“Events management is like a dance. Everything has to flow”

Begoña Sagarna

Begoña Sagarna, Commercial Director of the Casino de Madrid and Paco Roncero Catering

The Casino de Madrid is one of the spaces for events and meetings planning with the strongest personality in the city of Madrid, and where some of the most top level events are celebrated. It’s an exclusive venue, located in a centrally-located, classically beautiful building that’s been declared an Official Asset of Cultural Interest.

In addition to its imposing main staircase and its luxurious lounges, it has an enviable terrace from which you can enjoy exceptional views of the city. Their spaces are also very versatile. The Casino also has an excellent gastronomic offer proposal, which has granted it a great reputation in the culinary world. Besides offering the F&B in the Casino itself, the team participates in events outside this venue, through Paco Roncero Catering.

We spoke with Begoña Sagarna, Commercial Director of the Casino de Madrid and Paco Roncero Catering, to learn all the details of this unique space that for years has met the highest expectations of the most demanding event bookers and clients alike.

1. What differentiates the Casino de Madrid from other venues?

The Casino de Madrid is not an ordinary venue. It is a private club with restricted access. You can only enter if you are a member or if you’re invited to an event. That is to say, access is restricted exclusively to a select audience and that’s value added: when you’re invited to an event here, expectations are rather high. The building is unique and our culinary offering is excellent.

2. What added value are your clients looking for when they reserve their events here? What is the first thing they say when they see the space?

The first thing that hits them is the building: the main staircase and the central courtyard. It’s a protected Official Asset of Cultural Interest and however often it’s seen in photographs, it’s quite stunning to visit it in person. It has a lot of appeal. Guests at our events expect a very high level of quality, both at the level of service and in the cuisine, and that expectation requires us to continually demand a lot from ourselves and each other. It compels us to create high-quality events to meet the high expectations. As a result, we generate events from events, and the demand continues.

3. What type of client or what industries tend to hold their events in the Casino again and again?

Business at the Casino is differentiated between private clients and companies. At the Casino, we require a jacket and tie, so there are very specific industries that will, in some cases, prefer another type of venue. Except for those examples, we have clients from almost every sector: financial, political, technological, automotive, pharmaceutical ... The lifestyle sector is very loyal to the Casino and we have organized awards for many magazines such as the Vogue Beauty Awards, the Glamour Awards, the Woman Awards, the AD Awards and the Mujer Hoy Awards. We’re often chosen as a location for fashion, films and advertising shootings.

4. ¿What differentiates luxury events from other types?

A luxury event is defined as one that people remember, in a striking space with impeccable service and an unforgettable menu. The guests continue to talk about that event a year later. If it reoccurs periodically, attendees are waiting with anticipation and the challenge is holding an even better event than the one before it.

5. How do you organize multiple events at the same time, when they’re planned for the same day?

Since we have a great team of professionals, if we have several events at a time, we’re able to assign each their own dedicated staff (maître d’, waiters ...) and their own event manager. Each event is independent, there’s only one place where there could be momentarily overlaping – the main staircase – however we have enough skill and experience to prevent guests of different events from coinciding in the same space. To achieve this we have to be very flexible, be very well-coordinated and attentive to any unforeseen events that may occur and alter the planned agendas.

6. How long have the maître d’s been working here?

The maître d’s have been working here with us, on average, for 25 years. Their long experience and knowledge of our product gives them an understanding that anyone coming from the outside would not have. We have one of the best banquet chefs in Spain and we often support other chefs. It’s of great relief for the commercial team to know that we provide the best service and the highest quality. We organize very complex events, and this provides experience that would be difficult to get anywhere else. Because of that high level of complexity and demand here, I usually say that once you’ve been part of the Casino de Madrid team, you can work on events anywhere!

7. How many events does the Casino organize each year?

The Casino organizes more than 800 events a year, which is quite a number considering that we close in August and for all of the main holidays.

“Events management is like a dance. Everything has to flow”
“Events management is like a dance. Everything has to flow”

8. In general, do the clients that hold their events here usually come back again?

We have many repeat customers. There are events that have been held here for a long time: awards, anniversaries, general meetings, corporate events that repeat year after year ... In the end, both the teams for business and rooms build trusting, personal relationships with many clients. It’s really lovely when you’re meeting with a client and as you pass through the corridors, the client crosses with the maître’d and they greet each other personally, asking questions from the last event they worked on together. The companies that work with us on a recurring basis end up getting to know all our staff, from reception to the maître’d’s, waiters and maintenance people. That kind of relationship is invaluable, because client-supplier trust is critical to a successful event. Knowing that you are collaborating with a competent staff that’s aware of each of your usual demands facilitates dialogue and communication – both critically important for laying the foundation of any project.

9. The culinary offering of the Casino de Madrid is recognized for its exceptional quality. Are there any clients who choose this space to celebrate their event here with the specific goal of trying out the F&B?

Yes. The culinary world is very “in” right now so the client knows more and therefore demands more. In our case we have always stood out for the quality of our catering.

When dealing with companies, we seek to offer their guests an event in a special setting, with quality and service at the same level of their own brand so that it reinforces their image and the message they want to convey.

As for our external catering service, Paco Roncero Catering can be hired for any venue, whether in Spain or abroad. Our offering is distinct in that the cuisine is value added, enhancing the quality of the event. At the Casino de Madrid, we have the best head of banquets of Spain.  Our banquet kitchen equipment is ready to go for any type of event.  We’re able to offer the highest quality services for 10 equally as well as for 2,000 people – here in the Casino de Madrid, in the Palace of Cibeles, in London or wherever the client wishes. Many of our clients come to us at the recommendation of professional event organizers.

10. What is your magic formula to ensure that an event is a success?

Basically, in order for an event to succeed, you must have a reputable, trustworthy and quality supplier who, when organizing the event, is committed to the client and their goals.

There are three points that we consider fundamental: The staging, coordination at all levels (customer, commercial, external suppliers, room staff, kitchen) and of course the correct choice of menu depending on the profile of the guests.

11. Has there been a particular event that has left an impression on you?

There are many that have been memorable, many we have suffered during the organization process and yet were still a great success. There is not one in particular. The ones of which I feel most proud are those that involve many people (more than 1,000 ).  We’re capable of managing them so everything goes as planned, the event flows and everyone leaves happy and it seems completely effortless on our part – from the time they arrive, until they leave. Having everything planned and being alert for any need to "correct course" if circumstances change on the fly. I say it's like a dance ... you adapt your movements as you change the rhythm but you don’t stop dancing. During the preparation it’s fundamental to think ahead, to anticipate situations that could happen and to know what we’ll do if they arise. It’s also essential to coordinate with our client's suppliers so that everyone is on the same page.

When your client congratulates you the next day, you feel as though all of your efforts have been worth it.

12. In your day to day work, what do you like most and what motivates you?

I've been here for many years and this place is almost like my home. I like everything ... Sincerely, I don’t think I could be in a better place in Madrid. I have been an event organizer elsewhere and I was a client of the Casino de Madrid. When I got a chance to come here, I couldn’t believe it. I still believe that this is the best venue in Madrid; For the space itself, because we have great professionals in the kitchen and in the ballroom, because the commercial team works hard and treats each event as if it were unique. We have the best product and what’s even better, despite everything, we still have tremendous capacity for development, projection and improvement which allows us to continue setting new goals and that keeps the motivation high.

13. Would you tell us an anecdote to finish the interview?

We have so many anecdotes, from a clock company that wanted to replicate the New Year’s Eve traditions, including the grapes and making their guests head to the nearby Puerta del Sol at midnight, to one of our cleaning employees who, while using a forklift in August when the Casino is closed for events, opened the door to find Cristiano Ronaldo who had come to shoot an ad...

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