introsPECtives


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Events category.

Ask the Questions

As a corporate event planning firm we are often surprised how many people don’t know what questions they should be asking their event planner. Most planners offer a free consultation as a way of interviewing their potential client. They want to know if the event is in their scope of work and if they feel they can work well with the client. They always have a list of questions they ask and the answers help them decide if they want to move forward with the project. They are also the basis of the contract between the client and the event planner. What people aren’t realizing is that the free consultation is also their opportunity to interview the planner and decide if they want to work with them. Its very important that you ask the right kind of questions during this process.

So, what exactly, should you be asking? Good Question! This list of questions was provided by the International School of Hospitality but we’ve added our own answers.

  1. What are your services going to cost? Every event has a budget and if the planner’s rates are out of your budget then you should stop the consultation right there. Their rates aren’t going to change and asking them to discount their rates to you isn’t likely. There are planners for every style of budget so pick wisely.  Also, be aware there are different ways for planners to charge so make sure you are comfortable with the way they charge. You can have an hourly rate or a flat rate and both are good for different reasons so be sure to ask if they offer both options.
  2. Will your planner be attending the event? This seems like it has the obvious answer of yes but that isn’t the case. A lot of planning firms have Event Lead’s, Junior planners, or Assistants that are the actual onsite staff lead at your event. This isn’t a bad thing but you should know if the planner you are working so closely with will be onsite the day of the event or passing the fulfillment of the event over to someone else and I f so are they going to be included in the planning process so you are comfortable with them and their skill level. Another thing to note, it may cost more to have the planner onsite rather than their assistant so if you are comfortable with the assistant it may save you some money to not have the planner onsite.
  3. How much time do you need to plan my event? Just like every event is different, every event takes a different amount of time to plan. Some events can be turned around in a week and others take months to a year to plan based on the scope of work that is involved. Knowing if you are working on a shortened timeline can help you in the planning process. You should always ask your planner to give you a work-back schedule from the event date so you know when major milestones in the planning process are. That way you can plan accordingly.
  4. Do you have vendor contacts and are you experienced in contract negotiation? Why does it matter if your planner has a lot of vendor contacts? Well, established relationships can lead to discounts which in turn could save you money. It also lets you know how well known they are in their market. What about those contracts?  Everyone can sign a contract and agree to the terms stated but an experienced planner can often see where a contract request is unreasonable, can ask for different terms or special requests be added to the contract. They also need to be able to clearly communicate with  you the terms of the contracts so you aren’t surprised if something goes wrong. Another question to consider is if the planner will be signing the contract on your behalf or if you have to sign all the contracts. This is a big debate in the planning industry and you would be smart to know how your planner feels about the subject of legal liability on your behalf.
  5. What is your vision for my event and do you have a contingency plan if something goes wrong? This is a big one! If you and the planner do not have the same vision for the event you are likely to be unhappy with the end results and they may be too. It also makes the planning process difficult and painful on both sides. Who wants that? No one. A good planner has a back up plan, and a back up plan to the back up plan. Make sure your planner is thinking about what to do if things go wrong, although, unless its an act of nature a good planner will make sure things don’t go wrong. Still, it pays to be prepared.
  6. What types of events have you done in the past and how successful were they? References. References. References. Ask to see pictures of their work but more importantly ask to speak to previous clients. If a planner doesn’t want you to talk to past clients that is a huge red flag.

 

A successful event requires that the relationship between client and planner is based on trust, experience, future expectations, and a positive chemistry between the two individuals. As a last piece of advice: trust your gut and go with who feels right regardless of their rate. Cheaper isn’t always better and it also isn’t the determining factor on a successful event, as a matter of fact it almost always is a detriment. Planners can make your life so much better when you trust them so pick your planner wisely.

 

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Learn to be a Concierge

You would be surprised who can use concierge/VIP services at events. Let’s start with the client paying the bill and extend it to any higher level VIP’s. However, don’t forget that the administrators who support those people are often in need of these same services. Most event planners are so busy handling the event details they sometimes forget that concierge services can make the difference between a successful event and a “beyond expectations” event.

It is the little, simple touches that stick in people’s minds. So how do you offer concierge services to your clients? You can offer them without advertising the services. Its all about anticipating your clients needs and wishes before they are even aware of it. So what kind of services are we talking about?

*Waiting in lines so your VIP’s don’t need to
*Arranging transportation
*Gift buying
*Picking up or giving an opinion on attire
*Running miscellaneous errands
*Making dinner reservations
*Making entertainment reservations
*Personal shopping
*Keeping them fed and hydrated
*Breaking them out of conversations that are monopolizing
*Locating hard-to-find items
*Handling administrative tasks for them
*Messenger & Courier Services
*Watching their timelines to keep them on schedule
*Storing their stuff in a safe location until they are ready to leave

Offering Concierge services is an easy thing to add to your services. Its really about making your high-level guests feel special and important without crowding them. Its about being indispensable to your clients even when you are busy with all the other logistics of your event.


The Hostess with the Mostess

Summer season is often the busiest time of year for people to host parties and get-togethers. The weather is beautiful and people want to spend time with friends and family. It’s a time to celebrate and create great memories that will last a lifetime. So, what happens if you do not feel comfortable hosting a party but you want to have a gathering?

Well, we have a few tips for you on how to be the “Hostess with the Mostess”. There are a few simple things to think about when planning a party that will make things go smoother and easier for you.

Step One: Give yourself plenty of time to organize the event. We often underestimate the amount of work it takes to throw a “simple” party together. Not giving yourself enough time puts stress on you right from the start that is not needed. Give yourself more time that you think you need. Seriously!

Step Two: We like to think we are Superman/woman but the truth is we can only do so much and a big mistake in party planning that people make is not asking for help. We often have a bigger support network than we think we do and people really don’t mind being asked to assist when asked. Especially when they get to participate in the fun afterwards.

Step Three: Food can make or break a party. You can do everything else right but if the food is bad or mediocre its all your guests will talk about so keep your food choices simple. Parties are not the time to try out new recipes. Stick with favorites that are tried and true and easy to make. Better yet, find recipes that you can make ahead so you have less to do the day of the event.

Step Four: Set the tone for your party before your guests arrive. Turn on music that creates the environment that you want. Light those scented candles that invoke smells you want to linger in guests mind. Post a little sign by the door if you want guests to take off their shoes. Open the patio door if you want guests to head out to your backyard. All these little things will set the tone and you will relax knowing that the feel for your party is set and ready to roll.

Step Five: Once the party starts – relax. People do not expect you to be perfect and in fact, relax more if they feel like you are just like everyone else. Watch the flow of the party and the guests. Keep conversation going, make sure people’s glasses are full and that they have eaten enough.

Step Six: Relax and enjoy your own party. The whole point of having people over is to enjoy their company. To have good conversations and make memories. You don’t want to be so busy “hosting” that you don’t even enjoy your own get-together.

Step Seven: Say Thank You! It only takes a minute in our day of technology to drop a quick thank you for attending. Choose your most convenient way of contacting people but be sure to say thank you. Especially to the friends that helped you out or stayed late to help you clean up.

With a little bit of pre-planning and learning how to keep it simple you can have a great party. You may even decide that you are quite good at hosting parties. Before you know it, you might be “THE” hostess of all your friends.

 


Christmas in July

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I know…..you are wondering why on earth we would be thinking about Christmas in July but the truth is, now is the perfect time to start planning for the holidays. I know you are probably thinking this is taking advertising for holidays prior to when the previous holiday is over to a whole new extreme but really it is an attempt to avoid the crazy chaotic rush that happens once October hits.

You know, we’ve all been there, Halloween is fast approaching and it heralds a down hill race to Christmas and New Years. Before you know it the end of the year is here and everyone is wondering how it happened. So we like to be a little more prepared than the average person. Okay, maybe a lot more prepared.

The main reason we like to get started on planning your holiday parties now, is the more time you give yourself the easier time you will have to schedule the date and find the perfect location.  Believe me, you don’t want to be making do with what options are left by the time you get around looking.

Next, you want to give your employees, family, or friends, as much notice as possible so they can plan their holiday season early. The more notice you give the better chance you will get a large turnout. This is especially true when both spouses work outside the home. We’ve all had to try and juggle multiple parties because of last minute notifications.

Third, vendors get booked early so your choice of entertainment get less and less as we get closer to the holiday season. You don’t want your boss to be super excited about having a dueling piano show only to find out that they have been booked for all the prime December dates months ago. It sucks. It really does.

The more time you give yourself to plan, the easier it is to make decisions. You can sample food from different caterers before signing a contract, play around with different themes, colors and décor until you have it exactly as you want it.

Thinking about Christmas may not be the way you want to spend your warm, sunny July but later in the year you will thank us for prompting you along.


That Creative Spark

Creativity is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Anyone who has been involved with the creative process knows that getting stuck or hitting a wall is part of the process. Everyone struggles sometimes to renew their creative spark. Being in a business where we need to stay creative makes that a bit of a bigger challenge so we have to have ways to re-energize that creative spark. Here are the just some of the ways that we do that:

  • connect with someone you think is creative and let their creativity generate some new ideas for you.
  • change up your routine.
  • doodle
  • play a game
  • free write
  • listen to new music
  • keep an idea journal with you at all times
  • play with toys
  • color
  • listen to a TED talk
  • take a class
  • get cooking in the kitchen
  • explore the outdoors
  • research on Pinterest
  • create a vision board
  • talk with children
  • walk through an art gallery
  • watch movies

Creativity is all about being open to the impressions of life as they flow and swirl around us. Its about letting that energy flow out of you and create something unique to you. Enjoy the process and don’t give up when you feel like you’ve hit a snag in the creative process. It’s easy to spark again.


Experiential Events

I recently was talking with someone about what makes an event a great event. I think there are several factors like hitting your core objectives, staying in budget, and how easy the planning process is for your clients but if you really want to know what makes an event a great event for your guests then here is my opinion:

  • Touch – Guests need to be able to touch aspects of the event. Hands on, if you will. They need to be able to physically feel components of the event. That can be everything from hands on activities to the texture of linens. Finding ways your guests can engage in the event through touch is rarely thought about but it matters. It really does.
  • See – The eyes are the first sense that must be engaged. Lights, color, activity all of it engages the guest first through visual anticipation. How many times have you taken more food than you can eat because your eyes found all the food appealing? Events are the same. Engage people’s eyes with things to look and experience visually and you will have made a huge impact right from the beginning.
  • Taste – Well, of course. Taste is a major sensory function and a party is not a party without food and beverages. Not all food and beverage is created equal though. Make sure that the things you are offering match with the vibe and feel of the event. You wouldn’t want to go to a BBQ and have them serve 5 star cuisine on paper plates. It just doesn’t work. Don’t be afraid to experiment with taste through textures and spices. Be creative it can pay off in a big way and great food and beverages will be remembered long after other things are forgotten.
  • Feel – This concept is a little more esoteric. Guests need to feel the core objectives without you stating them. For example: We appreciate you, thank you, we’ve reached our goal, we need to work harder, etcetera. If all the components of your event work together cohesively guest will walk away with an overall feeling, a concept of enjoyment, that they can’t exactly express but feel nonetheless. You want guests to believe that how they feel is of their own making and not something you designed into the creation of the event.

It’s important to think about these things when planning an event. If you have a hard time figuring out how to encompass these things in your event effectively – I would recommend working with a seasoned event planning professional. Nothing surpasses experience and event planners know when to go lavish and when to be subtle to get the point across.


Preparation & Planning

When you are in the event industry preparation and planning are your bylaws. You have to think of things that others don’t and you have to be ready for anything. We jokingly call it Plan C, D, E & F. Meaning that you plan and prepare beyond a Plan B.

No matter what part of the event industry you are in, you will have your own particular set of preparation steps that are required. For us, as corporate event and project managers we carry around an event kit. It’s basically our Mary Poppins magical bag. We can pull out just about anything for any situation as long as we keep the bag stocked.

It’s a great idea to create one that is specific to what you do. (Even working in an office, you can have a magical drawer where you keep those crazy items that you surprisingly need now and again). Here is what we keep in our event kits:

  • Nail polish remover/cotton balls
  • Ear plugs
  • Pills for ill guests: Advil, tylenol, tums, immodium
  • Hand lotion or body spray
  • Scissors
  • Nail clippers
  • Unscented bug spray (for outdoor events)
  • Baby wipes
  • Spray deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Granola bars and water
  • Travel sewing kit
  • Hair Goods: hairspray, bobby pins, hair ties, brush or comb
  • Safety Pins, double-sided tape
  • Charger with different charging tips
  • Lint Roller
  • Tide Sticks or Clorox bleach pen
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mints or gum
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and mouth wash
  • Small first aid kit
  • Screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters
  • Blades or pocket knife
  • Different types of tape: scotch, electrical, masking, gaffers tape and double sided tape
  • Paper clips, binder clips
  • Power strip, extension cords, converters
  • Twist ties, fishing line, zip ties
  • Sharpies in all colors
  • Pens
  • Measuring tape
  • Adhesive hooks and tape
  • Floral tape
  • Windex
  • Paper Towels
  • Flash drive
  • Flash light
  • Velcro
  • Batteries
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Notepad
  • Thumbtacks, Push pins, Rubber bands

Believe me….no matter what event it is, I always need something from this kit. It is a necessity of event life. As a side tip: we use a rolling hard shell toolbox to carry everything in. One with lots of little compartments helps you keep things organized too.


Fall Fundraising

Fall is when there is a lot of fundraising taking place. Its a time to gather in stores and prepare for the upcoming winter. Its a time when many focus on taking care of those in need. Those that are most likely to suffer the most from the long winter. This also happens to be one of the busiest times of year for our company. Well, at least, now to New Years but even in that our thoughts turn to how we can support our communities through fundraising. As an event company, our skill set is of course, planning events.

So many people think that they must hire us to gain our expertise or our skills but in truth, we are a fabulous resource for associations and businesses that want to fundraise or do events to support non-profits. We are connected to hundreds of resources, vendors and venues. We are willing to advise and even donate hours to non-profits we support but sometimes all a person needs is an idea of how to fundraise so we have a few starting ideas for you:
• Super Event – find lots of event hosts to hold a small fundraising event on behalf of your charity on the same night, and all around the same theme.
• Theme Nights – Pick a theme that works with your charity’s goals and build your event around that.
• Social Media Events – host an event through social media and request donations through PayPal links.
• Combined Events – find another non-profit or organization that matches yours and host a combined event to raise funds for you both.
• Eat for a Cause – work together with local restaurants to donate 10% of their profits on a designated night for your cause in exchange for encouraging supporters to eat there.

And of course….we can’t forget ways to spread good cheer throughout the upcoming holidays and our favorite is Paying It Forward. Do something nice for others, not because anything is expected of you but because it feels good to give. If you need some ideas for how to Pay It Forward:
• Help someone with the groceries
• Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line
• Donate items to halfway houses or abused women’s shelters
• Spend some time writing positive reviews for businesses
• Donate blood
• Volunteer at a hospital, homeless shelter, nursing home, etc.
• Drop extra change into parking meters
• Donate food to the hungry
• Instead of having people give you birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a good cause.
• Donate time at an animal shelter
• Buy a coffee card and give it to a police officer

Everyone has the ability to reach out and help another – if we think we ourselves need assistance. Find the way which is yours and embrace it. You will be happier for it.


In the Spirit of Spring Break

Anyone who has kids or is a young adult themselves knows that from late March to mid April is spring break season. For parents of young kids, that means it’s grandparent week! For everyone else it usually means vacation time or party time. If your teenager or young adult is at home for the entire week, maybe suggest that they go try something new. Groupon is always full of great deals on restaurants (ever tried Ethiopian food?) fitness classes (boxing, piyo, booty bootcamp, all fun) and discounts on places like the zoo or aquarium. If you don’t have any kids but still want a taste of that carefree spring break spirit, why not throw a spring break party? Invite your friends over, make some pina coladas and put on some Margaritaville. Or take a look at these fun spring break themed parties!
http://www.allyou.com/budget-home/easy-decorating/luau-party
http://www.fun-theme-party-ideas.com/mexican-theme-party-ideas.html
http://www.toppartyideas.com/mardi-gras-party/
No matter your age, or your family size, we hope you manage to find at least a few moments of the Spring Break fun this month, happy partying!


Season of Love?

Whether your single and ready to mingle, single and loving it or in a committed relationship (and all those relationship points in between) we all know February is the month of “love”. Usually all February gives us to look forward to is Valentine’s Day but since this year is a Leap Year we have a whole extra day at the end of the month! Now while that may not be exciting here, in Ireland Leap Day is a very romantic day. It’s the day that a woman can propose to a man without it being considered odd. Now I know gender roles are archaic but it’s a very old tradition dating back to the 5th century! Since this year’s February is so special we decided to come up with a few fun party ideas for your Valentine’s Day or possibly your Leap Year engagement party?

Try the DIY craze by making these crazy cute decorations! http://thehappyhousie.porch.com/adorably-elegant-diy-valentines-day-decor-ideas/

Making truffles at home means customizable flavors! Bailey’s anyone? http://vikalinka.com/2013/12/15/baileys-truffles/

Crafty type? Make something cute for that special someone. http://www.bombshellbling.com/75-amazing-valentines-day-ideas/

With all these do it yourself gifts and decorations, your February can be a lot more cost effective and a little more heartfelt. Handmade objects really add some love into whatever you’ve created and honestly, you don’t even have to be good at arts and crafts! These are especially good if you have a few kiddos around that need something to put their energy into. Half the fun of parties is the planning and set up! Between Valentine’s Day and Leap Day, may your February be packed with parties and fun!