In the spotlight: Joe O’Connell

Susie HarwoodBlog

In our latest spotlight interview, we chat to the newest member of the SITE GB Board, Black Book CEO, Joe O’Connell.

Joe started his events career at Lynton Cooper, and has stayed agency side ever since, including roles at W&O Events and Reed & Mackay, and a stint at First Event setting up the agency’s London office as client services director. In 2020, he set up Black Book, which

offers a full range of event services including incentives, conferences, virtual events, venue sourcing, creative communications and production.

You’ve recently joined the SITE GB Board. Why and what will your role be? 

I joined the SITE GB board as it’s something I have always been a supporter of. I have attended many of the SITE GB events over the years and have always been keen to be a part of it. My role on the board is Director of Events which is very exciting. We have some amazing events lined up over the next year!

What value does SITE offer the incentive community? 

SITE offers a comprehensive support system for the incentive community, helping professionals and organisations create effective, impactful, and ethical incentive travel programs. The value it provides is in promoting excellence, education, networking, and advocacy in this what is a specialised field.

You’re leading the SITE GB Christmas lunch for 2024 – a flagship and popular event among UK #eventprofs. What can guests expect this year? 

Now that would be telling… having attended previous SITE GB Christmas lunches the pressure is on for me this year! I cannot say too much however what I can promise is that we are in an amazing venue (the iconic Pan Pacific) and the room will be filled with the best people in our industry and collectively we will have an amazing day – with a few sore heads the following morning, I am sure. Everyone needs to remember to bring their dancing shoes.

Tell us more about Black Book and your day job… 

I set up Black Book back in 2020 and whilst many thought I was crazy to do it, I am pleased to say it has paid off! Over three years later I have the best team in place, amazing loyal clients, and a reputation that I am proud of. As CEO, I run the business day to day however, I am still very hands on operationally, I don’t think I could ever stop doing that as its one of the things I love about working in events. We have some BIG plans over the next two years so watch this space. 

What trends are you seeing from incentive clients right now? 

I have noticed over the last year that most of our clients have been going through “cost cutting” which means we have had to show where we add value as an agency even more so than ever. Sustainability and wellbeing are also now part of events as standard which I love!

Describe your personal dream incentive… 

I have already delivered a dream incentive of mine, which was to take a group on safari and create a true once in a lifetime experience. We managed to do this last year with not one but two of our groups so that box is ticked! On a more personal note, my dream incentive would involve – a dancefloor, The Sugababes, First Class travel, a five-star hotel, spa treatments, lots of Champagne or white wine (Gavi) and having like-minded people attend this with me to create an epic experience.