introsPECtives


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.

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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.


It’s all about color…

Color is Your Friend 

 

Okay, so we all have met “those” people, you know the ones I am talking about, the beige people. Now, don’t get me wrong Beige has its place in the world but there are so many other color options out there how can anyone look at beige and think, “That’s THE color for me”? Alright, so some of you may think you are color-challenged but, there are sites on the World Wide Web that can help anyone from a novice to an expert find just the right color combination for what they need from decorating to painting.  

As event planners color is very much a part of our world. We pay attention to subtle shadings, monochromatic themes, vivid take my breath away colors and everything in-between. The right combination of color can make an event pop and provide that WOW experience for guests. Selecting the right color can enhance things or minimize other things depending on what the needs are of the moment.  

Color can range from lighting to linens to gifts, signage and branding and yes even food and beverage. Where and how you include color can be important and a good event planner can help you use color to your advantage. They can also help you know when you might have gone a little too overboard with fuchsia. Sometimes the color you actually need is white or beige or black to give the eye a break from the explosion of color around you and we know it has its place and when to use it. Do you?  

Be adventurous, look at your options, play with color wheels or check out sites like http://www.design-seeds.com/ where they do all the work for you by combining colors into palettes. There is no way you can make a mistake with one of their color palettes! Don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone and explore and play with color. We guarantee you will be glad you did. 


In the Thick of Things…(You know you’re an event planner when)

Being event planners one of the worst things that can happen at one of our client’s events is to spend months creating an event, putting out all kinds of hard-earned money to make it exceptional and then having no one show up or at least a small percentage of the guests that were invited.  Let’s take it to a more personal level…you invited eight of your closest friends over for a gourmet dinner, sweated all day in the kitchen, got gussied up in your finest clothes and no one knocks on your door. Not a great feeling!

You would think that might be one of the worst scenarios you can encounter as an event planner but truthfully, you only feel bad for your client. I mean after all, you can’t control who shows up. I say all this because, from an event planner point of view, one of the worst things you can experience is quite the reverse.

Nightclub Overload: We held an event at a nightclub that can host 800 people at max capacity. Halfway through the party we realized that we were not only at max capacity we had hundreds of people still waiting to get inside the club. Coat check was so overrun we had 4 extra staff helping out the people who were assigned to coast check. Food was devoured, a LOT of alcohol was consumed and we did our best to allow guests in as other guests left but…..

….when you are throwing THE party to attend that night a lot of guests don’t always want to leave in consideration of the poor sods that are standing outside in the cold winter air praying for warmth and that some of the food will be left when or if they ever get inside. When you are being overrun by unexpected guests everyone feels overwhelmed…the client, the guests, the event staff and most assuredly the event planner whose job it is to make sure everything runs smoothly. (Insert BIG sigh here)

Storming the Gate: Okay so it really wasn’t a gate but that is how it felt. A few years back we had a client that rented out a famous venue in Seattle to host their annual holiday party for 2500 people. Now, this event should have gone like clockwork. We had done this event every year for several years. We had it down. We knew all the key details and only minor things changed every year but this year, we changed venues.

That isn’t a big deal. However, a couple of factors came into play that created an event planning nightmare. First, we had an extra 800 guests arrive. Yes, you heard me right – an extra 800 guests! That isn’t a few extra guests…it’s an entire mob of people. So….what could possibly go wrong? Well, just about everything. Coat check was backed up beyond belief and when the planners managed to get out of the coat check room where they had been assisting with the mad crush they discovered that the lines for the bars were winding through the entire event space. The food you ask? Well, that is where factor number two comes in.

The catering company that we had used every year before had recently gone under a management change just a couple of months before the event and they were “getting their event legs” underneath them but like us, they were confident they could handle the event as they had done in the past. The problem was, we had an extra 800 people! They staff were in crisis and their current management hadn’t ever been through one of our large events and were already overwhelmed and quickly losing control of their staff.

You can just imagine the chaos that was happening in the kitchen as catering staff were constantly expressing they were out of food, Chefs trying to accommodate and watching the food supply dwindle three hours before they were supposed to be done.

From an outward perspective the lead event planner on site managed to handle it all with complete calm and dignity while inside she was praying to God for a miracle. Needless to say, it is entirely possible to have too much of a good thing! That was the last time we planned that group’s holiday party even though we had several years of successes behind us and it wasn’t our fault that so many guests arrived…..after all, WE didn’t invite them.

Oh well, live and learn…plan for the worst…. and hope for the best!

 


Have Trunk Will Travel (You know you’re an event planner when…)

Have trunk will travel

There were almost 1500 answers to the question “You Know You’re an Event Planner When….?” when it was posed to a network of event planners. The responses made us laugh but mostly because experience is a hard teacher and often being an event planner has nothing to do with the glamorous image portrayed in movies like “The Wedding Planner” and more to do with shows like “World’s Dirtiest Jobs” but when you love it, you just LOVE it. Now, anyone who knows the Premier Event Connection crew knows we love to laugh so we couldn’t help but come up with our own “been there, done that, no it’s really true” humorous experiences of being an Event Planner. So with that in mind, the Premier Event Connection team is busily compiling  our experiences and we will be posted them here on our blog one at a time. We hope you enjoy a humorous look into our lives.

You Know You’re an Event Planner When……

…..You spend the entire afternoon looking for an elephant to appear at your event and actually find one! Okay, we admit it, the life of an event planner is never boring. We truly don’t know what the next event, heck even the next phone call might bring

our way. You can get requests for the most basic of things that require only a quick phone call to secure pricing on and then you can get callers who are requesting an elephant….yes they really did want an elephant at their event.
Because they brought us such a wonderful elephant and because they specialize in  providing the public with safe, educational and recreational access to the earth’s most  wonderful mammal the elephant we thought we would give the vendor we found a little plug…..their company name is “Have Trunk Will Travel” and if you are ever looking to hire an elephant to appear at your events this is the place to get one. Now I am not sure you everyone realizes this but we live in the Pacific Northwest. You know, the rainy, green, northern most tip of Washington State and the last place you would expect to find an elephant or even begin to think you can get an elephant to come to unless you own a travelling circus. However, the reality is that most planners spend a huge amount of time doing research for the things their client wants and as it turns out, if you have the time to do the research you can indeed find an elephant to put in an appearance at your event.


Celebrate the Unusual

Crazy Hats

Get your friends together and celebrate crazy hat day!


It Takes a Team

Who here has ever been an employee…who has ever had a boss or company situation you DID NOT LIKE? Have you ever been so upset with an employee or boss that you had their car towed while they were in a meeting?


Mini isn’t so mini sometimes

Over the course of our careers as event planners we have come across several clients that want to throw a “big” party on a limited budget. To be realistic sometimes it just isn’t possible but there are times when you can give your guests the impression of  big quantities even on a limited budget.  Design a food buffet that creates a visual feast for your guests and gives them the subliminal idea of abundance. How can you do that, you ask? Here are some simple tips:

  • Use mini loaf pans and mini muffin tins, for your baked goods. A lot of bite sized items looks appealing.
  • Use lots of small colorful bowls. Fill them with dips, chips, veggies,  and candies. The more the better your buffet will look.
  • Use salad plates for slices of meats and cheeses or bite sized appetizers.
  • Make a punch and serve it in small pitchers with juice glasses.
  • Finish the look off with lots of small jars or glasses filled with candles  and flowers to complete the “mini” theme.

Guests will see a full table which will translate visually to a feast in their minds. When everything being offered to the guests is small in size guests will think it is your theme.  People won’t be wondering if you were trying to make things stretch on a tight budget. The thing to remember is that any scenario, any obstacle you see to being able to throw a party can be addressed with a little creativity.


Bar None

Nothing creates camaraderie like a group of people standing around with a drink in their hand. Inhibitions loosen, chatter increases and people begin to relax. Beside that, we know people secretly like to have something in their hands to fiddle with if they are nervous. Well, here is a little secret we would like to share: we know that the drink doesn’t have to be alcoholic to have fun. There are great smoothie and espresso companies that are willing to travel to your location and provide service to your guests. Both smoothies and espresso drinks have the added benefit of allowing those who prefer to drink to add a little spirit to their drinks if they want. With so many options out there now it would be great to remove the “normal” bar set up and create a fun and unique way for your guests to imbibe or not depending on their preference.