paul southern

talks transparency and his new role at helmsbriscoe

HelmsBriscoe’s Paul Southern has a unique attachment to Central Hall Westminster, the home of the April BNC Show.

He was its managing director for eleven years and was responsible for turning it into one of London’s largest capacity venues with sustainability at its core.

Paul was also responsible for doing a huge amount of juggling when it came to bringing the methodist church organisation into the modern era whilst still holding its Christian values. And he managed to do that. For example, as the building stands as a place of worship but is one of the most technically advanced venues with numerous cutting edge AV installations managed by industry legends White Light.


But it was coming back to the venue after lockdown that brought Paul to a conclusion that after more than a decade of successes he had to put himself first.


“I was commuting all the time and I wanted to get some time back,” he told The BNC.

“At HelmsBriscoe we all work for ourselves, from home, but you are in little teams.

“I miss Central Hall  I don’t miss the commute: five hours a day every day from Northamptonshire.

“I went back to the office after two years of working from home during lockdown and I realised I didn’t want this.

“The opportunity with HelmsBriscoe came at the right time and it was something that I wanted. I didn’t’ want to start again and with HelmsBriscoe you don’t as it’s all set up and you’ve got all the support and you work the hours you want to work.

“So I am still in the industry and not commuting but the good thing is lots of people want to see me. They all want to see HelmsBriscoe. It’s got a great name for itself.”


One of the reasons HelmsBriscoe is so in demand is the way it operates – with transparency - and by putting the buyer first, something that aligns with The BNC’s values, and Paul’s.


“It has been an eye-opener, being introduced to HelmsBriscoe and how they deal with people,” said Paul, who, prior to his stint at Central Hall worked on the agency side for more than a decade.


“It’s completely transparent and open. They negotiate on the client side as opposed to the hotel side. They look after the buyer. In an agency environment normally the agent finds the venue, deals directly with the venue and charges the client. Some of them do it on mark-up on the prices of the hotel; some of them do it on the hotel figures but then wouldn’t necessarily negotiate down because it’s less commission for the agent.


“But HelmsBriscoe work client-side so when the invoice is issued by the hotel it goes directly to the client and HelmsBriscoe will have looked at the contract and looked at the terms and conditions to make sure there is nothing onerous in there in terms of numbers, for instance, which is going to make the client pay full whack and over the top if people don’t show up.

“Because it is so open clients tend to stay because they know what is happening and they come see that the associate is representing them and is for the client and not the hotel.”


Equally, brought £1.6billion into bookings industry last year, hotels are keen to get Helms Briscoe associates on their side. “It’s a great place to work. With HelmsBriscoe we’re everybody’s friend,” said Paul.


Paul has officially been with HelmsBriscoe since February and after several weeks of training is loving his new role and is looking forward to exhibiting at The BNC Show with other HelmsBriscoe associates.

“I’m really looking forward to the day as always”, said Paul. “I’ll have two hats on though, as I can’t help it with it being at Central Hall Westminster.”


Of his time at the historic venue Paul said he is proud of getting the building recognised and sustainable and realising the grand vision of the church leaders who were extremely easy to work with if a little diplomatic, even at crunch time.

“You’d cut a deal with a supplier and they would say: ‘but were the suppliers happy with the deal?’ ‘is it fair?’ not well, ‘that was a great deal, well done it was like ‘are the suppliers ok?’ that was just the way they looked at things.


“But equally, so much was achieved because people thought in the same way. Because of that ethos some of the things that I was able to implement were ‘firsts’ such as, we were the first venue in the country to do the living wage and we also did the toilet twinning scheme (to combat the issue of people using the venues toilets for free!).

“Lots of things got put forward and supported by the church leaders.


“It was a nice environment to be in.”




W W W . H E L M S B R I S C O E . C O M


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