Make the Most of Your On-site Resources

By Kristjan Gavin, CMP

In today's economic climate, clients are mindful of their meeting and event budgets: They're looking to make concessions that will impact their bottom line without sacrificing the quality of their events. Clients are looking to us, as their event planners, to provide counsel on how to reduce costs and still host a successful, impactful event. That's why, more than ever, it's become imperative to work with resources already available on-site.

One of the most impactful ways you can utilize your on-site resources is to use the furniture at the hotel or conference center in a meaningful way. Most venues have plenty of comfortable couches and chairs in fairly neutral, mix-and-match colors that can be grouped together to create sitting areas for breaks and “birds-of-a-feather” sessions. To create several groups, use large potted greenery already on-site to break up two or more sections of couches, tables and chairs.

When doing your initial site inspection, be sure to note what kind of color palette is already in place and then select your color schemes accordingly. Better yet, bring your digital camera and take pictures so you can be sure that the colors and patterns all blend together. If the couches and chairs don't exactly match your event color scheme, simply drape the tables between them in linens that do match. In any case, you have to make sure the furniture, accessories and table linens all work together to achieve aesthetic harmony and don't compete with one another. And speaking of linens, you can always choose linens that will “punch up” the look and feel of the on-site furniture. It's much less costly than bringing in rented furniture.

One thing you can do to bring down costs without making an impact on quality is to forego having many small, costly floral arrangements scattered around the main meeting room and instead use one big impact piece in the center of the room. Get creative and use something already on-site. This will create a focal point in the center of the room and serves two important purposes. First, having a place to focus visually helps break up the size of the room and makes it look much less intimidating; second, it gives attendees something to talk about — an icebreaker, if you will.

Another way to make a big impact on the look and feel of a room without adding cost is to change the lighting. During meeting sessions, you'll want to be sure that the speaker stage is the focus point, and the house lights are dimmed but still up enough so that attendees can see. Between sessions, chances are the house lights will be nearly all the way up. It's during the evening events that you'll have the opportunity to make the biggest impact with lighting.

You can make a meeting room look completely different for evening events just by getting creative with the lighting. Attendees won't even recognize the same room they've been sitting in all day long — if you do it correctly. One trick that makes a big impact is to turn off the perimeter lights around the room. Dim the rest of the house lights except those over the big impact piece in the center of the room. Use something already on-site (potted trees, etc.) to string lights and place them just inside the dark portion of the room. This will pull the room in, creating a much more intimate feel. This lighting trick can be particularly helpful when the room is considerable larger than needed for the number of event attendees.

By working with the resources available on-site, you can help your clients cut their costs while still hosting a quality, memorable meeting or event.

Name: Kristjan Gavin, CMP

Company: In Good Company Meetings & Events

Address: 111 Deerwood Road, Suite 200
San Ramon, CA 94583 USA

Phone: 925/855-3255

E-mail: kgavin@ingoodco.com

Website: http://ingoodco.com

Next Page: Why Do the ISES Esprit Awards Matter?

Why Do the ISES Esprit Awards Matter?

By Gwen Helbush, CWC

Since 1995, ISES has acknowledged the outstanding work by its membership through the ISES Esprit Awards®. The awards celebrate the best of the best in multiple categories that span all ISES members' disciplines.

The ISES Esprit Awards program was developed to showcase, acknowledge and honor the special event industry's finest examples of creativity, planning, strategic management, resourcefulness and successful solutions. The ISES Esprit Awards program has carried out the same mission — to celebrate and honor the talents and contributions of ISES members in the special event industry.

It is my honor to serve as the chair of the 2010-2011 ISES Esprit Awards Committee. Naturally I think the Esprit Awards matter — the more important question is, why should you?

In a recent survey of past Esprit Award nominees and recipients, 65 percent said being nominated for an ISES Esprit Award helped their business. That's right, just being nominated!

How, you ask? They used their nominations and wins for marketing, to impress clients, improve staff morale, attract the media and boost their professional confidence.

In other words, it's a differentiator: They are good and they can prove it. Now more than ever, proving your worth to a client is the difference between a signed contract and a going-out-of business sign.

Awards are something clients can understand. Telling current and potential clients that you have been nominated and/or won an ISES Esprit Award is another way to help them say yes to your proposal. They want to work with the best; you can tell them all day you're the best, but being able to show it is more than talk — it is a competitive edge money can't buy.

A motivated, energized staff can make a huge difference in the success of any business, and the Esprit Award process can be a team-building and education tool for your staff. The entry process requires you look at an event with fresh eyes. You must analyze and explain the event: the how and whys of your planning process. Explain and present why your work is the best. A comprehensive review is a priceless tool to help your staff understand their jobs and why each member of the team is so important.

Awards have glamour, and let's face it, people like glamour — they understand it, they value it. Our friends in the media salivate over it; anything you can give them to help them focus on your business is worth its weight in gold. A story about your company, how and why you were nominated or won the award, and about the event you won the award for practically writes itself.

Being nominated for an award is thrilling. Winning puts you over the moon; it affirms that you are great at what you do. Most of us in the special event industry work in a bubble — we concentrate on our clients and our businesses, we think we are good at what we do, but how do we know for sure? Yes, staying in business means we must be doing something right and, of course, our clients' praise and repeat business works, too. But having your peers recognize that you are among the best in what you do — that gives you confidence that nothing else can.

The special event industry is a relatively young profession. Awards with credibility such as the ISES Esprit Awards help us educate the public and especially our clients that we are a true profession with standards and ethics, and we should be taken seriously.

ISES Esprit Award nominees and winners have something other event professionals don't — and they use it. You can, too.

Entering for an ISES Esprit Award has never been simpler. The online entry system eliminates the need for binders, printing and postage. You simply follow the instructions, answer the questions completely, upload collateral, and you are done. You do need to plan your entry, collect your materials and execute with style, but isn't that what you do every day?

The 2011 Esprit Award call for entries notice will arrive soon; you can't afford to ignore it!

Name: Gwen Helbush, CWC

Company: Where To Start Inc. Wedding and Event Management

Address: P.O. Box 43
Newark, CA 94560 USA

Phone: 510/795-9072, ext. 101

Website: www.wtsevents.com

Next Page: You Can Promote Your Business Without Spending a Ton of Money

You Can Promote Your Business Without Spending Tons of Money

By Sandy O Fergus

Small business? Wearing all of the hats? No extra cash for advertising? Does this sound like you? Well, it's me too and lots of other people out there. We all feel the same pains. Just like you, I started a business on a creative vision and not much else. Needless to say, each step along the way was difficult. But after spending all of that money on a website and business cards and setting up an office, there really wasn't a whole lot left for advertising. So we started looking for ways to promote our business without emptying our pockets, and here is what we discovered:

Websites and blogs can be linked to other sites and search engines. Sure, your website cost loads of cash to develop, but it isn't worth a dime unless it is seen. Use links to your advantage. In your blog, promote yourself and others you work with by linking to their sites and linking their site to yours; you have now created another “road” for Internet travelers to get to your information. This is true as well for social media. FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others are all driven by powerful search engines and will drive traffic to your sites. Flickr is also another huge traffic generator — make sure you post your photos, watermark your photos, and then tag them like crazy so that the search engines have lots of key words to look for.

Writing articles is a powerful way to get a message across. You may not be a fabulous writer, so how about doing graphics for a layout? These are all ways to get your name and possibly a photo into a magazine (it worked for me). And this will cost you nothing except an investment of time. Sure, our time is precious, but think about just one spare hour — is it worth the cost of an ad? Do the math!

This is a no-brainer: The more people you know, the more people will know you. But this is the key: Don't just network with those whom you will do business with — network with everyone. For example, the lady behind you in the grocery store line may be walking her daughter down the aisle in a year or so; are you following? Get cards from everyone. You may never need an accountant but your brother might — and the accountant might just keep you in mind for his mom's 60th birthday party.

If you are selected as a finalist or a nominee for an industry award, your company name will be listed on all correspondence advertising the awards and events associated with them. Should you win, well, that is a whole other story — you now have bragging rights for e-mail blasts, website links and an added bonus — you increase your credibility!

Get involved, whether it is within your association's leadership, being on a committee or helping out with neighborhood charities — getting involved increases your exposure to the public.

Hopefully these tips will help you to promote your business, as they certainly helped us with ours. Be clever, be frugal, and be out there!

Name: Sandy O Fergus

Company: Creative Juice Group LLC

Address: 1917 Little Ave.
Conshohocken, PA 19428 USA

Phone: 215/487-9544

E-mail: sandyo@creativejuicegroup.com

Website: www.creativejuicegroup.com

Next Page: What is Your Hobby?

What is Your Hobby?

By Nicole Iovine

I recently went to dinner with a friend, and we got to talking about hobbies. He is a seasoned outdoorsman and bike rider and has just started restoring a BMW motorcycle. When he asked me about my hobbies, I couldn't really come up with anything off the top of my head. With our crazy schedules, peak and valley seasons, and personal commitments, I am always extremely busy and my calendar is packed. But what are my hobbies?

When I really thought about it that night, I came to the realization that volunteering and giving back are my hobbies. I serve on the ISES Columbus and MPI Ohio Boards, am a committee member for the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus — the No. 1 hands-on science museum — and am a philanthropy advisor for one of the sororities at Ohio State University. I also volunteer my time at local events such as the Columbus Food & Wine Affair and Pelotonia, which raises money for the James Cancer Hospital.

I have found amazing friendships, professional opportunities and a general feeling of accomplishment and goodwill. While most of us give money to our favorite charities, donating our time and expertise can be even more beneficial for an organization or event. Whether you join a planning committee to lend your knowledge, sign up to volunteer to work the day of the event, or offer to speak at an industry event, trust me, organizations are very welcoming and appreciative of the help you have given them.

As event professionals we can offer so much to our industry and communities — and we should. By participating and volunteering in our industry, you make personal connections with your peers, educate and inspire younger planners, and enhance your own professional growth. Through volunteering at an event setup, registration and on-site management, you can help an organization give the best customer service to its exhibitors and/or attendees to ensure a future return. When we can do these things together and promote our involvement, we really can raise the awareness and professionalism of the meeting and events community.

With the holidays just around the corner and the new year approaching, volunteer or commit yourself to giving back to your industry and local communities. It'll be worth your time.

Name: Nicole Iovine, CMP, CSEP

Company: ISES Columbus

Website: www.isescolumbus.com

Next Page: ISES Staff

ISES Editorial Team and Staff

Natalie Napoleon Wi
Volunteer Editor
Allure West Studios
natalie@allurewest.com

Amie Shak
Editor/Coordinator
ashak@smithbucklin.com

Kevin Hacke
Executive Director
khacke@smithbucklin.com

Kristin Prine
Operations Manager
kprine@smithbucklin.com

Lauren Rini
Education Coordinator
lrini@smithbucklin.com

Meghan Berger
Chapter Services Sr.
Associate
mberger@smithbucklin.com

Tom McCurrie
Membership Services Associate
tmccurrie@smithbucklin.com

401 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611 USA

T: 800/688-4737 T: 312/321-6853

F: 312/673-6953

E: info@ises.com

W: www.ises.com