Catch up with Brad Dabbs

Showtime Event Group’s general manager reveals why he relishes what he does, even as odd requests and challenges crop up.

What makes you different in the catering business events industry?
I have been with Showtime since day one and built the business on the foundation that the client is always number one. This to me shouldn’t be any different to what anyone else does. But the constant feedback is that our competitors don’t seem to be the same – which absolutely baffles me! I’m old school hospitality through and through, and have implemented that throughout all our staff training programs.

Was it easy getting into the industry?
Breaking into the industry can be hard for some people as I think they have the wrong idea about what event planning entails. A lot of interns that come through don’t realise how much hard work goes on behind the scenes. They think events are fun and are about arranging flowers and menus.

But for me, coming from a hotel background as an F&B manger, I had a clear understanding how hard this industry can be. I’ve always known that this is where I want to be.

Has the event catering industry changed much in recent years? Are those trends unique to Australia?
So much! It always seems that everyone’s budgets are getting smaller and their dreams are getting bigger.

This is definitely not unique to Australia, as in the current economic climate, a lot of companies have to be careful how much they spend on entertaining staff and clients. For me it is another chance to provide a great service.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
(I’ve had) heaps of challenges. The biggest thing at the moment is to ensure that we stay true to our passion and our methods as we grow into new venues and introduce lots of new team members to the Showtime family. Great problem to have, but one that we take really seriously.

Have you ever had an outrageous request from a client?
We are always asked for the weird, wild and wacky. Just (recently) we had a koala bear, crocodile, pythons and wallabies at an event. As we work with Melbourne’s best industry partners, there hasn’t been too many we haven’t been able to accommodate.

Some unfortunately, we had to get creative, like when someone wanted a live horse at their event in The State Library. As the library is also a museum and contains Ned Kelly armour along with other priceless artefacts, we settled for two guys dressed in a horse costume!

What projects do you have coming up that excite you the most?
My original baby Showtime Events Centre is getting a serious facelift! We’re working with Heritage Victoria and our landlord to double our size which currently sits 250 guests with an additional floor on the rooftop. We are desperately in need of the space and as a creative project it is amazing to break new ground! Watch this space.

How do you see event catering changing in coming years?
Catering in particular is definitely changing. A decade ago you would have one per cent of the room order a vegetarian meal. Nowadays you have 40 to 50 per cent of the room with a diet that is not just an allergy, but a lifestyle choice. To combat this we need to ensure that our catering options are extensive.

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