blog is part of the Mr & Mrs Smith hotel search website, which is also worth checking out for hotel bookings
- Scrambling Eggs is another great foodie blog for London
- Silverbrow on Food seem to get everywhere in the UK, good for food and accommodation
- A luxury Travel blog as they say ‘for those who enjoy the finer things in life’
- Event Planning (a blog by Cvent) is a good resource for event management as it gives lots of good ideas and venue suggestions
- Although not technically a blog I do love my daily email from Emerald Street which includes a recommended restaurant every day.
My final tip is to use the best app in the world ever. It is called Pin Drop and my love of it is slightly obsessive! When I discover or stumble across any good restaurants, bars venues or hotels I drop a pin on my little app’s map and boom I have it stored for ever in my phone. This is particularly useful in Barcelona because I very often get lost and all of their streets are named in Catalan, which I do not speak!
Feel free to add any of your favourite blogs or websites to the comment section below.