4 Memorable Catering tips for meetings

Rachel DeMarte Project
by Venue One Event Planner Rachel De Marte

Guests don’t always have time to take a leisurely lunch—or lunch at all—when they are in all-day meetings and breakout sessions. The food and beverage must
come to them. Not to worry—you can still get crafty and fun!

Here are creative ways to make the meal count without distracting from the meeting.

1. Food Carts

Food carts are simple, fast and memorable. You can create multiple carts each with different themes, such as a Chicago-Style Hot Dog and Root Beer Float or
Taco and Agua Fresca with fresh fruit Cart. Spice up your meeting with a Burger and Beer, Shaved Tenderloin Slider and Red Wine, or Bacon and Bourbon Cart.
They can be rolled from table to table with ease.

2. TV Dinner Trays

Play into the diner food trend and serve a hot lunch in an old school TV dinner-like tray. It’s key to feature a wide variety of foods and keep portions
small. After all, you want to avoid food comas!

3. Dim Sum

Dim sum can be translated to office meetings. Think of a lazy susan in the middle of the conference table with steamer baskets filled with shumai, pot
stickers and buns, Chinese noodles in takeout containers, and hot tea. Chinatown comes to you!

4. Boxed Lunch Revamped

Forget the paper sack of the past. Meet the sleek and modern boxed lunch of today. Fill each with gourmet sandwiches, artisanal salads, house made chips
and petite desserts, accompanied with a traditional glass bottle of Coca Cola. It will remind you of the good ol’ days.

These food and beverage ideas will be a welcomed addition to any meeting—big or small.


Rachel De Marte: Culinary Director of Venue One

It’s not often that you meet someone whose personality is as bright as her talent is impressive, but this is certainly the case when it comes to Rachel DeMarte. A go-to event planning, styling and catering expert, Rachel uses her reputation and successful years in the industry at her very own events company RachelDeMarte.com and as the Culinary Director of Chicago’s all-inclusive meetings, weddings and special events center Venue One.

Time to Regroup: How to Make Your Back to Work Meeting a Success

Time to Regroup: How to Make Your 'Back to Work' Meeting a Success

Photo by Choking Sun on Flickr

Now is the optimum time to get your team together and plan for the New Year. Think about it. Before long, you’ll be knee-deep in end-of-year strategies, fourth quarter planning and the run-up to Christmas (yikes). So before you and your team get snowed under, now’s the time to arrange a re-grouping exercise. And the more interesting and inspirational the setting, the more likely you are to have a successful meeting that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

Why should setting matter?

For regular team updates, your room at the end of the corridor might do the job. But when you’re looking to fire up your team and get those creative juices flowing after the holiday lull, sometimes it’s worth thinking a little bigger.

You want something that’s inspirational. After all, we’re thinking 2014. You need to start the New Year with a bang, so why not pick out a meeting or conference setting that’s motivational and gets your team in the right frame of mind – right from the start?

How to choose the right space

It’s important to align your choice of meeting space with your company culture. For instance, a Fortune 500 or a highly corporate multinational might not go for a bohemian style workspace, unless you’re looking to shake things up a bit. Equally, why host a meeting with young creatives or fresh-faced graduates in a stuffy corporate skyrise?

There are all sorts of different look-and-feels you can go for. There’s the slick city space in a corner room on the 20th floor with killer views. There are back-of-beyond retreats in rural settings with exposed beams and creaky floorboards. How about a woodland escape with a spot of raft-building thrown in? Or, you could opt for an historic place with boardroom grandeur.

Make it memorable

When planning something big – like starting the New Year – you should make your planning session memorable. And, we don’t mean memorable because the CEO tripped over a loose corner of carpet. Your choice of venue should provide a setting that’s conducive to good business, that fits your culture, and sticks in the minds of your employees. A meeting that’s easily forgettable isn’t the best way to plan for 2014 – or anything, for that matter.

On that subject, why not make it an ‘away day’? When you’re planning something big, a room-based meeting doesn’t always pack enough punch. You could tie it in with some team-building activities, which will really make your meeting a memorable one.

Check out some of these suggestions for away days:

  • Team-building and collaborative activities, like a treasure hunt or bridge-building.
  • Sporting activities, like go-karting.
  • A team dinner with daytime or early-evening activities thrown in, like chocolate-making or wine-tasting.
  • A day spent volunteering, helping in the community or working at a charity.
  • An educational visit or tour, perhaps to a regional office or plant.
  • A weekend retreat to a beauty spot, mountain range, forest or coastal town, complete with team activities and planning sessions.

Bear in mind that certain activities won’t appeal to everyone. For instance, while paintballing might encourage team participation, it won’t appeal to dainty types who don’t like mud. Equally, a spa day would send some individuals running for the hills. Also, think about a theme or a purpose. For instance, if you plan to make 2014 the year your business goes green, you could set tasks or activities based on re-using discarded materials, or recycling.

The upshot? With a little thought, you can make a significant head start on 2014 and get your team fired up for the challenge. Why not choose a meeting venue that matches your aspirations – and start as you mean to go on?

About the author

Sue Saldibar is Managing Editor of Officing Today and aBetterOffice. Sue is a creative and tech savvy marketing consultant with 20+ years of experience, most recently in the area of internet marketing. Sue is working to build and improve upon both publications; growing readership and providing promotional and advertising opportunities along the way. Feel free to contact Sue at 949 333-2229 or ssaldibar@abcn.com.

How to make the most of small event spaces

small event spaces

Depending on what type of event you are organising, small event spaces are a dime a dozen. But although small venues aren’t hard to find, how do you ensure you make the most of the space and choose the right one? To give you a head start, consider the following points when choosing your venue.

Size

Unlike finding a venue for 1,000 people, organising an event for 25 to 50 people gives you a much larger range of venues and styles to choose from. It’s important to remember that when choosing your venue size, a small fluctuation in the number of guests, from 50 to 75 for example, could require a change of venue. For this reason it is best to go for a venue that has the capacity to deal with your highest estimate of potential attendees. Due to the small numbers of guests being dealt with, if you don’t hit your maximum number of guests, the space should still feel busy.

Lighting

If you are hosting an event that encourages people to be sociable and network, try to choose a venue that has large windows with lots of natural lighting. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a small room which is poorly lit with unnatural lighting. A room with lots of natural light will create an open and more welcoming environment. Alternatively if you are hosting a party at night, when natural light won’t be important, go for mood lighting as apposed to overhead fluorescent lighting. This will improve almost any event space!

Furniture

Make sure you remove unnecessary clutter from the room. It is important to have enough furniture available for the use of all your guests, but try not to supply more than is needed. You want to ensure there is still open space available and people are not struggling to move around. An excess of tables and chairs will create the impression of a small and overcrowded event space.

Breakout Rooms

If you’re holding an event that will involve group work, networking sessions or tea and coffee breaks you may want to consider hiring more than one room to facilitate these sessions. Enabling people to get up, move about and experience a couple of different small spaces will keep the event fresh, especially if it’s an all day affair – people will appreciate new surroundings. This will also help you keep your main room clutter free which, as mentioned above, is vital for creating an open space.

Mirrors

If you want to create the illusion of an event space larger than you have available, while still ensuring it looks full with people, then mirrors are your friend! Strategically placing mirrors on the larger walls within your venue will open out the space and create a larger more airy feel, particularly if your venue is full of natural light.

Hopefully these tips will help you when you’re on the search for your next small event space, and ensure you get a venue that helps you host an event your guests will love!

About the Author: Jonathan Butler works for Virtual Venue Visit, an online venue finder that allows you to take virtual tours of a range of event spaces.

Should You Use Event Planning Software?

event planning software

Photo by Kalle Gustafsson

If you are a party or event planner, you have quite an exciting job. It can be very rewarding to put together all of the little details to create a successful event. Whether a wedding, a birthday party, or a business awards dinner, planning an event or party can be exhilarating. When done right, your efforts can have a huge impact on the happiness of a large group of people — and what’s better than helping to plan an event or party that people will remember forever?

It goes without saying that there is a lot that goes into planning a successful event or party. From choosing the date, time, and location to arranging all of the fine details — such as the theme, the menu, and the activities to occur during the occasion — there is a lot to attend to in order to pull together a memorable event.

While an event or party planner’s job can certainly be enjoyable and rewarding, with so many different aspects to attend to and keep track of, it can also be challenging. Organization is the key to success in this industry. You can stay organized with different folders and portfolios, but there is a way to keep yourself super organized with ease: with event planning software.

What is event planning software:

As the name suggests, event planning software is a type of program designed with the intention to aid in the organization of events and parties. Professional event planners use it to keep track of events they are planning, keeping all aspects of the event planning process neat and in order.

Types of event planning software:
You can easily locate several different types of event planning software to suit your needs online. Some popular models include:

  • Eventbrite: Whether you’re planning a conference for thousands of people or a small retreat, this software will help you get the job done quickly and easily. With Eventbrite, you can not only plan your event, but you can promote it online, turning it into a huge success. You have the option to arrange for online registration and the sale of tickets, making it easier to manage the entire affair.
  • Planning Pod: With Planning Pod, you can plan out the details of your event and also easily connect with clients, vendors, and any staff that you may be working with, sharing the details of the affair and making sure everyone involved is up to speed. From weddings to conferences – to running a small business – Planning Pod makes it easy to run all types of events.
  • Events Clique: Not only can you plan out all of the details of your event, but you can actually lay out the design and bring the affair to life right on your computer with Events Clique. Simply input the details of your event space and import the products you intend on using, creating a virtual event space so you can see what your affair will look like before you actually bring it all together.

Benefits:

As you can imagine, there are definite advantages to using event planning software. The most obvious is the ability to stay organized. Another major benefit is that professional software can help you plan several events at one time, which really simplifies the process for professional planners.

Whether you are in need of professional or personal event planning software, finding it is easy. You can browse through different options online. Look through the features of the different types of software available and choose the one that best suits your needs. Once you purchase the software, you can begin your planning your next event.

Event planning software not only allows an event planning process to become easier, but for professionals, this software can help to boost success of a business.

Bridget Galbreath is a freelance writer who specializes in a wide range of topics, including event planning and business. She has written for companies such as Reputation.com.

Top Event-Planning Conferences You Won’t Want to Miss This Year

Anyone in the meetings and event planning business knows what a busy industry it is. This fast-paced, customer-focused field runs continually throughout the year, giving event planners and their teams little down time to take care of themselves.

In the midst of planning conferences and events for their clients, event planners can benefit from attending one or two conferences, as well. Conferences and conventions focused on the event planning business can provide planners with an opportunity to relax, be rejuvenated with new ideas, and feel refreshed and enthusiastic about going back to their clients.

While there are many event planning conferences, these are a few of the ones you won’t want to miss this year.

Momentary quiet before the conference begins.

National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), Expo 2013.
It’s right around the corner, but you’ll still want to mark your calendar for the NACE 2013 Expo in Chicago from July 14th through the 17th. Event planners, caterers, and other professionals can take their businesses to the next level with workshops, networking, contests, and showcases.

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Congress.
On July 19th, nearly 3,500 people from the event planning industry will converge to Las Vegas for this year’s World Education Congress. With sessions focused on career development, business, and leadership, MPI provides a four-day conference that’s full of expert knowledge imparted at about 125 different sessions, a trade show, networking opportunities, and good, old-fashioned fun.

International Special Events Society (ISES) Eventworld.
Paradise Island, Bahamas, is the location of the next ISES Live Nassau 2013 Conference. Event-planning professionals will have the opportunity to be inspired and gain knowledge through creative and interactive workshops. Participate in breakout sessions and listen to keynote speakers share their insight. You’ll leave this three-day conference, held August 22nd to 24th, feeling invigorated and excited.

2014: The Special Event.
Wedding planners, caterers, and other event planners won’t want to miss The Special Event in Nashville, TN, from January 7th through the 10th. This four-day extravaganza is jam-packed with professional development sessions, trade shows, and various track programs geared toward specific industries and groups. Held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, this conference will be a great way to kick off the New Year.

Event planners can keep up with what’s new in the industry by attending a conference.

Get Started, Get Involved

The best way to get involved in event-planning conferences that suit you best is to join your local or regional event-planning association. These associations work tirelessly to bring members current news regarding professional development opportunities, networking meetings, and upcoming conferences.

Join a local association and get involved as a volunteer, if possible. You’ll be up close and personal with all that’s new and exciting in the event-planning industry, which will ignite that passion and enthusiasm your clients appreciate so much. Although it may not be possible to attend more than one conference per year, doing so is beneficial to you as a professional, and your clients will directly benefit from your attendance, as well.

Mary Ylisela is an author who writes about business, professional development and tourism for organizations such as Reputation.com.

 

The eVenues Very Big List of Event Planning Tips

While there are an incredible number of fantastic blog posts out there that cover every conceivable aspect of event planning, the problem is that these helpful posts only cover one aspect of event planning at a time. This is why we at eVenues decided to create a “Very Big” list of event planning tips organized by category. The idea is to create a sort of “cliff’s notes” type resource covering every aspect of event planning. When relevant, we’ll be linking to articles that talk about these event tips in more detail.

Contributions to this event planning tips list are welcome! I will be sure to provide credit to everyone who contributes. Just email me at kenji [at] evenues.com. Just send me 2-3 sentences for your event tip, and feel free to link to an article you’ve written that touches upon the topic as well!

Table of Contents:

Before The Event: The Planning Process

  • Conduct research of events with similar goals and purposes: Search events on Meetup.com, Facebook, Eventbrite and Plancast. Attend some of these events if possible. 
  • Reach out to attendees of similar events. Save the names of public invite lists (often found on Eventbrite events), that way you can reach out to attendees to learn what they liked about the event and what might useful for yours, not to mention the fact that you can invite them to your event later.
  • Set Goals! Why are you putting this event together in the first place? Some possible goals might include: fundraising, lead generation, pubic relations, recruitment, inspirational, a sales presentation, relationship building, motivational or educational.
  • Make sure that the date of your event doesn’t conflict with other large events.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Small Meeting Tips (Board Meetings, Off-Site Meetings)

  • When putting together an agenda for a board meeting, consider using Google Docs so that everyone can review the agenda beforehand. The great thing about Google Docs is that everyone involved can make comments or raise questions directly in the document. This can save a lot of time before beginning the meeting. [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding Event Sponsorships

  • “Event sponsorships straddle the fine line between the desires and motivations of sponsors and attendees. Sponsors are driven by leads, demos and opportunities, while attendees tend to be learning focused. To increase the likelihood that attendees will engage with your sponsors, allow attendees to define the sponsorship packages.“ – Dennis Shiao, Director, Product Management at Dot Net Nuke
  • Research past events similar to yours that may have had sponsors. See if you can’t contact the event organizer to get the names and contact info of the sponsors.
  • Before contacting potential sponsors determine what benefit a company organization will get by sponsoring your event. Will they be allowed to mention their product/service to event attendees? Is this product/service something attendees would want?
  • Use a sponsor directory like SponsorHub to find potential sponsors.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding The Right Venue

  • Go to eVenues.com and do an initial search for venues in your city. If there happen to be a lot of listings in your city, filter the results by capacity and price using the filter on the left hand side of the screen.
  • If search isn’t turning up the venue you need, consider using the eVenues Full Serve option, where you specify exactly what you need in a venue and the eVenues staff will get back to you with some venue options, free of charge.
  • Be sure to get information about: parking and transportation, WIFI and A/V Capabilities, the venue’s catering policy (Is catering in-house only or is outside catering allowed?), venue accessibility.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding Speakers for Your Events

  • See if you can’t find speakers for your events from industries other than your own. These speakers can provide a fresh perspective on your industry or field that are often overlooked. Use services like Klout and Followerwonk to find the thought leaders in these areas to identify these speakers.
  • Go on youtube to find videos covering topics that you might be interested. See if you can’t get in touch with these speakers. Also, consider looking at speakers lists from local TEDx and Ignite talks to see if anyone in these lists could be a good fit for your events.
  • Set up a survey form on your blog (or event better, your event website) and get your attendees to pick the speakers for your event.
  • If you’re having trouble finding speakers through direct outreach, consider going through a Speaker’s Bureau and have them help you out.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Marketing Your Event

  • Create an online event flyer: One way to set your event’s online presence apart from the rest is to create a shareable stand alone web page with its own unique design. Smore, for example, allows its users to create an event flyer with a professional look and feel.
  • “Keep people first. Remember that technology, social media and education, experience and space design are all just tools we use to help people engage. As we eye a growingly diverse participant group in terms of both age and culture, it will be incumbent upon us to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of all attendees, each of whom wants an increasingly individualized experience.” — Jessie States, Education Content Designer, Meeting Professionals International
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Catering and Menus

  • “The caterering trends right now are more self serve. Make your own salad,make your own tacos. People like to control what they eat.” — JoAnn Gregoli, Elegant Occasions
  • “In order to make a wedding dinner an extraordinary experience, pay attention to all of even the smallest details of your meal. The champagne should be chilled, the food should be unique and special to you as a couple and do not forget….The Bread.” [Further Reading] –Jaime Geffen, YourBash!
  • “When communicating your budget to your caterer, keep this in mind as 35% of your budget goes to food, 25% to staff and 30% to rental equipment…and then 10% for tax. Your caterer will be able to help you figure out what is available to you and help you create a catering budget.” –Anthony NavarroLiven It Up Events. [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Event Registration

  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

A/V and Venue Setup

  • “How do you transcend the counters and headers [of a mundane area like a regstration space? Simple: Use audiovisual. Try pumping fun music into the area—trust me, having some trendy beats or even Beyoncé is a simple way to elevate the registration experience. Another great way to spice things is up is a creative use of lighting.

    At my 3-day conference we lit up registration in a different color each day (day one was pink, day two was blue and day three was green). Attendees noticed the fresh feel each time. It signaled to them that this day was different and full of new energy." -- Wayneston Harbeson, article excerpt from expoweb.com.

  • "Don’t be afraid to think out of the box with A/V support – it’s an area where most people fear due to lack of knowledge in this specialized area. Most venues have in-house preferred, not required, providers, so you can always look at bringing in YOUR preferred vendor instead. Think about adding some simple lighting with lots of color to transform the room, moving gobos on the walls and floors, and scenic frames around your video screens instead of the typical black drapes." --Michael Vargo, Director, Special Events at The Walt Disney Company
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Music and Entertainment

  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Keeping Your Meetings Sustainable

  • "With the release of so many new standards for sustainable meetings in the last couple of years, it's easy to get overwhelmed. My suggestion is to start by using them for inspiration. Much like cookbooks that you read to get ideas for your own recipes, the standards can be helpful for great tips and recommendations that you then blend with your own creativity to develop your unique sustainable meeting." -- Mariela McIllwraith, MeetingChange
  • "Increase your event sustainability with reduced printing. Calculate your current paper use as a benchmark and communicate your goals by estimating your CO2, waste, and water savings with your attendees. Use the free meeting sustainability calculator http://ativsoftware.com/co2-calculator-for-paperless-events/. Learn 10 strategies towards a paperless meeting at http://ativsoftware.com/2012/07/10-strategies-towards-paperless-events-conferences-and-meetings/" --Silke Fleischer, Executive and Co-Founder at ATIV Software
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

New Technology uses for Events

  • "Eliminate your 10-pound 3-ring conference binder by using an iPad or other tablet." --Corbin Ball, Corbin Ball Associates. [Further Reading]
  • “If it is important to focus on demographics besides geography and the potential audience is located on a national or global scale, then virtual technologies can assist with extending the reach of the event. If this is the case, consider the optimal agenda to enable multiple time-zone participation.” — Elizabeth Glau, Building Blocks Social Media.
  • “Look to television for ideas that are more suited to a remote audience, for example man on the street interviews, talk show and news desk formats designed for broadcast.” — Jenise Fryatt, Icon Presentations [Further Reading]
  • “When it comes to event technology, it is important that the technology that you select, aligns with your event goals. Rather than starting with the technology, start with what you want to accomplish and then evaluate your tech options. This will help to achieve your goals and increase your chance of technology adoption at your meeting.” –Jessica Levin, Seven Degrees Communications
  • “Whether you’re new to the meetings profession or are a seasoned meeting planner (one who hasn’t used a CVB since pre-internet days when they were your easiest information source), a CVB is worth a look. Technology tools ranging from conference microsites, social media assistance, online housing systems, interactive maps are available to conferences and meetings even in smaller destinations. Don’t assume that only Tier 1 cities can offer technology assistance. Also, most CVBs will provide assistance even if your conference booked directly with a hotel.” –Janis Ross, Executive Director of Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

After the Event: Making Assessments

  • “After the digital event pull a report of exactly who logged in during the LIVE streaming and login duration. From there categorize these attendees by industry, title, organization type, etc. You can then use this data to develop more targeted marketing for your next digital event.” –Deb Greif, bxbGroup
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Checklist For Successful Event Marketing

event marketingMarket share and mindshare: A successful event can bring heaps of both kinds of attention to your business. The key is to plan it so that your execution is flawless. That’s where the practical concerns such as insurance, safety, security, and logistics come into play. Many decide to hire an event planner once the scale of even a “small” event is understood.

This article focuses on getting the most marketing mileage possible. Let’s look at three crucial time periods that can affect how the marketing is received: prior to the event, during the event, and after the event.

Prior to the Event

Major planning starts here. What will the event say about your company, service, or products? What is the desired mood you want to achieve? What will attendees learn, or what other benefits will they receive from attending? This is the time to craft the strong message that will be repeated throughout the event.

[ ] Comprehensive marketing plan

Direct mail, website, radio spots, TV, newspaper ads, film and photography, and other methods should be part of the planning process depending on the audience you want to reach.

[ ] Logo, colors, and style guide

Events with strong visual branding throughout the experience tend to be more memorable and feel more cohesive.

[ ] Press kits — paper and digital

Plan to notify local and/or regional media prior to the event for the best hope of earned media. At minimum, you’ll need a press release with photos, bios, and information packets ready to distribute.

[ ] Social media marketing plan

Word-of-mouth is still the cheapest and most effective marketing method; social media should be the centerpiece.

[ ] Pre-show emails

Whether a part of your existing newsletter or as stand-alone promotion, emails are an important way to build buzz.

[ ] PPC, SEO, and online advertising

Target keywords and phrases for advertising leading up to your event.

[ ] Create the agenda packet

This document is a potent sales tool to get attendees. Highlight the benefits of attending and the proposed schedule of events. There should be at least two versions, one electronic and one printed for the event itself.

[ ] Show giveaways

Order the giveaways you’ll use during the show to encourage participation.

During the Event

Every part of the event contains a marketing possibility. A strong, consistent message should be seen and felt from start to finish. Plan activities that support this overall message and be sure that all materials designed for attendees to take with them also conveys your theme.

[ ] Creative materials at the venue

Consider distributing packets of information in a suitable format. This may include novelty tchotchkes or branded everyday items. It may mean digital materials, such as free apps or games.

[ ] Visuals at the venue

Marketing potentials include all signage, posters, banners, balloons, boards, name badges, tent cards, plaques, etc.

[ ] Filming and photography

Events are goldmines for marketing materials. Be ready with a professional photographer or videographer. Hire a pro to ensure quality images and good lighting setup.

[ ] Social media “live streaming,” “live tweeting,” or similar

Have a dedicated group of people creating social media updates for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to maximize and capture the real-time experience.

[ ] Collect testimonials

Video is the ideal way to collect testimonials since you can reuse this later (be sure to have attendees sign a release). Soliciting written feedback and photos also work well.

After the Event

Immediately after the event is a time to collect feedback, materials, and measurements. All of these data points can be processed for improvement in the future or used in upcoming marketing materials. Organize the post-event media and other information as diligently as you planned it for best results.

[ ] Measure and report on social media outreach

Use a site like Hashtracking.com to measure discussion reach.

[ ] Collect links to social media updates

You will be able to point to these again later since most will stay online for a long time.

[ ] Archive the event on your website or post again to social media

This archive can provide valuable social proof for future events.

[ ] Collect and organize feedback

Attendee testimonials can be organized for future use, as can post-event survey responses. Look through feedback for verbiage useful for marketing future events. Be sure to get permission for attribution.

For more detailed steps check out The Definitive Guide to Event Marketing produced by Marketo. It is a free download with email registration.

Featured images:

Katie McCaskey is a freelance journalist who covers event marketing tips and trends for Vistaprint, a leading source for address labels, invitations, and other products to help you market your next event successfully. Katie has written about marketing for 12 years and is co-owner of a neighborhood grocery/cafe outside of Washington, D.C. 

Escape the City with Countryside Meetings

countryside meetings

Photo By: Joe Shlabotnik

For most of us, at least 40 hours of our week is spent in the sprawling urban world, surrounded by the glass & concrete of office towers and bumper-to-bumper traffic congestion.

When it comes time to host a meeting, the venue of choice often ends up being in the exact same environment, even though most events are typically meant to act as a change of pace from the normal day-to-day working life. So why not shake things up a bit and host a meeting outside of the city instead?

Out in the countryside, you have nearly endless choices for unique and memorable meeting locations that are as far from the metropolitan experience as you can get, including everything from valley resorts, to forest cottages, charming hotels, and so much more.

For both event planners and attendees, hosting a meeting outside of the city has a number of benefits, including enjoying a relaxing & laid-back environment, taking in the fresh air and peaceful scenery of rural areas, and inviting the opportunity to take part in team building activities that you just can’t find in a city.

Enjoy A Laid-Back, Small Town Feel

Help your meeting attendees escape the chaos and bustle of city life for a little while by hosting your event in a small town, rural area, or secluded location. Outside of the city you’re guaranteed to find locations that offer a laid-back atmosphere surrounded by small town hospitality and charm that you just can’t find anywhere else.

One of the best reasons to escape the city for your next meeting is that it gives attendees a chance to wind down some stress from their day-to-day working lives. This can hopefully lead to a much more enjoyable & productive event, as well as a more memorable experience than having just another get-together downtown.

In fact, psychological research has shown that being in novel environments; from a quaint small town hotel all the way to something incredibly unique like a wine barrel room tends to lead to more pleasurable feelings and improved outside-the-box thinking. As a result, hosting your next meeting in these types of locations can have a hugely positive impact on the quality of the event.

Take-in the Fresh Air & Scenery of the Countryside

Taking any opportunity to reconnect with nature is always a good thing, and you can help your meeting attendees out by booking your next event far beyond the skyscrapers and highways of the city. The fresh air and scenery of rural spaces will do wonders to calm some minds, leading to a more relaxing and productive gathering.

In a city it can be easy to lose touch with the natural wonder of the world, and the constant buzz of urban life can be draining at times. Having just another meeting in the a city environment might lead to a less than enthusiastic crowd, so you’ll probably be greatly appreciated for taking a leap and planning an event that gets all your attendees out into nature for a change of scenery.

You don’t even have to go far outside of the city to reconnect with the natural world. For example, if you take about a 90-minute drive outside of Los Angeles, you’ll find the peaceful Korakia Pensione oasis villa in Palm Springs, or if you’re in Edmonton, Alberta and up for a short flight, you can experience the natural beauty of the Athabasca forest in nearby Fort McMurray.

Get Involved in Unique Outdoor Activities

If you’re planning a team building event rather than the usual conference or typical business meeting, consider doing it outside of the comfort zone of your team’s day-to-day city lives, and explore what the countryside has to offer instead. This change of pace can lead to once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can be a huge help in building longtime bonds and unforgettable stories.

While team building events in the city can often be meaningful and bring your team closer together, the impact of sharing a completely new experience in relatively unknown environments can really leave a lasting mark on how your team sees each other. The great outdoors of the countryside encourage a bigger sense of adventure, challenge, and fun that simply can’t be replicated in between office towers in the downtown core.

Depending on the destination and time of year, your team building activities can include a large variety of unique experiences. You can do everything from hiking in the woods outside of your hotel, sailing the waterfront outside of your cozy maritime meeting venue, to skiing the slopes alongside your mountain resort. The variety of countryside activities are nearly endless, but no matter what you choose to do, it’s certain that your team will never forget it!

Michael Smith is an Inbound Marketing Consultant at Powered By Search, writing on behalf of Quality Hotel Fort McMurray offering hotel rooms and meeting space in northern Alberta, Canada.

Using Facebook to Invite People to Your Events: Do’s and Don‘ts

Facebook Events is a marketing tool that’s growing in popularity with small business owners. Even those who’ve just started a business or are on a tight budget still need to get the word out about the opening of their business or the introduction of a new product.

Since Facebook Events are free, it’s smart for them to be included in a small business’s promotion and advertisement campaign. To get the most out of a Facebook event, there are specific dos and don’ts a businessperson can follow.

Following is a list of Facebook Events best practices can help maximize their promotional benefits.

Facebook Events Best Practices

Dos

  • Use Facebook Events Sparingly. Most people don’t throw parties for everyday occasions, and it wouldn’t be wise to host a Facebook event for every business occurrence. Rather than hosting an event to announce a new greeting card on their website, a paper goods business might host a Facebook event to introduce their new line of wedding invitations before peak wedding season.
  • Promote an Event through Additional Venues. Promoting a Facebook event on Facebook only is not enough, even if it’s open to the public. The event should be promoted on a business’s website, as well as through Twitter, email, and on the company blog. Businesses shouldn’t overlook traditional promotional methods either, such as word-of-mouth and fliers placed in customers’ bags.
  • Increase Communication for a More Successful Event. Good communication before and during an event can increase the sales a business achieves from their Facebook event. In addition to conversing with invitees directly on the event page, business owners can also use hosted VOip for real-time communication and email.

Don’ts

  • Don’t Be Vague or Long-Winded. The overwhelming amount of information available these days means that consumers are looking for information that’s concise and to the point. It’s best to keep Facebook event information brief, to the point, and enticing. For example, it would be more effective to say “You’re invited to view and purchase our new line of handmade, nature-themed wedding invitations printed on recycled paper” than to say “Come see our new wedding invitations.”
  • Don’t Forget to Involve the Community. It’s always smart to be community-minded. Anytime a business can get out in the public to meet consumers and benefit the community at the same time, everyone benefits. This can be achieved by supplementing an online debut of a new line of products with a debut at a local exhibition where 20 percent of all proceeds will go to a local food bank or charity.
  • Don’t Assume that People Won’t Be Interested. It’s common for small business owners – especially those who are new in the business world – to make the assumption that certain people won’t be interested in their event. As a result, the business owner doesn’t invite these people. Avoid this mistake, and let everyone decide for themselves. The results may be surprising.

All Things in Moderation

Small businesses that are successful are run by people who know it’s wise to not put all their eggs in one basket. As beneficial as Facebook Events can be to the promotion of a new business or new business line, this marketing tool should never be used exclusively.

An effective social media marketing campaign will include consistent efforts in two to four different social media venues. Facebook Events should be viewed as an added boost to increase results from the current marketing campaign, attract new people, or announce a new addition to the business. Like anything else, if the use of them is overdone, their effect will weaken to the point of no longer being worth the effort.

About the Author:

Mary Ylisela is a writer and social media marketing manager who is passionate about helping other freelancers and small-business owners learn how to promote their businesses. She writes for companies such as Vel.net.

What is Your Event Planning Superpower?

Aquaman scopes out a venue before a big charity event (Photo by: Jason Vanderhill)

Event planning is a tough job. Sometimes it seems that pulling off a successful event requires nothing short of superhuman abilities.

That got us to thinking. While event planners (probably) don’t have superpowers, they do have certain skills and abilities which few possess. And since events are complicated affairs, one superpower does not fit all. While one person may have superhuman organizational skills, they may not have superhuman skills when it comes to producing innovative content for an event, and vice versa.

We put our heads together and identified four distinct superpowers that you can develop as an event planner. The quiz below is based on the MBTI personality test, and will help you identify the superpower that you may want to develop.

 

 

Superhuman Flexibility and Reflexes

Superpower Description

Legend tells us that before you got into the event planning world you volunteered for secret government experiments, which gave you the incredibility to make flash-quick decisions, often before others can get their heads around a situation. Your ability to live in the moment and adapt to circumstances as they evolve makes you an superstar among event planners.

Your ability to respond to last minute changes helps you keep on top of changes of venue, transportation delays, menu changes, A/V malfunctions and everything in-between. You love engaging with your suppliers, and you do it so well that it’s often said that you have the ability to be in more than one place at the same time!

Your Kryptonite

You’re at your best when you’re making on the spot decisions about issues as they arise. Your focus on the present moment, however, makes it more difficult for you to think long term, and to foster deeper connections with both your clients and vendors.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Doreen Ashton Wagner, Greenfield Services; Jenifour Jones, Go Get It Events; Randy Crabtree, Master Story Teller for Meeting Professionals International; Anthony Navarro, Founder at Liven it Up Events;


 

Super Cybernetic Eyes

Superpower Description

Ever since you installed cybernetic eye implants, your ability to pay attention to all the little details that make an event run smoothly has become second to none. So attuned you are to the small things that matter, that rumors have spread that you can see through walls.

You have a highly analytic mind, which provides a good balance for an industry where many people rely too heavily on their intuition. You are able to determine the success and failure of an event from the metrics that matter–not “vanity metrics” that feel good. You may not think outside of the box very often, but you sure have a good handle on all the things that are going on inside it.

Your Kryptonite

While your cybernetic powers help you keep on top of all the little details that help make an event running smoothly, it does diminish your ability to read the emotions of other people. This can often make you seem cold and insensitive. Also, your dependence on the cold hard facts may make you less open to new ideas that don’t have a track record. While you have the power to truly excel in the field of event planning, either develop your people skills or team up with a more intuitive “people-minded” person. Either way, you’ll make an unstoppable force.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Shawna McKinley, Director of Sustainability at MeetGreen; Michael Vargo, Director of Special Events at Disney; Kyle Hillman, CEO at Kyle Hillman Strategy Group; Jaime Geffen, Co-Owner at YourBASH!; Patrycja GraczykEvents Executive at Plenta Foods Limited; Heidi Thorne, Promotional Expert at Promo With Purpose; Noelle Provencial, Experiential Marketing and Events at Groupon; Genny Castleberry, Director of Incentive Travel at Spear One;


 

Mind Reading

Superpower Description

Some say you were born with your mystical powers to read other people’s innermost thoughts and desires, while others claim you developed them over time. Regardless, you have the incredible ability to put yourself in the mindset of clients as well as of event attendees. Not only do you have an incredible creative talent for producing unique events, but you’re able to understand attendees in such an intuitive way that it seems you know what attendees will want from an event before even they do.

Your Kryptonite
You have a strong sense of intuition, and although these moments are rare, it can sometimes miss the mark. Your over-reliance on instinct can be a problem when a little fact and data gathering may be the better course. Also, you are a right brainer, which makes it difficult for you to conform to structured schedules and plans. Ideally, you will be the creative force behind an event, while you leave the nuts and bolts to someone more detail oriented.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Wayneston Harbeson, VP Operations and Event Services at NATPE; Alicia Schiro, Events and Catering Manager at J Walter Thompson; Kassidy Bird at Uncaged Events; Kadri Soerunurk at Dine in Dark; Donna Kastner, Expo/Sponsor Sales & Activation at Velvet Chainsaw; Aubrey Sendra, event manager at UCLA conference services; Yvonne McNair, Special Events and Marketing at Captivate Marketing Group; Niclole Matthews, event concierge at The Henley Company; Jessica Geiszler, event planner at Stellar J Productions; Julie Robertson, Director of Strategic Accounts at Spear One; Jenny Powers, founder at Running with Heels;


 

Human Magnetism

PeopleMagnetSuperpower Description
Ever since you were struck by lightning while reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, you have become a human magnet. Rather than attracting metal objects, however, you’ve developed the remarkable ability to attract people. You’re fun to be around and people thoroughly enjoy your company.

Your ability to build strong relationships with clients as well as suppliers make you an invaluable asset to any event planning organization that wants to build its business. Not only that, but since people tend hold you in high esteem, it will generally be easier for you to negotiate with them should problems surface (as they often do).

Your Kryptonite
Your magnetic powers grow the more time you spend with people, especially when that time is spent among like-minded individuals. Your powers diminish, however, when you’re assigned tasks that don’t involve human interaction. Be sure to maximize opportunities doing the former and minimize the latter.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Janis Ross, Executive Director at Eugene Cascades & Coast; Dennis Shiao, Director of Product Marketing at INXPO; Hugh Robertson, CEO at RPM Marketing Agency; Liz Lathan, Event Marketing Director at Dell; Tahira Endean, Director at Cantrav; Liz King, CEO at Liz King Events; Samantha Bowerman, President at Strategic Meetings Group; JoAnn Gregoli at Elegant Occasions; Rudy Garza, VP at Spear One;