A millennial writing about social media….weird. But really, when it comes to events and the benefits social media can provide, don’t miss out! Almost every event planner will use social media to supercharge attendance rates and get their event heard, but when it comes to the day of their event they go MIA on social media. Missing out on the opportunity to have real-time engagement with their attendees. I’m here to give you a few ways to integrate social media during your events that will build a community and make those who didn’t attend bummed they missed out.
First things first, give them internet access. Make sure there is Wi-Fi available and give them the password. This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is something that is often mistakenly overlooked. Next, create a simple yet catchy #hashtag and promote the heck out of the two throughout your entire event. Whether that be displayed on signage throughout the room, programs and even on the program slides. Don’t give them the option to forget about your #hashtag.
When hosting an event, you want your attendees to be engaged and that includes online engagement. How do you do that? It’s simple, give them event props. This is a way to give them a WOW factor that they are dying to have their photo taken with and share with their friends. Universal Studios does a fantastic job of this. They often bring in props they have used in movies like the original batmobile car. This is an easy way to make your event picture-worthy and get the selfies flowing. Whether that includes props to hold while taking pictures, large stand-up letters of your event name, unique foods, a decorative backdrop or even stand-out art displayed throughout the room. Give them something.
Now you not only have an event to run but you need to remain present on social media. This is where having a point person is a great way to not only give real-time communication during your event with your building community but also gives you the chance to control what is being posted. In the end, you have a brand and image to uphold. Having someone on “social media duty” is a great way to manage it all.
We are a competitive breed. I might be opposed to doing something, but as soon as I know there’s a competition involved, I’m in. Take a wild west themed event for example. Include a bucking bronco and see who can last the longest. This is a great way to encourage attendees to engage in event activities as well as tweeting their experience with the hashtag and posting photos of friends riding the bronco. Promote those who have participated by live-streaming those images on your program sides and incentivize with some sort of gift package.
Last, but certainly not least. Involve your speakers and make them available! These people are the reason attendees are driving 200+ miles or taking time off work to see your event. Encourage your speakers to take the time to chat with attendees on the sidelines and take pictures. These are people they look up to and idolize. Nowadays selfies are the new autographs, so dangit give the people what they want! For those who didn’t attend, promote your speakers through Facebook Live. This is a great way to show them how available they are during your event, pushing them to lock in their spot for next year so they don’t miss out.
There are endless opportunities when it comes to incorporating social media during your event. Don’t let your event be the that did a great job getting butts in seats, but when it came to real-time engagement during your event you missed out on a huge community-building opportunity.
To keeping your audience engaged,
Top 3 areas to focus on before décor
The most heartbreaking thing I hear from event attendees is when they attend an event and say, “it was the most beautiful event I’ve ever attended but it was so unorganized, and the program dragged on forever!” Now don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful event just as much as the next person, and my background started in making events look amazing. Over the course of 10 years I’ve found there are 3 top areas to cover before making décor a priority.
1. Relationships before décor
Bring the people in and get them committed to your event and/or cause first, then start adding in elements as time goes on. Just because you spend the money on making it look awesome, or think it’s going to make people think it is better than it is, it’s wrong the approach. Your goal is to build a good relationship with your attendees first.
2. Experience before décor
Consider how you will greet your guests by a human before you think about putting up a decorative entrance. They might think it’s cool for a minute, but when no one is there to greet them or tell them where to go and what they should be doing the cool entrance is only going to spiral downward fast. Think through how you can provide a high touch experience throughout your event then add in the décor to surround the personal touch. Our rule of thumb is to provide a surprise every hour on the hour😊
3. Programming before décor
Onstage programming and timing of your event is more important than décor. Spend time finding ways to entertain, or make your audience laugh. Think through transitions using video, voice of God announcements and entertainers. Keeping people engaged is more important than your centerpiece. Guests will remember how you made them feel, before they remember the table décor.
When you consider these 3 areas first to create the best event possible, décor becomes the icing on the cake over time as you thoughtfully introduce it into your budget. Décor can keep the attention of your audience and create excitement, but if they leave not feeling taken care of or that the event was unorganized, this leaves a deeper impression on them and no amount of décor will keep them coming back.
You’ve finalized your guest count, you know how many tables you’ll need and have even picked out your linen color. You might think to yourself, “I’m done! Onto the next task.” Then they hit you with the million-dollar question, “what size linen do you need?” This is when your brain might go into overdrive, “Sizes? They have multiple sizes? I didn’t even know there were options.”
Luckily, there are two simple questions to ask yourself:
If you’re having a hard time determining how much you want to hang off the edges there are 3 options to go with: knee length, floor length or a pooling length.
Out of all the three lengths, the knee length gives the most casual, less-formal vibe. It shows the majority of the legs of the table. Although I’m all for flaunting a good pair of legs, when referring to tables, I suggest the exact opposite. What I mean by that is; most event tables have been bruised and battered. They’ve been through several long nights and don’t have a high rating when it comes to the looks department. Therefore, I always recommend floor length.
The floor length is the most common linen style you will find. It has a sleek and formal look to it. One of the main benefits, as mentioned above, is that it hides all the wear and tear you find when renting event tables.
For the pooling length, also known as the puddled style, find your full floor length and go one size up. This will give you that dramatic feel you’ve been looking for.
Picking out the linen size can seem like a simple but daunting task. People will have their own preferences and styles, but luckily there are so many amazing charts and pictures out there to help give you a better understanding on what it is you're looking for. There is nothing wrong with having an adult cheat sheet. In fact, below is a chart I use daily for easy reference.
To knowing your linen size,
Finding the perfect venue for your events is probably one of the most common and frustrating parts of planning. For me, the venue is all about the experience. If the space feels oversized it can leave the impression that no one showed up for your event; even if on the contrary tickets were sold out. As a direct reflection of a guests first impression, they may feel less engaged and in turn, spend less, cut out early or be intimidated to network with others.
Here are 4 easy room shrinking tricks, when your space is ridiculously oversized for your needs.
Creative, Nontraditional Seating
Most venues have more than one option in their inventory for table sizes. Considering stepping outside of the suggested table “box” (usually a 5ft or 6ft round) and line up banquet tables end to end, for a family style feel. Use smaller tables like a 4ft round or cocktail table, that require a larger quantity to fill your guest count. Or my favorite option, break your space up into different experiential areas. Maybe a pre-dinner networking lounge filled with furniture, cocktail tables and a bar in a portion of the room, located adjacent to your main dining area. This can double as an “after party” allowing guests to mingle and catering to buss dining tables.
Create a room within a room
Many of your hotel and conference center venues have those gawd awful air wall room dividers, that you can most certainly take advantage of if you wish. I on the other hand would prefer something a little less sterile. An alternative option is to use panels of fabric or a fun artistic backdrop to create a softer room divide. For a more romantic vibe, this same look can be achieved with the frame of a tent and twinkle lights.
A talking piece is never a bad idea. Using a dramatic decor element usually requires substantial space to be effective, so use that extra space to your advantage! Bring a vehicle indoors, suspend a grand focal point from the ceiling, erect a forest of trees . . . the opportunities are endless!
Considering some fun interactive pieces to keep guests entertained? These are a great route when you have room to spare. Photo booths, mechanical bulls, indoor climbing walls, wine tasting stations, elaborate dessert displays . . . there are a multitude of options that fill up space and help enhance the experience of your event.
Whether your options are limited, the venue is donated or free, or you’re just in love with the space . . . a location that is too big can easily be transformed into something more intimate with as little or as much effort (and additional $$$) as you care to spend. A professional event planner should easily be able to brainstorm ideas like these for you in a heartbeat.
Do you have a smartphone with a calendar? Do you check it each evening before bed, or each morning at breakfast, to determine what your day will look like? Now imagine the same calendar, but you share it with your co-workers and cross reference it with their schedules. It’s one calendar, but multiple people’s schedules are all in one place. It allows everyone to know exactly what is happening in the office at any given point, throughout any given day.
In simple terms, in the event world, this is basically the same as a run of show. A detailed timeline of the entire event, outlining all the key elements of the key players. A run of show is something you would share with your vendors, venue, speakers, and event staff to ensure they are all on the same page. It gives them a snapshot into the entire event, so they can anticipate the next important action item before it happens. Rule of thumb: anyone that has anything to do with the success of running your event should have a copy of the run of show. It’s kind of like a program, but with more information than when to anticipate the next intermission.
A production schedule is basically the equivalent of a script. It is every single detail broken down to the minute, from the moment your Emcee takes the stage until the closing remarks. It includes every audio-visual queue (lighting, sound, video, PowerPoint slides), the exact verbiage that will come out of each presenters’ mouth, stage entry & exit instructions, when to cue the confetti cannon; you name it! If something, anything, needs to happen during this timeframe you put it in the production schedule. If it is not written here, it basically does not exist. It can take many hours and sometimes days to create a complete production schedule. The biggest mistake many first-time events make is trying to create one of these beasts on their own without the help of a professional planner. It is highly unlikely you will be able to effectively anticipate all the needs of your event, especially from a production standpoint. A professional planner will be knowledgeable in how to communicate to multiple different people all in their own industry based language simultaneously. They can visualize the event unfolding in their head as they write, much like a movie unfolding, and can anticipate and troubleshoot timing and logistical issues ahead of time; so that you do not encounter them on your event day.
The take away here is, the more organized the communication on the expectation of how your event should flow, the better you set yourself up for success. Determine all your key players, how much information they need to execute their tasks, and provide them with the proper tools to get the job done! Most importantly, know your limits and seek out professional help when the program gets too complicated.
Is there something you’ve always dreamed about since you were a little boy or girl? For some it was to be a professional athlete or maybe as astronaut. For me, it was all about Britney Spears and her headset. I remember having every album she ever put out as a little girl (including backups just in case they got scratched). I would dance and sing all around the house with my very own headset and I felt like a complete and utter superstar. Although I missed out on the red leather jumpsuit, I really felt like a miniature Britney (I’m sure mom and dad were thrilled).
However, as time went on I outgrew Britney, especially during her meltdown phase, but never the headset. I remember being a teenager watching The Hills in junior high, yes I am unfortunately guilty of reality TV, and Lauren Conrad had just landed an insane internship for an event planning company in Hollywood. She had a huge event that evening with some very important guests attending. The event was total chaos with so many different parts; it was amazing! However, as insane as it was, she always kept her cool. She had her headset and handled herself like a pro. I embraced the chaos I saw on the television screen of planning an event and seeing everyone together in one place enjoying one another, great food, better cocktails with an amazing atmosphere. There was just nothing better in my eyes. It was destiny.
Throughout the next 8 years or so I always made it a priority to be involved somehow, someway with events. Whether that was cleaning tables, setting up decor or just plain running errands I wanted to be involved wherever I could. But there was one thing I could never shake... I still didn’t have my own headset. I remember sitting at the dinner table one evening and telling my mom that one day I was going to wear a headset and channel my inner Britney & Lauren Conrad. So, from then on it became a goal of mine. I was going to have my own headset one day and it was going to be magical.
Now several years later, I can happily say I have been inducted into the headset crew! Several months ago we had an amazing event we had been planning and I remember it so clearly. The cocktail hour had begun and we were reviewing the production schedule to ensure everyone was on the same page. As we were reviewing, our FABULOUS AV guys handed me a headset. For a second I thought, “this must be a mistake, maybe they forgot to give one to Danielle and Melissa.” Then I heard something I will never forget, “Kendall this headset is for you.” (QUE THE BRITNEY SPEARS MUSIC, YOUR GIRL HAD FINALLY MADE IT!!!) To some it may seem silly, it’s just a headset. To me, it was years of hardwork and dedication. It was a dream I had set (get it) and one I refused to give up on.
So if there is anything you take away from this ridiculous blog post, it’s that my passion for wearing that headset has never died. I embrace every single time I get to wear it, as well as every event I get to be a part of. Although, I did not have a Britney Spears red leather onesie nearby that evening, I realized it probably wasn’t appropriate for the classy event we were putting on so my black slacks had to do. But you bet that at the end of my 16 hour day I called my mom to tell her all about my shining moment, and I absolutely cranked Britney Spears in my truck the whole ride home. So remember, earn your headset and celebrate it!
To owning your headset,
I'm pretty sure there is a long standing debate about event planners, coordinators, producers and any other name you can think of that people might refer to us as. However, I continue to run into people that call them selves event planners, but they just aren't. Yesterday, I was doing a memorial service walk through at a local church and the guy I met with couldn't believe that they hired an event planner to help them, because after all he was a coordinator. Seriously? He is a venue coordinator. He opens the building, knows where the lights are, can make the screen go down. But he couldn't answer questions about lighting, and sound, and power and other various options. I guess he had their phone number, but did he call? Nope, just gave me the numbers.
This happens often at other venues where the "event coordinator" gives you the contact info to the caterer, the AV guys, bar service etc... when its technically all done "in house." They always seem to be baffled that my clients hire me, because after all they are an "event coordinator".
For those of you that might be in need, or just curious, here are 5 reasons why clients hire us and not an "event coordinator":
1. We come prepared with ideas that meet our clients needs and goals. Not simply ask how many guests there will be and make sure there are enough seats.
2. We incorporate our clients brand and personality through creative branding, messaging and communication.
3. We incorporate purpose into our events. Giving clients and attainable ROI on their event, not just an expense when all said and done.
4. Our events are different every time. Venue Event Coordinators just repeat the same thing over and over again and get frustrated when you do something different.
5. Our events are well produced, well executed and creative. This comes from working with clients for many hours about their event and asking the right questions to deliver the right message. Coordinators care about how many people are coming and do you need a registration table. They are not responsible for creative content or execution.
Hope this helps define our role and purpose. Event Planners of all sorts are not the same, we are not all created equal just because we might all fit into one term. As a client, do your research and really identify where your needs are. Do you need help just coordinating some details? Or are you looking for an event that encompasses your brand and mission? Knowing what you are getting and why will save you money in the long run by really getting what you need and want.
This was such a fun event! We were so honored to design this space for the USTA. As much fun as it was, it was quite the challenge being in a new location and having only 30 hours for set up. We brought in a backdrop that looked like a brick wall to break up the white tricot look and purchased a spandex roof to help create the colorful look we were going for. We blended about 4 different seating areas to make each space look and feel different but kept the nice clean look, bringing out colors in the lighting on the ceiling, walls and tables.
We had a blast designing the Historic Ballroom in Twin Falls, ID. We had the honor of working closely with TMN Events to create this one of a kind Experience.
John Nemeth graced the stage for a private performance for the Glanbia Employees.
The food showcased many of the cheese that Glanbia produced, and were displayed in social dinner setting for guests to hangout and mingle with fellow co-workers.
Accomplished Under 40
Idaho Business Review
The Accomplished Under 40 event recognizes 40 individuals under the age of 40 for their accomplishes in work, life and philantrophy. Again, our attendance grew and have set new standards for Corporate Award Shows.
This event targets the young professional age demographic and encourages a networking environment. One of the problems we have faced in the past with this event and for us many like this, is reaching the "young professional" demographic and truly engaging them. Traditionally, we invite this group to a formal sit down dinner and then make them painfully watch an hour long presentation. No matter how well executed the on stage production might be, this demographic is ADHD! We want excitment, new things, people to talk to, great drinks and atmosphere.
Solution: We created an event in a unique setting, the Zoo. Zoo Boise has a newly renovated African Plains area, with Giraffes and Lions and really great natural decor. We created a reception style, food stations with different styles of dinner, walk around event. We brought in a new technology called SlideKlowd to engage our younger audience via smart phone and tablet to gain feedback, twitter like responses for our honorees and most importantly engagement. The technology allows us to get to know our audience better, find out what they are interested in the moment and capture their emotional responses.
Outcome: We had an overwhelming response from our "young professional!" They loved the style of event we brought to them. They were engaged, overheard conversation saying how great this event was. We basically had to kick them out at the end of the night. The networking was priceless, and people loved the food! I'd have to say that we set a high standard for this demographic and can't wait to continue to wow them.
A Few Good Words:
"Great event, unique, innovative, fun, rewarding and the best I've been to all year, I've been reflecting all day what a great time I had, you and your team did a great job organizing this fantastic event"
Multi Day Conferences, Special Events and Fundraisers