Young Leaders Spotlight: Rachael Boraston

Susie HarwoodBlog

Next up in our SITE GB Young Leaders spotlight series, we shine the spotlight on Rachael Boraston, Head of Destination UK for London & Partners. An experienced Sales & Marketing professional within the events industry, Rachael began in a creative global events agency and DMC, before transitioning to destination representation. 

Prior to her role at London CVB, she represented Los Angeles throughout Europe, before returning to represent her home City. Her role within London & Partners is to promote the city for business tourism, attracting visitors to experience the multicultural, thriving capital city in the best of ways.

What are the benefits of being part of the Young Leaders group and wider SITE community?

I’m quite new to the team, joining at the end of last year, but have been aware of SITE and the community it fosters for some time now.  When the opportunity came to join Young Leaders, I jumped at the chance to be more involved.

I am already feeling the benefits of being a part of the group – it gives access to other brilliant industry professionals with a platform to share and learn about challenges and opportunities in the arena. I’m surrounded by inspirational people with a myriad of different experiences and perspectives, and I find that both fascinating and a great educational opportunity. 

You joined London & Partners last year, can you tell us more about your role and the highlights so far?

It’s coming up to a year in my role, and what a year it’s been. Starting a role to proactively promote our capital City was a bit of a pinch me moment. I was a ‘Casualty of Covid’ and had to move out of the industry for a while, which reminded me just how passionate I am about what we do and how much I wanted to remain a part of it. 

The people I am surrounded by at London CVB are all well-established, knowledgeable and intelligent individuals and it’s a real pleasure to work alongside them, sharing the same vision and enthusiasm for the industry. There are too many highlights to cover but a few include participating in various speaker opportunities, supporting a huge Sustainability Conference coming to London and just generally spreading the word about what we can offer here, and changing people’s perceptions of the CVB.

What are the most exciting new developments in the capital for incentive groups?

How much time do we have? London is constantly on the move so there is always something new to discover – even over covid, the developments in the city were nothing short of impressive with new openings including The Londoner, Pan Pacific and Nobu Portman Square to name but a few. 

There are even more amazing luxury properties on the horizon and the new Peninsula Hotel to the second Rosewood and the new Raffles coming to the city! Exciting new venues include Oceandiva – a fully sustainable vessel that will host large events on the Thames, and the hotly anticipated event space at Battersea Power Station is soon to be revealed.  

In terms of activities, I think you can’t go wrong with some of the classics, but elevated. Private viewings of the Crown Jewels and a drink in their secret pub, or bespoke walking tours to uncover the secrets and scandals of the city. I think what makes London unique and interesting is our different boroughs and the people that reside in them, so I always suggest people try to tap into that to create a truly unique but utterly authentic experience. 

What types of programmes are incentive groups booking right now?

I think incentive groups are looking at more unique and authentic experiences to help cultivate that once in a lifetime experience, blending old and new and tapping into tradition whilst also delivering the unexpected. I also see split programmes growing in popularity, using London as a gateway to other places in Europe or even the UK.

If you could put together a dream incentive programme in London, what would you include?

Where do I start!?  First off, the group would have afternoon tea with the Queen, Paddington, and her corgis!  Or is that perhaps too lofty an aspiration!? In all seriousness, a dream programme in London for me would involve tapping into our food culture. I’d love to privatise Borough Market for a group and do a tasting tour of some of the best local producers or create a mass cookery class, taking produce from and setting up cookery stations in the market. 

Or perhaps I’d take inspiration from our infamous jubilee street parties and organise a gala dinner in Belgravia in the style of a street party. Activities would involve bespoke walking tours of some of my favourite places in London, with interactive elements from iconic London – such as gin tastings or stops at Jermyn Street for bespoke tailoring, and a buyout of Royal Albert Hall for a private concert. The great thing is, that all these things can be done to some degree here in London, perhaps apart from afternoon tea with the Queen.

What do you most love about working in the events and incentives sector?

The people, the creativity, the passion, the resilience, the opportunities and the variety. No two days are the same, conversations are interesting and exciting, and people are always striving to remain creative and reimagine what can be done. It’s a constant push and pull between everyone who works together to collaborate and achieve something amazing. That’s so exciting to be a part of and facilitate through our network.

Is there more that the sector could be doing to attract young talent?

Absolutely. I’d love for us to have a PR campaign to really shout about what we do, and where you can go with it. Not just for the events industry but for hospitality – our supply chain needs it. We need to showcase what we do and inspire young talent. We work incredibly hard, but we have so much fun whilst we do it, and there is something for everyone in this sector. In my opinion, we need to be more vocal about where we are and what there is and give good channels to access and experience it. Apprenticeships, university placements, ‘taster days’ and (paid) internships could all really help to fill that gap, but young people need to know where opportunities are for the taking.