January 20, 2021
Grace Armitage has been promoted to Associate Vice President – Creative – so we asked her to share a bit more about herself, her new role and what is in store for 2021…
What is your backstory?
As a child, dreams of what I wanted to be spanned everything from detective and farmer, to cocktail bar manager and lightning conductor (don’t ask), but I never really put too much thought into it. Ever the optimist, I hoped things would work out one way or another. I studied history at university and pondered a career revolved around historic buildings. I gained experience working for a trust which preserves and renovates old buildings before renting them out to holidaymakers. I suppose that was my first taste of the tourism industry, but it wasn’t until I spent a few weeks on a work experience placement at Virgin Atlantic that I had my first real insight into PR, and became aware of the inside workings of travel industry. I’ve always loved travel but never really knew how I could make it a career. I didn’t take a gap year so, following university and a few months balancing admin work at the local GP and work experience, I headed off to South East Asia and India to make the most of my unemployed freedom. On my return, I did a three-month internship at a travel PR agency, which turned into six fantastic years getting my teeth into the world of travel and PR, where I was lucky enough to work on some incredible clients including the Queensland, Las Vegas, Arizona and Nevada tourism boards, various ski, cruise and villa operators, and the MICE remits for Butlins and Alton Towers. The tricky thing about working in travel, however, is that you are constantly reminded of how much you want to travel and, by 2018, the travel bug had well and truly got its hold on me, so I quit my job to spend eight months in South America, the majority of it spent in barefoot bliss, making Pina Coladas behind the bar of a hostel in the Colombian jungle. It was truly glorious and I am so happy I took the plunge to put my career on hold for an adventure; I would recommend anyone to do the same when that gut feeling sets in. Upon my return, and with a fresh enthusiasm for London and work, I started freelancing with FINN Partners and, when a permanent role came up, I jumped at the opportunity to become part of the team. The last two years at FINN Partners have been a whirlwind of exciting campaigns, events, client activity, and press trips. Highlights include travelling to Barbados for Tom Kitchin’s culinary events with Elegant Hotels, overseeing the filming of BBC’s The Apprentice in Cape Town, and fulfilling all my autumn dreams with a trip to Capital Region USA: bursting with fall colours, pumpkins and apple butter. I relish working in such a driven, kind and inspiring team: it really is the people that make FINN Partners what it is. 2020 was hard, but we got through it and I’m excited for what’s to come as the world opens up to travel once again.
What brings you joy?
Although a born and bred Londoner, I spent a lot of my childhood in the countryside, with regular trips to family and friends outside of the M25, and family holidays to Scotland and Norfolk. As much as I love London, I am at my happiest when I’m surrounded by trees, fields and wide skies. I get a huge amount of joy from the comforting (yet always surprising) change in the seasons – that feeling of excitement in autumn as the bonfire scented nights draw in, the feeling of freshness and new life in the spring, the picnics and fun of summer, and the wind-swept walks and hot chocolates of winter. Witnessing the cyclic rhythm of the seasons, and the change that each brings, never ceases to excite me and is why I’ll never be able to live somewhere with year-round sunshine. Now, more than ever, I am leaning on nature and the seasons to keep me positive, from heath walks and the growing collection of plants on my desk, to cold water swims and a lot of time spent watching the skies.
What does your new role involve?
As Associate Vice President – Creative, I will be responsible for creative input across the team and our client activity. This could include anything from bringing creative concepts to the table for new and existing clients, injecting new ideas into plans and processes, thinking out of the box to ensure we operate efficiently as a company - whilst standing out from the crowd - and helping to nurture and champion creativity within the team. I have always enjoyed the creative side of PR, and life in general, and am really looking forward to stepping up into this new role. Day-to-day my role has become more strategic and it is now my responsibility to direct my accounts and ensure we are fulfilling our client’s needs and objectives, whilst also in turn offering counsel and insight to achieve and exceed their goals.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
No surprises here, it’s definitely travelling again. That feeling of stepping off a plane in a new place with days of exploration, freedom and joy ahead of you... I often feel the anticipation of a holiday can be almost as enjoyable as the actual holiday - the planning, the packing, the excitement - and I’ve really missed that feeling of looking forward to the unknown this year. When restrictions allow there’s a million places I want to go to: Kenya for a friend's postponed wedding, the Italian Alps for a week skiing, to the southern US states for a road trip (I’ve discovered an unexpected love of country music over the last nine months), as well as as many festivals and excuses to dance as possible, combined with seeing all the friends I’ve missed so much this last year. The tricky thing is going to be deciding which to do and how to fit it in, but I’m very happy with the challenge.
What trends should we keep an eye on?
A lot of emphasis has been put on people seeking out wide open spaces and getting away from other people on their next trips, which will undoubtedly be a key trend for the year ahead but, personally (whilst I still love nature and outdoors) on my next trip I want to be surrounded by people and buzz - in a packed European bar with people spilling out onto the street, in a sweaty après ski bar with friends or attempting not to knock over glasses when squeezing between tables in a tiny, full restaurant. I think people will be craving human connection and a return to a time when we didn’t see other humans as a potential threat to our health. We may well see a trend come out of this and an appetite for trips where people can make connections with locals, cities with a really buzz about them like New York, Barcelona and Porto, and music festivals both at home and abroad. Another trend to keep an eye on is alfresco eating and cities embracing the outdoors. A definite highlight of 2020 was seeing how London was able to adapt to outdoor dining, with even my fairly generic high street transforming to rival the likes of Las Ramblas. Now hotels, bars and restaurants have seen how they can expand their capacities outside and that there is most definitely an appetite for it (we found out, unsurprisingly, that Brits will brave any temperatures and downpours for a pint with their friends). I think the alfresco trend will continue to be relevant and tourism and hospitality businesses will adapt in the long term. Just don’t forget your brolly.
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