My biggest gaffe: Don't always believe what the client tells you

Jules Ugo, managing director at Lotus UK, learned the hard way not to always trust a client, dazzled by the bright lights of TV.

Years ago, the Holy Grail of travel PR was bagging a slot on one of the weekly TV programmes tempting viewers with ‘holiday porn’ as the UK’s winter nights drew in.

With around five million views, these shows had a huge impact on bookings and competition to secure a spot was intense.

As an account manager for a new hotel complex, I had persuaded the leading show to film exclusively with the transmission date set for just ahead of the launch. The client was delighted, envisaging a rush of bookings and a packed hotel.

Before filming, information on the ‘readiness’ of the hotel was sketchy and we all started to feel nervous. On the day of the shoot, I flew out with the crew and, after a delay, we arrived eager to make up for lost time. We were met by a stressed junior executive – no one senior was in sight. It was like a ghost town.

I led the crew out on to a bridge that was supposed to divide the lagoon-style pool. This was to be the ‘hero shot’ to sell the hotel to the millions of TV viewers.

But instead of fountains and a swim-up bar there was raw sewage and a dead goldfish lying on the surface while its barely alive friends gasped desperate last breaths.

The lesson: don’t always believe the client – blinded by the bright lights of TV they will say ANYTHING! And always have a plan B.

After finding plan B and a local bar we laughed over some local vino. We got the coverage and the hotel solved its ‘issues’ by the time the programme aired.

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