Big cocktail events are always about the competitors, the drinks and the judges that evaluate them. Of course, we all know there’s so much more in the background but, some tend to think, it’s only at failed events that you realize there’s some stuff going on behind the stage. We don’t believe that’s true: it’s important to shine a light on the dedicated people who make it possible. That’s why we told you about our incredible Bar Team, the guys who worked with Cuban cantineros to support the competitors and keep the guests hydrated during the 2016 Havana Club Grand Prix.
Now, it’s time to turn our attention to someone who was even more in the shadows than our team: their boss. Dave Crompton is ‘just’ a guy who runs events. He was at the 2012 Grand Prix and has helped organize many events, big and small, over the years. He’s equally at home setting up high-profile football games after-parties as he is running award-winning events company The House of Gastrophonic. We hear he even once had a thing for mediaeval festivals… So last June, we asked Mr. Crompton to tell us about three aspects of his Havana experience: his job, his team and his problems. You have the floor, Dave.
Mr. Crompton’s job:“I was basically running the bar team. We started working on the Grand Prix in September last year to help develop the backend logistics, working on the venues, doing all the drink of the events. We worked with Havana Club to get the event up and running so we got here about a week before, making sure we had everything we needed, checking out the places, doing the spreadsheets for all the drinks we had to do. We had really efficient stock control and planning. Once that was done, with the Grand Prix proper starting, I was just making sure everything ran smoothly and as planned.”
Mr. Crompton’s headaches:“Although I wasn’t as involved then, I was here for the 2012 Grand Prix so I was aware of the pitfalls involved in running such an event in Cuba. You need to be ready for anything, from not knowing what electricity source you’ll get – it can change from one room to the other – to the different culture. We set up a prep room at the Hotel Nacional, where the competition was taking place, but we had to vacate the following day because it was close to a private entrance used by visiting politicians - their security people basically said “we’re not going to have those rum drinking lunatics near our president” – but the hotel staff didn’t offer an alternative. It was tense for a minute. Fortunately, once the Grand Prix started, everything clicked and it was great working with them. In Cuba, people stick to their decision so we had to work hard to get everybody onside. It’s about building trust”.
Mr. Crompton’s team:“They’re solid people. We’ve had such a laugh, and we’ve worked so incredibly hard. We did 18 hours days and that doesn’t include having a drink… But they know what they’re doing and they operate at such a high level. They got to the gala night about 12 minutes before the guests arrived and yet everything was fine: they’d spent the whole day pre-batching. It’s been an absolute blast and I sincerely hope we’ll get the opportunity to work together again. And it’s been an honour having such a good working relationship with the people at the Hotel Nacional.”
These were not empty last words: Dave personally invited some of the Nacional staff at the Grand Prix closing party. This anecdote maybe sums up more than anything else the outlook of a man who understands running something efficiently is always about building and valuing relationship.