All posts in “event management”

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!

Cheers!

Jill S. Moran

10 Questions from an Intern – My Journey as an Event Professional

IMG_6625I had the opportunity to work with an intern, Erin Quadrozzi, a Hospitality student at Endicott College, over the winter break. She was a delight to have in our office and it was a pleasure showing her “the ropes” onsite at events and during the planning phases of several upcoming events. I’d like to share 10 questions that Erin asked during her parting interview about my career path, a typical day for an event planner and how to prepare for a career in events.

1. What is your professional background and how did you decide to work in this field?
I began my career as a volunteer for a youth leadership organization while I was working in the insurance industry in Boston in my early twenties. I liked organizing, working with people, seeing how solving complex organizational challenges was rewarding and fun. It was a very social experience – collaborative and altruistic – providing high school students with a chance to interact with community leaders.

I joined my father’s moving and storage business shortly after and began working with exhibit and display customers – shipping their booths to trade shows across the county. It was then that I was asked to assist with a hospitality event for customers of one of my trade show clients. They saw that I was organized and was a reliable partner for them, so I said yes to helping. The woman who had asked me was going on maternity leave and planned to come back to finish the planning for this event, but never did, so I saw it to fruition. It was in New Orleans in 1991. We hosted the event at Mardi Gras World where all the floats from the parade are stored. From then, I planned their annual event each year at locations in the US where the show was being held – Atlanta, LA, Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans. At that time, I relied on my colleagues in the International Special Events Society to help me resource vendors and venues. It was before the internet became widely used, so I did all my investigative work through phone calls and the yellow pages. It was exciting traveling to these different locations and creating an event that provided a social experience while meeting the client’s sales and marketing initiatives.

2. What degree(s), coursework, and skills are most helpful to persons entering this field?
I have made a conscious effort to help those who want to enter into the field or advance their careers by sharing my expertise and bringing my colleagues together to also serve as instructors, lecturers and mentors with an online program – Special Events Institute. It’s been rewarding and exciting to see so many event enthusiasts learn from best practices and not have to do it the hard way – by trial and error. I think a combination of course work – either in your community or online – is a great starting point. Add volunteerism, working with a mentor or an internship to put what you’ve learned into action. Those two components will help build an event professional’s skills and confidence.

3. What other careers (or job titles) are related to work in this field?
Event Marketing, Fundraising or Development for Nonprofits, Academic Event Planning, Hospitality, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Wedding or Social event planning, Tour or Travel Specialist – so many industries use qualified organizers or planners to meet their goals – it’s all about creating the experience.

4. What professional organizations (and/or publications) related to this field provide resources for students to help them learn more?
These are the organization that I have found most helpful. For a full list, you check Appendix B in both of my books – How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business and How to Start a Home-based Wedding Planning Business.
MPI – Meeting Professionals International
PCMA – Professional Convention Management Association
ISES – International Special Events Society
NACE – National Association of Catering Executives

5. What do you like and dislike most about your job?
I like the journey – seeing a need and figuring out how to make it happen. I like to see people come together for a purpose and enjoy the experience. I like solving problems, overcoming challenges. I like making something new and different through a creative experience. It’s challenging to have prospects that don’t understand the value of a professional, or who don’t heed your advice. Especially when it comes to safety issues or recommendations to create unique elements of an event. At times, a client comes in with ideas that they have seen or heard about and want to do the exact same thing. It’s more fun if they let you as the event professional, add some nuances or style to make it their own, or do it in a way that will yield a better result.

6. What are advantages and disadvantages of working at small and large organizations?
Small companies allow you to get involved with many aspects of the planning process. You see something from start to finish. On the other hand, you have to do a lot yourself at times. You don’t necessary have the “team” to hand things off to, but you can create your own team of event colleagues and vendors to be your strategic partners and support you. They can fill in when you need them and round out the skills that you have.

Working in a large company, you have access to more resources – an IT department, a marketing department, a travel department – it’s nice being able to dial a number or send an email and have your computer fixed or flight booked. The downside may be that there are more levels of approvals or management – and you may not be able to see all parts that go into the end result of an event.

I have worked as a small business owner for my most of my career, but have had amazing strategic partners that have allowed me to plan large-scale events worldwide, so it is all about the team, no matter the size of the company your work in.

7. If you had to start over again, would you do anything differently? If so, what?
Not really – I have been fortunate to meet many people, travel the world and experience the pleasure of creating successful events that have made a difference to so many people. I have enjoyed the variety of clients – social, nonprofit, corporate, community and academic – and that diversity has really enriched my life. I also have been able to balance my work life with a full home and personal side – having a family, great friends and I enjoy the outdoors when I can. I have no regrets and now, after 29 years in the industry, really love to hear that I have inspired or helped someone who dreams of having a career in events. It’s been very rewarding!

8. How much do you travel for work? Why? How do you balance this with your personal life?
Now I don’t travel as much, but when I did for client events, site inspections or meetings, I relied on support from family and professional services so my children were safe and happy. I have been in a book group for 25 years (although I must admit, I don’t read the book all the time), and love to grow vegetables in the summer, walk my dogs and be outdoors when possible. I think multi-tasking has worked for me – walk the dogs and get exercise – visit friends and read a book – garden and feed my family – things that I can do in small doses throughout my day or week that bring me pleasure!

9. How many hours/week do you work? What sort of work do you take work home, if any?
I guess you could say that I would work all the time – but it’s just living my life. I love what I do, so I am always thinking of new things to do, ways to connect with clients, and how to make projects the best they can be. I typically work at least 8 hours each day and some of the weekends as well. I have a home office so it’s easy to slip into my office and jump on the computer. Once I do, I connect with students and instructors in my courses, work on projects, or take care of business details for my businesses.

10. What is a typical day like? A typical week? Year?
In a day, I spend quite a bit of time on the computer – in my courses with current students, on social media, reading, sharing and connecting, on the phone with colleagues or clients or with marketing or business planning details. I also walk my dogs with my daughter or husband daily, cook and dine with my family, visit a friend or attend an event or meeting. I am on the board of an art gallery and am active in my community with events that may be held during the week.

During a week – I have my daily schedule, and on the weekends, try to spend time outdoors, will take my elderly Mom out for errands or to my home to cook and visit and take care of home chores. I also love music and will see live music or have dinner with my husband and friends when possible.

In a year, I attend professional conventions, speak at colleges, universities or at conferences, vacation with my family and enjoy the seasons of New England. I like to cross country ski, hike and walk, swim and visit the ocean and be with my family, cousins and friends. I plan a few get-away’s a year with my girl cousins to stay connected with them as well. It’s great having support and love – and giving it – I feel very lucky~ I’ve had an amazing career that has allowed me to travel, write books, create educational opportunities for others and give back and have fun along the way.

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

Meet Your Instructor: Karen Salhaney

karen salhaneyKaren Salhaney is SEI’s current instructor for Course 5: Event Management and Leadership.

 

What made you decide to become an event planner and what do you currently do professionally (aside from teach with SEI)?

Becoming an event planner was not a career I intentionally planned. As a matter of fact, I was running a successful Insurance Agency and never thought I’d ever blossom into an event professional.  However, it was through my philanthropic leadership while I was volunteering at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that I discovered the love of bringing people together in a positive way — this magical feeling came from organizing fundraising events.  Over time, I came to realize that my passion was deeply imbedded in the event industry.  I thought, instead of managing insurance portfolios, why not manage events.  I took my volunteer experience and transferable skills of critical thinking, organization, and building good relationships which eventually evolved into a fulfilling event planning career.  I started at a Trade Show Exhibit firm, then to owning my own Event Management Company and finally to being a Director of Events for a nonprofit organization  I currently consult and teach Event Planning — and feeling very satisfied!

 

What SEI course do you teach and why do you enjoy it?

I currently teach the Event Management and Leadership course at SEI.  Being confident and well prepared while managing people and projects is critical. This course elevates ones competencies and confidence in the areas of events, financial, service and business management — all absolutely necessary as an event leader in our professional.  I get a lot of joy watching a student excel when they utilize the management tools that SEI has provided when planning a successful project and unveiling their creativity.

 

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an event planner?

As we know, having a good relationship with clients, vendors, employers and your event team is very important.  As much as we can feel prepared through the event process, my biggest challenge where the times that communication was lacking.  I have discovered that we can not assume anything when planning an event and that it is better to over communicate then under communicate.

 

What advice do you have for the current SEI students?  As an event planner, being an astute listener can help ensure you come up with a special event that the client wants.  While listening seems like an easy skill to master, always remember that you involve:  paying attention, understanding and remembering.

 

When hiring, what type of qualities do you look for in an event planner new to the industry?

For me, it’s all about being positively authentic, efficient and organized.   When it comes to hiring an event planner, I will always choose the person who has a polished appearance, is respected, a positive attitude, is extremely resourceful and is always enthusiastic.

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:

ENTRANCE:

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.

PRODUCTION:

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!

EVENT ELEMENTS:

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.

0059_DSC_2843

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

0057_DSC_2836

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

DESIGN:

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!

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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 – https://www.facebook.com/DinaKPhotography

Alumni Corner: Lisa Perkins of Luck Companies

Lisa Perkins - 2014 Graduate Luck Companies - Richmond, VA

Lisa Perkins – 2014 Graduate
Luck Companies – Richmond, VA

What made you decide to enroll at SEI and become an event planner?
I decided to enroll in SEI, because of the courses the program offered. The course being online fit into my current work schedule. I decided to take this course working toward an Event Planner role with my current organization.

What was your favorite SEI course and why?
My favorite course was Event Design and Décor, this course allowed us to put the learning elements together. Having the visual of what you are learning while using the application of the elements.

What was the biggest takeaway from your studies with Special Events Institute?

My biggest takeaways was truly learning all of elements and practices it takes to put on an awesome event. I learned how to generate and complete checklists for events no matter the size to ensure every element is accounted for.

What next steps did you take after receiving your Certificate from SEI?
I generated a Business Plan and presented to the organization to move forward with the Event Planner role. Since that, I have been working on events within the organization, displaying the true need for a permanent Event Planner. It has be a wonderful experience. I am anxiously awaiting the Specialty Courses coming this Summer, so I can complete the entire program and move forward with my CSEP.

What advice do you have for the current SEI students?
The possibilities of events are endless. Take every opportunity to reach out to others, sharing ideas and asking their advice. Reach out to Instructors, encourage them to challenge you. The responses you will get are incredible and will help you become the best Event Planner you can be.