All posts in “Best Practices”

Webinar Video | Planning Events in New Destinations

Town Center Westin SunsetIf you missed our recent Webinar on Planning Events in New Destinations with Jane White, CSEP, we’d like to share this recording with you.

Click the image to view the video on our YouTube Channel.

Enjoy these tips from Jane!  She’s our Foundations of Event Planning Instructor and has just started a new term with a class of event enthusiasts from across the globe.   If you are looking to charge your batteries or add to your event planning tool-kit, join us!  It’s not to late to enroll in our Five-Course Certificate Program or a Specialty Course.

Jane White, Event Coordinator at VA Beach Convention Center

Jane White, Director of Convention Services Virginia Beach Convention Center

Here’s a recap of what Jane covered:

  • Destination Management Companies and Services – what they can do to familiarize you with an area and support a local Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • Destination Marketing Organization or  Convention and Visitors Bureau – the important role they play in the success of your meetings, conferences or events.
  • Corporate Events and Conferences – understanding how much can you expect a CVB to do.
  • Markets Differences – First Tier Market: New York City, Boston, Chicago or Second/Third Tier: smaller markets and cities. What they can offer, flexibility and constraints.
  • FAM or Familiarization Tour – Group Experiences for Incentive Travel Professionals and how to qualify to attend one and maximize the experience.

Tips from Jane to make the most of your relationship with Destination Services:

  • Do your homework – view the destination city website and familiarize yourself with the location and how it can fit your needs.
    • Size of Convention Center
    • Number of hotels
    • Off-site excursions available in area
  • Reach out to contacts at the destination – visitors bureau, colleagues, professional groups.
  • Know your needs – space, investment you have to make, programs.
  • Listen to the city representative with what they can and cannot do.
  • Prioritize – what MUST you have – what’s a SHOW STOPPER for you.
  • Where’s your wiggle room – pricing, rates, space needs.

Once Booked:

  • Let them know everything you need – put everything out on the table.
  • Act like a partner during the planning process.
  • Do your site inspections prior to and final inspections – tastings, dry runs for transportation/shuttles, meeting the mayor.
  • View it like an attendee!

We hope you find this Webinar and the information provided by Jane helpful to you in your event or meeting planning career. Visit our Facebook page to find out about new webinars that we’ll be hosting. We hope to see you in the virtual hallways of the Special Events Institute!


Jill S. Moran

Setting your Goals for 2016

Your journey through life is like an envelope - it's all about the labels your experiencesput on the front! Where's your letter of life going_ngHappy 2016!

Wishing you all a year ahead filled with good health, prosperity and a steady path to your 2016 goals.

We wanted to share a look at our last year:
• The Academic Specialty Course was launched and enjoyed its first graduates.
• Our Weddings Specialty Course became Educationally Approved by the International Special Events Society (ISES Approved).
• We partnered with Bryant University to offer a Certificate in Event Management through their Executive Development Center.
• We presented 5 more groups of graduates with their Certificate in Special Events Planning – and sent them on their way to job promotions, new businesses and exciting opportunities!

And here’s what we are looking forward to:
• The Corporate Event Course is open – it’s filled with fantastic guest lecturers, charts, tools and resources. We are using Professional Meeting Management as a textbook – it’s a great way to prep for the CMP if that is on your “GOAL LIST”.
• We’ll be speaking at the The Special Event Show on Tuesday (#TSE2016) in Orlando, FL. Instructor Karen F. Salhaney, M. NP and I (Jill S. Moran, CSEP, Executive Director) will be giving a talk on Internship Programs, Tuesday, January 12th at 11:30AM. Stop by if you are at the conference!
• Partnerships – We are working with colleges, universities and associations to bring some exciting new educational offerings to event professionals in the year ahead! Stay tuned!

My personal goals this year center on the theme “moderation”
• Keep goals to a minimum – no more than 3 a day.
• Celebrate even a small success every day.
• Listen to my body – keep it healthy and feeling good through good eating, exercise and rest!
• Take time to enjoy things that recharge and regenerate me – walking, a chat with family or friends, being in my garden or outside.
• Remember to say “thank you “– and smile! Live a life of appreciation and gratitude!

As a gift, I’d like to offer COVER_EventPlanningBusinessa chapter in the latest edition of my book, How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business. It’s the chapter on Being your Best. I hope it offers some ideas to help you create the life you dream of and enjoy the journey along the way!

We look forward to continuing to be a resource for you and staying in touch in the year ahead!

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Jill S. Moran, CSEP
Executive Director
Special Events Institute

Making the most of the Holiday Season!


This time of year can be hectic for all of us – juggling family activities, parties, holiday plans – and managing your business as well. It’s typically a busy time for corporate or social holiday parties, but it’s also a great time to expand your event business to include side services that can bring in extra revenue this time of year. It also can spread us thin as we try to “fit it all in” in a short period of time. Here are a few tips that might help you manage and grow your event business and stay happy and healthy while you do it. Happy Holidays to all and best of luck in your event career!

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IMG_7592What other services could I provide to enhance my social event business?
Try providing holiday home decorating —table accent items, ideas on theming for in-home parties or holidays. Stationery items such as invitations or announcements are also a good way to round out services you can offer to your social clients. You may consider offering gift items such as welcome baskets or party favors. Think of the accoutrements to the party, from favors to decorations, and try to find a niche that you can showcase your services with. You may offer to put up their existing decor or add to it with some unique items.  Don’t underestimate the value that an event professional can bring to the table to add just the right amount of glitz, glamor or nostalgia to holiday decorating!

IMG_7623What’s the best way to get my name out to provide extra decorating or support services?
Social media can be a great way to strut your stuff and get visuals out to those who can spread the word. If you are decorating your own home, snap some photos on your phone, Instagram them and hashtag #holidaydecorator or #needhelpwithyourdecorating? or the like. Let friends and family know that you love making a space come to life and are willing to take the burden off them to make their home or office festive during the winter season. Consider a winter theme to extend the life of decor past the end of December and offer to go back to take any decor down and refresh for an early spring look in February. Every season can offer a chance to spruce up an environment, so share you own work and plant the seed!


I have some really high-end clients that seem frazzled over the holidays – they just are overwhelmed by their responsibilities and activities. Is there a way that an organized person like me can help?
Absolutely! Focus on the PLANNER of the title “event planner” and offer to organize their social calendar, shopping list, donation portfolio and the like. You can create a spreadsheet of their gift recipients and keep track of purchases to keep them on track if they are trying to be equitable among family members. You can log in all the charities they want to give to and even arrange cards and envelopes and a timeline for sending donations. You could also be a shopper for any families they are donating to and use your creativity to wrap the gifts in a festive way. If you have some extra time and want to fill in the gaps using your organizational skills and creativity, this could be a fun way to add value to your social client relationships!

IMG_4696Between all the projects and responsibilities I have, how can I maintain my sanity and health during the holidays?
Most event professionals I know are multi-taskers, “can-do”, “go-getter” types of people. We say “yes”, “sure”, “no problem” when we are asked to help out or take on another project. Get your weekly planner or calendar out and write in the times you will focus on YOU! Whether it’s the early morning or afternoon walk to start your day in solitude or recharge or the quiet time with a friend or partner to share the successes or frustrations of the day or week. Try to make it daily, but even a weekly visit with a friend – to shop and chat, killing two birds with one stone, as they say – can help re-align and re-charge you. Consider a mediation series like the ones Deepak Chopra offers to refocus your thoughts and renew your energy. Taking time out for yourself is not an option, but it’s a must to keep you at your best for everyone else. Nutrition should also play a big factor in your day – drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods to stay feeling good and at perform your best!

A Change is in the Air

IMG_5629My favorite part of living in New England is start of a new season. Each spring, summer, fall and winter – you are given a chance to change things up – to refresh, rejuvenate and refuel – as the world transforms around you. There is something about the beginning of autumn in particular– the cool weather, colored leaves and brand new academic calendar that makes me want to create new lists, reflect on what is working and what is not and reorganize my office and my life just a bit!

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a special event that was planned by Gail Lowney Alofsin, a terrific educator and event marketing professional. She was kind enough to share a copy of her book with me, Your Someday is Now. In her book, she has gathered quotes and advice from experts from all walks of like to share insight into their challenges and successes to help others in their path towards excellence. I’d like to share a few excerpts:

Don’t “what if” your life. Be happy with the decisions you make and don’t look back.

-Nicole Bertrand, Acquisition Marketing Manager, Cox Communications

I have spent time with many older people and the ones who are happiest don’t say – “I wish I had,” but instead say, “I did.”. To do is one of the guiding forces of my life.

-Brian Hill, Festival Executive, Atlanta, Georgia

Whether personal or professional…Set goals. Divide those goals into 3 categories of importance – “Must Do Now Goals,” “Sometime Soon Goals,” and “On the Future Radar Goals.” Create a plan, and do something each day that will bring you closer to reaching your goals.

– Natalia Kuziw, Assistant Media Buyer, Deutsch

At the end of the day, if you want something done, ask a busy person. The bottom line is that a busy person knows how to get it done.

-Larry Cancro, Senior VP of Fenway Affairs, Boston Red Sox

Gail shares that we all have dreams of doing something…someday. And throughout her book, she helps provide a path for making each of our somedays… NOW!

I hope these quotes will inspire you to take that next step – whatever it may be – to set new goals, plan a pathway to achieve them, create the career you dream of, and to live the life you envision – full of gratification, pride, empowerment and success!

IMG_5451Gail’s book is only available from her directly at this time. And…all of the proceeds are donated to charity! Stay tuned for information on where to purchase it! We’ll post it on our Facebook page – Special Events Institute -soon!  And for current and new students enrolled in our program – we’ll be entering you into a drawing for a FREE COPY!

For those of you who dream of having a successful career in special event planning a part of your SOMEDAY…consider joining us this term at the Special Events Institute.  The Fall 2 term begins on October 19th!  Register on our ENROLL NOW page.

Evening of Sass with Steve Kemble

IMG_2888It’s always great to carve the time to meet up with industry colleagues and enjoy a night of education and fun!  ISES New England did a great job at their May meeting choosing the Music City Queen docked behind the Boston Harbor Hotel as the floating venue for an evening with America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, Steve Kemble. Steve’s infectious laugh, hilarious comments and candid stories entertained and educated us all on how to create a brand that allows us to showcase our best qualities and connect with the RIGHT clients.

Here are a few takeaways from Steve’s chat:

  • Figure out who your ideal client is and focus on them – find out how you can over deliver and make them want to come back for more!
  • Create a brand and a tag line that works for you.
  • Use a focus group to test your brand building.
  • Choose your company name and brand wisely and walk the walk – live it in how you dress, what you drive and how you face off to the world.
  • Consider tying your brand to YOU – and connect on a personal and real level with your clients so they get to know you.
  • Overhaul your website and launch it only when it’s finalized.
  • Get savvy with Social Media – create a blog and post regularly (I listened Steve!), tweet and post on FaceBook and Instagram.
  • Market yourself in various forms – newsletters, articles, television or radio.
  • Consider hiring a publicist – they can help you to juggle all the channels and coach you on taking the right steps to skyrocket your brand.
  • Don’t overlook your professional image – from a handshake to thank you notes – make an impression that is lasting and positive and showcases your talents and style the way you want it to!

IMG_2889UD Kitchen hosted delicious Thai-Asian bites, and Gordon’s Fine Wine’s and Liquor’s provided refreshments. Thank you also to Shutterbooth New England for the fun photo booth!

A big shout out to my friend and colleague Karen Salhaney and the recent Event Management graduates who joined her. It was great to meet them all and host a mini-book signing of my Event Planning and Wedding books!  It’s inspiring to see their passion for the industry and the steps they are taking to prepare themselves for successful careers as event professionals!  Congratulations to all!

Best Practices: Planning Tips

2010-06-04 22.05.54 How much should I spend to create a proposal?

It depends on the client and the scope of the project. A PowerPoint presentation made from your laptop with photos and diagrams may be appropriate for the corporate client. Multiple bound, tabbed binders presented to the board of directors for a nonprofit might make an impressive statement. A DVD with photo slide show from past events might “wow” a prospect. Find out who will attend the meeting and how many other companies are bidding, and ask them what they prefer before you spend the time, energy, and money on creating something that they would not appreciate.

Are production schedules really necessary?

From setup schedules for equipment and rentals, to time for the caterer to arrive, prep food, and heat up the ovens . . . all the preparations should be clearly laid out so everyone is ready to go when the party begins. Ordering monogrammed materials or securing permitting from local authorities for tenting needs may take more time than you realize, so make sure your schedule starts well in advance so no one is disappointed. If you develop a production schedule from the beginning, you can add in all the details to make sure nothing is left out.

2010-06-04 22.06.02 Does every event need marketing materials?

You would not necessarily think of a wedding as needing “marketing materials,” but consider how you will help your client present the event to the guests. Information from including a personalized website, save-the-date cards, and to in-room welcome cards listing the schedule of events would be appropriate to develop for a social client. Professionally printed materials may work for corporate or nonprofit clients while a computer-generated and copied flyer or a email blast or Evite would be acceptable for a school fund-raiser or community dance. Base your suggestions for marketing materials on the event client, budget, and culture of the client event to develop print or advertising materials that are a perfect match.

Do I need to worry about what resources my vendors need?

Absolutely! If you have a lighting company providing decor lighting, you will need to know what power they will need and make sure your venue has this available. If it is a tented event, you may need to secure a generator. Once the band, the caterer, and the lighting company all tie in, you may blow a fuse and end the party in one flip of a switch! Other needs include tables for caterers to prep on or a DJ to set their equipment on. You may need to consider listing a section in your vendor contract that asks them to detail what their needs will be including food, rentals, services, or utilities. This will help avoid any disappointments once the event begins.

Best Practices: Top 8 Study Tips

  1. Write it down – Why do you want to do this? What is your goal?  How does this fit into your overall career plan.  By writing it down, you can feel good as you take the baby steps along the way and in achieving the final goal.
  2. Get good at it – if your not sure about how things are done – ask – that is why I am here and other instructors as well!  We LOVE helping others and see you all succeed. Whether it’s the technology or planning nuances – no question is too silly so ask away!
  3. Set aside time for the course.  Put it in your calendar and make a plan to work on the readings, online presentations and assignments. If you write it down, you can check it off and bask in the accomplishment of getting things done.
  4. Share your goal with others – let your family and friends know you are committed to this course and improving your skills as a planner. They will be proud and understand the time you are setting aside for this important goal.
  5. Organize – first read the GET STARTED section, then STUDY THE TOPIC FURTHER, the presentation and finally the assignment.  Give yourself time to go back and review to make your final submission the best it can be!
  6. Connect – be sure to be active in forums – discuss with your fellow classmates and instructor to share ideas and get the most from the network of participants.  There are many forums with work submitted by your peers – here’s your chance to check out their work and learn new ways of doing things!
  7. Stay on track – if you have a busy week or will be traveling, let your instructor know.  Try to get your work done within the assigned time frames so you make the most out of your experience.  If you need some extra time, let us know so you can get it all done by the end of the course.
  8. BE PROUD – Education is power – you will know more, feel more valued, and be empowered to make a difference in the lives of others!

Best Practices: color and design

October is a busy time for nonprofits to celebrate and raise awareness for their cause.  With so many worthy causes to support, it’s critical for nonprofits to create events that leave a lasting impression and stand out from the crowd.  Here’s one that carries their brand and message into all aspects of their event:


Color and design – From the moment guests enter, the logo colors are introduced through an entrance arrangement in purple, red, green and goldenrod.

Large focal centerpiece

A stunning arrangement on the crudite table sets the tone incorporating the colors of the logo.


Brand imagery – their logo, color scheme and the event concept is woven into the slides for the program, in the linens, centerpieces, and with lighting. All through the evening, guests are reminded of the mission and the cause.

low and lush

Use theme colors on linens, florals and with lighting and production elements.

color blocked

Let floral designers use their creativity within the guidelines you set – four colors and dimension specs- and enjoy the unique creations!


Mission and Cause: Telling the story of the WHY for an event is essential in helping supporters to connect and better understand how their support impacts actual lives and makes a difference.


Connecting guests with the agencies mission is essential in creating a lasting donor relationship.


Live and Silent Auctions provide additional ways for guests to enjoy the event and support the cause.


Dress to impress: It’s always challenge to continually create new, fresh experiences for annual events. Consider your space, limitations, guest profile, budget and goals to pull the right combination of design elements together. You’ll want to WOW without breaking the budget which could include in-kind and cash sponsorships, partnerships with event designers and re-purposing and reusing elements in new ways for a new look!


Try mixing up design elements to fill an open space – consider height, sizing, layout, seating and dining needs.


A special thanks to Dina K Photograph for her amazing work –