A SOUND OF THE TIMES: EMBRACING NEW TRENDS IN WEDDING ENTERTAINMENT

Cultural shifts and responses to economic uncertainty are altering the types of entertainment sought by planners and brides alike. As a result, the wedding industry has a tremendous opportunity to evolve and diversify. Let's explore prominent distinctions taking center stage and examine how these trends are shaping the way we celebrate.

Stress from our current instability has led to a general desire to feel more in control. This notion has influenced the way brides think about ceremonies, cocktail hours and receptions. Instead of cookie-cutter ceremony or cocktail-hour music, many bridal couples want nontraditional personalization — and this can easily be accomplished at a reasonable cost. Interesting ways include using previously uncommon combinations of instruments, such as a dulcet duo featuring piano and soprano saxophone. Whether it is an unexpected pairing of instrumentalists or a rock 'n' roll a capella group, the emphasis is on creating a feeling of synchronicity with the particular couple's style and story.

Receptions can thank the iPod, the concert-centric music awards shows and the use of contemporary music in advertising for other current trends. Top 40 songs are requested more now than was typical for weddings in past decades.

Entertainment is the centerpiece, the driving force that joins guests together and takes them (when exceptional) on an emotional journey. Breaking away from more conventional music and focusing instead on a customized song list for each specific couple has led the way for multiple generations to dance to the Beyoncés of today. Bands are expanding their repertoires to fit into this dynamic — and even the grandparents are enthusiastically participating (although some lyrics are a bit odd for them). Thematic music, garage bands and club-type bands are also being folded into the wedding scene.

Nothing surpasses the excitement and passion of top-shelf live bands because they can gauge the crowd at every second and adjust to create and/or match the mood on the dance floor. Increasingly, however, masters of ceremonies are hosting the reception. MCs liaising between performers and the planner can add to the personalization factor. DJs can mix on the spot, while an MC helps connect better with the guests assembled. Hybrids — a new style that pairs DJs with a few instrumentalists — also benefit from having an MC seamlessly integrate both sides for a unified experience.

Aesthetics also greatly impact entertainment performance trends. Tech-savvy bands are using in-ear monitors and sophisticated sound systems, so that the ambience is not hampered by large unattractive speakers, ugly cables or a plethora of amplifiers. Other elements — such as nontraditional attire, mid-event clothing changes and light-up dance floors — allow brides more options and planners more tools.

Admittedly, our industry has fallen prey to the current economic crisis, particularly because we offer something many consider to be a luxury. Though challenging, this year offers a chance to recommit ourselves, embrace fresh ideas and explore exciting collaborations.

Name: Andy Kushner

Company: Andy Kushner Entertainment

Address: 15245 Shady Grove Road, Suite 300

Rockville, MD 20850 USA

Phone: 301/869-8855

E-mail: info@andykushner.com

Web site: www.andykushner.com

TOO BUSY ... TO DO IT ALL!

Each and every day we experience an overwhelming amount of input that is amplified by the rapid changes and the plethora of options that exist within our environment. Excessive stimuli leave us feeling out of balance, and we desperately want to regain our equilibrium. But how do we do that?

For starters, we need to polish our management skills. By definition, management is the allocation of limited resources. On a daily basis, we need to effectively manage three key aspects:

  • SELF-MANAGEMENT (INTERNAL)

    Knowing what to do with the time we have — we can organize and review items that are incomplete, clarify areas of focus and responsibility, and make decisions about what to do at any time. We can switch gears if some unexpected occurrence makes that necessary; of course, that's where the “management” comes into play.

  • TIME MANAGEMENT (SITUATIONAL)

    The concept of time management can be somewhat misleading; you can't manage or mismanage time — time just is. So it may be better to define time management as managing what we do during time.

  • INFORMATION MANAGEMENT (EXTERNAL)

    Input streams/incoming items: paper, e-mail, voicemails, oral requests and all the things you think of … plus social media!

    Let's take a look at how you can take control of your physical and psychic environment:

  1. INVENTORY YOUR COMMITMENTS, RESPONSIBILITIES AND GOALS.

    Best practices for self-management must include a thorough capturing and clarifying of all commitments — big and small, personal and professional — such as work, side work (freelance or special projects), family, kids, civic (volunteer, etc.), religious, hobbies, home, online and others. Take a close look at everything on the list and consider: Does this give my life value? Does it further my goals? Is it in line with my priorities?

  2. TO-DO OR TO-STOP?

    Reflect on the things that aren't working and be willing to drop activities that aren't serving your vision, your family or your lifestyle. Try to eliminate at least one thing that's least in line with your life values, priorities and goals. Do this periodically and see if you can cut something else out, too. Edit, edit, edit!

    From a business standpoint, you may want to consider products and services that should be quietly phased out or even discontinued immediately. Also, set boundaries — such as no phone calls after 9 p.m. or no texting during family time. Appropriate boundaries ensure a sustainable balance in life and work.

  3. OBJECTIVE: CLARIFY. CLARITY. PERSPECTIVE.

    By clarifying areas of focus and responsibility, you are facilitating a greater sense of control and gaining valuable perspective.

  4. BUILD A BETTER TO-DO LIST.

    • Set SMART goals, which are Specific (what, why and how), Measurable (visible progress), Attainable (building on what you have, and/or ability to keep moving forward), Realistic (doable) and Timely (clear target or end point)

    • Simplify the process: Break down tasks into manageable pieces (suggestions: mini due-dates or “micro-actions”)

    • Use action words: review, organize, print, call, purge, deliver, complete, etc.

    • Avoid negative connotations: replace “deadline” with “due date,” “finish line,” “target date,” etc.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Have you ever had a day when you're feeling great about what you've accomplished? How about pasting a gold star at the top of that day's list? I'm sure a lot of you use notebooks or pads for written lists — wouldn't it be nice to look back on old lists and see that glorious little reminder?

Too often we forget to applaud ourselves for those things we achieve. If you're the boss or an entrepreneur, who's giving you credit for a job well done?

We all need a little praise, and a visual reminder of past accomplishments can give us a much-needed boost when we may be in the weeds.

I encourage all of you to do this: Write a list filled with things you enjoy doing. Paste it up as a reminder. Just looking at it will give you a lift!

Hopefully, you will even spoil yourself one day and put a gold star at the top of it.

Name: Elisa Delgardio, CSEP, PBC

Company: A Flair for Affairs

Address: P.O. Box 141476

Orlando, FL 32814 USA

Phone: 407/896-1476

E-mail: elisa@aflairforaffairs.com

Web site: www.aflairforaffairs.com

ISES EDUCATION: LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE

In April 2008, the ISES Board of Governors convened a strategic planning group to discuss the future needs of the association. Consisting of 40 event professionals from around the world under the supervision of our management team at SmithBucklin, the participants were charged with determining where our priorities as an association should be directed. Many ideas were shared, discussed and debated, but when the day was finished, the group had arrived at a clear conclusion: Education is critical to the future of the association.

But what does that mean? To determine the next steps, an ISES Education Task Force was assembled. Led by current ISES International Treasurer Terry Singleton, CSEP, the group included the following CSEPs: Brian Acheson, myself, Jodi Collen, Sue Werb and Kevin White. The task force returned the following results:

  1. CREATION OF AN ISES EDUCATION MISSION STATEMENT.

    The mission of ISES Education is to strengthen the global event industry through the improvement of best practices.

  2. Creation of an ISES Education Vision Statement.

    ISES will be recognized as the predominant authority for educational development and delivery at all levels throughout the special events industry by:

    • Implementing multilevel educational products developed on an established set of criteria based on experience and/or education needs to facilitate a lifetime of learning.

    • Providing open access to cross-disciplinary education and embracing the core competencies necessary for success in all event segments.

    • Delivering globally consistent, current and accurate education.

    • Inspiring a desire for continued learning that produces dedicated, competent and qualified practitioners in the event industry.

  3. A DIRECTIVE THAT OVERSIGHT OF EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS SHOULD COME FROM ONE BODY MADE UP OF EXPERIENTIALLY QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS.

    As a result of the directive, current ISES International President Kathy DeLuca, CSEP, CMP, assembled the first education council prior to ISES Eventworld 2009. The council consisted of the following CSEPs: Gwen McNutt, Flora Moorman, Jill Moran, Tracy Moran, David Spear, Dana Zita and myself as council chair.

    With the framework provided by the task force, we were given the following directives:

    • ISES is committed to a lifetime of learning. With that in mind, the education we offer must be relevant to learners at a variety of experience levels.

    • In order for ISES Education to be recognized within the industry, there needs to be a consistency within chapters, while allowing for local variations.

    • Create content outlines that focus on the relationship of the topic discipline to other disciplines. The task force identified that because ISES is the only industry association to embrace all disciplines, we should focus our attention on teaching how the various disciplines work together.

This is a very subtle yet crucial element to grasp. How often have your heard speakers talking about their particular discipline by telling you how they do their job? This is interesting if you want to be in their discipline, but it doesn't speak to the audience as a whole. So, instead of teaching you how the speaker does his job, what would it look like if he told you what each discipline needs to know about his job in order to do their own job better? This is at the heart of the work the council is taking on.

  • Finally, we are charged with looking at the various ways that education can be delivered (in person, Webinars, video, etc.), and we will make recommendations on what we think can best serve our membership. We will reach out to institutions of higher learning to partner with them on development of curriculum.

These directives represent just a sliver of the task in front of the council. The changes won't come overnight, but the council is working relentlessly to achieve its goal — a cohesive, comprehensive education plan that works for all its members, while propelling ISES to the forefront of event industry education.

If you have thoughts on what you think ISES Education should look like in the future, or if you are interested in assisting the council in some way, please e-mail me.

Name: Paul Creighton, CSEP

Company: T. Skorman Productions Inc.

Address: 5156 S. Orange Ave.

Orlando, FL 32809 USA

E-mail: paul@tskorman.com

Phone: 407/895-3000, ext. 206

Web site: www.tskorman.com

BRAND CONSCIOUS OR UNCONSCIOUS?

Brand consciousness and awareness are hard to achieve no matter what size company you own. However, an interview process can help you gain a bird's-eye perspective on where you stand and what needs tweaking. Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? It is important to ask these questions, but make sure that you are asking them of your business and not yourself. Understand that your business has a personality of its own.

WHO: Interview your business and find out who your business is and set goals that are appropriate for the climate and type of clients you want to attract. Goal-setting with measurable benchmarks is vital to the overall growth and success of your business.

WHAT: What is the message you are trying to convey to your prospects and potential clients? Have you created a one- to five-year plan? Identifying what your business needs is just as important as understanding who your business is.

WHEN: When do you position your brand? When do you target your demographic? Is there a “season” in your industry? Is ROI greater in January vs. June? For instance, launching a campaign for a nonprofit-events business in the middle of summer wouldn't be an ideal time because gala chairs and committee members are typically on vacation then.

WHERE: Location, location, location. Learning where to position your brand for maximized return is important. Ask yourself and your business where your brand needs to be seen for maximum results. Networking and word of mouth isn't enough. Having a stable platform in a variety of places makes for a strong brand campaign. Logo development paired with advertising in print media or online marketing (Web sites, blogs and social media) are key steps to brand identification and development.

Making decisions on where to position your brand should be based on facts, demographics and understanding your target market. Your goals for increased business should be steeped in research.

HOW: How to market your new or updated corporate identity and brand can be determined in a variety of ways. Again, targeted research or hiring a consultant to help you with creative solutions is important. The Internet is a great resource; however, it can be laced with scam artists targeting small-business owners.

WHY: Strong brands can make or break your business and determine its growth. If you intend to stay ahead of your competition, your brand has to be consistent and well thought out.

Name: Deborah Elias, CSEP, CMP

Company: Elias Events

Address: 6214 Beverly Hill, #24 Houston, TX 77057 USA

Phone: 713/334-1800

E-mail: debbie@eliasevents.com

Web site: www.eliasevents.com

Name: Jennifer Schafer

Company: Premier Bride

Address: 3730 Kirby Drive, Suite 1200 Houston, TX 77098 USA

Phone: 713/834-1102

E-mail: jennifer@premierbride.com

Web site: www.premierbride.com

ISES VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF

Alexis M. Gorriarán, CSEP

Volunteer Editor
(add)venturesagorriaran@addventures.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

Jamie Devins

Membership Services
Coordinator
jdevins@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